One day I had a splinter that got stuck in one of my fingers in the right hand. It was quite a large one, it simply refused to come out on its own. It was causing me pain and resulted in a gradually developing infection. It was pure torture, coupled with a growing conviction that the splinter means my imminent demise. I could feel it coming, I practically made peace with it, but I was terribly scared and I felt sorry. Nevertheless, I rejected all offers of help in hysterics.


In the end, my father offered me an ultimatum: either I let myself be helped or he would immediately drive me to hospital, which was, he vaguely suggested, a far, far worse solution. I caved in. My father prepared a large needle, a lighter and a clean cloth and took me for a walk into the field, the same one where Hałas would escape into some time later. We walked quite a distance from the house, and as we were walking, my father described in detail the procedure that was to follow. Scalding the needle, pricking the area near the splinter where pus accumulated, and then extracting the splinter quickly. Not painless. But necessary.


It was cloudy and rather chilly. I trusted my father implicitly, but it felt like we both knew he were to cut my head off. I kept my hysterics at bay that time, and my father was not impatient. I was to choose the moment myself, when I was ready. After a dozen or so minutes I stopped – and held out my hand. My father asked if I wanted to watch. To my own amazement, I replied that I did. The procedure went exactly as promised, step by step. For a brief moment, the whole world flared up and focused back in one point, the tip of the needle.


Miniature eight is done, and another, the ninth and final one, is rapidly taking shape. It is practically an epilogue. I’m in the last bay. The waves are dying down, the clouds are parting, the wind is favourable. 


(transl. Magdalena Małek-Andrzejowska)