To my mother, who saved my body, and to my sister, who saved my soul.
Lina was almost seven years old and could get dressed quickly. She was old enough and experienced enough to know that air raids were serious threats. I was three years younger than her, and still had little idea of what air raids were about. I always slowed down the whole process of getting to the shelter.
We finally got into the shelter, which was located under a very large apartment house. There was already much screaming and confusion and almost immediately, we got a direct hit. Within seconds, the building above us collapsed, sending dust and rubble everywhere. The taste and smell of concrete and blood was overwhelming. Somehow we were alive, but we were among the few lucky ones. We spent three days trapped under the ruins while rescue workers excavated the shelter. The injured were unable to get to hospitals and the mangled dead had to wait to find their peace.
Years later, I would ask my mother about this horrible event, and she would tell me, "We went to hell and came back for more."
Lina was a beautiful little girl with a clear mind, an animal instinct, and a tormented soul. No one could control her spirit, not even herself. I saw her cry for a bird with a broken wing and fight for other people's rights against men three times her size. She is harsh, sharp, outspoken and honest. What a precious creature. She had no other choice than to become a street kid, as I had become. It was a jungle of terror that the three of us survived. Lina protected me like a lioness. Physically, my mother was our protector. Emotionally, Lina was my shield. But no one shielded Lina.
Inside it was so ugly, dreadfully ugly. The smell was revolting, filthy blankets were everywhere, making a grotesque maze through the destitute. I didn't know how my sister found our nest. The blankets and places all looked the same. My mother, who was behind us, grumbled that these people were as dirty as rats, loving to live in sewage, and we should not consider them human. We were like them, but we could not say it and she refused to see it.