Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shoah and Nutella

I was about 8 years old, we were living on the farm my adoptive parents and I. We had everything then.
We were Kings and Queens and Princesses, we had our farm which was the biggest home in this small hamlet 45 minutes away from Chartres and 20 minutes from Courville-Sur-Eure.

Our home was surrounded by corn fields. Our garden used to house birds and rabbits, we had two additional barns. My father and mother were proud to grow their own vegetables. My father had taught me to plant seeds and I grew my first radishes and I was happy to have them on our dinner table. There is such wealth in eating what you have grown yourself and such pride in sharing it with the people you love.

I was also about 8 years old, when I first saw the movie Shoah. My father and mother thought this was as important as learning how to grow your own garden and how to have proper manners at the table. See, my French father was born in 1911, and his parents were Russian Refugees, my French mother was born in 1912 in France and her roots traced back to her ancestors in Brittany. They had both grown up actually poor and where food was scarce, they had both lived through WWI and WWII. During the second war, they had both joined the French Resistance and were honored both, my father received a sword and a medal. I remember seeing them in our library by my piano but all our books overshadowed them.

When they decided to show me Shoah, they told me to never forget what I was about to see and to remember it for the rest of my life. I knew it was important but didn't know yet why. Now as a 34 year-old I see. How could one ever forget. So, the three of us sat with our dogs on the old couch in our living room. And the VHS unraveled its story.

And this is the first time I learned about the Holocaust. I learned about it with my parents and my pets in our living room in our kingdom. The images were difficult to watch and I remember crying and I remember asking my father why would people could hurt so many and how mean this was.

My father and my mother explained to me about the genocide and Nazis, they explained to me how important it was to remember and to share it with me. They also explained to me how they both witnessed a Jewish family being taken by the Gestapo and how my father pleaded them not to and how they threatened to take him and how this family had a daughter and how my father pleaded to let them take at least the little girl. The gestapo almost took my father that night. My father still had tears, I hadn't seen my father cry. He always had a Joie-De-Vivre. My mother was quiet. I now think his tears were because he felt ashamed that he couldn't do more and was haunted.

We sat a long time at the kitchen table. My mother explained that day why we never threw foods away that we only cooked what we could eat and why sometimes I needed to eat food that I didn't like. She said that they had lived when there was nothing to eat. They knew hunger.

I think I cried again, I was sad for the people who died and also the family that my parents hadn't saved. My Maman went to the kitchen and came back a slice of baguette with butter and some Nutella. I ate slowly and carefully. And I think maybe it was the first time I realized how rich we were.

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