The Taste of Sweets


Even today as an elderly lady, I cannot resist sweets. I have always liked candies and chocolate in any form. As a child, I could not pass by a candy store without making even the smallest purchase. In my lifetime, I have lived in several countries - Poland, Germany, Israel, and the United States and traveled to many more. I have enjoyed different sweets in each of them. Yet there is one particular candy I tasted more than fifty years ago. I remember the color, shape and flavor, even though I held it in my mouth for only a brief moment.

It was in Drohobycz, Poland, where I was born and lived with my parents and an older sister during World War II. Because we were Jewish, we were persecuted by the Nazis. We were poor, and all things of value were taken away from us. My father, once a wealthy businessman, performed forced labor while my mother sold the remainder of our clothes and household items, and invented new dishes consisting mostly of potatoes and grains. We still lived in our home but now we shared that home with several other families. Each family occupied one room. Today, after so many years, I lack the words to describe the living conditions. They seem improbable even to me. We, the children, were not allowed to attend school, and lived in constant fear for our lives. We witnessed the deaths of many family members and friends.

One day I went to visit my best friend Bianka, who lived nearby with her parents. I remember her so well, although she was killed more than fifty years ago. She was tall and slim with black pigtails. On that particular day, Bianka's mother surprised me by offering me a candy. I remember the candy very well. It was yellow and square and tasted like honey. What a delight. After one second I turned around to make sure that no one saw me, and took the candy from my mouth. I excused myself, went to the bathroom, rinsed the almost-intact candy, and wrapped it in some paper. I soon left my friend's house. At home I gave the candy to my sister and told her that I was given several of them. These many years later, I believe this was the biggest sacrifice I ever made. After all, I was ten years old, and I loved candies.