Oct 7, 2011

Little Red Riding Hood

By Khurram Ali

My name is Sofia Neveu, and at the age of seven, I became the reason for the death of my parents. Deprived of a childhood everyone deserves, I was brought to Belzec; a concentration camp. Unlike any other throughout the Nazi Germany, it was indeed the first extermination camp created for implementing Operation Reinhard. I guess, one can call it bad luck because the bivouacs were just set up a week before 18th October, 1941 - the longest unforgettable day of my life, the day my parents were silenced.

One could survive internment, if he or she was in some manner resourceful to the Third Reich; mostly in the form of forced labor or even sometimes in the guise of entertainment for the soldiers and the guards. Too young and feeble, I was proclaimed by the doctors to be ill-equipped. However unsurprisingly, they did not think it was worthy enough to protect us - children, the future of this nation from such cruelties and horrors of life itself.

I was cast out to a small rustic wooden lodge dominated mostly by old and vulnerable people; not to mention the mice which infested the place. Malnutrition was prominent, food was scarce, we were on each others throat; fighting for every driblet of water. Forbidden to leave the cabin, enclosed by four walls with no windows; only few rays of sunlight could stream through the crevices between the planks of wood. Leaving us all craving for the sun; "I want to break free", were the words on everyone's mind except for me and the pessimists who thought otherwise, we were just waiting to die, vanish into thin air and nobody would notice; life became useless and hopeless.

All I ever wanted was to lead a normal life; have well prepared meals, hang out with friends, host occasional tea parties with them and play with my doll house. How did I ever end up here?

Tension was building throughout Europe; hatred against the Jews was reaching its maxima, everyone was left terrorized by the unfolding events. My life on the other hand remained to a large extent unaffected. My father was the Lieutenant General of the Fourth Division; we socialized in the upper class and with the high ranks. No one ever questioned our faith, such was the loyalty of my father, that he had everyone's trust.

I was raised in a family where religion was not given importance neither practiced; I never fully understood the meaning of religion. When things got out of hand and became more serious as Europe was on the brink of total destruction; my parents thought it was best to tell me about our faith. Yes, I am a Jew; amazed, speechless - my world was turned upside down. It's quite funny, how one small minor detail of one's life could alter the course of the rest of the journey.

A few days later, I was taking turns at the swing in the backyard with my neighbors. When a person with medals and decorations on his uniform, walked in. He came and sat right next to me. Had a lot of good things to say about my father, praised his work and valor. Affirmed me that he and father were very close mates; that they had fought side by side and had each others back on the battle field.

His smile should have said it all and revealed his intentions. Lost in my own world, I accidentally disclosed the family's secret. He consoled me and gave reassurance; that everything was going to be fine. I should have spotted his disguise.

The next morning, I am woken up by the impatient banging on the front door, these hammer pounding noises did not stop for quite sometime. A minute later, echoes of two gun shots were the only voice coming back; my heart skipped a beat as I froze like a zombie faintly looking out of my bedroom window.

They came for me, the only thing I was able to clutch on was the little red jacket my mother had woven. A part of me knew that this was inevitable, my heart was aching but my eyes were falling short on tears.

I donned my jacket as they escorted me out of my own house onto a jeep. Innocent blood was spilled that day just because my parents concealed their identity and the so called friend veiled his.

Me in my little red jacket and destruction all around; that's what was left of it ...


Zoha Jabbar said...

Isn't Sophie Neveu that girl from The Da Vinci Code?

Khurram said...

I didn't think of it like that. Anyways the name of my character is Sofia Neveu.

Afnan Imran said...

I like your interpretation of little red riding hood... My mind wouldn't even wander in that direction :)

Farwa Haider said...

Same here. The idea's great.

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