Like Father Like Son

 

Chapter 24

“Nigel McKenna! Nigel McKenna! Get your things!”

He heard his name and he heard the instruction but he didn’t move. Three days ago he had been attacked in the shower room; as the inmates punched and kicked him they called him a ‘wife-abusing sissy’. No one had ever beaten him up like that before and as he lay bloodied, battered and bruised in the infirmary, he thought of all the times he had beaten and abused Dorothy, and he cried. He had fractured her ribs twice and broken her arm. He had called her every derogatory name known to man and animal and he had laughed at her when she had cried and begged him to stop.

“Nigel McKenna, I told you to get your things; you’re shipping out today! Come on, man, get a move on!”

“What? Shipping out to where?”

“Just get your things,” the officer said and unlocked the holding cell.

Nigel quickly grabbed his things and followed the officer. They walked out of the isolation section where he had been held for two days for his own protection and into an office. He was told to sign some papers by an officer who sat at a desk typing; he promptly obliged. It felt strange when the officer called him ‘Sir’. It felt even stranger when he turned and looked out of the opened, bar-less window to the freedom beyond. The window was big and Nigel thought he could easily fit through it and escape. The officer stopped typing and studied him for a few moments. Nigel froze as he tried to conceal his thoughts. The officer looked down and checked the papers. He indicated where another signature was required and passed the papers back. Nigel quickly signed. The officer pressed a button and a door opened. A man dressed in a frail flannel shirt and blue jeans walked in. Nigel stared at him as if he were seeing a ghost.

“You’ve been released, let’s go,” the man told him.

“Dad! What are you doing here?”

“We’ll talk later, son. I brought you some clothes. Go change I’ll wait for you outside.”

 

They drove in complete silence. Nigel had so many questions he wanted to ask but each time he tried to formulate them in a logical manner his words failed him. After nearly an hour, they drove into a trailer park and pulled up in front of a trailer. His father turned the ignition off and climbed out of the truck. Nigel followed him into the trailer. He grimaced at the untidiness of the trailer and the stench of stale food, beer, and foul body odor. His father dropped his keys on a cluttered worktop and faced him.

“How could you do what you did to that woman?”

“I didn’t kill her. If I had killed her they wouldn’t have released me, would they?”

“The only reason they released you was because Dorothy phoned the police last night and told them that she was alive and well. She could have stayed hidden and let you rot in jail but she didn’t because she is a good person.”

“She called the police last night? Where has she been all this while and why didn’t she call them sooner?”

“That, my son, is a question that I doubt you’ll ever know the answer to because, if she is as smart as I think she is, you’ll never see her again.”

“We are still married, she is still my wife!”

“Not according to the divorce papers you signed when you were ‘stoned’ out of your mind in the psychiatric ward. She is as free as a bird right now and you, my wife-beating-son, have lost everything.”

“You have the nerve to call me a wife-beater after everything you did to my mother? You hypocritical bast—”

His father’s hand swung back then struck him hard across the face before he could finish. “That is exactly why I have the nerve to call you a wife-beater. I messed up, I did wrong! Look around you son, this is how I live now. I threw away the best woman that I ever knew for cheap thrills and when those thrills got tired of me I ended up here, in a trailer park. I live worse than the hill-billy trailer-trash I used to make fun of. My pride and my arrogance brought me here, the same stupid pride and arrogance I see in you.”

“No thanks to you—”

“Here we go, here we go with the blame-the-father routine,” he dramatically threw his hands in the air, “I see men like you crying into their beers down at Barney’s Shack nearly every single afternoon. Men who always need to blame someone else for the crap in their life. You want to know who to blame for your crap?” He pulled Nigel towards a greasy mirror which hung on the side of a cupboard and held him in front of it, “Blame the man in the mirror.”

In stand-offish silence, Nigel looked at his father’s reflection in the mirror; his father looked at Nigel’s reflection.

“When your mother threw me out, in a way I thought that I was doing you a favor. At least you wouldn’t have to be like me, you could be different,” he shook his head, “You’re worse than me. You knew better! You were right there; you saw how things ended up with your mother and me. You had the ‘blueprint’! You knew what to avoid!”

Nigel turned sharply, “You think I wanted to be a man who beats his wife? You think I didn’t want to make my wife happy—”

“Yes, I think you wanted to be a man who beats your wife and I think that you didn’t give a damn if your wife was happy or not. If you wanted your marriage to work you would have made it work! You would have tried harder! If you treat a woman well she will stick with you through thick and thin. I spoke to your mom and she told me how you spent Dorothy’s money on other women. You made your wife work two jobs while you sat on your fat ass and beat her when you felt like it and took her money when you felt like it. Well now she’s gone and this is your new home.”

“I have a house. I don’t need to stay in this dump.”

“Didn’t your lawyer tell you about the house?”

