This memory from Kapuscinski's childhood is chilling in its details.
At night, he and his younger sister are made to sleep fully-clothed because their mother fears they may be deported at any time.
What follows is an excerpt from Imperium, where, in few words, Kapuscinski conveys the nocturnal panic that grips a family, whose only fault was to live in the wrong place at the onset of World War Two.
He makes us see and hear the "slowly rolling" deportation "wooden wagon" that his mother (like "other mothers") spies behind drawn curtains.
A caravan of Death that pierces through darkness and becomes a poignant metaphor for war.
For all wars.
"Even if we do sleep, we're on pins and needles. We are asleep, but we hear everything. Sometimes near morning we hear the rumble of a wooden wagon. The noise swells in the darkness, and by the time the wagon passes our house, the racket is like that of some infernal machine. Mother walks to the window on tiptoe and carefully draws aside the curtain. It is possible that at this very moment other mothers on Wesloa Street and doing the same thing. they see the slowly rolling wagon, on it the huddled figures, the Red Army men walking behind it, and - behind them - darkness once again. The neighbour ... tells Mother that it is as if these wagons are rolling over her. The next day she aches everywhere."
from Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski (translated from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska)