It's a letter, a dash and a few numbers ... Written in black ink.
Every time I take a glimpse at it, my stomach churns and I shiver slightly. I turn my head. Madame Sarah asks me a question, "Do you speak Spanish?" "No, I answer," as my head turns and catches a glimpse of A-24430 again. I look at her. She's almost 90 now. Still strong, still glowing of life despite her health issues. She amazes me. What a phenomenal testament to the will of man to live, to survive, to march on.
At 22, her world - as well as that of European Jewry - was viciously attacked. Torn away from her home in Rhodes and put through a journey to hell - a journey to Auschwitz. She was given a letter. A dash. A few numbers. She asks and then demands that my wife and I have a drink. We oblige as she offers a wrapped present to Nissim. His curiosity peaks and he approaches her. He gets a toy car. She looks at me and compliments me on my articles for the community's magazine. I look at it again - she's been carrying it for almost 68 years now. Why? How? Never again? A quick peak at my watch and the questions stop twirling around my head, it's time for mincha & arvit, "We need to go, we'll see you soon Madame Sarah." I pick up Nissim, and after Tals says her goodbye, I lean over and kiss Madame Sarah goodbye. A privilege and a lesson.
A few days ago, an elderly Jew started interacting with Nissim at Checkers (A large South African supermarket chain). After a few seconds, he turned to Tals and said, "I hope he doesn't see what my eyes had to see." His words gave me chills - I hope the old man was right.