Jam in Translation

So I know it is Women In Translation Month and yet I may not get round to reading/reviewing a woman in translation. So instead I offer a translation. This is the first section/chapter of an untranslated but very interesting little novel about Jewishness, the Shoah, addiction and other light topics. It’s called Die radioaktive Marmelade meiner Großmutter (~ My Grandmother’s radioactive marmalade), and its author is novelist, poet and journalist Ramona Ambs.

Some people are born as junkies. They’ve always been addicted – to life and love. Addicted to home or at least addicted to a sense of security. Maybe addicted to a pink rabbit…a pink rabbit that feels like being alive…or something like it.

When Hitler stole pink rabbit, I hadn’t yet existed. And me, personally, I didn’t actually have a pink rabbit. I once had a green hippopotamus. To be more exact: I still have it. I never lost it. It is a very pretty green hippopotamus, if you must know.

Nevertheless, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve been cheated of a pink rabbit. And that’s not the only thing I was deprived of: a whole large room full of toys.

A room full of wooden toy trains, books, a colorful carpet and a rocking horse. It would have been a room, in which people would have laughed a lot, simply because there were so many toys and in a room like that it’s easy to be loving and gentle to one another.

But that room has never existed, because when you fled Hitler, there was no way to squeeze a whole kid’s bedroom into hurriedly packed suitcases. And where there were no bedrooms, there would of course later also be no memories of them. And where there are no memories you can draw on, everything has to be invented from scratch.

That’s why my grandmother spends a lot of time in my bedroom. She looks at my toys and caresses them like a wonderful new treasure. I am not allowed to really play with my toys.

“They’ll break if you’re not careful!” she says, giving me a look of reproach with her big sad eyes which make you feel like a big ol’ heartless oaf.

Look, I’m sure if she’d had her own bedroom with toys, and if she’d been allowed a childhood in that bedroom, she would have let me to properly play with my own toys, but as it turned out, Hitler’s theft has mucked up my own childhood as well. At least my grandmother loved me, despite my occasional heartless oaf tendencies.

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