Fiction Five00-11

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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Vienna, 1908

It was a bright sunny day. It looked like a good day to setup my canvas outside.

As I sat by my window sipping morning tea, my eyes turned to look at the next door. Could there be a new neighbour? Ever since Adler, my next-door neighbour and artist friend passed away few weeks back, I have been missing company.

It made me ecstatic to see the door ajar open that day. Someone did move in. Curious, I got dressed and stepped out with my canvas in tow. There was a young boy, around 18- or 19-years old, in striped pajamas, standing in the porch of Adler.

Grinning wide, I moved closer to greet him.

‘I am Adolph Klimt, your neighbour,’ I said.

 ‘I must be lucky to have rented a place next to an artist. I can learn few things from you, Mr. Klimt,’ he said.

Such a decent boy and an aspiring artist at that.

Over the next few days, I saw more of him. Especially in the mornings when I had my tea, he would be by his porch in his pajamas with a sketch book in hand.

‘Can I train under you Mr. Klimt until my application at the Academy of Fine Arts is accepted? I promise to pay you back.’ He proposed one day to which I readily agreed.

With his dedication and honesty, I was assured the boy had a bright future as an artist. Until he came knocking on my door one evening.

‘My application has been rejected,’ he broke down.

We sat down for a drink together. ‘Greats do not come out of Academies always. Be patient my boy!’ I said.

After composing himself he said, ‘I cannot afford renting anymore. I have decided to move out to homeless shelter in couple of days. I shall forever remain indebted to you for your kindness.’

My heart sank. I was going to miss him.

The last time we met before he left, he handed me an oil painting. It was one of the best works I had ever seen. How could the Academy reject a talent as this? Their loss!

It was of me at my canvas and him in his striped pajamas sitting besides me on the grass. ‘I am sorry, I could not pay your fee, accept this token of gratitude Mr. Klimt,’ he said before bidding goodbye.


Vienna 1939,

It is a bright sunny day. But there is sense of gloominess looming around. News has been spreading far and wide. Any moment they could be here. I pray for death to embrace me before they drag me to the concentration camps. I look down at the badge on my wrist and up at the painting hung on the wall. Warm memories come flooding by, of the morning I had first seen the boy in the striped pajamas. My ears fall deaf to the screams outside as my eyes stay fixed on the name at the bottom of the painting – ‘Adolf Hitler’.


Author’s note: This is a fictional account of the time when Adolf Hitler was in Vienna to fulfil his dreams of becoming an artist. Despite little success professionally as an artist, he continued to paint throughout his life.

One Missed Call
Sound of Music


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