Split WWII Refugee Tales: A Diary for Puse (Part XI)

Total Croatia News

Updated on:

Part XI of A Dairy for Puse continues on March 22, 2016, the latest installment of a mother’s diary to her daughter from 1919 – 1953, capturing a moment of Dalmatia and Dalmatian exile in history.

Start at the beginning with Part I here.


May 22, 1932

Puse Won, For St. Duje, she received a puppy as a gift – Ćuko. The puppy is only two weeks old, a real curly black ball with its red tongue constantly hanging out of its mouth.

I am very worried: Miss Barani, as soon as she saw it, said immediately, that the minute the puppy barks, she will cancel her room. Fortunately, the puppy is so small, that it is more whining than barking. Matija, our maid, sees the pure evil in this little beast and if Puse is not at home, she kicks it across the whole room. Everywhere he reaches, as tiny as it is, it would chew on the carpet, on the curtain and I had to relocate to sleep in the bedroom next to the terrace, so I can take it out, when it starts to fidget. Puse is beside herself with joy and I wrote to Braco about all the adventures I am going through.

July 20, 1932

Puse passed her graduation exams from the civil school, but it was nothing compared to those previous examinations.It was easy for her, but some injustice occurred too: her catechist teacher, friar Padre Rosario, gave her a good instead of a very good, but later he came to apologize to her. There were other shades of injustice, but this was soon forgotten. The other day, Braco returned from Zagreb and listened to all these troubles with the exams Puse had and he was amused by her sensitivity: he did not have these virtues! We sat down at the terrace and dined, and behind the trees of the hospital garden, the full moon peered out on the walls, Braco looked at the moon and asked: “Puse, what is the moon? Who knows how to define the moon in just two words?” We all guessed, but Braco said: “Only two words! It was one of my questions in the geology exam.” We all remained quiet and Braco said: “A Geological mummy!”

February 16, 1933

There was a lot of fuss because of Ćuko yesterday! Mother had to go to meet the Ban – the Governor of the province – to ask for the morning shift for the high-school students, although she actually prefers Puse going to school in the afternoon. However out of the principle of solidarity, mum was all for it. She was not planning to show up in great pomp, but she made sure her clothing was in perfect order.

But when she was about to put her hat on, the hat was nowhere to be found: they looked here and there, asked Matija, asked Puse, but with no luck, the hat just disappeared. Finally, we find it behind the piano and when I look at it closely, I can´t believe my eyes: Ćuko chewed the hat. A whole corner, which was giving a line to the hat was missing. In the back, there was a big hole. Mum yells at Ćuko and Matija, who already hates that dog and shines from happiness because, finally this will mean, that the dog will have to leave the house, yells as well.

Meanwhile, I was desperate, because at a quarter to eleven the Director of the Maritime Transport Stipanović and another lady would wait for me at the director´s office and it already is half past ten.

Immediately, I ask a lady from the committee, who lives close to replace me, but she let me know, that she would do any other favour, but this one, because people would say, that she imposes herself uninvited to a meeting with the Ban. And so, after receiving this negative answer, I reached to the extreme “surgical” instruments. With scissors, I cut out the torn part, then cut a little corner, rounded the big curve and covered the hole with my hair and fur.

Puse was cursing and yelling at Ćuko in the hall, this time for real, and the poor fellow lowered his tail and folded his ears, while mother hastened to the Ban´s office.

Before we entered, we were joking with one deputy, whom we did not let go in sooner. It was very official at the Ban´s office, although we know each other very well privately, his glassy look and his stiff nodding was unbearable.

Suddenly, my chewed hat comes to my mind and I have to smile involuntarily. Ban, convinced that we have not come to ask money, smiled back and took the burden from our hearts. He promised us everything we asked for and emphasized, that since we did not ask for money, he will try to meet our wishes.

“It was not necessary to tell us about the misery of his region” – whispered later the director – because, after all, it was nothing new for us.

As we were going out, I met Milica Kostić, a poet, who stopped me and after greeting me, she said to me with admiration: “What a wonderful hat! Is it new?” That remark not only surprised me, but made my day and so, after I got home, to a great astonishment of Puse and Matija, I called Ćuko kindly. We played and cuddled and I got a large portion of bones for Ćuko – because mother has once more convinced herself that only unexpected make life interesting!

Read more…


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment