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Authors: Caroline Adderson

A History of Forgetting (35 page)

BOOK: A History of Forgetting
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By your watch, over an hour has gone by when you finally
near
a city. The woman with the basket has slept the whole trip. Tap her knee again. She starts awake, jarring the basket; under the cloth, something squirms.

‘Where are we?' you ask. ‘Is this
Plaszów?'

She nods, and with one hand on the churning cloth, puts a
finger to her lips.

Plaszów
looks a lot like Kraków, the blackened cladding
crumbling off the walls, exposing the stone and brick. The train decelerates and you see on a brick wall a freshly painted sign that reads ZLIRT. A slow glide into the station. Everyone stands; they begin to gather up their things. The woman with the basket hurries out of the compartment first, then, one by one, the others. You, you stay where you are in your seat hoping that the train will move again. But soon the conductor reappears and, glaring, motions for you to get off.

Show him your ticket again. ‘I don't want
Plaszów.'

He makes a violent gesture towards the door. Rising, you
stumble past him, out of the compartment and down onto the platform. A sign says ‘
Plaszów,'
so this is
Plaszów
indeed. Helplessly, you look around, but cannot see an information desk anywhere.

I
n your hands is the guidebook. You blink at it, as if it had just
appeared there on its own.
Plaszów
is not listed in the index, but when you flip to the chapter on Kraków, you find a small subsection with
‘Plaszów'
as its title. On the emptying
platform, you stand and read while more passers-by jostle past. Again, you read it, and again, starting from the beginning, so you are reading in a loop. And though your eyes remain on the page, in your peripheral vision, it seems the people have formed a crowd that is swirling around you. All of you spinning, spin
ning downward. And this is what you read: that
Plaszów
is a
suburb of Kraków. That there were mass graves in
Plaszów.

That
Plaszów
was a concentration camp.

 

 

 

 

 

Caroline Adderson is the author of four novels (
A History
of Forgetting
,
Sitting Practice
,
The Sky Is Falling
,
Ellen in
Pieces
), two collections of short stories (
Bad Imaginings
,
Pleased To Meet You
) as well as many books for young
readers. Her work has received numerous award nominations including the
Sunday Times
EFG Private Bank Short
Story Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary
Award, two Commonwealth Writers' Prizes, the Governor General's Literary Award, the Rogers' Trust Fiction Prize,
and the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist. Winner of three BC Book Prizes and three CBC Literary Awards, Caroline was also the recipient of the
2006
Marian Engel Award for mid-career achievement. She lives in Vancouver.

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