THE 500 HRIVNYA
- The 500 Hrivnya
It is noon on a beautiful day in March.
It is after classes and I walk home from school.
I turn into the Neuweltstrasse and go downhill.
Soon I'll turn into the Herrengasse on the left and
then down the Armenergasse which will lead me home.
Coming up the street , facing me, comes a strange
boy ,seemingly Ukrainean whom I never met before .
He is taller than me by a head and wears a black
As he is now in front of me he raises his hands and
starts beating me up.
I didn't have a chance . His punches were hard and
all went to my face.
I started bleeding from my mouth and my face was a
Satisfied with his job and without uttering a word
he goes away.
It is 60 years since.
I am here with the Reunion and visit my old school.
It stands there unchanged . The ghosts of teacher Stanger
and Metre Kapeliuch still roam the classrooms.
Full of nostalgia I leave the school and start walking the
old way home.
I turn into the Neuweltstrasse and start the way downhill.
Coming up the street comes a man , an old man.
As he comes closer I can see his face.
Can it be ? Is it him ?
The same face , older of course ,but this is" him".
No ,not this time , now I'm ready.
The Cheremosh keyholder in my pocket is hard and heavy.
I clutch it in my hand and as I pass him I hit him
hard in the ribs.
The man bends over and groans.
I also want him to know what this is about.
"Remember fortysix!" I shout.
You cannot beat up Jews for free anymore..
"Bukovina Novosty- Chernivtsi Daily Newspaper"
May 20, 2006 Trivia section:
Today a local citizen, Ivan Hudnarenko aged 78, was brutally assaulted while walking
peacefully on his way home.
The assault took place at 11 o'clock on Shevchenko street and the assailant was an
Israeli tourist attending the Reunion of the Czernowitz Jewish old time residents.
The tourist was fined 500 Hrivnya and ordered to leave Ukraina..
I am in the car that takes me to the border.
I haven't slept all night - how could I do a thing like this?
I tell the driver to stop at the City Hospital where Ivan is
interned , I buy some flowers an find his ward.
I stand by his bed and ask his forgiveness for my brutal
behaviour . Ivan takes a look at me and says :"Never mind,
but tell me , than ,in'46 did you wear a white "kutshma" hat?
Did you wear a brown coat and a red shawl? YES?
It was me alright ! I beat you up ! In church they said that
all Jews were leaving and if you wanted to beat up a Jew you
better do it now".
I stood there speechless.
"Olga ," he says " give the man back his 500 Hrivnya,
my testimony to the police was all lies".
"You had every right to hit me ,I had it coming."
As I leave the hospital with the 500 Hryvnia still in
my hand ,I am approached by the usual bunch of old women beggars with
their hand extended asking for alms.
The nearest is a very old wretch ,who hardly can move.
I take the 500 Hryvnia and push them into her hand.
She opens her mouth and utters something close to a moan
then she drops to her knees crossing herself.
She has seen an angel .
I get into the waiting car and leave for good
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