The Other Me 6 (Pages 155 – 228)

the-other-me-saskia-sarginson

SPOILERS!!!

Oh my , my!!! I didn’t expect this at all!!! The book is full of twists and surprises, and the last one is just really mind-blowing.

In the last encounter between Cosmo and Klaudia, he tells her that he just can’t be her friend, and he knows that she feels the same. Yet, Klaudia can’t bring herself to tell the truth as she is afraid he will lose him as she thinks she has lost Meg. So she refuses him again. Then the next thing she knows is that Cosmo has left for Rome as he has got a job, painting another mural. Klaudia feels wretched as she realises she has lost him anyway.

One good thing that happens is when she applies for the dance school in London and she is asked to go for an audition. When she tells her father about dropping out of university and her intentions, he gets upset and tells her that her mother would be disappointed. He even tells her that he won’t be living in the house if she insists on dancing. However, a few days later he reconsiders and tells her that she is the only thing that he has left of her mother and she reminds him of her, which pleases Klaudia.

When she is at work next, Josh comes to tell her that Scarlett, the girl who Klaudia is friends with and is the burlesque dancer, has called in sick, and Josh begs her to cover for her. Klaudia is frightened because she remembers how she froze the last time she tried dancing in public, but Josh begs and begs, and she relents. When she is getting ready, Cosmo appears. He tells her that he wants to apologise for leaving without even telling her, and he has just come for a couple of days. Then Klaudia realises that she has to tell him the truth, and she tells him they need to talk, but now she needs to dance.

When she comes on stage, she is apprehensive, but as soon as she starts dancing, she is overcome by a great feeling of enjoyment, and she finds herself loving every minute of it. Then when the dance finishes and the audience claps and cheers, something unexpected comes. A person who she first thinks is a heckler approaches, and then she recognises him. It is Shane, the boy who bullied and terrorized her at school. Then before Cosmo, Shane starts saying that she is not Eliza but Klaudia, they went to school together, and her father is a Nazi. Cosmo urges Klaudia to deny what he is saying, but Klaudia can’t lie any longer. She says it is true; her real name is Klaudia and she is sorry she has lied to him. Then when she sees the look of disappointment on his face, she flees home without another word.

The following day she goes to the club in the morning, but it is closed, and when she decides to go and talk to Scarlett in her flat, she spies Josh knocking at the door, and then Cosmo’s face appears at the window upstairs. Klaudia hides behind a car, and as she thinks about Cosmo, Scarlett, and Josh talking about her, and she feels ashamed. So she leaves, and so far this is the last time she sees them.

At home she discovers something that changes everything she had believed in. When she tells her father how she and her mother met, he tells her that they met during the war. It was early when he was in an U-boat, who was torpedoed and sunk. The English rescued them and sent them to a camp in Wales. The camp was a farm where he met Gwyn, and then when the war finished, they knew they were in love, but her family didn’t approve, so they had to elope. With the story, Klaudia realises that if her father was in a camp at the beginning of the war, he can’t have been the SS officer in the photograph she saw in the book from the library, pointing his rifle to a poor woman. So she asks him about him being in Ukraine with the SS, and Otto tells her that it was not him, but his father Ernst.

The story of Ernst is quite interesting and the one who brings the huge twist I didn’t expect. In Germany he continued his friendship with Daniel and Sarah. He and Sarah were in love, and when they were alone, they kissed and shared their love. One turning point was when a Nazi officer was shot dead in Paris by a Jew. So in Germany the Nazis took revenge on the Jews. Otto joined his mates in the Hitler Youth, terrorising Jews, smashing windows and setting fires to businesses, but Ernst refused. Instead, he ran to the cottage to find Daniel and Sarah as well as their mother. They had been talking about leaving Germany before, and Ernst had been fearing the moment Sarah had to go. Ernst spends the night in the cottage, and when he returns to the house, he is relieved to see Otto hasn’t come back yet. When he turns up, his clothes are covered in blood, but he gloats that it isn’t his blood, and he goes on about what they did during the night. Then Otto discovers a leaf on his brother’s hair, and when he asks him, Ernst refuses to tell him.

