My Life

My Life

My Life

My Life


The first thing I ever saw was a trough. Simple, square, half hollow, half oval. A market trough. Once inside, I filled it completely.

I don't remember -- perhaps my mother told me -- but at the very moment I was born a great fire broke out, in a little cottage, behind a prison, near the highroad, on the outskirts of Vitebsk.

The town was on fire, the quarter where the poor Jews lived.

They carried the bed and the mattress, the mother and the babe at her feet, to a safe place at the other end of town.

But, first of all, I was born dead.

I did not want to live. Imagine a white bubble that does not want to live. As if it had been stuffed with Chagall pictures.

They pricked that bubble with needles, they plunged it into a pail of water. At last it emitted a feeble whimper.

But the main thing was, I was born dead.

I hope the psychologists have the grace not to draw improper conclusions from that!

However, that little house near the Pestkowatik road had not been touched. I saw it not so long ago.

As soon as he was a little better off, my father sold the cottage. The place reminds me of the bump on the head of the rabbi in green I painted, or of a potato tossed into a barrel of herring and soaked in pickling brine. Looking at this cottage from the height of my recent "grandeur," I winced and I asked myself:

"How could I possibly have been born here? How does one breathe? . . ."

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