CHOICE: Podcast 9:
VOICE FROM AN URN: CHAPTER 6
In Podcast #8, Viga Boland’s father left Germany for Australia. Her mother was to follow with her as soon as her father had a home for them. In Podcast#9, mother and daughter arrive in Australia. Will her mother regret her choice to leave Germany and the man she has fallen in love with? Listen…
It’s been a year since Bogdan left and now, our ship, the Fairsea, is docking in Melbourne. Little Viga is excited, wanting me to hold her up so she can see everything. She can’t wait to see her “real” daddy. I wish I shared her excitement at seeing Bogdan again. I’m terrified.
The voyage has been rough, sharing a tiny, tiny cabin with an older woman who complained every time Viga whined about feeling nauseous, as I did, with the rocking motion of the ship. And sometimes, Viga would just scream…scream a lot when she suddenly remembered watching Leszchek’s broken figure become smaller and smaller in the distance as the ship set out to sea. And when he was no more, I screamed too, but only on the inside where no one could hear my despair at leaving him.
“Don’t go,” Leszchek had urged. “Stay with me. I will look after you and Jadwiga as if she were my own.” Leszscek had wrapped his arms around me and pulled me close. “I love you so much my heart is breaking at the thought I’ll never see you or hold you both again. Don’t do this. Don’t leave me.”
I had sobbed in his embrace while Viga, looking up at us both, clung to my skirt. Why was mommy crying? Wasn’t Leszchek coming with us? Where were we going?”
“I can’t stay, Leszchek. I must go. Bogdan is my husband and Viga is his child. I have no choice.” I was dying inside as I said words I didn’t want to say, words I wished weren’t true.
“Yes you do, my love,” Leszchek said. “We always have a choice.” The desperation in his voice matched that of my heart. “We can run away…back to Poland. No one will look for us there. We can start a new life together.”
“We can’t go back to Poland, Leszchek. There’s nothing left for anyone there. Where will we live? How will you find work?”
I wished my words weren’t lies. I wished so much that we could do what he suggested. I loved Leszchek as I could never love Bogdan. It had happened so easily, so naturally and quickly. And it was so wrong. I knew it but hadn’t been able to stop myself. And now, I had to leave him. My heart was breaking along with his.
“Please, don’t make it any harder for me than it already is Leszchek. I must go to my husband. I belong to him.”
I watched him acquiesce and crumble in front of me.
“I wished I’d never seen you that day,” he said quietly. Then he smiled. “Do you believe in love at first sight? I didn’t until I saw you. I should have stayed away from you after he left, but I couldn’t help myself. You were forbidden fruit and I gave into the temptation. Forgive me.”
He’d grabbed my hand and brought it up to his lips, kissing it tenderly, almost respectfully. “Forgive me, Jadwiga, for loving you and your child so much. I know I have no right to you or her. And I have no right to put you in the position of making a choice. But I will be here for you if you ever change your mind.”
I can see Bogdan now. He stands out in the massive throng of people waiting on the dock to welcome family and loved ones to Australia, a new land of sun, beaches and hope for a better future. He looks fantastic: tall, suntanned to a golden bronze, lean and fit from several months of digging trenches for the Sydney public works. Any woman would love to be seen with him…any woman but me. My heart belongs to Leszchek but my future belongs to Bogdan.
“Dada, Dada,” squeals Viga as he hoists her up in his arms, hugging her tightly, kissing her rosy cheeks and tousling her blond head of hair.
“Oh my little girl! How I’ve missed you. I couldn’t wait to see you. Look how you’ve grown already.”
I stand near him, watching, waiting to be greeted as warmly as he greeted Viga. I feel insignificant. Still hugging Viga, he gives me a quick kiss on the cheek and says,
“Come on. Follow me. We’ll go to where they are unloading the ship and pick up whatever you brought with you.” His eyes search my face. What is he looking for? “You look good. Looks like you survived those months without me just fine. We can catch up when we get home.”
Does he know? Is my guilt showing on my face? He once told me he can read people very well and knows when they are lying. Was he searching for a lie when he looked so hard at me just now?
“Home” is a one-room, tin-roofed clapboard hut. I try not to let my disappointment show.
“I managed to get us one of the few two-burner stove tops around,” Bogdan says, almost proudly. “You don’t know how lucky we are to have it. Most of the “New Australians” as they call us have to cook over the open fires.
“Is there a toilet?” I ask
“All communal showers and toilets,” Bogdan replies. “Come on, I’ll show you around. We won’t be here that much longer. As soon as my two years are up, we’ll move to the better immigrant camp at Chullora.”
Bogdan lifts Viga up and we re-emerge into the blinding sunlight. It’s not hot. I pull my sweater around me.
“I thought Australia was a hot country,” I say, trying to make conversation while we tour the facilities and my mind is thousands of miles away.
“This is August, middle of the Australian winter. Just wait for summer. Didn’t you notice how tanned I am from all the months of digging trenches?”
“I did notice,” I say as we re-enter our hut. “You look very good. Very handsome.” I change the subject as Viga gets whiny. “Viga is tired. I think she needs to have a nap. Where can I put her?”
“I got a small cot from one of the other families,” Bogdan says, pointing to a corner of the room. “Put her down there. Then you and I have some serious lovemaking to catch up on. It’s been so long. I nearly went out of my mind with need. Did you miss me too?”
“Yes,” I lie, hoping he can’t read my face as he claims. As soon as Viga is asleep, he starts to feverishly remove my dress and and unclasp my bra. He alternately squeezes and kisses my breasts, his need overcoming all other thoughts. He lifts me up and throws me on the bed, pulling down my underpants, almost frenzied in his rush to enter me. I lie there, tired and unresponsive, letting him have his way and hoping he doesn’t find me too much of a “cold fish”. I feel nothing but the tears seeping from the corners of my eyes.
He’s insatiable, going in for yet another round as soon as we finish our cigarettes after the first one. I close my eyes, trying to pretend he is Leszchek. Maybe that way I’ll feel something and enjoy it too. Suddenly I feel his thrusting cease. He’s withdrawing. I open my eyes in surprise, a surprise that turns quickly to fear as his massive hand slaps my face hard…
If you are a memoir writer, or aspiring to be one, you might enjoy subscribing to the author’s other PODCAST for MEMOIR WRITERS, MEMOIRABILIA. Subscribe here:
Stitcher: Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=82277&refid=stpr
And if you write other than memoir, you should check out Viga Boland’s newest site for writers at VIANVI