The diary of a young gir.., p.22
The Diary of a Young Girl, p.22Anne Frank
Now I’ll have to tell him everything!
FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 1944
I often go up to Peter’s room after dinner nowadays to breathe in the fresh evening air. You can get around to meaningful conversations more quickly in the dark than with the sun tickling your face. It’s cozy and snug sitting beside him on a chair and looking outside. The van Daans and Dussel make the silliest remarks when I disappear into his room. “Annes zweite Heimat,”19 they say, or “Is it proper for a gentleman to receive young girls in his room at night with the lights out?” Peter has amazing presence of mind in the face of these so-called witticisms. My mother, incidentally, is also bursting with curiosity and simply dying to ask what we talk about, only she’s secretly afraid I’d refuse to answer. Peter says the grown-ups are just jealous because we’re young and that we shouldn’t take their obnoxious comments to heart.
Sometimes he comes downstairs to get me, but that’s awkward too, because in spite of all his precautions his face turns bright red and he can hardly get the words out of his mouth. I’m glad I don’t blush; it must be extremely unpleasant.
Besides, it bothers me that Margot has to sit downstairs all by herself, while I’m upstairs enjoying Peter’s company. But what can I do about it? I wouldn’t mind it if she came, but she’d just be the odd one out, sitting there like a lump on a log.
I’ve had to listen to countless remarks about our sudden friendship. I can’t tell you how often the conversation at meals has been about an Annex wedding, should the war last another five years. Do we take any notice of this parental chitchat? Hardly, since it’s all so silly. Have my parents forgotten that they were young once? Apparently they have. At any rate, they laugh at us when we’re serious, and they’re serious when we’re joking.
I don’t know what’s going to happen next, or whether we’ll run out of things to say. But if it goes on like this, we’ll eventually be able to be together without talking. If only his parents would stop acting so strangely. It’s probably because they don’t like seeing me so often; Peter and I certainly never tell them what we talk about. Imagine if they knew we were discussing such intimate things.
I’d like to ask Peter whether he knows what girls look like down there. I don’t think boys are as complicated as girls. You can easily see what boys look like in photographs or pictures of male nudes, but with women it’s different. In women, the genitals, or whatever they’re called, are hidden between their legs. Peter has probably never seen a girl up close. To tell you the truth, neither have I. Boys are a lot easier. How on earth would I go about describing a girl’s parts? I can tell from what he said that he doesn’t know exactly how it all fits together. He was talking about the “Muttermund,”20 but that’s on the inside, where you can’t see it. Everything’s pretty well arranged in us women. Until I was eleven or twelve, I didn’t realize there was a second set of labia on the inside, since you couldn’t see them. What’s even funnier is that I thought urine came out of the clitoris. I asked Mother one time what that little bump was, and she said she didn’t know. She can really play dumb when she wants to!
But to get back to the subject. How on earth can you explain what it all looks like without any models? Shall I try anyway? Okay, here goes!
When you’re standing up, all you see from the front is hair. Between your legs there are two soft, cushiony things, also covered with hair, which press together when you’re standing, so you can’t see what’s inside. They separate when you sit down, and they’re very red and quite fleshy on the inside. In the upper part, between the outer labia, there’s a fold of skin that, on second thought, looks like a kind of blister. That’s the clitoris. Then come the inner labia, which are also pressed together in a kind of crease. When they open up, you can see a fleshy little mound, no bigger than the top of my thumb. The upper part has a couple of small holes in it, which is where the urine comes out. The lower part looks as if it were just skin, and yet that’s where the vagina is. You can barely find it, because the folds of skin hide the opening. The hole’s so small I can hardly imagine how a man could get in there, much less how a baby could come out. It’s hard enough trying to get your index finger inside. That’s all there is, and yet it plays such an important role!
Yours, Anne M. Frank
SATURDAY, MARCH 25, 1944
You never realize how much you’ve changed until after it’s happened. I’ve changed quite drastically, everything about me is different: my opinions, ideas, critical outlook. Inwardly, outwardly, nothing’s the same. And, I might safely add, since it’s true, I’ve changed for the better. I once told you that, after years of being adored, it was hard for me to adjust to the harsh reality of grown-ups and rebukes. But Father and Mother are largely to blame for my having to put up with so much. At home they wanted me to enjoy life, which was fine, but here they shouldn’t have encouraged me to agree with them and only shown me “their” side of all the quarrels and gossip. It was a long time before I discovered the score was fifty-fifty. I now know that many blunders have been committed here, by young and old alike. Father and Mother’s biggest mistake in dealing with the van Daans is that they’re never candid and friendly (admittedly, the friendliness might have to be feigned). Above all, I want to keep the peace, and to neither quarrel nor gossip. With Father and Margot that’s not difficult, but it is with Mother, which is why I’m glad she gives me an occasional rap on the knuckles. You can win Mr. van Daan to your side by agreeing with him, listening quietly, not saying much and most of all … responding to his teasing and his corny jokes with a joke of your own. Mrs. van D. can be won over by talking openly to her and admitting when you’re wrong. She also frankly admits her faults, of which she has many. I know all too well that she doesn’t think as badly of me as she did in the beginning. And that’s simply because I’m honest and tell people right to their faces what I think, even when it’s not very flattering. I want to be honest; I think it gets you further and also makes you feel better about yourself.
