This is a more personal post, a shorter, less known story.
I never talk much about the Polish side of my family. Many… most of them died in the Holocaust. They were Siwak and Mirga. I… am Siwak and Mirga… and Zavačková. We changed our names when we came to the UK. We lost so much in the mountains, the Karpaty. Poland. Slovakia. Names that mean nothing to our families. We lived in the mountains, mountains that had been divided and torn apart by so many different political entities. The last time, they tore apart my family too.
It’s hard for me to talk about because even though no one sat me down and spoke about it, I lost half of myself at that moment. I lost connections and roots and … being.
Baba Edita rarely spoke Romani. She sang a song (Kałe Bała) and occasionally yelled “javen daj!” Papo was pretty much silent. Sometimes I’d call him Baba and he’d smile, mutter “papustyr!” and playfully bat at me, but mostly he sat silently in the half-light, smoking his pipe.
I don’t know where we lived. I don’t know where my grandparents came from. I know that Maami married into a “Polish” family and that’s why my parents married too. I don’t know any stories, any footsteps. All I know is that my grandparents were alone and refused to be “Mirga”.
And now I am alone and trying to put these jigsaw pieces together and I just have no understanding of the jagged edges and smooth curves of their lives. I know so much about the other members of my family, but I always feel this is missing. It’s a sadness, a black hole. Baba Edita always told me, “you have our faces but their hearts.”
I still don’t know what that means. I’ve lost so many of my family and now?
I feel like I’m nobody’s daughter.