Well, and good morning to you too!
Oh, yes, for sure, that is correct. I am indeed Old Jozwa.

What? Are they telling stories about me?
Probably because they have nothing else to do...

The cradle? Of course, I remember it. I am old, but my memory is still OK.
So, old Jozwa paints the cradle in different colors every year?
That's right. But it wasn't always like this. Only after my Kasia passed away.
She died five years ago. Something about a tumor. She went quickly.
But before she died, she told me the whole truth about Asia..
Yes sir. Up until then, she did not say a thing, and I didn't ask

The cradle? No, I don't have it. How come? ...
I don't have it because I gave it to someone.
That's right. I had it all those years, and I gave it away.
Yes, it's true what people say.
I made that cradle 60 years ago for Asia. The only reminder left of her.

Yes, well... a woman arrived. All dressed up. A foreigner, no doubt.
She asked questions. So, I told her about the cradle.
I showed it to her. She wanted to buy it. No way would I sell it.
But then, when she said she was Asia's daughter, I just gave it to her

No... Asia never came back. When they released me from prison, she was gone.
Jailed for what? Well, after the war, I got five years and was released after three.
That's how it was then. And I confessed.
I was never that good at lying.
I did not do it for myself. Everything was for that little one.
Times were hard, and one had to make a living.

When the war started, I wasn't in the village either.
And when I returned, it was hard, very hard.
I was gone for nearly three years, and everything on the farm had deteriorated.
Kasia was totally occupied with Asia, so everything was on me.

And there were thefts. From our scarce inventory, things went missing.
First, they took some eggs, and then the chickens were stolen.
But when they stole the pig, I stood guard! Three of them came in the night.
Tattered, scrawny as scarecrows. Jews. And they wanted to steal our only cow!
The first one got it with my scythe and did not even cry out.
The other one I got with a shaft. And the third escaped.
I was so angry that I threw the wounded one into the wagon and drove him to the police station in the morning. They gave me a big sack of potatoes and said that if I came with more Jews, they would reward me.
...And, well, we had just run out of potatoes.
And our only cow was scrawny. Its milk was just enough for Asia.

No. Kasia did not breastfeed her. I think.
I do not know for sure. Asia was already there when I arrived.
I was gone for nearly three years.
They drafted me into the army, and then the war broke out.

No. I was never in combat because the Germans captured the place before I learned to use a rifle. I wandered around because our village came under the Russkies.
When I returned, I did not ask Kasia.
I figured some Russkie got her pregnant because, you see, Asia was a bit dark.
Such a poor little thing. But what a ray of sunshine!
She was a small thing when I first saw her.
But when she looked at me and blinked her eyes, oh, Lord!

No. God did not bless us with other children.
I am not weepy. Even when Kasia went to the other side, I did not shed a tear.
Only once. When I came back from prison and saw that Asia was gone.

Oh, yes! I went "hunting" with young Kobielak.
In those times of scarcity, it was hard for everybody.
Those Jews were on the brink of death anyway.
Some of them even begged us to take them to the Germans.
Because of the condition they were in; ... they did not care.
Of course, not everyone. But with those ones, we were harsh.
That one in the field and the three near the lake were weak as kittens.
The same with the two in the grove. So, the German gendarmes killed them right away.
The strong one was sent somewhere with some others. Maybe he survived.
They showed me some papers and ordered me to sign, so I signed. I don't know...
It was in prison, when there was a course for those with shorter times to serve, that I learned a little about reading and writing.

No. Young Kobielak was not sentenced because he was already dead.
I stabbed him myself.
What was I supposed to do? When he told me that Asia was so dark that she was probably a Jew, and if we did not share the money, he would go to the police station!
When they found his body near the forest, the gossip was that the Jews had killed him and fled to the partisans. And I kept quiet.

What? That's terrible? Sweet Jesus! Life was terrible!
However, Asia was a sunbeam warming Kasia's heart and mine.
When Kasia told me some relatives came and took Asia, I saw that it had broken her heart. Mine too.
Such was life after that.

Only on her deathbed did Kasia tell me that she found Asia in a pig pen. Naked...
But she smiled at her in such a way that her heart melted.
Probably, a Jewish woman had left her there since the day before there was a roundup in the area with gendarmes and policemen.
She loved Asia more than if she gave birth to her. I did, too. I think.

What? It's getting late, you say. Then, well... goodbye...

Alex Wieseltier - Uredte tanker
Alle rettigheder forbeholdes 2019
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