We have all been greatly troubled in different ways since the outbreak of the pandemic which started impacting the entire world at the beginning of 2020. Most of us have been trapped in self or government-imposed lockdowns with restricted access to essential resources, some of us are dealing with the loss of a friend or a beloved family member and the rest of us are continually haunted with a sense of impending doom. Just hearing the death toll rising every day during Wave 2 causes us to be fearful of what the future holds for us.
In these horrid times, I decided to pick up a book to read which is a diary written by a young Jewish girl named Anne Frank known as ‘Diary of Anne Frank’. The specific choice of this book was based mostly due to the similarity in our circumstances, she had to go in hiding from the Germans during World War II just like I have been hiding due to fear of a virus. Like me, she was feeling the loss of her people and a faceless future which was difficult to picture due to the volatility of circumstances leading to a sense of hopelessness.
Anne was just 13 years old when she and her family were forced to go into hiding at her father’s office behind a bookcase ‘Secret Annex’. Since she was from an affluent family it was a drastic change to move into a cramped hidden place with another family totaling 8 residing members. However, Anne found it amusing and started making an entry into her diary minutely describing each detail of her new home. She even made a map of the house with details of the occupants of each room.
Her family was confined to this house and had to be very quiet and keep all windows closed during the day as people used to work in this office during the daytime. Though she would study and help in household work, she ensured to maintain her passion for writing and took it very seriously as if a reader were out there waiting for her to spill beans on everyday events. She started observing and noting the character of all the occupants in the house, their behaviors, and the chemistry and tussles among them.
She had just entered adolescence and it was not an easy time due to the varying emotional and hormonal changes. Being a rebel in nature she would always speak up for herself and had very defining views which were not acceptable for a young woman in the 1940s. Due to this, she had to face criticism from elders in the household. But she did not let it dampen her spirits, even at times when she felt lonely and depressed, she poured it all in her diary.
The maturity of her thoughts on war, her opinion of the relationship between her parents (which was not based on love), and her relationship with the boy hiding with them have been narrated beautifully. She falls in love with the boy staying in hiding with them and they comfort each other. Still, she is very aware that her feelings have only developed due to their situation and in the real world she would not have chosen him. She also realizes that the boy’s view of hate and violence against the Germans is a sign of weakness of character. Her writings are a form of self-discovery as she gradually understands that she would want to be a journalist or writer one day and starts to re-write a few of her earlier narrations in the diary.
Another important aspect missing from her life was edible and wholesome food, as they had a limited supply with little to no variety and even for holidays had to be content with potatoes and spinach. The food situation gets worse over 2 years and still, she manages to stay focused and brave.
If Anne could keep her sanity against the daily fear of the concentration camps, frugal food, and cramped spaces we all can learn to show grit and determination in our fight of eradicating this virus. We need to maintain our mental equilibrium and work to provide support to people by contributing in different ways, whether it is by giving donations or actively participating in voluntary work.
Her life did end at an early age of 15 years when her family got caught by the Germans and she was sent to a concentration camp where she ultimately died. However, this diary of hers was later obtained in the house and since then has been printed in several languages and is a classic of war literature.
I would recommend reading this book as it gave me hope, the strength to find light during these tragic times, and a spirit to pursue my dreams even in morbid situations. Even though Anne lost her life very young she has left an impressionable mark and has realized her dream to be a writer.