The Diary of a Young Girl (26 page)

BOOK: The Diary of a Young Girl
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I look back at that Anne Frank as a pleasant, amusing, but superficial girl, who has nothing to do with me. What did Peter say about me? “Whenever I saw you, you were surrounded by a flock of girls and at least two boys, you were always laughing, and you were always the center of attention!” He was right.

What’s remained of that Anne Frank? Oh, I haven’t forgotten how to laugh or toss off a remark, I’m just as good, if not better, at raking people over the coals, and I can still flirt and be amusing, if I want to be …

But there’s the catch. I’d like to live that seemingly carefree and happy life for an evening, a few days, a week. At the end of that week I’d be exhausted, and would be grateful to the first person to talk to me about something meaningful. I want friends, not admirers. People who respect me for my character and my deeds, not my flattering smile. The circle around me would be much smaller, but what does that matter, as long as they’re sincere?

In spite of everything, I wasn’t altogether happy in 1942; I often felt I’d been deserted, but because I was on the go all day long, I didn’t think about it. I enjoyed myself as much as I could, trying consciously or unconsciously to fill the void with jokes.

Looking back, I realize that this period of my life has
irrevocably come to a close; my happy-go-lucky, carefree schooldays are gone forever. I don’t even miss them. I’ve outgrown them. I can no longer just kid around, since my serious side is always there.

I see my life up to New Year’s 1944 as if I were looking through a powerful magnifying glass. When I was at home, my life was filled with sunshine. Then, in the middle of 1942, everything changed overnight. The quarrels, the accusations—I couldn’t take it all in. I was caught off guard, and the only way I knew to keep my bearings was to talk back.

The first half of 1943 brought crying spells, loneliness and the gradual realization of my faults and shortcomings, which were numerous and seemed even more so. I filled the day with chatter, tried to draw Pim closer to me and failed. This left me on my own to face the difficult task of improving myself so I wouldn’t have to hear their reproaches, because they made me so despondent.

The second half of the year was slightly better. I became a teenager, and was treated more like a grown-up. I began to think about things and to write stories, finally coming to the conclusion that the others no longer had anything to do with me. They had no right to swing me back and forth like a pendulum on a clock. I wanted to change myself in my own way. I realized I could manage without my mother, completely and totally, and that hurt. But what affected me even more was the realization that I was never going to be able to confide in Father. I didn’t trust anyone but myself.

After New Year’s the second big change occurred: my dream, through which I discovered my longing for … a boy; not for a girlfriend, but for a boyfriend. I also discovered an inner happiness underneath my superficial
and cheerful exterior. From time to time I was quiet. Now I live only for Peter, since what happens to me in the future depends largely on him!

I lie in bed at night, after ending my prayers with the words
“Ich danke dir für all das Gute und Liebe und Schöne,”
and I’m filled with joy. I think of going into hiding, my health and my whole being as
das Gute;
Peter’s love (which is still so new and fragile and which neither of us dares to say aloud), the future, happiness and love as
das Liebe;
the world, nature and the tremendous beauty of everything, all that splendor, as
das Schöne

At such moments I don’t think about all the misery, but about the beauty that still remains. This is where Mother and I differ greatly. Her advice in the face of melancholy is: “Think about all the suffering in the world and be thankful you’re not part of it.” My advice is: “Go outside, to the country, enjoy the sun and all nature has to offer. Go outside and try to recapture the happiness within yourself; think of all the beauty in yourself and in everything around you and be happy.”

I don’t think Mother’s advice can be right, because what are you supposed to do if you become part of the suffering? You’d be completely lost. On the contrary, beauty remains, even in misfortune. If you just look for it, you discover more and more happiness and regain your balance. A person who’s happy will make others happy; a person who has courage and faith will never die in misery!

Yours, Anne M. Frank

, M
8, 1944

Margot and I have been writing each other notes, just for fun, of course.

Anne: It’s strange, but I can only remember the day after what has happened the night before. For example, I suddenly remembered that Mr. Dussel was snoring loudly last night. (It’s now quarter to three on Wednesday afternoon and Mr. Dussel is snoring again, which is why it flashed through my mind, of course.) When I had to use the potty, I deliberately made more noise to get the snoring to stop.

