I dedicate this story to millions of victims of holocaust who were killed coldbloodedly and those survivors who are still embedded with the scars and stains of those wrathful memories.
Also I want to offer my heartfelt salute to those brave soldiers who closed the door of this barbarous era.
Holocaust was not a Jewish tragedy, but a human tragedy. We should never remain silent to such horrendous crime. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
As a writer I strongly believe that words have power to ignite the muffled mind as well as to dethaw the hardest heart.
We all are humans and we all are equal. We all are related in some way in spite of difference in the colour of our skin, eyeball and hair, caste,creed, religion & ethnic origin. As the beauty of rainbow lies in coordination of various colours, so the development of society depends on unity among diversity.
Now it is the need of hour to deracinate the weed of racism. After that the entire world will be scented with the blooming peace, prosperity and harmony. It will be not only proper tribute to the souls who were perished in the war of racism, but also an assurance of a pacifistic world to our next generation.
*Considering the sensitiveness of this topic, reader’s discretion is recommended.
THE OLDMAN AND SEA
What can be better than a Sunday morning on the sea beach!
The Neon blue sky was stitched with silver lining. Quivering sea was acetylene blue, but the beach was dawn-glow gold.
Although pretty aggressive, the mesmeric dance of waves was heart swelling.
Still no one seemed to be there on the beach to enjoy this serenity. I was panting heavily after an hour of jogging and decided to take a short peaceful break for a while until other sleepy heads appear on the beach.
To my utmost surprise, I noticed an old man sitting dangerously close to the waves that crashed on the beach. Getting closer to him, it appeared to me that he was gazing at a photo. He was very focused on it; without even blinking his eyes.
Waves must have taken pity on him for they had not yet drenched him completely. But his skin was wet and so were his rags that clung to him.
With each returning wave he was inching more towards sea. I was lost somewhere within myself while reminiscing about my grandpa. He always used to snatch me away whenever I ran to play with the waves.
I thought that old man … no no…that strange man must have possessed some kind of eternal youth spirit to go on adventuring. But how is it possible for anyone not to fear death like this? The waves are particularly higher today than other days.
He was quite unconscious of the waves that rose and closed on him a few feet before him. He was wholly immersed in that photo.
When the next wave swelled and rolled towards him I could not suppress a scream. It hit him on the chest and I was running towards him, catching him by his shirt and pulling him with all my might towards the dry part of the beach away from the waves.
We were both soaked. I looked at him with exasperation. In his hands he still held the photo.
Instead of heartfelt gratitude he threw me a sarcastic smile which made me quite angry and a bit astonished.
I barked at him- “How can you be so careless? Don’t you realize that your carelessness would have got both of us killed?”
This time with a different kind of smile on lips he gestured me to sit near him which made me angrier.
Fuming, I pulled out the small towel I had tucked below the waist band of my jogging trousers and started to dry myself.
He asked me “Do you want me to answer your questions?”I nodded quietly. He can say whatever he wants to. I saved his life. That was the main thing.
I nodded quietly. He can say whatever he wants to. I saved his life. That was the main thing.
Then with a deep sigh he started to tell me something which even to this day I remember, although now it is incomplete and blurry.
HOLOCAUST: A HORRENDOUS CRIME
Leaving auburn shadows; sun was departing soon
making way to the soothing beam of mounting moon
The evening was approaching by bidding farewell to the afternoon
But in the life of little boy Lamuel this sweet moment intruded as a typhoon
While he was peeping at the police force near the roadside
Suddenly a scream fluxed as a fierce tide
“Don’t dare to hide
Hurry up! All Jews come outside”
Abandoning all hard earned possession
With trembling limbs, cloudy eyes and persistent palpitation
He along with his family and companions
Marched towards an unknown destination
At the crack of dawn,
That unknown was revealed to be railway station
Loaded in a train full of Gypsies and Jews
He was sent to a ghetto; the castle of filth and abuse
He was detached from his father, mother and sister
by a mordacious monster who was a buff a Hitler
He was shaved and disinfected with a shower…
With a tattoo on left arm,
he metamorphosed from Lamuel to a number; 138144
In his life then emerged a new epoch
by digging rocks and loading them in truck
Not for some hours but round the clock
No dare to dream for grain
Only salvation for the drops of rain
But when they fell they created the illusion of hell
As it was unbearable to inhale the cadaver smell
Once while smuggling the food, he was found
SS men punched him, kicked him, spun him round
Then made his face rub the ground
Gazing at her wizen nipple then at her baby’s famished face
A woman rushed to the stack of cadavers to chomp the flesh
Being its live witness ,laying on his straw mattress
He pondered is human life God’s grace?
