Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Anonymous Phone Call

At 16, Christian was a grown up man. He had to do what he had to do.

At 16, Christian was gangly and excessively thin. Not uncommon in the Poland those days. There just wasn't enough food and he had to feed his three younger siblings. Christian cursed his parents for dying out on him and leaving him alone. He did not know how to survive this constant hunger, this disease, this constant bickering of his siblings. He did not know how to survive this war.

It was cold. Christian was shivering. He only wore a thin shirt and a trench coat. He had given his only sweater to his youngest sister to keep her warm. Lucja was the apple of his eye. She had in return tried to mend his trench coat as best as she could but it still had holes. And the brutal freezing cold air rushed in through those holes. He felt the cold seep down to his bones. He pulled his trench coat closer. The sole of his shoes was torn. He had fashioned himself a makeshift sole out of his coat's pocket. 

If only he had some money but working as an errand boy for whoever would want him did not earn him enough. Sometimes it did not earn him anything at all. christian was fighting his own war every day of feeding four stomachs at least once every day and he was loosing this war. He was tired. He did not want to soldier on. 

He cursed his fate. Oh why was he born in this cursed country in these cursed times!! Oh why was he born at all?

The only hope in Christian's life was Anne. She was his light. He had met Anne while delivering a sack of potatoes to Mrs. Stoppleman. He liked Mrs. Stoppleman. She was a kind lady and she would sometimes give him food even if he hadn't worked for her. He had tried to run multiple errands for Mrs. Stoppleman always secretly hoping to meet Anne, but he did not get to see her often.

Once while he was cleaning the yard, he heard Mrs. Stoppleman shout out for Anne to hide as someone knocked on the door. Christian was befuddled. Why would Anne need to hide from whoever it was unless...
Christian sank to the ground as the truth dawned on him. There was only one reason why someone would need to hide in Poland those days. Anne was a Jew. As the reality hit him, he was horrified. What was Mrs. Stoppleman doing hiding the Jews!! If any one in the gestapo ever got wind of it, they would kill all of them and their neighbours. Anyone who ever helped Mrs. Stoppleman would be killed. But how would the Gestapo come to know of this? Christian was afraid, but that moment he resolved that this secret would die with him. He loved Anne and he will do anything to protect her. This secret will go with him to his grave.

It started snowing. Christian realized he was late. It was time for him to go home. He did not manage to get any food or money today too. Lucja was ill and she needed medicine and food badly. But how could he buy it when he had no money? He went home which was a sheet of tarpaulin spread atop the broken walls of a bombed house. As he reached home, he saw there was no fire. He cursed Frank, his younger brother. The only task he had given Frank was to take care of Lucja. He kneeled over to check on Lucja and saw that she was shivering. He placed his hand over her forehead to check her temperature. She was burning up. Just as he turned her face towards himself, he saw blood on her face and her neck. His heart stopped. He did not know what to do.

The doctor over at the Gestapo base could help her. He was the only person in this godforsaken place who could. But he was a mean man. Christian carried Lucja on his back the entire way to the Gestapo base. Christian's coat was covered in blood. His sister had stopped coughing blood and was breathing raggedly. Her temperature was soaring. Oh what can he do? How will he save her? She was his responsibility now?
He would do anything to save her, if only he knew what it was that he should do.

The doctor was heavily drunk. He looked at the boy with the girl on his back. The girl was apparently spewing blood. He knew just from the looks of her that she had been ill for quiet a long time now and that he couldn't save her. Why not put the boy to some good use? He met the boy and agreed to save her sister on one condition.

At 16, Christian was a grown up man. He had to do what he had to do.

Christian picked up the receiver at the bakers shop near the Gestapo and made a phone call. He could not bear anyone knowing what he had just done. He then ran over to check his sister at the doctor's place. He stopped as he reached his door. Lucja, his dear Lucja, was lying at the door. What was the doctor doing? Why was she lying there out in the cold? Why was she not breathing? He knocked and knocked relentlessly at the door. There was no response. He kept knocking and after sometime he just stopped. He just sat there looking at his sister.

The dawn came and Christian got up from the doctor's door. He was blank. He couldn't feel anything. He got up, looked at his sister one last time and left her there. He came back to his home, lay down on his bed and tried to go to sleep.

Two days later, Christian sat near the Gestapo base, with a torn out piece of newspaper in his hands. The Gestapo had raided Mrs. Stoppleman's house and killed all the Jews hiding there. Anne was dead. The Gestapo was informed about the Jews' hideout  by an anonymous phone call. Christian sat there staring at the newspaper in his hands. The air was biting cold. Just then the doctor came out flanked by two soldiers.

Christian saw him. He felt the rage rise in him. He picked up a big stone and threw it at the doctor, shouting curses at him. The stone hit the doctor on his head. The soldier standing to the right of the doctor took a careful aim and shot the boy.

At 16, Christian was a grown up man. He had to do what he had to do. Lying there in his pool of blood, Christian wondered why was he born at all?

P.S. - The story is my first attempt at Historical fiction. The only truth in this story is the incidence of Anne Frank's death. The rest of it is just pure fiction.