My Tragedy

This is a fictionalised retelling of something that really happened to a family member

When I was sixteen, something terrible happened. It was so terrible, that until I tell you , you will not be able to guess what it is. I lived in an orphanage in Arusha, Tanzania - an orphanage in exile. Polish children, who had survived Siberia, and Persia, and Karachi, and ended up here, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, in this orphanage.

I was nearly grown up by then. My little sister who had also survived, Marysia, spent her days running around in the bush, half wild. But I was much more sober and sensible. I was also in love. Piotr and I had met in Arusha; we met when  I was fifteen and he was sixteen. We had both lost our parents, he had lost all his brothers and sisters, of mine, I had Marysia. We fell in love.

He worked with the scouts; I worked in the office. That terrible day, I answered the phone. He had fallen in the river at scout camp. He had been eaten by a crocodile.

You see- you laugh. That is what makes this story so terrible. Everybody laughs.

He was my love. We found each other amidst all that loss. And he was gone. My tragedy is that all my life, I have been unable to talk about it, because people's natural response is to laugh.

I survived. I married a man I did not love. I had two children. I have grandchildren now. But all I see every night, when I close my eyes, is those jaws opening, those teeth gleaming closer and closer.

I don't remember any more what Piotr looked like. But I remember that crocodile, even though I never saw him. Until the day I die, he will consume me, night after night.White teeth. Hot breath. I'm eaten alive, every night of my life.