Soldiers tossed babies up and shot them in midair
Except shedding tear, to forbid such brutality nobody had dare
A new tragedy entered his life in a flush
By propelling him to the jaws of typhus
The term “Treatment” was not at all thinkable
As “Work or crematorium” is their principle
Therefore along with many
Chocked in agony
Drenched in tear, trembling with fear
He was led to venomous gas chamber
While standing in line in front of a barrack
And waiting for the ultimate crack
Suddenly he rushed and hid himself behind dead bodies stack
Thanks to that loud clack
For which he looked back
And found a clue
To get his life back
Tell me –
How can one fear death?
Who has already faced that many times
before taking his last breath
Why should I fear these mere waves of sea?
Because this Lamuel was no one other than me!
Tears were gushing from my eyes
My throat was dry
Goosebumps had already flooded my skin
My tee was wet in sweat
I was confused whether I was listening to an emotional experience or a horror story. I was confused whether the person in front of me is worthy of sympathy for the catastrophe of his life or worthy of salute for his undaunted courage.
Interrupting my thought he burst out –
“Is it possible that everyone will be same?
Then why did they give Jews the blame?
Was their race so much superior?
We Jews were not at all inferior!
How can I forget the memory of Holocaust?
It is such a chapter of history of world,
which can neither be burnt nor get rust…”
“It is God who has made us as we are; it will be God too who will raise us up again.”
“God ! Which God! The master of universe! The father of all creations! He, who chose to remain silent when His children were at the peak of pain. How can you still sing the hymn of His praise?” – I asked acrimoniously.
Bearing a faint smile in lips, he mouthed -“That day black smoke of gas chamber had consumed all my faith not only in humanity but also in Almighty. But I have unwavering faith in my mother. Her word- “Sometimes God tests us beyond our endurance so that we can realize how strong we are” is still entrenched on the wall of my heart.
A MEMORABLE MEAL
His sarcastic smile was still vivid in my memory. I realized he had every reason to be sarcastic by rubbing shoulders with death all his life.
I asked him “Now you must have a wife, children and grandchildren. They should be concerned about you. Is it right to be careless of your life to such an extent? Think how much they would suffer if you had died today!”
Fixing a gaze on me he uttered with a sigh-
“I never dared to start my own family or have children of my own. I was so afraid of making those close bonds again.”
He was still toying with that photo. I took it from him and looked at it which showed me a family photo. It was black and white.
With trembling voice he began-
“My parents and my sister are still with me. I carry photos of them with me always, wherever I go, even when I sleep they are with me. Till now I don’t know how and where they died.”
For the first time of our meeting I saw tears streaming from the eyes of this holocaust survivor.Were they tears of joy for being still alive by struggling in those dark days?
Tears of gloom for losing his beloved family forever?
Hour and minute hands and second hand of the watch had already coincided indicating noon. But my conscience was earnestly desiring to spend more time with this downtrodden soul. I invited him to take the lunch with me at a nearby restaurant.
I booked a corner table. When I extended the non-veg menu to him, he politely refused it with a sad smile, saying-
“As far as I can remember prawns taste better than mutton. For the last time I have eaten that on a Sunday with my sister.”
Instead he went for the vegetarian dishes.
And I was anticipating-
“Most of the Holocaust survivor must have changed to vegan. No one can know better than them what it is like to be treated as an animal.”
Still my mind was choked with many unsolved questions. My brain was in its threshold thinking mode. But my lips were paralysed to utter a word. My heart was prohibiting me to ask anything more which might throw salt to his incurable wound.
ONE MORE STAB ON HEART
That slim history book of 7th class. A chapter on world war 2. Of which holocaust has incurred the chance to occupy a page. Those words, terms , events had already faded from my brain with luminance of physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology. But after 7 long years suddenly my heart had started pounding for each and every word of that one page event of history book. The term “holocaust” was bombarding in my head like vectors from different directions. I was feeling breathless as if Zyklon B gas had invaded each artery and vein of my body. My conscience was trying hard to balance the equation in which human and inhumanity function as reactants resulting in product of destruction. I was mystified if Hitler and his followers really belong to species Homo sapiens.
My thought was roaming in the world of Holocaust. Spicy aroma of curries, chit-chat of people and waiters – nothing had energy to pull me out of that world.
Abrupt ingress to the empire of my thought – News reader’s voice in television- “Two innocent lives were battered to death and set aflame in broad daylight due to inter-caste marriage.”
A shrill scream escaped from the lips of Mr. Lamuel. Clenching my hand, he mumbled numbly-“slogan like ‘racism down down’ has turned an everyday tune to our tongue. But racism is reproduced routinely in many manifested forms. Even now many people languish in island of darkness where freedoms are few and choices are absent. Hitler has not died yet. He is still alive among us in camouflage. “
I was looking at him blankly.