Margot: Which is better, the snoring or the gasping for air?

Anne: The snoring’s better, because it stops when I make noise, without waking the person in question.

What I didn’t write to Margot, but what I’ll confess to you, dear Kitty, is that I’ve been dreaming of Peter a great deal. The night before last I dreamed I was skating right here in our living room with that little boy from the Apollo ice-skating rink; he was with his sister, the girl with the spindly legs who always wore the same blue dress. I introduced myself, overdoing it a bit, and asked him his name. It was Peter. In my dream I wondered just how many Peters I actually knew!

Then I dreamed we were standing in Peter’s room, facing each other beside the stairs. I said something to him; he gave me a kiss, but replied that he didn’t love me all that much and that I shouldn’t flirt. In a desperate and pleading voice I said, “I’m not flirting, Peter!”

When I woke up, I was glad Peter hasn’t said it after all.

Last night I dreamed we were kissing each other, but Peter’s cheeks were very disappointing: they weren’t as soft as they looked. They were more like Father’s cheeks—the cheeks of a man who already shaves.

, M
10, 1944

My dearest Kitty

The proverb “Misfortunes never come singly” definitely applies to today. Peter just got through saying it. Let me tell you all the awful things that have happened and that are still hanging over our heads.

First, Miep is sick, as a result of Henk and Aagje’s wedding yesterday. She caught cold in the Westerkerk, where the service was held. Second, Mr. Kleiman hasn’t returned to work since the last time his stomach started bleeding, so Bep’s been left to hold down the fort alone. Third, the police have arrested a man (whose name I won’t put in writing). It’s terrible not only for him, but for us as well, since he’s been supplying us with potatoes, butter and jam. Mr. M., as I’ll call him, has five children under the age of thirteen, and another on the way.

Last night we had another little scare: we were in the middle of dinner when suddenly someone knocked on the wall next door. For the rest of the evening we were nervous and gloomy.

Lately I haven’t been at all in the mood to write down what’s been going on here. I’ve been more wrapped up in myself. Don’t get me wrong, I’m terribly upset about what’s happened to poor, good-hearted Mr. M., but there’s not much room for him in my diary.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I was in Peter’s room from four-thirty to five-fifteen. We worked on our French and chatted about one thing and another. I really
look forward to that hour or so in the afternoon, but best of all is that I think Peter’s just as pleased to see me.

Yours, Anne M. Frank

, M
11, 1944

Dearest Kitty

I haven’t been able to sit still lately. I wander upstairs and down and then back again. I like talking to Peter, but I’m always afraid of being a nuisance. He’s told me a bit about the past, about his parents and about himself, but it’s not enough, and every five minutes I wonder why I find myself longing for more. He used to think I was a real pain in the neck, and the feeling was mutual. I’ve changed my mind, but how do I know he’s changed his? I think he has, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we have to become the best of friends, although as far as I’m concerned, it would make our time here more bearable. But I won’t let this drive me crazy. I spend enough time thinking about him and don’t have to get you all worked up as well, simply because I’m so miserable!

, M
12, 1944

Dearest Kitty

Things are getting crazier here as the days go by. Peter hasn’t looked at me since yesterday. He’s been acting as if he’s mad at me. I’m doing my best not to chase after him and to talk to him as little as possible, but it’s not easy! What’s going on, what makes him keep me at arm’s length one minute and rush back to my side the next? Perhaps I’m imagining that it’s worse than it really is. Perhaps he’s just moody like me, and tomorrow everything will be all right again!

I have the hardest time trying to maintain a normal facade when I’m feeling so wretched and sad. I have to
talk, help around the house, sit with the others and, above all, act cheerful! Most of all I miss the outdoors and having a place where I can be alone for as long as I want! I think I’m getting everything all mixed up, Kitty, but then, I’m in a state of utter confusion: on the one hand, I’m half crazy with desire for him, can hardly be in the same room without looking at him; and on the other hand, I wonder why he should matter to me so much and why I can’t be calm again!