Yesterday Mrs. van D. was talking about the rice we gave Mr. Kleiman. “All we do is give, give, give. But at a certain point I think that enough is enough. If he’d only take the trouble, Mr. Kleiman could scrounge up his own rice. Why should we give away all our supplies? We need them just as badly.”
“No, Mrs. van Daan,” I replied. “I don’t agree with you. Mr. Kleiman may very well be able to get hold of a little rice, but he doesn’t like having to worry about it. It’s not our place to criticize the people who are helping us. We should give them whatever they need if we can possibly spare it. One less plate of rice a week won’t make that much difference; we can always eat beans.”
Mrs. van D. didn’t see it my way, but she added that, even though she disagreed, she was willing to back down, and that was an entirely different matter.
Well, I’ve said enough. Sometimes I know what my place is and sometimes I have my doubts, but I’ll eventually get where I want to be! I know I will! Especially now that I have help, since Peter helps me through many a rough patch and rainy day!
I honestly don’t know how much he loves me and whether we’ll ever get as far as a kiss; in any case, I don’t want to force the issue! I told Father I often go see Peter and asked if he approved, and of course he did!
It’s much easier now to tell Peter things I’d normally keep to myself; for example, I told him I want to write later on, and if I can’t be a writer, to write in addition to my work.
I don’t have much in the way of money or worldly possessions, I’m not beautiful, intelligent or clever, but I’m happy, and I intend to stay that way! I was born happy, I love people, I have a trusting nature, and I’d like everyone else to be happy too.
Your devoted friend, Anne M. Frank
(I wrote this a few weeks ago and it no longer holds true, but I included it because my poems are so few and far between.)
MONDAY, MARCH 27, 1944
At least one long chapter on our life in hiding should be about politics, but I’ve been avoiding the subject, since it interests me so little. Today, however, I’ll devote an entire letter to politics.
Of course, there are many different opinions on this topic, and it’s not surprising to hear it frequently discussed in times of war, but … arguing so much about politics is just plain stupid! Let them laugh, swear, make bets, grumble and do whatever they want as long as they stew in their own juice. But don’t let them argue, since that only makes things worse. The people who come from outside bring us a lot of news that later proves to be untrue; however, up to now our radio has never lied. Jan, Miep, Mr. Kleiman, Bep and Mr. Kugler go up and down in their political moods, though Jan least of all.
Here in the Annex the mood never varies. The endless debates over the invasion, air raids, speeches, etc., etc., are accompanied by countless exclamations such as “Eempossible!, Um Gottes Willen,21 If they’re just getting started now, how long is it going to last!, It’s going splendidly, gut, great!”
Optimists and pessimists—not to mention the realists—air their opinions with unflagging energy, and as with everything else, they’re all certain that they have a monopoly on the truth. It annoys a certain lady that her spouse has such supreme faith in the British, and a certain husband attacks his wife because of her teasing and disparaging remarks about his beloved nation!
And so it goes from early in the morning to late at night; the funny part is that they never get tired of it. I’ve discovered a trick, and the effect is overwhelming, just like pricking someone with a pin and watching them jump. Here’s how it works: I start talking about politics. All it takes is a single question, a word or a sentence, and before you know it, the entire family is involved!
As if the German “Wehrmacht News” and the English BBC weren’t enough, they’ve now added special air-raid announcements. In a word, splendid. But the other side of the coin is that the British Air Force is operating around the clock. Not unlike the German propaganda machine, which is cranking out lies twenty-four hours a day!
So the radio is switched on every morning at eight (if not earlier) and is listened to every hour until nine, ten or even eleven at night. This is the best evidence yet that the adults have infinite patience, but also that their brains have turned to mush (some of them, I mean, since I wouldn’t want to insult anyone). One broadcast, two at the most, should be enough to last the entire day. But no, those old nincompoops … never mind, I’ve already said it all! “Music While You Work,” the Dutch broadcast from England, Frank Phillips or Queen Wilhelmina, they each get a turn and find a willing listener. If the adults aren’t eating or sleeping, they’re clustered around the radio talking about eating, sleeping and politics. Whew! It’s getting to be a bore, and it’s all I can do to keep from turning into a dreary old crone myself! Though with all the old folks around me, that might not be such a bad idea!
Here’s a shining example, a speech made by our beloved Winston Churchill.
