„Bloom where you are planted”

Tamara Slawny


Introduction

Albert Einstein said:
„The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.

The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has been before”.

I walked alone, but most of the time it was not by my own choice.
Stories, and texts I’ll share with you today represent the unforgettable events from my life and underline the tragic human consequences   of political heartless games.

Fifty years ago, in 1968 as a result of political crisis, the Polish Government declared thousands of Jews enemies of the State, and forced them to leave Poland after taking away their citizenship, and their passports. Stateless rejects from Poland were allowed to take five dollars per family for their one way trip out of Poland. Their travel documents were valid only for 24 hours.


“Rainbow in a Test-Tube”

“When you find a dream inside your heart – don’t ever let it go”

I wanted to be a journalist. This was not a dream. I made this decision in my senior year of high school , in Warsaw. Writing was a part of me. I had so many stories written in my little notepad and so many more still to write.

I wanted to write about my mother who escaped from Poland one day after the war started. She was trying to hide in Russia. To terminate her pregnancy, on the train, she jumped from one car to another.

I wanted to write about my uncle who during the war lost his wife, five children, seven brothers, two sisters and ten years after the war, he was told by the Russian doctors that at the age of fifty five, he was already too old to have his cataract removed. He lived blind.

I wanted to write about my father who fought Germans from Stalingrad to Berlin and about his famous Sunday breakfasts many years later. These Sunday breakfasts became our family tradition.

I remember this incredible smell of boiled potatoes, skin and all, and herring in cream sauce. It filled our home with such warmth. Friends were coming from all over Warsaw to our tiny apartment. They were talking, sharing their worries, crying, laughing, singing and playing piano the whole day. I wanted to find words and maybe to create new words to describe the passion of their pain, tears and joy.

I was confident that I would be a good journalist and my essays, articles and stories would be filled with colors like a rainbow.

I did not study journalism. Just before sending my college application my father surprisingly asked me to study chemistry and eventually later journalism. For the first time in my life he shared his doubts with me. He openly admitted that he was not sure anymore , if he was right in believing that Poland could be a country for all of us – regardless of religion, color, race. He feared that one day, we as a minority group would be forced to settle in another country, and then I might have difficulties in supporting myself as a journalist.

I studied chemistry, and almost immediately, I was overwhelmed by the magic of atoms, molecules and electrons jumping from one orbit to another, absorbing or releasing energy. The world of science enriched my life, and my little notepad was full of amusing technical stories.

After getting my chemistry degree, I was still determined to study journalism. I was confident that I would be a good technical journalist. I wanted to write about the incredible changes in the world of technology and its impact on our everyday life.

I wanted to share with others how wonderful it was to see a rainbow in a test- tube.

However, I did not become a technical journalist.

One spring day and the events, which followed, changed my life and the lives of others. It became evident that my father and other fathers and mothers were wrong thinking that the sun above Warsaw and Poland would shine for all of us regardless of our color, race or religion. They were wrong in believing that all people had equal rights.

Twenty four years after the war, I witnessed in Poland, cruel, inhumane and cold racism.

Polish Jews were brutally forced out of their homeland.

I left Poland speechless. I was incapable of finding a language powerful enough to articulate the sound of engines pulling hundreds of wagons full of stateless, frightened once again Polish Jews expelled from their native soil.

I was incapable of finding a language expressive enough to describe the courage of my parents and their friends to start again, to fight again, and to win again a warm place for their Sunday breakfasts gatherings.

Wherever they are, all over the world, I hear them once again talking, crying, laughing, singing, playing piano.

I am with them and with my words vibrant enough to illustrate a “Rainbow in a Test-Tube”

“When you find a dream inside your heart – don’t ever let it go”


SOUND OF ENGINES

Goodbye Poland

Voyage
October 8, 1969

 

This is the train
Young woman
And a boy
Holding his toy

 

They don’t know
How to leave behind
Memories, streets
Mountains,lakes
People who died

 

They don’t know
Where they are going
And whyThey don’t know
How to say a simple word
Goodbye

 

To agirl from the same train

 

Remember
We were traveling together
It was rainy, gray day
Bad weather

 

Your suitcases were packed
With rollers and pins
You were eighteen and
You had your dreams

 

My dreams Did
not travel with me
I was on my own
Learning how “to be”

 

To Polish Government 1969

 

Mister President
Please don’t take away
Our c itizenship
Granted to our great-great
Grandparents one day

 

Go ahead and take from us
Plates and pillows
Cups and mugs

 

You can take my wedding gown
With the golden trim around
Silver spoons and forks and knives
Take these things from our lives

 

Take the money and the gold
Butplease, don’t ship us stateless
To face the unknown world

9 komentarzy to “„Bloom where you are planted””

  1. Andrew McCray 05/09/2018 at 01:20

    Stories may be similar, but the experience of each writer is absolutely never the same, nor duplicitous.

    “Bloom where you are planted” vividly portrays the nearly incomprehensible formidable heart wrenching ordeal like the underbrush in an over grown forest permitted only intermittent glimpses of the sun deterred by the towering overgrow.

    This writing stands as a testament to the determination, fortitude, and indestructible constitution to rise above one’s circumstance in the face of insurmountable odds. One page cannot fully capture the terrifying ordeal of being uprooted like a tornado without warning.

    Yet the author does a magnificent job of revealing the torment of being dislodged from the very foundation that anchors us all to humanity and perseveres. The story is compelling, but more importantly stands as a testament to strength and will power. This is a story that must not placed on the bookshelf of time to be read only by chance of its discovery.

  2. BTW, looking from the 50 years perspective, we should say THANK them for throwing us away. Our life changed, we skipped the police hour and the brutal events and the food shortage.
    The „I’m missing” are my friends and the rich culture – in new country it is hard to understand all different aspects

  3. Ryan Iovino 04/09/2018 at 00:23

    Great story, Bravo!!! I never knew what it was like in 1968 in Poland. Great Job! I learned a lot.

  4. Tamara Slawny 03/09/2018 at 19:57

    Elu,
    To sa teksty, ktore napisalam dla sluchaczy i czytelnikow nie znajacych jezyka polskiego..
    Chociaz minelo juz 50 lat – to ludzie w wielu krajach po raz pierwszy o tym sie dowiaduja.
    To byla zbrodnia i o zbrodniach nie mozna zapominac.

    Oczywiscie napisze rowniez po polcku.

  5. Ela z Paryza 03/09/2018 at 19:23

    Droga Tamaro.
    Twje teksty sa bardzo bogate, trafne i piekne literacko.
    Ale poniewaz najglebiej czuje i mysle po polsku, wydaje mi sie
    ze moja dusza odebralaby te teksty z jeszcze wiekszym wzruszeniem
    gdyby byly one napisane w twoim i moim ojczystym jezyku
    to znaczy po polsku.

  6. Tamara Slawny 03/09/2018 at 16:01

    Wictor, To nie sa lzy. To jest O S K A R Z E N I E.

    MEF. Dziekuje krajowi, w ktorym mieszkam od 45 lat .

    Bronia Ciesza mnie Twoje cieple slowa

  7. Dla olbrzymiej wiekszosci pomarcowcow wyjazd byl ” a blessing in disguise”.Ale niektorzy wciaz ronia lzy.

  8. Podziękuj im.

  9. Bronia Lewin 03/09/2018 at 04:24

    Pięknie sformułowany i wzruszajacy artykuł który dla większoci z nas odzwierciedla losy tułaczego życia.

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