Day and night, during every waking hour, I do nothing but ask myself, “Have you given him enough chance to be alone? Have you been spending too much time upstairs? Do you talk too much about serious subjects he’s not yet ready to talk about? Maybe he doesn’t even like you? Has it all been your imagination? But then why has he told you so much about himself? Is he sorry he did?” And a whole lot more.

Yesterday afternoon I was so worn out by the sad news from the outside that I lay down on my divan for a nap. All I wanted was to sleep and not have to think. I slept until four, but then I had to go next door. It wasn’t easy, answering all Mother’s questions and inventing an excuse to explain my nap to Father. I pleaded a headache, which wasn’t a lie, since I did have one … on the inside!

Ordinary people, ordinary girls, teenagers like myself, would think I’m a little nuts with all my self-pity. But that’s just it. I pour my heart out to you, and the rest of the time I’m as impudent, cheerful and self-confident as possible to avoid questions and keep from getting on my own nerves.

Margot is very kind and would like me to confide in her, but I can’t tell her everything. She takes me too seriously, far too seriously, and spends a lot of time thinking
about her loony sister, looking at me closely whenever I open my mouth and wondering, “Is she acting, or does she really mean it?”

It’s because we’re always together. I don’t want the person I confide in to be around me all the time.

When will I untangle my jumbled thoughts? When will I find inner peace again?

Yours, Anne

, M
14, 1944

Dearest Kitty

It might be amusing for you (though not for me) to hear what we’re going to eat today. The cleaning lady is working downstairs, so at the moment I’m seated at the van Daans’ oilcloth-covered table with a handkerchief sprinkled with fragrant prewar perfume pressed to my nose and mouth. You probably don’t have the faintest idea what I’m talking about, so let me “begin at the beginning.” The people who supply us with food coupons have been arrested, so we have just our five black-market ration books—no coupons, no fats and oils. Since Miep and Mr. Kleiman are sick again, Bep can’t manage the shopping. The food is wretched, and so are we. As of tomorrow, we won’t have a scrap of fat, butter or margarine. We can’t eat fried potatoes for breakfast (which we’ve been doing to save on bread), so we’re having hot cereal instead, and because Mrs. van D. thinks we’re starving, we bought some half-and-half. Lunch today consists of mashed potatoes and pickled kale. This explains the precautionary measure with the handkerchief. You wouldn’t believe how much kale can stink when it’s a few years old! The kitchen smells like a mixture of spoiled plums, rotten eggs and brine. Ugh, just the thought of having to eat that muck makes me want to throw up! Besides that,
our potatoes have contracted such strange diseases that one out of every two buckets of
pommes de terre
winds up in the garbage. We entertain ourselves by trying to figure out which disease they’ve got, and we’ve reached the conclusion that they suffer from cancer, smallpox and measles. Honestly, being in hiding during the fourth year of the war is no picnic. If only the whole stinking mess were over!

To tell you the truth, the food wouldn’t matter so much to me if life here were more pleasant in other ways. But that’s just it: this tedious existence is starting to make us all disagreeable. Here are the opinions of the five grown-ups on the present situation (children aren’t allowed to have opinions, and for once I’m sticking to the rules):

Mrs. van Daan: “I’d stopped wanting to be queen of the kitchen long ago. But sitting around doing nothing was boring, so I went back to cooking. Still, I can’t help complaining: it’s impossible to cook without oil, and all those disgusting smells make me sick to my stomach. Besides, what do I get in return for my efforts? Ingratitude and rude remarks. I’m always the black sheep; I get blamed for everything. What’s more, it’s my opinion that the war is making very little progress. The Germans will win in the end. I’m terrified that we’re going to starve, and when I’m in a bad mood, I snap at everyone who comes near.”

Mr. van Daan: “I just smoke and smoke and smoke. Then the food, the political situation and Kerli’s moods don’t seem so bad. Kerli’s a sweetheart. If I don’t have anything to smoke, I get sick, then I need to eat meat, life becomes unbearable, nothing’s good enough, and there’s bound to be a flaming row. My Kerli’s an idiot.”

BOOK: The Diary of a Young Girl
8.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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