I was born in Warszawa, Poland's capital. My father was an engineering student from Congo-Kinshasa and my mother was a nurse. They met in Bydgoscz, on the beach; my father was 22 and my mother was 18. They dated, married and had three daughters.
When I was four years old, we moved to Pleszew, a small town of about 40 000 people. We moved in with my mother's parents, until four years later, the family relocated to Canada.I went back three times since I've left my country; every time I come back to Montreal, I miss my Babcia (grand mother) and I wish I had more time with my Dziadek (grand father) before he passed away. Further more, I long for the food, the landscapes; the meadow behind our house, my Babcia's fruitful garden and my child hood friends who are still as warm and eager to see me, as they were ten years ago.
I talked to my Babcia today and she asked me why she hadn't heard from me in a little while. I told her that I might not call a lot, but she's always in my thoughts. Truth is; I don't feel as comfortable speaking in Polish, as I do in English and French, it makes me feel stupid when I can't carry a conversation with my usual ease and eloquence. I love my Babcia; in my eyes, she is the epitome of strength, poise and kindness. I promised I would come see her in the next 6 months, so I will be back home soon.
This time, I will be documenting my family's history. I will amass recipes, anecdotes and I will write about my Babcia's knowledge of agriculture and nature.
Also, I've been wanting to re-trace my great grand father's history; During the second world war, He was part of the Armja Krajowa (can be translated as the people's army) that was opposed to Communism. He was sent off to a work camp in Germany, leaving his wife to raise three children (three had already died; one drowned, one asphyxiated and another one had his neck broken by a careless nurse). When the war ended, Poland was under Soviet occupation. When my great grand father came back to Poland for my Babcia's communion, a friend tipped him off that he would be arrested and sent to Siberia (this is what they used to do to Poles who were thought to stir trouble by either being nationalist, against communism, or simply intellectuals.). He ran away in time, and promised to reunite the family in Germany.
My great grand father never came back to Poland, his wife was sent a letter in the 1970's, informing her of his death.
I want to know why he never came back, what happened during the 30 or so years he had spent in Germany? Somebody must know. I plan on going to Germany and getting some answers; City documents rarely lie, even if I have to make sense of his life through medical records or filed taxes, then I will.
I can't explain it, but I feel like I need to know about his life; My great grand father was forcefully separated from his family, made to work like a dog in a work camp, then exiled from his own country. I feel that he has sent me a message, from above, to find out and let his descendants know about his struggles, so we can take pride in his strength and perseverance. By shading light on his past, I feel like I will pave a better future for my family.
In true Polish spirit, My mother and I made Pierogis (some were filled with blueberries, others were filled with mushrooms and cabbage) today!