My entry to FWBA‘s Flash Fiction contest for the topic The Price of our Silence.
It was a dark morning, the sun took its time to come out of the clouds. Everyone expected the clouds to unburden themselves anytime now. The darkness would be over soon, but it was taking too long for the cloud cover to go away.
Shayna Brahm was still in bed. The blanket felt too heavy on her troubled soul and she found it hard to get up. It was a tough time for her, both personally and professionally. The young charismatic but divisive leader of the Nazi Party had been appointed as the Chancellor of Germany. The youth leaders of the Nazi party, who used to spread rumors about Jewish heritage and culture so far, now came out in the open and were threatening her way of life. Just yesterday, she had heard about the attack on their synagogue by a group of rowdy Nazis. They broke all the windows and wrote slogans on the doors asking the Jews to leave Germany. They declared that the synagogue was constructed illegally on the land. When the police arrived, the policemen registered a case against the synagogue for violation of land use agreement. They justified themselves because a small portion of the stairs came onto the road.
The phone rang and Shayna was forced to get up to pick the phone. After a few minutes of hearing her brother’s voice, she muttered “Sure” and hung up. She staggered to the corner of the room and slumped on the floor. Hugging her knees, she rested her head on them. Things were spinning out of control. Tobias Wood Works, her brother’s workshop was set ablaze last night because of the name on the board. He was asking her if he could send his wife and 2 daughters to her house while he tried to fix things there. They weren’t safe in his house anymore. Tobias had been marked by the local Nazi group to set an example for the rest of the community. Now he will have to leave the town, otherwise they would be come for his home next.
She held her head in her hands and tugged at her hair as memories came flooding in. She could still remember her colleague’s words clearly as if everything had happened just yesterday.
Raymond’s voice had risen further when he added, “But Shayna, you can’t ignore the role of Jewish anti-nationals in the loss of Germany in the World War. If Germany didn’t have any Jewish anti-nationals, then the country would have won the World War.”
Shayna had countered back, “The role was of anti-nationals, which included both Jewish and Christians that led to loss. You are no different than the other anti-Semites out there.”
“They were not Germans. Those people did not followed German ideologies of truth and hard work. They took bribes. They were all Jews, taking bribes and collecting money,” Raymond had said.
“I don’t want to talk to an Anti-Semite who has no sense,” Shayna had declared. “You are blinded by the Nazi propaganda.”
“You can’t call it propaganda if it’s the truth. Jews were responsible for the loss of Germany,” Raymond had concluded.
The conversation was from 7 years ago when Shayna was talking to her colleague, Raymond, in her office before the talk show began. They had invited a member of the Nazi party for an interview. Although he was clearly an anti-Semite, she was forced to interview him if she wanted to retain her slot. If she had denied it, someone else would have done the interview in her place.
“It’s not fair!” She shouted in her empty room now, staring at the now-silent phone. “We are just 1% of the population. Where will we go?”
She recalled what her brother told her after the interview years back. “Don’t worry about him. These are just some fringe elements. German values have always tolerated such nonsense. We would be fine once their party is defeated in the elections. This is just propaganda to please the party base. Keep quiet for now and wait for things to get better.”
The silent wait had proved lethal for her community.
Shayna went back to bed hoping the nightmare would end soon.
Outside, the clouds had finally unburdened themselves, but it was too late. A lot of farmers had lost their crop, the land had dried up and would need a lot of manpower to prepare for the next sowing season. Most farmers didn’t have the required money, so they will have to leave their villages in search for jobs in the city. God was against them right now, they should have done more, should have planted drought resistant varieties. But it was all lost now. Debt-ridden, a farmer looked towards the city. It will take many years before he can pay back his debt.