Paris

Miserable as I was to leave Fritz, I cannot deny that I enjoyed my stay in Paris. I had been in Paris earlier, in 1936 at the World Exhibition, only a few days with my father and sister; now Paris was mine for much longer. At that time Paris was the world centre in the sense we today consider New York or London; before Paris it was Vienna. The beautiful metropolis with the large avenues, les boulevards, the parks, Le Bois de Boulogne and La Tour d'Eiffel, the magnificent churches and arches, the bridges over the Seine and underneath the patient fishermen standing or sitting there more for fun and pastime than eating or selling fish. All those famous historical names, those monuments of past glory and greatness, places immortalized in art and literature by human genius, the Louvre, Les Tuileries, the Sorbonne, the Quartier Latin, the artists 'and students' centre in Paris, became so real to me. My father rented a suitable room for me, in the Quartier Latin (Gay Lussac,30) at Madame Martin's, a widow who was letting rooms to students. I had a large, comfortable room with my own conveniences; the seven or eight students I met only at lunch. Before lunch we gathered in an antique salon, waiting to be called by the maid: 'Madame est servie'. The meal always ended with a rich assortment of those delicious French cheeses. The house gate was always closed and the portier opened it only at the ringing of a bell. The place was central, not far from the Sorbonne where I registered for French Literature, near to the Institute where I studied phonetics, a compulsory course needed to continue my studies in Zagreb, also close to the big National Library of St Gen‚viŠve that I visited frequently. To have a practical profession I started facial massage. Paris, as with every big city, has excellent means of communication. When not walking which I preferred, I used the M‚tro,12 the most efficient, time sparing system to master distances. In a short time Paris was my second home; I discovered that the Com‚die Fran‡aise had cheap performances for students every Monday. Of course, the best of it was that visits to the Louvre were free on Sunday mornings, that a theatre in the Quartier Latin presented only MoliŠre's pieces every day, that an excellent lecture was announced at one or the other end of Paris which could not be without me. Here I had the opportunity to listen to famous Communist leaders, to read their newspaper, I'Humanit‚, to go to 'red' movies, to inhale the foul, poisonous breath of Russian propaganda which was almost impossible in Yugoslavia. Obviously, I enjoyed my stay in Paris. Could I have only shared all these excitements with Fritz! I wrote him long letters, describing every detail, while my letter-box was filled with pages and pages of his reports. The distance brought us closer than we ever were before, an inner affinity existed between us, a mutual understanding which accelerated our decision to marry. I shall never forget the letter in which Fritz proposed to me; he was extremely shy and did not dare to be outspoken. He wrote: 'I burst with joy thinking you might become my w...' ( ... da budes moja ena). My parents were not yet informed Table of Contents War