The Ration Ticket

Excerpt from the diary of Jules Flegmon.

18 February. --I waited three hours in line at the 18th district city hall to get my time ticket. We were there, lined up in double file, around two thousand unfortunate souls dedicated to the appetite of the laboring masses. And this was just the first little batch. About half of the number looked to be elderly. There were pretty young women whose faces were languid with sadness and who seemed to sigh: "I don’t want to die yet". The "working girls" were numerous. The decree had touched them particularly hard by reducing their time alive to seven days a month. In front of me, one of them was complaining that she was condemned forever to her role as a lady of the evening. "In seven days," she complained, "men don’t have the time to form an attachment". I’m not so sure about that. In the waiting lines, I recognized, not without emotion, and, I must admit, with secret satisfaction, comrades from Montmartre, writers and artists: Céline, Gen Paul, Daragnès, Fauchois, Soupault, Tintin, d’Esparbès and others. Céline was in a dark mood. He said that it was just one more maneuver of the Jews, but I think that on this particular point, his bad mood led him astray. As a matter of fact, in the terms of the decree, it allows Jews, without distinction for age, sex, or activity, one-half day of existence per month. On the whole, the crowd was irritated and tumultuous. The many officers assigned to security duty treated us with great disdain, clearly considering us the scum of the earth. Again and again, as we grew tired of this long wait, they appeased our impatience with kicks in the ass. I devoured this humiliation with silent dignity, but I stared at a police sergeant while mentally roaring a cry of revolt. Now it is we who are the damned of the earth.

I was finally able to pick up my time ticket. The adjoining tickets, each worth twenty-four hours of existence, are a very tender shade of blue, periwinkle blue, such a soft blue that it brought tears to my eyes.

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Copyright 1997 Karen Reshkin
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