Thursday, March 27, 2014

The promise


“Sorry Miss. Polina, I’m late”

“It’s Ok, Pavel…I Just came here” 

“So…shall we…?”

“Of course….did you bring the worms for the bait?”

“Yes…Yes…I brought some worms”

While she was looking at the Bamboo stick...she said...

“So…this is our fishing rod huh? Just a dried bamboo stick?” she laugh loud at me….

“It’s Ok…Miss. Polina, we are not professionals, ….. are we? Let’s go fishing with this”.

“Ok..Ok…my little fisherman…let’s do it”

We moved to the little boat which was near by the river bank, and got in to it. So, I got the oar and rowed to middle of the river. While I was rowing, she put her hands in to the water, and smiled at me. I just looked in to her blue eyes and smiled too. Her sweet face was worth for watching for the whole day. Her face always caught my eyes. And her long neck, and the blond curly hair…it’s always struggling with the breeze.

“Why?” she asked.

“Why?” I asked too.

“Why are you looking at me Pavel?”

Suddenly I came to the real world, due to the honking of the taxi. 

“Where are we now son…?”

“Sir.... we just came to “Zell am See”, where do you want go… Sir?”

“Mmmmm…here is the address…Seniorenwohnanlage d Stadtgemeinde, at  Porscheallee 33, 5700 Zell am See
After 20 minutes of drive, he stopped the car nearby large building. I couldn’t wait till I get down from the Taxi. So...The young taxi driver came and opened the taxi door for me. Then I got down and reached to the main entrance.

“Sir…you want me to wait here for you sir?” So the young driver yelled at me.

“Yes…my son…but it will take few hours…may be more…but I pay you son”

“As you wish Sir…Good day Sir”, again he yelled.

I went to the office premises in this nursing home. While I was walking, I looked around; I could see lots of elder people were going here and there, on corridors. Some are in wheel chairs; some are sitting on benches and just looking around. Some are laughing, while some are crying. Some of them were really gave full of attention for me. I guess, It’s because, since I’m also in their age, they may think, I’m as a new comer.

“Good evening…Sir” Young lady spoke to me.

“Oh…Good morning…my child”

“How can I help you Sir? You are here to mm…m…Admit…or…?”

“Oh no no...I’m here for a visit…. Actually to see a friend”

“OK…Well…let me help you Sir…what is his name? 

“Oh..yes…actually “her”…. name is…Uh…Mrs.Polina Adamchuk, around 85 years old ”

“Oh you really mean…Miss. Polina Adamchuck? …When did you visit her for last time Sir?”

“No...No my sweet child.... this is the very first time I came to visit her”

“Sir…Please be seated here.... Sir…I send a nurse to Miss. Polina's room and check. Then…I’ll arrange a escort to her....  Sir”.

“Of course My Dear child, I’ll wait here”.

I just sat, and the nurse came back, in seconds.

“Sir…I'm Sorry...She is sleeping now, and it will take around an hour or two to wake…are you going to stay here until she wakes up  Or..What Sir?

“Darling…I came all this way from "Bern", to see her, after 57 years, there is no reason to go back without seeing her, I would like to remain and wait here for entire my life to see her again, if wants”.

“Sir…I’m sorry Sir…yes…yes…Please be seated here.... Sir…If you want anything just let me know Sir…and..Uh….Nurse….please ask Margaret, to arrange a drink for this Gentleman.”

“Well…thank you…I’ll go around and wait outside; I’ll need some air too.”

I came out side and sat on the bench under a tree. It was a really nice evening.

“Pavel Do you come tomorrow? And don’t forget the homework,,OK?

“Yes Miss Polina, right after I go home I’ll do it for sure, and yes tomorrow, I come school”

At first, Miss Polina was a nice teacher to me; she was very kind to me. I loved to go to school just because to learn from her. If she couldn’t come to school for a day, It was very hard for me to spend that day, without her kindness, and appearance.

One day, when I came to school, early in the morning, I saw Miss. Polina was sobbing at her desk. I surprised and I got so upset. I reached to her slowly and...Asked,

“Miss. Polina, Don’t you feel well?”

But she didn’t raise her head, and continuing the sobbing. I feel so helpless. Then again I asked...

“Miss... if you don’t feel well, please go home and sleep, then it will be Ok”

But she did say nothing. I couldn’t understand anything, but I feel I must go out. So in that day, her mood was not good. She didn’t talk with me or other teachers as usual. And I noticed all the other teachers looked at her with mercy. When she moved nearby them, they mumbled to each other’s years and breathe heavily. I couldn’t understand anything, but I want to know what is happening around her.

Then the School bell rang for the day end. I got my School bag and was coming out, suddenly someone hold by my shoulder.

“Pavel…what do you do this evening?” It was her.

I was delighted to hear her voice “Miss Polina, I go to fishing by boat, in the river down by”

“May I join with you today?” she asked from me sadly.

“Yes Mam, I'd be glad…please”

In that evening she came to fishing with me.  So we sat down the River bank. Then I asked about the morning. She told me everything.

Her parents lived in “Belgrade” in Yugoslavia, and they died due to the Bombing by Germans, last week. She came here to Czechoslovakia as a teacher. She settled in “Znojmo”, my town. But now she had no one in this world for care about her. Though she had fallen in love with few men, due to the war, nothing succeeded. I felt so pity about her. When she finished her story, I held her hand tightly, without even known to myself. She didn’t refuse it either. For a moment, I forgot she was my teacher any more, instead, I felt her as a little girl who needs my kindness and attention. Eventhough, I really liked her, I know she was my teacher. But I got a strange feeling about her. I can’t explain it, I didn’t understand it was why or what. Finally we stood up, and we came back. The following day was a holiday. So I couldn’t wait to see her in next school day. When I went to school day after holiday, I felt so nervous. I couldn’t stop watching at her all the time. I couldn't do any more school work. 

