Sunday, 22 January 2012

Janka

After mama died of TB, there were just three of us left. Heniek, Marysia and me. Twelve, eleven and thirteen. I think. They kept changing our ages, so I can't be sure. The twins had died before mama. Tata had disappeared at the station, somewhere in the Urals. He was lost to us, lost or dead.
The villagers chased us away, then, saying "you have no father, you have no mother, you are nothing. Go away. Don't come back".
That rejection has stayed with me all my life. All my life. Rejected. Not wanted. I can be in a crowd of people, and always feel all alone. In the orphanage in Africa, too, the supervisor told me "it would have been better if you died in Russia." Rejection, and being pushed away. All my life, and I'm 83 now.
We walked away from the village. The sun was setting. We sat on the side of the dirt road. Leaving Romitan. I think that was Uzbekhistan, but I can't say for sure. Everything gets mixed up. I said to Heniek, as the sun went down, " what will we do, Heniek? What will happen to us now?". We talked of giving ourselves to a Russian orphanage. I know, now, that that would have been a death sentence for us all. A Polish soldier walked past us. He walked past, and did a double take, and came back to us. "what? Polish children? Here?"
He took us to the Polish orphanage in exile, attached to Anders army. We owe him our lives. I'm 83, Marysia is 81 now. Seventy years since then. Seventy!!
Seventy years of living. Only poor Heniek didn't last the year. Seventy years. I know how lucky I've been. Still, I remember as if it were yesterday, being pushed away, rejected, pushed away and not wanted, pushed away to die.

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