A Secret, the Past & Declarations

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“You have something you want to tell me?”

“Yes. It’s something which I’ve never told anyone about.”

She stared at him, wondering what it could be. “Tell me what it is.”

“I’m Jewish.”

“You’re Jewish?”

“Yes. My father’s parents were deported from Bratislava to Sered and from there to Auschwitz. They survived. My mother’s parents remained in Bratislava and survived in hiding. After they were liberated from the camps, both of my grandparents returned to Bratislava. Soon after they had children. My parents met in 1970 and got married in 1975. They came to England in 1977, one year before I was born, to begin a new life. It was tough for them, though, because anti-Semitism also existed here. My father decided that in order to get by, he and my mother would have to do the same thing as Queen Esther did–hide their Jewish identity. On paper, they were a married Slovak immigrant couple who wanted live and work in a new country. They kept to themselves mostly and didn’t have many friends. They didn’t go to the synagogue but they worshipped at home. There were times when both of them had to work on the Sabbath. It was tough for them, especially my father but he had to do what he had to do to if he wanted to stay employed. For years, he worked at the mechanic shop where Adaeze works. Unfortunately, the previous manager was anti-Semitic. My father had to listen to his racist remarks. He was relieved when he found another job working as an engineer. He stayed there until his death. My mother knew that if anyone at the hospital found out that she was a Jew, they would fire her. Both she and my father told me never to tell anyone that we were Jews. At school I saw how Jewish and black children were treated and it made me really mad. I tried to keep out of trouble for my parents’ sake but there were times when I wanted to punch some of those kids in the face. I befriended all the kids they railed against and they called me all sorts of names for that but I didn’t care. I was happy to leave that wretched school. At university, there were a few anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. How I would have liked to see them end up in a death camp or in the gas chamber.”

“After your parents died, why did you still keep your Jewish identity a secret?”

“I don’t know. I guess I’ve gotten so used to doing that.”

“Why did you wait until now to tell me? Were you afraid that I would break up with you because of it?”

“I wasn’t sure how you would feel about dating a Jew.”

“That’s why you were asking me if I would date a Muslim or a Jewish guy. Oh, Dushan. My feelings for you wouldn’t change because you’re a Jew.”

“I’m relieved to hear that.”

“So, no one knows, not even your ex-wife?”

“No. Many times I came very close to telling her but always changed my mind.”

“I wonder what her reaction would have been.”

“I don’t think she would have had a problem with it but I’m not sure about her family.”

“Is she an English woman?”

“Yes. Chioma, I want you to know that if I was still married when we met, I would have left her for you.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Did you love her?”

“I cared for her but, no, I didn’t love her.”

“Why did you marry her then?”

“We had been dating for a while and decided that we were ready for marriage. So, we got married in a small, intimate ceremony with friends and her family.”

“How long were you and she married?”

“For nine and a half years.”

“When did your affair with the other woman start?”

“A year and a half after I got married.”

“How did you and this woman meet?”

“We met at an electronics store. I was there to get a new phone and she a new tablet. She came up to me and asked for my advice. We got to talking and we ended up leaving the store together and went to a coffee shop. We started seeing each other after that.”

“So, your affair with her lasted for about eight years.”

“Yes.”

“Eight years is a long time.”

“Yes.”

“You said that you would have left your wife for me.”

“Yes, I would have.”

“What about the other woman? Would you and she have had the affair if you and I had met?”

“No. The thought wouldn’t even have occurred to me.”

“Is she beautiful?”

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“Yes.”

“During those eight years, did you fall in love with her?”

“No.”

“I’m glad that it’s over between you and her.”

“I had to end it because it was the right thing to do and because of you.” He stood up and took her in his arms. His eyes darkened on her upturned face. “ani ohev otach.”

She stared at him. “Is that Hebrew?”

“Yes.”

“You can speak Hebrew!”

“Yes. My parents taught me.”

“What did you just say to me in Hebrew?”

“I said, I love you.”

Her heart skipped a beat and gazing into his eyes, she said huskily, “ani ohev otach.”

He swallowed hard, his heart pounding. “The woman would say to the man, ‘ani ohevet otcha.’”

“ani ohevet otcha, Dushan.”

“Oh, Chioma,” he groaned. “ani ohev otach.” And then, he was kissing her. She put her arms around his waist and kissed him back. This lasted for a while and then, he raised his head. His eyes were filled with desire and his face was flushed. They were both breathing very heavily. “I’m really, really tempted to take you upstairs to my hotel room but I think we should go for another walk instead.”

“Yes,” she agreed breathlessly. They drew apart and holding hands, they set off.

Sources: Brides; Jerusalem Prayer Team; Yadvashem

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