Storyteller Anna


My first teacher in writing was Anna Frank. She is the one who taught me that it's possible to turn myself into the character of a story and tell it through "me" instead of "he" or "she".
Anna told me: look around you, the closest places. That's where the story hides. Inside the folds of the tiny details of trivial, mundane, while meeting the unknown and strange. Anna showed me where the threads of the story are and how can I follow them, unaware that I mark the footsteps of myself.
I was twelve years old when I first read Anna's diary. Got it as a Bat Mitzvah present. An Israeli girl, a Sabra, whose mother was a Holocaust survivor.

Innocent this girl was, not knowing yet how deep the scar in her soul is, and that it would keep on bleeding.
Anna was a fragile reflection of myself in another world, threatening one, yet so familiar. Unknowingly, back than I had learnt how to probe after signs of life in a reality of death.
I read the diary in one breath. When finished, I went straight to the small store next to my parents' house and bought myself a Bat Mitzvah gift - a thick notebook wrapped in cardboard. The very same day I began writing letters to a fictional character, whom I called Tami. Such an Israeli name...
Little did I know that from now on I would be corresponding with myself for the rest of my life.

Anna still accompanies my writing hand; sometimes she holds tight, often releases. The last page of her diary is engraved in my memory. Tuesday, August 1st, 1944. "I'm awfully scared that everyone who knows me as I always am will discover that I have another side..."
But Anna, this "other side" is what inspires me the most.

Anna Frank crosses time. Anna also crosses the horrific death that cut her life, but not her art. Anna hovers over my writing desk in Israel Two Thousand and Three. Don't you understand my childhood bosom friend, all "other sides" - some better or less, create characters that in their turn tell a new story. A story that contains the seed of memory as well.
The protagonist of my latest novel "The Rat Laughs" hides in the darkness like Anna, during the Holocaust. But unlike the real Anna, my fictional girl was not offered salvation through writing. She had to lean on tales from the mouth of a rat.
Maybe the sun doesn't go up/ And the night doesn't go down/ Maybe beyond the hole/ The world doesn't go round/ And darkness isn't black/ And the sun doesn't set/ And I'm the only one left/ But I don't know it yet.

To the protagonist of my previous book "Bride On Paper" I gave the name Anna. I don't know if this was a deliberate choice, or a salute emerging from my sub- consciousness. But my Anna survived because she immigrated to Israel before the catastrophe. Perhaps I was trying to save the first Anna, at least on paper. After all, only in the spiritual realm one can and may hope for a happy end to this story. Taking into consideration that a happy end does not really apply for someone who is the sole survivor, losing her entire family, and she is engulfed by grief to her last day - like my fictional Anna.

Out of the darkness of my "Boydem" I take now the old notebook wrapped in cardboard - my first diary. In the opening page - December 4th 1966 - in childish round letters it is written: "This idea of writing as if letters is not mine... I borrowed it from Anna Frank's diary."

Published in: Lilith Magazine USA, 2004.

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