39 – „Under the Lion Hotel and Lili’s Guesthouse”



Lili Lew, the beloved aunt, after which Fira’s daughter was named, is described in a story as the opposite to her sister, Fira’s mother. As Rachela seems to be cool and jealous of her daughter being liked by other people, Lili, Fira’s friend and confidante, is a warm and persistent woman. She appears several times on the book’s pages. Below, we place a short story about the marriage of Lili and Jonas Lew.

When I visited Brzeziny I always stayed at the flat of aunt Lili Lew, my Mom’s youngest sister. I liked Lili very much, she was not like my relative, but rather like my closest friend, who understands me and listens to my secrets. She lived with her husband Jonas in my grandparents’ tenement house at Sienkiewicza 6 and she wasn’t happy. At the age of 31 she married a man, who had courted her for a few years. She didn’t want to marry him but Jonas was stubborn and said he loved her. Eventually, he threatened to shot himself at her feet if she would not accept his proposal. To prove his words he put a gun out of his pocket. Lili took it to heart and she gave in.

Uncle Jonas was a beautiful man of Aryan type. He was also quite wealthy as he run, together with his siblings, a prosperous men’s garment company. However, his marriage with the aunt was not happy, they couldn’t have had children. His family business was based on route selling, so Jonas with his brothers travelled around different regions of Poland. They even reached the Free City of Danzig. The uncle was hospitable, he often came back from his route with some accidentally met canvasser or a merchant coming to Brzeziny or its surroundings. – You don’t need to take a hotel room – he said. – Come to my place and sleep in my office. The aunt was also hospitable, so people laughed and said that their house was the Under the Lion Hotel and Lili’s Guesthouse”.

The aunt suspected Jonas of being unfaithful to her during his voyages. She wasn’t happy in her marriage and told me not to get married for love. – Only for practical or financial reasons! – she stressed. She wanted to divorce Jonas and said that she would move to me as soon as I got married, to keep house and take care of my children. She really meant it. I’m sure she would do this perfectly as she was a great housekeeper.