The end of the day for school term…she came to me…

“Pavel…you go to fishing today also?”

“Yes Miss. Polina…as usual…I go almost every day”

“But… I guess you never catch a fish, aren’t you?” she asked me while smiling at me

“Mmmm…yes most of the days …No”

“OK…then I’ll meet you there”

I came to river side early, and I cleaned the boat for rowing and fishing. She came there. I could see her as a princess today. She was wearing a nice check frock. We sat on the grass, by each others. So…the big silence….

“Suddenly I asked…Miss. Polina…when is your Birthday?”

“It was September 23rd”


“Why…? I guess you don’t want to know the year…huh?”

I just smiled and throw a stick in to the river.

“OK…it was 1914, 23rd of September”

I really felt discomfort with her since then. And I told…

“Miss Polina…I prepared the Boat…shall we go for fishing?”

“Yes of course…why not? We came here for that”

While I was rowing the Boat. I thought to myself…I was just a 14 years Boy. She was a 27 years woman. This is so strange. But I really like her.. And I really want to help her, somehow. I swear to god no more than that. I couldn’t catch at least one fish as she told me. so when it was getting dark, we came back.

Since then…Time passed, days to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years. Our relationship was getting very strong as good companions. So the war... also was getting it’s peak. the year was 1943. Now I’m just 16 year old boy. This is the 5th year of Czechoslovakia under German occupation. Resistance groups were up rising everywhere in Czechoslovakia. I wanted to involve in to a resistance group. I left my school life and joined a group. War was in its middle age. Europe fate was unpredictable. Lots of youth hands needed to war efforts against the Nazis. So...My day has come.

I had to leave my town, with my group. It was the last day that I met Miss. Polina.

“Pavel…Still you are a 16 years boy, war is not for you, you don’t need to do this”

“I know its Miss. Polina, I’m just a little boy, and sometime war may not for my age, but…”

“But …what?”

“I want to be an adult, in my age and with my work”

“Pavel, you’ll get your ages and you’ll become an adult one day, you can’t be an adult doing a war”.

“I know but I want to acknowledge to my mind and to the society that, I’m well grownup man.”

“For what purposes…Pavel?

I got few steps toward to Miss. Polina and hold her both hands, and said…

“I’m just a 16 years boy, but I want to be a 18 years boy so quickly, then I’m an adult, and grown man, So I can, love a woman…that I want….”

“Which woman? And love…Pavel…?

“Miss. Polina…can....c...can you wait  another two, three years for me? Then the war will be over, and I’ll be over 18 years man, So..I can say “I love you Miss. Polina…can you wait until I get my age, to love you, as a grownup man?…Can you?...Can you wait for me…?

She Didn't speak any more. She held her hand on her mouth, and bit her own lips, and began to cry…then she turned back and ran away…

“Miss. Polina…” I yelled at her

“I told you the truth, if I survived the war, I come back for you as a well grown man…Miss. Polina…can you wait for me... I promise you…can you wait for me until I be a man?”

She stopped suddenly and turned back. I ran to her. She hold my face and kissed my forehead, and said…

“I will... Pavel..I will”

“Sir…here is a Drink…” young female nurse came to me and served a drink.

“Thank you my little angel” 

“May I sit next to you Sir?”

“Of course…yes…”

“So you from "Bern"? Sir…”

“Yes my child…but the truth is I came very far from.... than the "Bern"

“Miss. Polina was an old friend of you?”

“My sweet child, she was my one and only friend in my Teenage…I made a promise her one day, I wanted to keep that promise as a grown man, that’s why I came all this way to Austria”

“If you don’t mind, I would like to know your story…Sir”

“Oh…It’s OK…I love to tell you that…but it was not so sweet....."

"It's OK...Sir...I love to hear it"

"I met Miss. Polina as My school teacher in “Znojmo, in Czechoslovakia in 1939”. we became good companions eventually. Then I involved with a Czechoslovakian resistance group and, moved to German front lines. But after two years I made my 18 years Adult barrier. So I voluntarily enlisted with Red army. But I got severe brain injuries during the last few days of the war. It was the April of 1945. So the very same year war ended. But I had to hospitalized, in Kiev, Ukraine for nearly 4 years. Then…in 1950 I came to Czechoslovakia to find Miss. Polina. I went to our school. There I met one of her friend, then I got a clue that Miss. Polina fled to Switzerland. But it was not easy to go Switzerland for me. During the era of Communist Party Rule, in Czechoslovakia. I was faced major difficulties to find a way to Switzerland. I was imprisoned for three times for attempting to escape for Switzerland. All my efforts to go to Switzerland failed, until 1990. So the Cold war ended. Communist Collapsed in Europe. I came to Switzerland. But she was not there at that era. I couldn’t have any clue about her until year 2000. Finally I got a information about this nursing home.

When I finished the story I saw that Young nurse is wiping out her cheek, with her handkerchief.

“My child, I searched Miss. Polina for last 57 years, all my young age I dedicated to find her, and now I’m old and grey, still I want to keep my promise to her”.

Suddenly young nurse looked away, and I looked too…

I saw... one male nurse is escorting a Very old woman in a wheel chair to our bench. I stand up to go to that old woman. But my legs are shaking. I tried to move few step forward…

Inspired By Love in WWII, and Communism in Europe. 

By Manu Fernando

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