Remember

By Nigel Gordon

 

Dedication: For Henk and those like him.

 

 

 

 

 

The dull toll of a sonorous bell leaked out from a disregarded television, via a half open window, into the rain soaked street. Water sloshes over cobbles as I step forward towards the steps at the canal side. Along the canal bars, that normally at this time are open, stand with their doors shut.  Odd groups of tourists clump in bewildered groups not knowing what day this is.  Their bewilderment will be short lived, remembrance is one thing but profit is another.  We are a trading nation, soon the bars will open, the coffee shops will resume service and the girls will ply their trade.  Even now I can see the odd curtain being drawn back to reveal a high or low priced whore.

Those houses along the canal that are still homes have candles lit in their windows, showing that their occupants remember. Remember what?

The doors closed in our face when we sought a safe place to stay? The phone calls and letters saying so and so is one? The efficient train service that the locals ran, that took me and others to the east to camps we all knew about and no one spoke about? I do not think so.

As I walked to this place I saw the queue outside Anne Frankís house, each clutching their copy of the diary, more PR than history.  It is that which they remember, the Holocaust of Israelís need. They do not remember me but I was there. The tattoo inside my arm shows it.  They forget the Roma who shared his bread with me before he dug his own grave. No knowledge do they have of the Lutheran Pastor or the Jehovahís Witness.  Like me they may as well not have been there.

As I bend my back to lay my flowers on the cold black triangle of stone I see that some do remember.  My flowers join other bunches already there.  Some from those who survived, others from those who remember those like me. We went to the camps but did not wear the yellow star.  For us it was a pink triangle.