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Updated: June 4, 2012 16:43 IST

From the secret annexe

ROHINI RAMAKRISHNAN
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ANNE FRANK'S TALES FROM THE SECRET ANNEXE, Hachette, Rs. 350
ANNE FRANK'S TALES FROM THE SECRET ANNEXE, Hachette, Rs. 350

Most readers are familiar with The Diary of Anne Frank. Here is another book from Anne Frank that is sure to hold you spellbound with information and anecdotes from an era long forgotten.

Not being able to go outside upsets me more than I can say, and I'm terrified our hiding place will be discovered and that we'll be shot.

Anne Frank

So writes Anne Frank, in her diary that is now well known. The Diary of Anne Frank records her inner most thoughts and fears. But, another of her memoirs survives. A brilliant author lost to the world at the tender age of 15. These writings have been divided into two sections. One, “Personal reminiscences, Daydreams and Essays” and the other “Fables and Short stories”.

Whatever was written in notebooks and pages were collected into Tales from the Secret Annexe along with the chapters of her unfinished novel Cady.

Her powers of observation are compelling especially in the common place things. Take for example, her essay A Daily Chore in Our Little Community: Peeling Potatoes.

“I keep on peeling. Then I look at Father, on the other side of me. To Father, peeling potatoes is not a chore, but precision work. When he reads, he has a deep wrinkle in the back of his head. But when he's preparing potatoes, beans or vegetables, he seems to be totally absorbed in his work. He puts on his potato-peeling face, and when it's set in that particular way, it would be impossible for him to turn out anything less than a perfectly peeled potato.”

Her schooldays' reminiscences in “A biology lesson' and in “ A Maths Lesson” depicts a school day in any era.

She brilliantly describes her Biology teacher “Wringing her hands, she comes into the room, wringing her hands, she sits down. She's forever wringing, wringing, and wringing her hands.”

Miss Biegel of Biology (gone are the days when it was called Natural History): a tiny woman with a big nose, blue-grey eyes and grey hair, truly the face of a mouse or some other little creature.”

Not only are her writings descriptive, intuitive, whimsical and funny, it also belies a rather black sense of humour.

For a 13-year-old child surrounded by fears of being discovered and arrested, this gift of writing seems to have been a source of joy. For she does spread joy with her writing despite it being tinged with sadness. Her vivid writing will not be easily forgotten by the reader.

ANNE FRANK'S TALES FROM THE SECRET ANNEXE, Hachette, Rs. 350

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