Metro Communications – David Silber
Based on Aharon Appelfeld's book "Blooms of Darkness".
Hugo celebrates his eleventh birthday in the ghetto, in the shadow of persecution, kidnapping and the smuggling of Jews to distant villages. No one has come to rescue Hugo so far and his distraught Mother decides to hide him with her childhood schoolmate, Mariana, who lives in a nearby suburb. She tells Hugo nothing about Mariana, mentioning only that “fate has not been kind to her.” Under cover of darkness, she leads him through the sewers to Mariana’s “house,” departs quickly and disappears into the bushes.
A small chamber hidden in Mariana’s room is Hugo’s new home. It is dark and cold with no room to stretch out and read or even to stand up. By contrast, Mariana’s room is spacious, pink and perfumed. Hugo does not know exactly who Mariana is nor where he is living. The sounds of women in adjoining rooms – and the men with them – are indistinct and unfamiliar. Hugo only knows that his parents are far away. Flooded with memories of better days, he contents himself with imagining visits of relatives and friends.
Mariana takes care of Hugo devotedly, bringing all his meals to his chamber. When she has no “visitors,” she allows him to play and sleep in her room. Her guests, German military officers, begin arriving at nightfall. From his bolted hiding place, Hugo hears only bits of conversation and other sounds, attempting to understand what’s going on in Mariana’s room.