I was very little back then, so I did not understand what was happening. I know most of it from stories they tattooed on my brain as I grew up and later, when I went back to visit my family.
My daddy was back from the Eastern Front, which I did not understand. Uncle Paul told me it was part of War, but I had not seen real War because in our city, War meant only that my mother had to work late and stand in long lines to get things, and I was very bored and lonely because of both things, so I knew War was not good. I also knew sirens sang every night and we had to go down into the cellar, listen to the loud drums of bombs falling overhead. I had no idea War also meant other things. Many, many other things.
Anyway, my daddy got back from the Eastern Front with his face fragmented by scars, like a broken mirror. Uncle Paul called him puzzlefaced and said the Russians tore him to pieces and put him back together with a needle and some dirty thread. They both laughed, I think, though I suspect my daddy was only pretending to laugh. I cannot imagine they put joy back in as they were putting him together. I imagine they put in a lot of barbed wire, broken glass, and potato masher grenades.
I remember when daddy died, too. I do not know whether it is a real memory, but it is a memory of a real thing: it was night time when the sirens sang, as they did every night, and we went down into the cellar. We sat down on wooden benches uncle Paul had made for the garden. They were in the cellar for the winter, I suppose. Daddy was sitting right by the gas lamp, singing a song in a soft voice accompanied by the irregular drum beat above us. I think he was smiling, though the shadows of his scars made his face look like a pile of rubble and it was hard to tell. The song was so pretty, it made uncle Paul’s eyes water. He probably said quietly that we have to hold on just a little longer and the raids would be over. And the War would be over and everything could be back the way it was before everyone went insane. I bet I was warm and cozy, close to my mom, looking at puzzlefaced man, listening to him sing, suspecting the universe is full of wonders.
When the ceiling suddenly collapsed and our entire house fell on my daddy. The noise was so great, that I suspect all the grenades that they put inside him exploded on impact.
I did not know about revenge back then. Later, when I was a teenager, I learned all about the crimes both sides committed and had to decide whether I would join the global revenge movement or not. Would you?