I sit in front of the laptop, staring at the screen in front of me. I have put some music on, listening to Chopin. My grandmother loved Chopin and she used to play some Chopin's pieces on the piano. I wished I had learned some of the Chopin's pieces. My favorite one was Etude Op 25, No. 1 in A flat major. My grandmother, used to play this etude all the time.

I look at the tattered book that is lying on the table. The book, a diary belonged to my grandmother. After my grandmother died about a year ago, it was found in a sealed box in the attic of her house, along with black and white photographs, showing pictures of my grandmother, when she was young, along with her family. I had always been curious about my grandmother's past. I knew she was a Jew and that she was from Poland. But she never talked about her childhood. I know she must have had horrible experiences during the war and that she wouldn't want to talk about it, but I was curious to know about her story.

And the diary allowed me to get to know her story. Luckily, we have a Polish woman who attends the church with us so she was able to help us translate the diary. And I decided to write a story about my grandmother.

For many months, I have been struggling and dealing with "writer's block" coupled with my break-up with my fiance and me struggling financially. I promised myself that I will write her story, the next month and so on until I told myself, I will start writing on the first day of the spring.

Today is the first day of the spring. And I am going to start writing about my grandmother's story.

I open the Microsoft Word and start typing up my story.


1939, Warsaw, Poland

What if Germans never came to our country? Maybe I would be still going to school instead of being stuck here in the house. Jews are not allowed to go outside unless they have a white armband on their right arm with a blue colored Star of David in the middle. Every Jew about the age of twelve has to wear one. I am thirteen years old so I have to wear one whenever I go out.

I miss the times when I was carefree. I miss taking my bicycle out and riding around the neighborhood feeling the wind in my hair. I miss hanging out with my best friends, Katia and Lena and talking about the cute boys in our class. Most of all, I miss seeing Patrick's cute face. His kind eyes, his beautiful smile and his laugh. They are not supposed to even talk to me, as Polish people are forbidden to help us Jews. But Papa has some Polish friends, who kindly share with us some butter and milk along with potatoes.

Mama is always playing the piano. From Chopin, Beethoven to Mozart and Schubert. Piano is soothing her and making her feel calm at difficult times. Papa on the other hand is hiding any zlotys we owned inside potted plants or even inside our piano, so if Germans invade our homes, they would never find out that we still own some zlotys.

I wish things will return back to normal.

My phone starts vibrating. I look at the phone and find my sister, Gabrielle is calling me. I sighed, picking up the phone.

"Hey, what's up?" I asked, saving my draft.

"Hey, I am taking kids for an ice cream at Grater's and maybe go out for a stroll around Eden Park, wanna join us?"

I sighed. Ice cream sounds a bit tempting. The weather looks nice but if I join Gabrielle in the park, then I might not be able to continue with my writing. Maybe I could take a break from the writing and come back and do more.

"Sure, but I think I will skip the park, need to be back soon," I replied.

"No problem, I'll pick you up in five." she said, hanging up her phone.

I then switch off the laptop and starts to get changed.


1940, Warsaw, Poland

All Jews are ordered to move into the ghetto by the end of this month, October. My brother, Jacob didn't want to leave, I didn't want to leave. It's not fair. This is the house where we grew up in. How dare these Germans make us leave our own homes! My parents, my sister and brother and I were devastated. We are not even allowed to take more than two suitcases each person.

Recently, because we didn't have any money for food, Mama sold our piano. Our piano used to belong to my great-grandfather and was passed from one generation to another. Mama was sad that she had to sell the piano, but we had no choice. Jacob promised that one day, when these things were over, we will buy the piano again.

1942, Warsaw Poland

The ghetto room is filthy and smelly. We are all cramped in one room but luckily, unlike some other families, where they have to cramp in one small room with two or three other families, at least we had this room all by ourselves. Diseases are spreading around the ghetto so far, people are dying from starvation, tuberculosis and some were even frozen to death. I got used to seeing corpses lying around the streets of ghetto instead of crying and throwing up at the sight of them.

After our usual "work", we were having dinner in our room. A silent dinner. These days we always had dinner silently. Mama thinks about Henrik, my oldest brother who is safe in America. Jacob is secretly involved in some resistance movement inside the ghetto. Halina and I are simply getting along with our lives inside the ghetto.

Papa suddenly stops eating. He looks at the three of us, with a sad sorrowful look in his eyes.

"Joseph is coming into the ghetto tomorrow," he told us.

Halina, Jacob and I exchanged glances.

"There's a rumor...that they are going to put us in some other places...but I doubt that," Papa mumbled. "I want you three to leave the ghetto tomorrow. With Joseph."

We all stared at Papa after he said that.

"Papa, I am not going to leave without you!" I exclaimed, dropping my spoon on the bowl.

"Ania, I am doing this for your own good," Papa said sadly. "Mama and I are old, but we are concerned about you three. You will escape from this ghetto with Joseph. Joseph will arrange your hiding places. Once when the war is over, I want you three to move to America, so you can live with Henrik and start new life there. And never come back to Poland,"

We all started crying, I realized that I will not be seeing my parents again. I never knew that this would be my last time, with my parents.


After writing non stop for two weeks, I finally finished my story. I titled it as "Grandmother's Story,". I then send the draft to my editor, so she will read and approve of the story.


I never knew that my book will become New York Times bestseller. I have to go around the country, signing the books and the book was sold to film rights as well.

If I hadn't made that promise to write my grandmother's story during the first day of the spring, this would never have happened.

I can see the teenage Ania, my grandmother, smiling at my achievement.

March 29, 2020 14:55

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Shirley Medhurst
12:27 Apr 09, 2020

So very moving! A really clever way of approaching the subject too.


Samadhee Ismail
13:18 Apr 14, 2020

Thank you!


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Peace Nakiyemba
22:49 Mar 31, 2020

I see a running theme here. Is this based on your reality? If so, I can tell you are really moved by your grandmother's story. It's hard not too when they had to endure all that. It is a good story. I enjoyed reading it. Your story still wavers between tenses, present in one line then past in another. I also think the closing was a little rushed. You jump from your grandmother's diary to finishing the story. I would have liked to know more about the character's perspective on the first day of spring. Like when they go out for ice cream...


Samadhee Ismail
13:18 Apr 14, 2020

Thank you for reading my story and giving me tips!


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