Her name is Annabel and she is 93, she is such a little woman that it almost seems like there is no one among those pillows. Dinner will arrive shortly and we are waiting for it together, like so many other times, in silence. In the background the chatter coming from the corridors. The door to his room is closed and it’s just us.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
“I come from Poland, but the last time I was there, I was eight. Then I was deported to concentration camps with my brothers and my father. My mother died there, in the ghetto, and we left with the train bound for Auschwitz. But for some reason related to the malfunction of the tracks we ended up in Bergen – Belsen. They separated us and my father went to work. We were five children and they joined us with the other boys, we could not work and I made them friends with a little girl older. I remember sleeping on the floors. I just don’t remember the beds or the food. I remember the German soldiers and you know, you could have thought yourself lucky if you were minute like me because they didn’t see you. I was lucky. My younger brothers died. There were two boys and one girl. I gave his name to one of my daughters. We waited for the war to end, because Dad wanted to go back to Israel. He never went there, he died three days after the end. Three days. He could not get through. get out of that field. The Jewish community organised a transfer on a military flight for the survivors to England. We traveled on the floor of that plane and I lost my friend. I found her many years later, she went to Tel Aviv. I think he’s still alive. I was lucky. An aunt of mine went to Auschwitz, that was the worst and you were marked with the number. Forever. And I’ll tell you another thing for which I feel grateful: I had seven children. I don’t want to think about Germany and I never wanted to go back. My brother … he was just a little boy. But that was a long time ago. Has anyone ever told you this? “
I shake my head, unable to answer.
“I survived the Nazi concentration camps. I’m lucky…”
I no longer hear the noises beyond the door. The television is still on but I don’t notice it. She asks me to replace the oxygen mask. I no longer feel anything but gratitude. I have nothing to write but his story.
Annabel died a few months after telling me her story, and I want to remember her by telling it.