The diary of a young gir.., p.19
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.19Anne Frank
Who could have our key? Why didn’t the burglar go to the warehouse? Was it one of our own warehouse employees, and will he turn us in, now that he’s heard Mr. van Daan and maybe even seen him?
It’s really scary, since we don’t know whether the burglar will take it into his head to try and get in again. Or was he so startled when he heard someone else in the building that he’ll stay away?
PS. We’d be delighted if you could hunt up a good detective for us. Obviously, there’s one condition: he must be relied upon not to inform on people in hiding.
THURSDAY, MARCH 2, 1944
Margot and I were in the attic together today. I can’t enjoy being there with her the way I imagine it’d be with Peter (or someone else). I know she feels the same about most things as I do!
While doing the dishes, Bep began talking to Mother and Mrs. van Daan about how discouraged she gets. What help did those two offer her? Our tactless mother, especially, only made things go from bad to worse. Do you know what her advice was? That she should think about all the other people in the world who are suffering! How can thinking about the misery of others help if you’re miserable yourself? I said as much. Their response, of course, was that I should stay out of conversations of this sort.
The grown-ups are such idiots! As if Peter, Margot, Bep and I didn’t all have the same feelings. The only thing that helps is a mother’s love, or that of a very, very close friend. But these two mothers don’t understand the first thing about us! Perhaps Mrs. van Daan does, a bit more than Mother. Oh, I wish I could have said something to poor Bep, something that I know from my own experience would have helped. But Father came between us, pushing me roughly aside. They’re all so stupid!
I also talked to Margot about Father and Mother, about how nice it could be here if they weren’t so aggravating. We’d be able to organize evenings in which everyone could take turns discussing a given subject. But we’ve already been through all that. It’s impossible for me to talk here! Mr. van Daan goes on the offensive, Mother gets sarcastic and can’t say anything in a normal voice, Father doesn’t feel like taking part, nor does Mr. Dussel, and Mrs. van D. is attacked so often that she just sits there with a red face, hardly able to put up a fight anymore. And what about us? We aren’t allowed to have an opinion! My, my, aren’t they progressive! Not have an opinion! People can tell you to shut up, but they can’t keep you from having an opinion. You can’t forbid someone to have an opinion, no matter how young they are! The only thing that would help Bep, Margot, Peter and me would be great love and devotion, which we don’t get here. And no one, especially not the idiotic sages around here, is capable of understanding us, since we’re more sensitive and much more advanced in our thinking than any of them ever suspect!
Love, what is love? I don’t think you can really put it into words. Love is understanding someone, caring for him, sharing his joys and sorrows. This eventually includes physical love. You’ve shared something, given something away and received something in return, whether or not you’re married, whether or not you have a baby. Losing your virtue doesn’t matter, as long as you know that for as long as you live you’ll have someone at your side who understands you, and who doesn’t have to be shared with anyone else!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
At the moment, Mother’s grouching at me again; she’s clearly jealous because I talk to Mrs. van Daan more than to her. What do I care!
I managed to get hold of Peter this afternoon, and we talked for at least forty-five minutes. He wanted to tell me something about himself, but didn’t find it easy. He finally got it out, though it took a long time. I honestly didn’t know whether it was better for me to stay or to go. But I wanted so much to help him! I told him about Bep and how tactless our mothers are. He told me that his parents fight constantly, about politics and cigarettes and all kinds of things. As I’ve told you before, Peter’s very shy, but not too shy to admit that he’d be perfectly happy not to see his parents for a year or two. “My father isn’t as nice as he looks,” he said. “But in the matter of the cigarettes, Mother’s absolutely right.”
I also told him about my mother. But he came to Father’s defense. He thought he was a “terrific guy.”
Tonight when I was hanging up my apron after doing the dishes, he called me over and asked me not to say anything downstairs about his parents’ having had another argument and not being on speaking terms. I promised, though I’d already told Margot. But I’m sure Margot won’t pass it on.
“Oh no, Peter,” I said, “you don’t have to worry about me. I’ve learned not to blab everything I hear. I never repeat what you tell me.”
He was glad to hear that. I also told him what terrible gossips we are, and said, “Margot’s quite right, of course, when she says I’m not being honest, because as much as I want to stop gossiping, there’s nothing I like better than discussing Mr. Dussel.”
“It’s good that you admit it,” he said. He blushed, and his sincere compliment almost embarrassed me too.
Then we talked about “upstairs” and “downstairs” some more. Peter was really rather surprised to hear that we don’t like his parents. “Peter,” I said, “you know I’m always honest, so why shouldn’t I tell you this as well? We can see their faults too.”
I added, “Peter, I’d really like to help you. Will you let me? You’re caught in an awkward position, and I know, even though you don’t say anything, that it upsets you.”
“Oh, your help is always welcome!”
“Maybe it’d be better for you to talk to Father. You can tell him anything, he won’t pass it on.”
“I know, he’s a real pal.”
“You like him a lot, don’t you?”
Peter nodded, and I continued, “Well, he likes you too, you know!”
He looked up quickly and blushed. It was really touching to see how happy these few words made him. “You think so?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “You can tell from the little things he lets slip now and then.”
Then Mr. van Daan came in to do some dictating. Peter’s a “terrific guy,” just like Father!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
FRIDAY, MARCH 3, 1944
My dearest Kitty,
When I looked into the candle tonight, I felt calm and happy again. It seems Grandma is in that candle, and it’s Grandma who watches over and protects me and makes me feel happy again. But … there’s someone else who governs all my moods and that’s … Peter. I went to get the potatoes today, and while I was standing on the stairway with my pan full, he asked, “What did you do during the lunch break?”
