Diary of the Fall

Diary of the Fall by Michel Laub Read Free Book Online

Book: Diary of the Fall by Michel Laub Read Free Book Online
Authors: Michel Laub
decision to take about a pregnancy that could have killed my grandmother? What did my grandfather say to her when he found out about this risk? How did my grandfather deal with the matter, what words did he use to express his wish to have a child at that moment, what did a child mean to him, would he be capable of devoting himself to a child, and because of that child forget about the past and all the dreadful things he had seen and suffered because of it?
    The same notebooks that describe a public baths in the center of the Porto Alegre of 1945 as
a place where the most rigorous hygiene regime flourishes
, a butcher’s shop attached to a poultry slaughterhouse in the Porto Alegre of 1945 as
a business where the animals are
treated according to the most rigorous of hygiene regimes
, a kennel in the Porto Alegre of 1945 as a place where
the animals are treated according to the most rigorous and humane of hygiene regimes
, those same notebooks say that the decision to go ahead with my grandmother’s pregnancy was taken
without hesitation and speak of the expectation of a new life that had long been planned by the husband and of his profound desire for continuity and a loving, giving relationship
    Hospital — a place where doctors patiently explain to the pregnant woman the very low degree of risk involved in any pregnancy and the equally low risk involved in having a Caesarean and the nonexistent risk of infection after the birth given the hospital’s rigorous hygiene procedures which extend to the bathrooms with hot running water and to the toilets, which are cleaned every hour, and to the care assistants who apply these rigorous hygiene procedures throughout the day, using disinfectants, sterilizing agents and quarantine. There is nothing at the hospital that need trouble the husband of the pregnant woman, whose child will put the seal on the continuity of their loving, giving relationship should he choose to walk down the corridor alone or go home in order to be alone
    My grandfather continues to discourse upon the ideal baby, how to care for the ideal baby, the father’s relationship with the ideal baby,
a small autonomous creature who never cries at night and never contracts diseases such as hepatitis or the common cold
, and the truly alarming thing is that he filled sixteen notebooks, measuring twenty-eight centimeters by nineteen, each with nearly one hundred pages, each page having thirty-one lines, filled with a prose that leaves no doubt as to how my grandfather dealt with his memories.
    My father was born at five o’clock on a Monday afternoon, but I don’t know if the day was sunny or gloomy, cold or hot, dry or humid, because my grandfather doesn’t bother to mention it. My grandfather filled sixteen notebooks without once saying what he felt about my father, not one honest, open remark, not one word of the kind one usually finds in the memoirs of concentration camp survivors, about how life goes on after you leave a place like Auschwitz, the renewal of hope when they have a child after leaving Auschwitz, the rediscovery of joy on seeing that child growing up like a riposte to everything they saw inAuschwitz, and just the horror of knowing that someone survived Auschwitz only to waste all their free time on that sterile enterprise, on the pointless, inexplicable exercise of imagining every real phenomenon as something to be transformed into its exact opposite, to the point that all defects, all features disappear, along with the characteristics that allow those things and places and people to be appreciated for what they really are, that horror must somehow be related to Auschwitz and to the way in which my grandfather always behaved toward my father.
    I’ve never asked my father what memories he has of his childhood, if my grandfather sang the lullabies that Jewish parents used to sing to their children before Auschwitz was built, if my grandfather embraced him as Jewish parents

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