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This article is taken from PN Review 59, Volume 14 Number 3, January - February 1988.

Lev Bar-Lev Elisabeth Russell Taylor

'It was summer. I remember the season because Mother had bunches of fresh dill on top of the egg basket, and because there was newly made plum jam and raspberry cordial to sell. I can see them now, as I speak, arranged on the up-turned boxes in the market place. Mother had me sit behind the boxes and watch over the produce while she moved a few yards to the right or left to speak to a neighbour or friend: "Don't you take your eyes of the produce, my son!" she would warn, believing the whole market alive with jam and cordial thieves. But she never ventured far, she always kept me within sight, so that on the day on which my life was shattered my Mother was only a few yards away.

'I don't remember what struck me first - the sight of my Father or the commotion, but all of a sudden the market-place was stilled. With shock. My Father was running through the narrow alleys between the stalls, naked! Boys and girls of my age and older pursued him; they were Polish girls and boys and they had rush wands in their hands and were beating Father. "Snip-cock! Snip-cock!" they shouted. I saw Mother look up and grow pale. She tore the shawl from her shoulders and raced towards Father. As she ran she shouted to me to take care of the produce. I saw her catch up with Father and wind her shawl ...


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