A mother’s nightmare ….
The endless fields ….
Curfews had little impact here, as the country folk rose early and went to bed early, too. The hardest thing was the lack of oil for lamps. Mama liked to read and sew, especially on cold evenings when darkness fell early. To compensate, Mama and Baka began to undertake evening tasks in the afternoon after the household tasks were completed. Together they sat on the couch, Mama reading aloud to Baka whilst the old lady sewed, her traditional embroidery colourful and precise. Time passed, and Mama went to the door looking for her son. By now he should have been home.
“Ceda?” Baka asked when she heard a noise outside. Although she was elderly, her hearing continued to be excellent.
Mama rose for the third time and looked out of the open door. “I can’t see him yet, but you know how boys are. He is probably playing.” “I find it strange. You know how hungry he always is when he
comes home. What time is it, anyway?” Baka replied.
Increasingly, unease arose in each of them. “Let’s wait another quarter of an hour: then we can wander up to the school, and look for him,” Mama suggested.
Time passed with agonising slowness. They put on their sandals and began to walk to the school. With each step, Mama’s anxiety increased. Walking faster and faster as they approached the school, Baka fell behind but urged her daughter-in-law to continue. A German army car with Nazi swastika flags fluttering drove quickly down the dirt road, having little regard for the two women. Hastily, they jumped to one side.
“Important people, I wonder why they are in such a hurry,” Baka said. She fell well behind Mama, who was still lithe and fit, as she took increasingly urgent steps toward the school. As Mama rounded the final bend, she noted nothing unusual. Heart beating rapidly from the haste, she attempted to calm her rising anxiety. The schoolyard was completely empty, with no sign of any children anywhere. Bemused, she walked back to the corner just as Baka arrived. The older woman looked visibly distressed, short of breath and perspiring freely. Mama stood with her,
waiting for her to recover.
“Is he there?” she asked, even though the question was superfluous.
She wanted to fill the emptiness of the schoolyard.