A Boy Named Courage: A Surgeon’s Memoir of Apartheid
2019 ben franklin Silver award recipient
authors himmet dajee & patrice apodaca have been honored with a silver
Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book
in the nonfiction category, recognizing excellence in editorial and design.
Please join us in congratulating and thanking the authors and the Cynren design and editorial team for bringing Himmet’s truly inspiring story to the world.
the inspiration behind
what she lost
by melissa W. Hunter
When I think of my grandmother, I think of her hands. They were always soft and smooth, the tips of her fingers plump as miniature pillows. My grandmother took pride in her hands. She scheduled weekly trips to the manicurist, so her nails were always buffed and polished to perfection. When she washed dishes, she wore yellow rubber gloves. I had never seen anyone wear gloves except in Palmolive commercials. Lotions and creams lined her bathroom counter and bedside table. Large rings adorned her fingers in shades of turquoise and opal white, emerald and ruby red. On the many occasions when we sat and talked, she would take my arm, draw it across her lap, and run her fingertips along the soft inside of my arm, wrist to elbow. And she would hum a quiet tune, perhaps from her childhood.
Then the words would come. She enjoyed words, even though she rarely read and spent most of her time watching television. She often gossiped about this neighbor or that family member. She always reported something she’d seen on the evening news or the morning talk shows. She even spoke of characters from her favorite soap operas as if they were real, living beings. She would argue stories she’d read from the Star or National Enquirer. She was not cultured or educated, but occasionally, her words were heavy with history. To me, she spoke of a world long forgotten: she spoke of war and loss and family members whose ghosts still lurked in the shadows and dark corners of her home. When I looked into her brown eyes, I saw in their reflection the small apartment where she’d lived with her family, in the Polish shtetl where she grew to be a young woman.
Before taking the name of Sala in a crowded immigration office on Ellis Island, she was known as Chaya Sarah—or more affectionately by her family as Vilda Chaya, the “Wild One.” To me, she was Grandma Sala, or Bubbe. And on one of those afternoons, I sat down beside my grandmother with a small camcorder in hand and asked her to tell me the story of her life. It is this interview, almost two hours in length, that I used as inspiration for What She Lost. I attempted to stay as true to my grandmother’s experiences as possible, filling in the gaps with research and adding my own memories here and there. I hope that this story honors the memory not only of those in my family who perished but of the countless others who lost their lives in the Holocaust. Your lives had meaning. You are not forgotten.