Lyon, France. A dark dining room, paneled ceiling, fading silk tapestry, antique paintings all over the walls and a long table, richly laden with food.
I sit next to Tante Rose.
I am so young, she is so old.
I touch her wrinkly hands. With my finger I follow her protruding veins, play with the loose skin, entirely absorbed. She watches me. I don’t notice.
Tante Rose is different. She smokes. She uses cigarette holders. She wears perfume. She serves tortes in lurid colours, pink, lime green, baby blue. She gets agitated over politics, discusses in rapid French the news with her even older sister. She is elegant.
I observe with big eyes. I don’t understand a word.
Before we leave, I beg my parents to ask her to write something in my little girl’s book-of-poetry. I am too shy to ask myself. Cannot, since I only speak German.
She writes: “Be profound”.
Being seven years old, I have no idea what that means.
It became part of my identity.