Hey everyone! This is my first blog and I didn't know what to write. I just wanted to write one :D So here's a short story I wrote for my college magazine. Hope you like it :)
The dusk of life
She was looking at the mild sun, slowly hiding behind the mountains. Her breathing was shallow and irregular. But tranquility and contentment filled her heart and soul. She knew she was going to die but that didn’t affect her. As she sat there in her final moments, she reminisced about the last 84 years, her life and how everything she’d done, all the experiences she’d had and all the decisions she’d made had finally come done to this moment in her life, this absolutely perfect ending to an odyssey.
Ruth Abramowitz had always been feisty. Even when she was a little girl, she had always stood up for what she believed in and what she felt was right. The memory of the night, when the Nazis invaded Poland on 9th November, 1938, the Kristallnacht or Night of Broken Glass, was crystal clear in her mind. As she’d stood by her parents and watched the Gestapo break into their house and take away all their worldly possessions, a tear had streaked down her rosy cheeks. Everybody noticed the ten-year old girl with defiance in her eyes, even the Nazi officers.
She remembered the heart-wrenching sight of the Austrian Jews being rounded up the next day and taken to the biggest concentration camp of Poland that was set up in Krakow. She had refused to listen to the Kapo’s orders even if that meant a thorough whiplash or worse. The fear of death when she had tried to sneak food in for her family and her fellow inmates still sent shivers through her body. She had seen her parents and her best friend die, of Typhus, in front of her: a slow, painful death. The inmates, having been starved, beaten, strangled, tortured, gassed or simply shot to death, had haunted her all her life. A mere child, she had refused to believe that the world could be so cruel. She had heard what the others said about never escaping alive, but she’d still had faith in humanity. The horrors of the Holocaust had shaken this belief but shreds of it were still there.
On the evening of 30th April, 1945, an emaciated girl was seen crying at the gate of the camp, tears of joy on her gaunt face. After seven years, Germany had surrendered because of Hitler’s suicide and the Allies had moved in. She recalled staggering along with a handful of other survivors and stumbling into the nearest Allied medical camp where they had been treated, fed and clothed. After a month at the medical camp, Ruth felt she was healthy enough to go on her own. A kid of ten when she had come to the camp was now a young woman of seventeen, all her innocence lost somewhere along the way. Even with no money, no education and no acquaintances left in Poland, her trust in herself and in fate was stronger than ever before. She still had faint memories of going back to her old house, or rather, to what was left of her old house, and rummaging through the dilapidated ruins to see if there was anything she could take. She had found pieces of her mother’s old jewelry box and taken them with her. She reminisced about working with organizations for the rehabilitation of the War heroes and the Holocaust survivors, where she met other people who had been affected by the Great War. She was thankful to god for having given her a chance to live.
A church bell chimed somewhere and she was reminded of the night school she had joined in an attempt to catch up on seven years of education.
In retrospect, her decision to come to America, the land of dreams, hopes and aspirations, had been a wise one. On 24th September, 1949, The Larkspur had sailed from Kobryn, Poland for the Port of New York and Ruth Abramowitz bid farewell to her motherland. A few days later, the ship sailed into the harbor and she fell in love with the country at first glance.
It had been difficult surviving in New York with no degree and not a penny to her name. She cherished all those memories….living with another Jewish family in the sewers below the city, working as a babysitter for a few months and then moving on to become a waitress, joining the NJU in the fall of 1953, the glorious years of college life and graduating three years later with a Bachelors degree in Art. But the memory she treasured the most, was meeting Herbert Karliner, a second-generation Jewish immigrant, during an interaction programme at NJU. She held dear all the memories of her simple wedding; the happy faces of their close friends and family, the music, the vows, the promise of a lifetime, flashed before her eyes. She thought of her three children; the unbridled joy at their birth, their mischievous childhood, the pangs of adolescence, the pride of youth and the support of old age.
A cool breeze swept across the coast and Ruth was jolted back to the present. She looked at them and felt immense satisfaction at the fact that they had grown up to become good and responsible citizens. She looked at the innocent, cherubic faces of her grandchildren, who surrounded her, and her lips curled into a smile. All the sorrows and joys of life, the worldly wisdom could be seen in the deep lines etched upon her face.
Life hadn’t been easy on Ruth Karliner. Yet, here she was, years later, completely content with life, no regrets. As the sun was setting, she could feel its warmth spreading through her body, peace at last! She closed her eyes slowly, in an attempt to savour each moment of this nirvana. Her journey through life hadn’t been perfect, it hadn’t been exemplary, but it certainly had been inspiring.
Thanks for reading! Feedback of every kind is welcome. Please help me improve. :D