In Vigaland Podcast 11 of “Voice from an Urn”, Viga’s mother recounts a day at Maroubra Beach, Australia, when Viga’s father plays mind games with her. “Voice from an Urn” is a mother’s side of her daughter’s true story of incest, told in Viga Boland’s award-winning memoir, “No Tears for my Father”, available from this website, along with “Voice from an Urn”.
MIND GAMES at MAROUBRA BEACH
Podcast 11: Voice from an Urn
It’s so incredibly hot. We have stopped at Maroubra Beach after leaving Coogee. Bogdan wants to look at this rocky, unfriendly section of Sydney’s beautiful beaches famous for its dangerous surf before dropping Viga off at Mrs. Nastrom’s for another week
“Surely you’re not going to dive into that, are you?”
“Don’t worry,” he reassures me. I’m a strong swimmer. I just want to see what everyone’s so afraid of here. You know me. I like a challenge.” He winks. He is so confident, so sure of himself. Part of me wouldn’t care if he drowned in it, but the other part immediately chastises me for thinking such dreadful things about my husband. Sure, he is horrible with me sometimes and I hate him then. But I also need him. I cannot survive in this country without him. My English is still poor; I cannot drive; I have no skills and I have a five-year-old child I barely know.
We see Viga only on weekends. The owner of the Surry Hills flat has refused to let us have her there during the week. Bogdan had done his best to change the woman’s mind, oozing charm and smiling as he tried to convince her Viga would be no trouble. But she wouldn’t budge.
“Those are my rules if you want the flat,” she had stated firmly. “Take it or leave it.”
“Stupid old woman,” Bogdan had muttered to me after we put down a deposit and walked toward the 1949 Mercury he had managed to buy for a lot less than the seller wanted. He certainly seems to have a way with
getting what he wants. His ability to manipulate people both impresses and embarrasses me. Even with broken English, he is clever with words. He charms his way around people everywhere. Only I know what he is really like.
Because of her rules, we had no choice but to find someone to look after Viga during the week. Bogdan located Mrs. Nastrom, a kind Aussie woman in Kings Cross. Mrs. Nastrom loves Viga as if she were her own, and Viga loves her back. I am jealous of that love and yet I’m not. I know I should love my daughter better than I do but something holds me back. I suppose if I were honest with myself, I’d admit that if I hadn’t gotten pregnant, I wouldn’t be here on this stinking hot beach with Bogdan. I’d be with Leszchek. I know Viga is not to blame for that, but I can’t help resenting her. What kind of mother am I to feel that way?
“Watch that Viga doesn’t try to follow me when I dive in,” Bogdan warns just before he launches himself off a rock into the churning, frothy waters below. I gasp in apprehension and grab Viga as she runs to watch her father. He surfaces, grins and waves to us, then does a few strokes to get away from the craggy rocks. He treads water, looking back at us and smiling, just as another huge wave breaks over him and slams him against the rocks.
“Daddy!” Viga screams as Bogdan vanishes from sight. I cannot see him. I begin to panic. There is no one around. I cannot swim. Nor can I leave Viga here alone. I look around frantically.
“Oh please,” I pray. “Let him be okay.”
Suddenly I spot him dragging himself out of the surf a little further up the beach. Blood is pouring down his chest, face and thighs. Viga and I run to him.
“Daddy! Daddy,” screams Viga. “My daddy’s bleeding!”
“Oh my God,” I yell, echoing her alarm as I reach him.
Viga and I each grab one of his arms to help, but he pushes us away. “I’m okay. I’m okay,” he says almost angrily. “Just scratches from those bloody rocks. So sharp and rough.” He gets himself up, slowly. Viga grabs his leg and wraps her arms around it.
“Daddy’s okay,” he assures her. “Just a bit of blood. Daddy’s tough. Oceans don’t hurt me. Only people hurt,” he says, throwing me a meaningful look. He is not going to let me ever forget what I did to him. Even though he told me he’s forgiven me, I know he hasn’t. Will he ever? I think it makes him feel big to make others feel small. It’s his way of maintaining control.
Bogdan wipes himself down with a towel. “That sure is a rough sea out there,” he says. “I would have been fine if it hadn’t been for those rocks. I should have swum further out.” He looks at the scratches on his chest and legs. “The salt is biting into them. I need to find a shower on this beach. Let’s move.”
As we walk back to the car, he asks,
“What would you have done if both Viga and I were drowning in the surf? Which one of us would you save?”
I panic. How do I answer that? Either answer will be the wrong one. He is playing mind games with me. I try to make light of it:
“Well that’s impossible to answer since I can’t swim anyway. If I jumped in there, I’d just drown with the two of you,” I laugh nervously. I need to say something better, something I know he wants to hear. So I add: “Besides, I wouldn’t want to live if I lost you both. I’m so glad you’re okay.”
“Good answer,” he replies as he slips behind the wheel. “That’s what I would expect of a loving woman.” He starts the car. “I’ll make a good wife of you yet,” he states with a satisfied look on his face.
My heart rate is getting back to normal, but a headache is coming on. I’ve passed another of his tests by lying. It’s the only way I have of coping with him. I must lie to survive this hell in which I’ve chosen to live. I just have to be sure he never sees through my lies. My liar’s head pounds with pain.
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