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August 31, 1939
“August 31, 1939, today is the last day of me having any say in this life of mine. I don’t understand what my parents could possibly see in Kenan. All I see is an arrogant pig headed Polish boy, without any care for my concerns. But no, my parents see a bold young man with a proper consensus for judgment and decisions. Judgment and right decisions are not the qualities I look for in love. I cannot marry Kenan. I won’t!” Bara quietly read this aloud while she wrote in her diary book, as she did every day. She put her pen in the book and closed it, before shoving the book under her waistband, and covering it with her apron. She always kept her diary book with her. In it were hundreds of inserts she wrote everyday about her life. Bara had this book for years, and she never missed a day of writing in it.
Polesie was a city in Poland in which the people were fearful for their lives. Just days before, Adolf Hitler authorized his commanders to kill without pity any person of Polish descent or language. Bara was very brave and thought she could protect herself. Kenan on the other hand, was very obsessive over her. He always wanted her in his sight, and became angry with her when he didn’t know where she was. Bara wondered if his name was any coincidence of the meaning, which is possession in Hebrew.
“Bara…..Bara dear, it’s time to wake up. Today is your big day.” Mrs. Zielinski said while sitting on the edge of her daughter’s bed, trying her best to get Bara out of it.
Bara rolled over, tugging at her blankets, trying to shade her eyes from the sunlight peaking through her small window. Her mother continued to nag until Bara got out of bed. With squinting eyes Bara asked her mother why she had to wake up, fully knowing that today, September 1, 1939, was the day of her wedding. Her mother looked at her with a disheartening eye, letting Bara know that she did not want to hear it.
“I apologize” respectful Bara said with a low head. Although she did not agree with being forced into an arranged marriage, she loved and valued her parent’s opinion very much, and always did as they said.
Mrs. Zielinski stayed at home during the day, caring for her youngest children and cleaning around the house. She always had something cooking, giving the house a constant smell of home, accompanied by a feeling of warmth. Mr. Zielinski was a teacher at the local secondary school. Mr. Zielinski was known for always wearing green, just like his father and grandfather. Every clothing item that they owned was green, and every clothing item that was green, they owned. Because of this it is the reason for their last name, Zielinski, meaning always wearing green. No other family or person in town ever wore the color green; there was no questioning to it, because that is how it had always been.
After her mother left the room, Bara looked at herself in the mirror, lightly tossing the two braids that were put in her hair the night before. She wondered why the person in front of her had tears running down her face, before realizing it was herself. She stood there, motionless, staring at someone she had no control over, who was staring right back.
According to Polish tradition the bride is supposed to cry during the wedding ceremony, or it is said that she will cry throughout her married life. Bara wanted to make it a point not to cry during the wedding, to show how she truly felt.
After having her bridesmaids dress her, Bara was off to get married. The wedding was in the middle of the city, and a majority of the people who lived there, were present. Upon her arrival she saw Kenan standing there, waiting, as if he were waiting to get goods at a market, rather than waiting for the walk of his future wife that will be the start of their life together. A feeling of disgust overwhelmed her, and she was broken. Giving up her chance at love to please her family was the biggest sacrifice she ever made, and it killed her once her parents announced the arranged marriage. She loved her parents so dearly, and even though they eventually fell in love through an arranged marriage, Bara did not feel the same, nor did she have a say in the matter.
The ceremony was beginning. Bara took deep breaths along the way, and every step she took closer to Kenan, she felt another piece of her heart breaking off. She didn’t know if she could do it, she did not want to marry Kenan. As she was turning to face him after her last step that brought her right beside him, something happened. Out of nowhere, hundreds of planes it seemed like were flying overhead. Everyone stood still in shock, not making a sound. The buzzing sound became louder and louder as the planes began lowering. Every person’s chin was to the sky, when suddenly, bombs began going off. The planes sent missiles right into the city, destroying building and homes. People began scattering and screaming. Bara, frightened, picked up her dress, running, while trying to look for her parents throughout the eccentric crowd.
“Let go of me!” Bara yelled toward Kenan as he was trying to pull her away from finding her parents.
“Bara, you must come with me. You need protection. I-I-I must protect you. Just listen to me, and you will be safe. Your parents are fine. I personally brought them to shelter. They ordered me to bring you back there.” Kenan said with a strong manor. Bara felt that she had no other option but to follow what he said. While quickly running to find aid, Bara saw something out of the corner of her eye. Tanks were piling into the city and hundreds of German soldiers marched along side them. Gun in hand the men were running around shooting people at random, while others were being executed right in front of their families.
Bara’s feet stopped as Kenan continued ahead of her without noticing, and she stood there completely mesmerized by the actions that were taking place in front of her eyes. She could not move until it happened. A certain something caught the attention of her eye, something familiar. She cautiously looked to the right of her when she saw a man dressed in green on his knees with his head faced towards the ground in front of a German soldier. The man’s gesticulations showed a sense of supplication, while the soldier’s gun was pointed to his head. Bara knew right away it was her father. The paralyzed feeling came back to her. She felt as if the air in her lungs had been taken from her, and someone was holding her heart tightly, stopping it from beating. The soldier looked more frightened than her father. His eyes were squinted shut, making a face of sorrow. Without consideration Bara opened her mouth and out came a cry like no other, calling out her father’s name. The soldier looked up and saw her running towards him, as did her father, making complete eye contact with her. The soldier pointed the gun down towards the ground. At that exact moment another German soldier ran over and pressed his gun against Mr. Zielinski’s head and pulled the trigger with no remorse. Bara’s body came to a stop as it fell to the ground, having no control over it. The soldier spat on her father before raising his gun towards her. She stared at him, emotionless, waiting, as she saw his finger draw back, when suddenly, he pulled the trigger; without noticing his fellow soldier pulled his arm up, causing the bullet to go astray.
After the death of her father, nothing was clear to Bara. She remembered Kenan picking her up and taking her to shelter. Bombs going off, and the sound of people’s cries, she sat there, without any expression on her face, not knowing what to think or feel. All she could think was that this was not going to be the end of this tragedy; it had just begun.