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Ghetto Tragedies

Israel Zangwill

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Belletristik / Gegenwartsliteratur (ab 1945)


The moment came near for the Polish centenarian grandmother to die. From the doctor's statement it appeared she had only a bad quarter of an hour to live. Her attack had been sudden, and the grandchildren she loved to scold could not be present.She had already battled through the great wave of pain, and was drifting beyond the boundaries of her earthly Refuge. The nurses, forgetting the trouble her querulousness and her overweening dietary scruples had cost them, hung over the bed on which the shrivelled entity lay. They did not know she was living again through the one great episode of her life.Nearly forty years back, when (though already hard upon seventy and a widow) a Polish village was all her horizon, she received a letter. It arrived on the eve of Sabbath on a day of rainy summer. It was from her little boy—her only boy—who kept a country inn seven-and-thirty miles away, and had a family. She opened the letter with feverish anxiety. Her son—her Kaddish—was the apple of her eye. The old woman eagerly perused the Hebrew script, from right to left. Then weakness overcame her and she nearly fell.