chapter  11
Silent broken memories
ByRUTH M. LIJTMAER
Pages 3

When I was growing up, my mother told me that she was born in a town called Bialystok, in Poland. She told me she left Poland in 1938 with “the last boat” before World War II started, and migrated to Argentina with her parents when she was fifteen years old. She spoke Polish at school and Yiddish at home. I had frequently asked her to tell me stories about her childhood or to teach me Polish. Her response always was “I do not remember.” Her tone of voice told me I had done something wrong. I was conflicted about whether I should pursue asking her. It was strange that my mother would answer all my questions except for this one. I could not imagine what was wrong. I finally gave up. It was only as a young adult and after my own migration to the U.S. that I became aware and at times obsessed by not knowing her history and my history. I realized that I became an immigrant as she had been. Even though my migration was voluntary and hers was forced, the political events in Argentina made me feel and become an exile, just as she had been. It was during my training in the U.S. and seeing patients who had suffered political persecution that things started to fall into place for me. Well, some of them (Lijtmaer 2014, 2015).