ACROSS THE FENCE

A whirlwind of emotions ventilated her striped outfit, as her weak eyesight drank in the picture of daisies smiling in the countryside. She hung from the doorless opening of the carriage chugging off at a snail’s pace. She didn’t want to obscure the few beams of joy lighting up her miserable world by gazing at the sickly faces wearing morose expressions in the train compartment. So she allowed the gloomy wind to caress her matted hair and strained her ears to hear birdsong. Only jarring sounds of machines and unceasing wailing welcomed her into Hamburg.

Hurtful wires and snide comments formed her first unflattering impression of the camp. Stony visages forced her into a large hall where shaved heads and hopeless eyes drowned the canvas in black nothingness. The guards cringed at the sight of her long hair- a source of perpetual lice and disease. As the razor touched her curls, she remembered how her mother expertly braided her chestnut locks, interspersing them with roses, violets and her favourite- daisies. The image of her mamma’s bloodied body being hacked to pieces by the Gestapo as her shrieks resonated in the street, fluidly entered her consciousness. This made her freeze in the queue, with another girl behind her nudging her forward.

Her Papa had been exempted from this tormenting scene as he had been picked up a day before. Her optimism compelled her to believe that he was alive and well. She soon realized that she would prefer to not see her gentlemanly father as an invalid living in nauseating conditions.

A new number was then branded onto her arm. The pain it caused was a minor prick in comparison to the emotional longing she felt for Papa. A laxity in discipline allowed the women to cling to the thorny fence. In the pandemonium that ensued, someone whacked into her. She banged her head against something, and the world went blurry. She imagined that her hoarse cries were met by a weak shout,”Liesel, my baby!” She imagined that she reached out to hold his hands. “Everything is alright, darling. Don’t panic. Papa’s here,” she imagined him saying. She told this to the violets hidden under the wires, their petals torn by metal thorns. At least someone would know her story now.

Was she dreaming up the violets? Huh. Why not daisies, then? She had always found the violets insipid before.

Soon, gunshots echoed in the bloody atmosphere as the inmates refused to be calmed down.

“These bloody rats!” an official shouted, aiming his rifle everywhere and nowhere.

A stray bullet hit her.

“I guess you’ll do then. Is it alright if I call you Vi?” she whispered. Her soul bled out into the earth, watering the plant’s roots.

The wind took a baby breath to convince the violets. They reluctantly shook their heads in acquiescence.

Someone stepped on them before they could tell her their story. Tell her how they refused to die because Lebensraum was too silly. Tell her how they hid in the dirt behind trembling feet that fed them a diet of bright liquid every time a gun coughed a bullet. How their insipidity had let them meet her.

“Hmmph. Bloody daises”, was all they could say.

Liesel and Vi died on the spot, hand in hand, across the fence.

 

Written by Tript Kaur

Image by Kanishka

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