This is Poland, this old house with six bedrooms and offices. Mother and I live in one of them. Our window looks out onto the garden and water. I enjoy the view. I find it calming. A tall spiked fence separates the garden and the house from the open water, the street at the front, and neighboring houses. I have seen the street and cars driving by when the gate opens and closes to let the consul in or out. I know little about that world. I overheard Ms. Krysia refer to it as “Kanada” once when she was fetching tea for herself in the kitchen. Ms. Krysia handles paperwork for Poles who live in this Kanada. Mother tells me that I am lucky to live in my own country. She forbids me to approach the fence or the water. In this small parcel of Poland that she sometimes calls the consulate I am always safe.
I know a lot about Poland because I learn about my country every day. Her capital, Warsaw, has a population of 1.7 million people. Frederick Chopin, Maria Curie Sklodowska and Czeslaw Milosz were all citizens of Poland, like me. They walked the streets of Warsaw, a beautiful city that I have seen in photographs.
The consulate is far away from Warsaw, mother has admitted to me. If only I could walk through the gate at the front of the house and start the journey home. But then the police would take me away and bring me to my father who is a very bad man. I know about my father from scary stories that mother sometimes tells me at night.
Piotr Rajchert – a native of Poland – lives with his wife and daughter in Markham, Ontario. He works as a writer for the Conventual Franciscan Friars and enjoys taking his family on long country drives in Ontario’s York Region.
Featured Image photograph by E.B. Bartels, www.ebbartels.com.