I sat down on the stairs, and we began to talk. The potatoes didn’t make it to the kitchen until five-fifteen (an hour after I’d gone to get them). Peter didn’t say anything more about his parents; we just talked about books and about the past. Oh, he gazes at me with such warmth in his eyes; I don’t think it will take much for me to fall in love with him.
He brought the subject up this evening. I went to his room after peeling potatoes and remarked on how hot it was. “You can tell the temperature by looking at Margot and me, because we turn white when it’s cold and red when it’s hot,” I said.
“In love?” he asked.
“Why should I be in love?” It was a pretty silly answer (or, rather, question).
“Why not?” he said, and then it was time for dinner.
What did he mean? Today I finally managed to ask him whether my chatter bothered him. All he said was, “Oh, it’s fine with me!” I can’t tell how much of his reply was due to shyness.
Kitty, I sound like someone who’s in love and can talk about nothing but her dearest darling. And Peter is a darling. Will I ever be able to tell him that? Only if he thinks the same of me, but I’m the kind of person you have to treat with kid gloves, I know that all too well. And he likes to be left alone, so I don’t know how much he likes me. In any case, we’re getting to k
Yours, Anne M. Frank
SATURDAY, MARCH 4, 1944
This is the first Saturday in months that hasn’t been tiresome, dreary and boring. The reason is Peter. This morning as I was on my way to the attic to hang up my apron, Father asked whether I wanted to stay and practice my French, and I said yes. We spoke French together for a while and I explained something to Peter, and then we worked on our English. Father read aloud from Dickens, and I was in seventh heaven, since I was sitting on Father’s chair, close to Peter.
I went downstairs at quarter to eleven. When I went back up at eleven-thirty, Peter was already waiting for me on the stairs. We talked until quarter to one. Whenever I leave the room, for example after a meal, and Peter has a chance and no one else can hear, he says, “Bye, Anne, see you later.”
Oh, I’m so happy! I wonder if he’s going to fall in love with me after all? In any case, he’s a nice boy, and you have no idea how good it is to talk to him!
Mrs. van D. thinks it’s all right for me to talk to Peter, but today she asked me teasingly, “Can I trust you two up there?”
“Of course,” I protested. “I take that as an insult!” Morning, noon and night, I look forward to seeing Peter.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
PS. Before I forget, last night everything was blanketed in snow. Now it’s thawed and there’s almost nothing left.
MONDAY, MARCH 6, 1944
Ever since Peter told me about his parents, I’ve felt a certain sense of responsibility toward him—don’t you think that’s strange? It’s as though their quarrels were just as much my business as his, and yet I don’t dare bring it up anymore, because I’m afraid it makes him uncomfortable. I wouldn’t want to intrude, not for all the money in the world.
I can tell by Peter’s face that he ponders things just as deeply as I do. Last night I was annoyed when Mrs. van D. scoffed, “The thinker!” Peter flushed and looked embarrassed, and I nearly blew my top.
Why don’t these people keep their mouths shut? You can’t imagine what it’s like to have to stand on the sidelines and see how lonely he is, without being able to do anything. I can imagine, as if I were in his place, how despondent he must sometimes feel at the quarrels. And about love. Poor Peter, he needs to be loved so much!
It sounded so cold when he said he didn’t need any friends. Oh, he’s so wrong! I don’t think he means it. He clings to his masculinity, his solitude and his feigned indifference so he can maintain his role, so he’ll never, ever have to show his feelings. Poor Peter, how long can he keep it up? Won’t he explode from this superhuman effort?
Oh, Peter, if only I could help you, if only you would let me! Together we could banish our loneliness, yours and mine!
I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking, but not saying much. I’m happy when I see him, and happier still if the sun shines when we’re together. I washed my hair yesterday, and because I knew he was next door, I was very rambunctious. I couldn’t help it; the more quiet and serious I am on the inside, the noisier I get on the outside! Who will be the first to discover the chink in my armor?
It’s just as well that the van Daans don’t have a daughter. My conquest could never be so challenging, so beautiful and so nice with someone of the same sex!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
PS. You know I’m always honest with you, so I think I should tell you that I live from one encounter to the next. I keep hoping to discover that he’s dying to see me, and I’m in raptures when I notice his bashful attempts. I think he’d like to be able to express himself as easily as I do; little does he know it’s his awkwardness that I find so touching.
TUESDAY, MARCH 7, 1944
When I think back to my life in 1942, it all seems so unreal. The Anne Frank who enjoyed that heavenly existence was completely different from the one who has grown wise within these walls. Yes, it was heavenly. Five admirers on every street corner, twenty or so friends, the favorite of most of my teachers, spoiled rotten by Father and Mother, bags full of candy and a big allowance. What more could anyone ask for?
You’re probably wondering how I could have charmed all those people. Peter says it’s because I’m “attractive,” but that isn’t it entirely. The teachers were amused and entertained by my clever answers, my witty remarks, my smiling face and my critical mind. That’s all I was: a terrible flirt, coquettish and amusing. I had a few plus points, which kept me in everybody’s good graces: I was hardworking, honest and generous. I would never have refused anyone who wanted to peek at my answers, I was magnanimous with my candy, and I wasn’t stuck-up.
Would all that admiration eventually have made me overconfident? It’s a good thing that, at the height of my glory, I was suddenly plunged into reality. It took me more than a year to get used to doing without admiration.
How did they see me at school? As the class comedian, the eternal ringleader, never in a bad mood, never a crybaby. Was it any wonder that everyone wanted to bicycle to school with me or do me little favors?
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
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,”17 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
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