Another moment comes and I am drawn to reminisce through many a wasted hour. I cry I mope, I hope and wonder at what could have been. I was a child, and I was being sheltered.
I never forget as always etched into my brain each time my eyelids roll down, I can see her. I remember that last time we were together, and this making the happy times less memorable being overshadowed by the day she left me.
Her absent smile was never to be seen, as there was nothing much to be happy about, back then, I guess. Her large, round, brown eyes were shedding continual tears, but she was not wanting them to be seen by me. Her nose was so flushed pink from her prolonged crying.
A curved face is framed by long, dark, slightly greying, lank hair, always swept back in a loose, messy style. The lengthy ponytail held in place by a ragged scarf she would always fling loosely over her head and around her neck and shoulders. She, asserting that it was keeping the chill of day or night away, but undoubtedly knowing she was veiling her sadness.
I have since forgotten the sound of her voice, and now echoing in my ear is the reverberance of her quavering goodbye. I recollect her scent and essence. It is one of faint diffuse petals, and of talcum powder or blemish cover. This sensory memory of helping me to fall asleep when troubled by restless dreaming or nightmares.
It has been decades since I felt the very contour of her visage. The distressed wrinkles of time stirring an appearance more advanced than her real age of thirty-two. I wish I could paint a portrait from this image held deeply inside for so long, but no hues I could imagine or create would suffice or do her justice.
I cannot rouse the tremulous utterance she last spoke in my presence, but I discern the twisted curl of her lips as she mutters hope and happiness for me through her melancholy, as her face betrays the sentiment.
Her incessant weeping moistens and softens the talc to meandering rivulets, dripping the wettened sediment down to, and off her chin, whilst in unison sniffling through her thrumming nostrils endeavouring to stem the flow of her copious salted teardrops.
With her arched brows gesturing to me the same as her whispers were saying. I have forgotten the exact exchange of these as they were spoken with much stuttering and hesitation, with a hushed tone but sated hastily. I am guessing that they would be of a mother’s comfort and of sincere apology.
All I can summon today, are the descriptors of her, the rounded, tear-stained eyes, a crooked ski-sloped nose, and her jagged crooked mouth. With lips firmly pursed, hiding the wizened teeth, as this being an unhappy moment of our lives as mother and child. Her vivacious smile would only be showing in her happiness, when, with a widened grimace a giggle would follow in mirth.
I try to imagine her embracing her son, keeping me safe and warm, as a mother would do. I have this one photograph, I press it neatly to my chest, hidden but always with me, needing to contemplate some details at times as the memory has dwindled gradually over the years. The playing card-sized photograph is of black and white exposure, almost a kind of sepia, or is that just my imagination after pawing it for so long. I do not recall the vivid colours it once may have had. The corners are almost dog-eared from dragging in and out of my wallet each time, but intact. The creases of the paper join those of my mother, the subject contained in its ragged framing.
In the few days before she left, she feigned such excitement at winning the contest. A wonderful opportunity and escape for a few weeks. She had been informed with short notice to depart. It was a train vacation to the seaside she volunteered, I had never seen the ocean, and I was to stay with her sister, my aunt, and her husband. They did not have children of their own, I, therefore, was without cousins, so I was always being treated and spoiled by them whenever they visited.
On the preceding days together once hearing of her win, my mother did not want to spend a single minute from me. We stayed together as a family, with my aunt and Uncle until the day of the train’s due departure.
My mother had packed her small, battered and worn suitcase with everything she owned which amounted to two dresses, some undergarments, a scarf or two and a winter coat. These were almost threadbare, but she needed to continually repair and stitch the holes, as money and employment were limited. Her remaining items she would wear on the day, she wanted to look her best.
She gave me the one photograph of her and to keep it near my heart and she would be with me always, even when out of my sight. We had never been away from each other at all. My father had been working in another city, as work was scarce in our town. He had been gone for almost two years. Mother would get letters occasionally and telephone calls, but they had stopped in recent months.
On the day that the train left the station with my mother aboard, I cried as the overcrowded carriages departed. She waved from the small carriage window along with some other people who were sharing the same holiday with her. They were crying too, as maybe they had not been away from their loved ones either.
Watching my mother wave and speak and cry I was clutching my aunt’s hand in the tightest grip. I frowned through my tears, as the engine roared and the shuttling of the carriages went into the distance. This left me staring at the ground, the vacant tracks wondering why my mother had to go and celebrate on a marvellous vacation without me.
Later that week I was sent on a school camp to a place called London, faraway, train and boat journey. The train I shared was with many other children from our town, their parents had stayed behind. I was sad but maybe a little happy that I too was going to enjoy a country farm stay. We were informed that a kindly town was going to give a lovely gift of a working farm experience. There would be cows, sheep, chickens, pigs, and the working animals too, dogs and horses.
I received a letter or telegram which came to the farm owners. They relayed the message, my aunt and Uncle would soon join my mother on a train holiday they too had won in a contest, to a place I had never heard.
Whilst still at the farm school and working the land, almost six years later, I knew the vacation was to a place called Auschwitz.