Nine o’clock, Sunday evening. The teapot, under its cozy, is on the table, and the guests enter the room. Dussel sits to the left of the radio, Mr. van D. in front of it and Peter to the side. Mother is next to Mr. van D., with Mrs. van D. behind them. Margot and I are sitting in the last row and Pim at the table. I realize this isn’t a very clear description of our seating arrangements, but it doesn’t matter. The men smoke, Peter’s eyes close from the strain of listening, Mama is dressed in her long, dark negligee, Mrs. van D. is trembling because of the planes, which take no notice of the speech but fly blithely on toward Essen, Father is slurping his tea, and Margot and I are united in a sisterly way by the sleeping Mouschi, who has taken possession of both our knees. Margot’s hair is in curlers and my nightgown is too small, too tight and too short. It all looks so intimate, cozy and peaceful, and for once it really is. Yet I await the end of the speech with dread. They’re impatient, straining at the leash to start another argument! Pst, pst, like a cat luring a mouse from its hole, they goad each other into quarrels and dissent.
TUESDAY, MARCH 28, 1944
My dearest Kitty,
As much as I’d like to write more on politics, I have lots of other news to report today. First, Mother has virtually forbidden me to go up to Peter’s, since, according to her, Mrs. van Daan is jealous. Second, Peter’s invited Margot to join us upstairs. Whether he really means it or is just saying it out of politeness, I don’t know. Third, I asked Father if he thought I should take any notice of Mrs. van Daan’s jealousy and he said I didn’t have to.
What should I do now? Mother’s angry, doesn’t want me going upstairs, wants me to go back to doing my homework in the room I share with Dussel. She may be jealous herself. Father doesn’t begrudge us those few hours and thinks it’s nice we get along so well. Margot likes Peter too, but feels that three people can’t talk about the same things as two.
Furthermore, Mother thinks Peter’s in love with me. To tell you the truth, I wish he were. Then we’d be even, and it’d be a lot easier to get to know each other. She also claims he’s always looking at me. Well, I suppose we do give each other the occasional wink. But I can’t help it if he keeps admiring my dimples, can I?
I’m in a very difficult position. Mother’s against me and I’m against her. Father turns a blind eye to the silent struggle between Mother and me. Mother is sad, because she still loves me, but I’m not at all unhappy, because she no longer means anything to me.
As for Peter … I don’t want to give him up. He’s so sweet and I admire him so much. He and I could have a really beautiful relationship, so why are the old folks poking their noses into our business again? Fortunately, I’m used to hiding my feelings, so I manage not to show how crazy I am about him. Is he ever going to say anything? Am I ever going to feel his cheek against mine, the way I felt Petel’s cheek in my dream? Oh, Peter and Petel, you’re one and the same! They don’t understand us; they’d never understand that we’re content just to sit beside each other and not say a word. They have no idea of what draws us together! Oh, when will we overcome all these difficulties? And yet it’s good that we have to surmount them, since it makes the end that much more beautiful. When he lays his head on his arms and closes his eyes, he’s still a child; when he plays with Mouschi or talks about her, he’s loving; when he carries the potatoes or other heavy loads, he’s strong; when he goes to watch the gunfire or walks through the dark house to look for burglars, he’s brave; and when he’s so awkward and clumsy, he’s hopelessly endearing. It’s much nicer when he explains something to me than when I have to teach him. I wish he were superior to me in nearly every way!
What do we care about our two mothers? Oh, if only he’d say something.
Father always says I’m conceited, but I’m not, I’m merely vain! I haven’t had many people tell me I was pretty, except for a boy at school who said I looked so cute when I smiled. Yesterday Peter paid me a true compliment, and just for fun I’ll give you a rough idea of our conversation.
Peter often says, “Smile!” I thought it was strange, so yesterday I asked him, “Why do you always want me to smile?”
“Because you get dimples in your cheeks. How do you do that?”
“I was born with them. There’s also one in my chin. It’s the only mark of beauty I possess.”
“No, no, that’s not true!”
“Yes it is. I know I’m not beautiful. I never have been and I never will be!”
“I don’t agree. I think you’re pretty.”
“I am not.”
“I say you are, and you’ll have to take my word for it!”
So of course I then said the same about him.
Yours, Anne M. Frank
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 29, 1944
Mr. Bolkestein, the Cabinet Minister, speaking on the Dutch broadcast from London, said that after the war a collection would be made of diar
Seriously, though, ten years after the war people would find it very amusing to read how we lived, what we ate and what we talked about as Jews in hiding. Although I tell you a great deal about our lives, you still know very little about us. How frightened the women are during air raids; last Sunday, for instance, when 350 British planes dropped 550 tons of bombs on IJmuiden, so that the houses trembled like blades of grass in the wind. Or how many epidemics are raging here.
You know nothing of these matters, and it would take me all day to describe everything down to the last detail. People have to stand in line to buy vegetables and all kinds of goods; doctors can’t visit their patients, since their cars and bikes are stolen the moment they turn their backs; burglaries and thefts are so common that you ask yourself what’s suddenly gotten into the Dutch to make them so light-fingered. Little children, eight- and eleven-year-olds, smash the windows of people’s homes and steal whatever they can lay their hands on. People don’t dare leave the house for even five minutes, since they’re liable to come back and find all their belongings gone. Every day the newspapers are filled with reward notices for the return of stolen typewriters, Persian rugs, electric clocks, fabrics, etc. The electric clocks on street corners are dismantled, public phones are stripped down to the last wire.
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