Jutta was a bit older than I and she was the only one who also went to school in Halle, and we rode our bikes together. Jutta was the daughter of a farmer, and she had packed lunches that were to die for. “Wurschtbemmen” (meaty sandwiches) that her mom lovingly fixed for her. Jutta’s brother had been killed in this insane war, there was so much pain in her family over the lost son, and heir of the farm. Jutta was real tall and strong, and if we had a headwind, she would always be so far ahead of me. Once she said to me “your legs would be pretty if your thighs were a bit longer.” Oh well I thought to myself “and your legs are completely shapeless”. The catty girl stuff was starting to develop in us. But overall we got along fine and enjoyed each other’s company riding our bikes to school.
I almost could smell those sandwiches in her backpack.. but was too proud to ever ask for a bite. My backpack had only papers and books… Mom had nothing to fix any lunches for me, we ate, when there was something.. most of the time, there was nothing. Didn’t Jutta know how starved I was.. she seemed to have no clue. To this day I have not figured out.. that our farmers seem to have no clue.. that some of us were dying of hunger. Not even the mothers of the farmer’s kids seem to know or care.. their children’s friends were starving. They either really did not know.. or they did not want to know!
Jutta once brought over a bag of beans to my house. Mom sat at the kitchen table and she said: “What am I supposed to do with beans right now? What about bringing us something we could eat right now?” But that’s the way it was.. our farmers did not seem to know.. or care. Jutta often shared her delicious Wurschtbemmen with Gisela her classmate.. and I almost died with envy. Sure, Gisela was hungry too, and she was a nice kid alright.. but shouldn’t I have come first? Those were my thoughts, selfish as they may sound. The will to live, to survive.. is one of the strongest human urges I think.
One day I was riding on Rickety by myself, I don’t know where Jutta was on that terrible day.
As usual, when I was alone, I talked to my very best friend, God. I rode along, this well known little path enjoying the river and the hills. When suddenly.. seemingly out of nowhere a half naked guy jumped right in front of Rickety. He was pointing to his exposed genitals.. and made some other gross gestures. I pedaled like crazy to get away.. saying to God “Please let me get away, this creepy man scares me!” I pedaled.. and pedaled.. and got away. Once I reached my frontdoor in Brachwitz.. I noticed that the creepy man had followed me, clean to my home. No one to call.. there was no police, no kind of protection. The creep cruised in circles in front of my home.. always pointing you know where.
But… I got away, I went inside and I guess he gave up, because he suddenly was gone. God had protected me, I knew this. But I was terrified and I talked to mom telling her exactly what happened. I also said that I was afraid to ride to school.. ever again. Mom.. her glance far away, somewhere where I could not go I guess. said:’ It doesn’t matter, you get back on your bicycle tomorrow, and yes, you will ride to school. Education is most important.. more important than any of your silly fears.. now go and do your homework!”
I never understood mom.. I only know that she became the sweetest old lady you ever met. And if I asked her about all those terrible things in our past, she would say: “I didn’t know, oh how terrible! I can’t remember any of this!” Mom had really lost it when dad died, I just know it.