Saturday, January 19, 2013

Artists and Writers Give Testimony of War and Peace

Writing about the aftermath of war.
My 85-year-old friend Ada often tells me, "enough is enough, why write another book about that war?"
I understand where she's coming from. She survived Auschwitz, and built a life abroad, far from her former homeland. Reading about the Holocaust or even the aftermath of WWII brings to the surface, if not memories —she has forgotten on purpose— a sadness that is so profound, and goes so deep, her sensibilities tell her not to trigger those feelings of despair she no doubts knows will appear.
For me it's different, I need to tell the stories I've heard as a child, and facts I researched for many years. I need to share the manuscript I wrote about growing up in the aftermath of the Second World War with parents who continued to hide, and lived as though the war never ended. I have to share how this has influenced the rest of my life, how their fears jeopardized their dreams for me, how we lived from day to day, because tomorrow could be the end of times as I had known them. I have to share how their love for each other and for me has made me who I am today,  more sane than could have been predicted and yet colored by my father's PTSD and mother's psychosis.

And while my parents told me "not to forget", it's Ada's voice that keeps me from sharing.
It's time to stop listening, I want to see my name, the titles of my books added to the list of books and films on the Dutch website —"back then now", or I'd say it's about time.

Put no limitation on the time to share stories that need be told. 

'Enough is enough' is true for the pain that surfaces when a survivor is confronted with yet another book or film about that what triggers heart ache.

I say the same when I open a novel to find out the story deals with the death of a baby or young child. No matter how well written, no matter how good the intentions of the author are, sadness takes grip of my tender heart, and before long I realize my response has more to do with my personal loss than that of the characters in the story. And if I can't shake that feeling of despair, as was the case with Nassim Assefi's empathic novel Aria I put the book aside. Believe me, I have grieved intensely the loss of our baby girl, and every once in a while sadness hits me still, and takes over my being. I accept that as part of my life. But I'll put the book aside. Let others read that story, a story that needs to be told so the reader learns and understands what loss is about.

Enough is not enough regarding stories about war and its aftermath, people need to know, artists & writers testify for those who can't or dare not voice their experience.

This work by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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