When Ernst sees Sarah and her family, the girl is sobbing and her mother wailing. Daniel tells him that something has changed. Their father has been lynched and killed by the Nazis, and Daniel thinks that this is the end to the friendship between them and Ernst. Yet, Ernst pleads with him, telling him that he will help them and bring them food. And he does. I think that somehow Otto must have found out and reported them, because one day Ernst is told that the Jews are deported to some camp, and he sees Sarah, Daniel, and their mother among the other Jews. He tries to call Sarah, but Otto holds him back. With a sad heart Ernst sees the woman she loves getting into a crammed lorry, and then he realises that Sarah must have thought that he is the one who has betrayed him.

The other parts we see Ernst in is when he is with the SS in Ukraine during the war, and then at the end of the war he is made prisoner and kept in a camp for two years. As a result of a beating, he gets a scar and losing an eye, and he also loses two of his fingers to frostbite.

The next part about Ernst takes place in 1974 in Cardiff when he visits his brother and Gwyn in Cardiff. Ernst has become wealthy in New York, but Otto leads a very humble existence. Ernst stays with them, and at once there is a good rapport between him and Gwyn. Then the day that Otto is out working as a security guard, something unexpected happens. Gwyn and Ernst share a meal and whisky. Gwyn is flirty and giggly, and she talks about loving Otto when they met, but now she implies that the passion is gone and she just feel sorry because Otto is a broken man. Gwyn and Otto dance together; Gwyn is tipsy, and they kiss, and it is her that takes his hand and leads him to his bedroom, and they make love. MY, MY!!! This is the last thing I expected!!! I couldn’t picture sweet, piteous, good Gwyn cheating on her husband!!! Now I wonder if Klaudia is Ernst’s daughter, and not Otto’s. When Ernst visited them, Gwyn and Otto had no children after years of marriage, but then I imagine that Gwyn got pregnant by Ernst. I also wonder if the medals that Klaudia found as a child and that Gwyn had hidden in her wardrobe actually belonged to Ernst. Does Otto know what happened between his wife and his brother? Does he know Klaudia isn’t his?

In present time Klaudia finds out something about her mother. While she is cleaning her mother’s bedroom, she moves the bedside table, and she finds a carved message in the wall: Help me. Klaudia then starts thinking about what Mrs Perkins told him about the screaming and finding her mother’s coat on the peg. So she rushes to find Mrs Gupta, the woman who has the store and who told her that she had seen her mother the day she died. So Klaudia asks her, and she tells her that her mother wasn’t herself that day; she was barefooted, with dishevelled hair and clothes, but before Mrs Gupta could do anything, she left.

Klaudia then goes to her father and asks him in an accusing tone what he did to her mother. So Otto tells her that her mother had changed after she was sick with a strong cold. She kept rambling, having weird fantasies. It was delirium, and Otto simply kept her there because he knew that his wife wouldn’t want people to see her like that. Klaudia is angry because she feels that her father should have found help for her mother, but she is also angry with herself. If she had come to visit her before, she would have been able to do something.

Something good then happens. Klaudia gets a letter from Meg, telling her that she got her second letter before the first one, who had gone under her mat. Meg admits to having been very angry with Klaudia for lying to her for two years, but she tells her that they are best friends and she wouldn’t dream of finishing that friendship. Klaudia is so relieved, and then they talk on the phone. Meg asks about Cosmo, and Klaudia tells her what happened, but now she thinks Cosmo is in Rome and there is no way she can contact him. Meg thinks she has been silly for not sorting out things with Cosmo, and I have to agree with the girl.

Then Klaudia and Otto get a surprise when Ernst turns up. Otto tells Klaudia that his brother is not welcome, but Klaudia has already brought him to the house and asks him to stay in their spare room. Otto is hostile to his brother, so I imagine that he knows what happened between Gwyn and him. We know through Klaudia that Ernst visited them once when she was about seven, so maybe the truth came out then. I wonder what will happen now. Will Klaudia discover the truth about her origins? And who is the man who she is asked to kill? I imagine it is Ernst, the one she know thinks it is the Nazi. Yet, we know that the reality is not as it looks. Ernst was the one who didn’t believe in the Nazi system and helped his Jewish friends, and Otto didn’t become a Nazi because he was refused, but he was the one eager and thirsty for blood.

 

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