“He mentioned some rubbish but I didn’t believe him—”

“It’s true, son, the house that your wife paid for has been sold and your car has been repossessed because she stopped paying for it. We tried to get some of the women you’ve been seeing over the years to help you out or put you up but they all refused. Looks like you threw away the only good woman who ever crossed your path and that is something, like me, you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life.” He shook his head and studied his son for a few moments. “So this here dump is now your dump. Welcome to my world, son.”

Taken from Blood Borne Connections

 

 

 

 

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Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 1

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 2

Truths, Lies And Untold Secrets

Blood Borne Connections

U Murder U (Suicide)

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Bless God Where You Are – Whether You’re In Arts and Entertainment / Business / Education / Family / Government / Media / Religion – Bless God Where You Are

Bless God Where You Are – Arts & Entertainment / Business / Education / Family / Government / Media / Religion

 

How can we bless You for all You have done

For each day You give us, each moon and each sun?

How can we show You that You are our Joy, our Source, our Hope and the Love of our lives?

How Lord?

How?

 

Each day you are given use it to the best

Seek first My Kingdom and I will supply you the rest

Wherever you are, show the people My Light

Walk in Love, Patience and Kindness; let your lives shine bright

Let people know I love them and it is My Will that all might be saved

Let your lives be a testimony for people watch how you behave

 

I made you the salt of the earth – Salt must not lose its flavour

I made you the light of the world – Light must not be hidden

Be salt and light where you are

 

 We will live a life that honours You our Father our God

We will let our lives speak of You

We will let our lives speak of You

We will bless You God where we are

Be it Arts & Entertainment/Business/Education/Family/Government/Media/Religion – Be light and salt and bless God where you are.

 

 

 

Ebooks from GLL Publishing available at Amazon, Smashwords etc – Books also available via http://www.gllpublishing.com

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 1

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 2

Truths, Lies And Untold Secrets

Blood Borne Connections

U Murder U (Suicide)

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MAN – WOMAN – LOVE – WOMAN – MAN – LOVE

WOMAN:

Is this love?  

Is this real?  

Can you explain to me  

Exactly how you feel? 

 

MAN:

 I would climb a mountain, sail any sea 

I would do anything, please believe me   

My love for you is real and totally true   

There is nothing for you I would not do  

 

WOMAN:

You say love conquers all 

Love makes one strong

Love turns everything right 

And sees no wrong  

 

MAN:

Yes I do say this for I believe it true 

I was divinely blessed, the day I met you  

In you, I have found the strength to conquer all 

My love for you rights all wrongs, big and small  

 

WOMAN:

Forgive me my sweet 

For questioning you   

You see I have to be sure 

That your love is true  

 

MAN:

My precious my sweet believe me when I say 

You are the only lady that has ever made me feel this way   

For the rest of my life, I will love you and be true 

Now that you give me your all, this and so much more will I do  

 Poem from ‘Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part II’

7

 

Ebooks from GLL Publishing available at Amazon, Smashwords etc – Books also available via http://www.gllpublishing.com

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 1

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 2

Truths, Lies And Untold Secrets

Blood Borne Connections

U Murder U (Suicide)

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abcd

 

‘Hope’ taken from ‘Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled’

abcd

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 1 and Part 2 are part of the GLL Publishing Collection

 

“Hope

My pessimistic friend says that I am a joke

That I am too optimistic because I am called Hope.

We were once ‘one’ before but he made a choice one day

To remove me from his life, now he lives in a hope-less way.

He blames me for the pain and misery he suffers from all the time.

I have tried to tell him to change because his choices are his not mine.

 

You see I am what is considered a good thing

I have lost count of the many joys and anticipated blessings I bring.

There are so many people that look forward to a brighter day

 

So I am constantly called upon to show them the way.

I work hand in hand with a wonderful loyal dedicated friend

His name is Faith and he is strong, resilient and does not bend.

 

All good things come in threes so I am told

That probably explains why we have a third partner who is so glorious and bold.

He is the greatest of the three of us, full of passion and so strong

There is nothing He cannot do, and when you repent He forgives your every wrong.

His name is Love and He is truly the Great of great

Our mission: I, Hope, have Faith and with Love we operate.”

 

 

Ebooks from GLL Publishing available at Amazon, Smashwords etc – Books also available via http://www.gllpublishing.com

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 1

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 2

Truths, Lies And Untold Secrets

Blood Borne Connections

U Murder U (Suicide)

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https://www.facebook.com/gllpublishings.co.uk?ref=hl

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Blood Borne Connections – Chapter 13

 

abcd

Books by GLL Publishing  –  www.gllpublishing.com 

 

Blood Borne Connections - book cover

Chapter 13

 

‘Tatiana’

 

On the bus that took us from Czechoslovakia we were shown our passports, we all had new names. According to my passport my name was now Tatiana Nikols. I didn’t question this, none of us did. Neither did we question how the passports were obtained so quickly, we were so happy to be chosen, so happy to be going to a new life that you could have called us Humpty Dumpty and we wouldn’t have bat an eye. ‘Bat an eye’ – what does that really mean? How does one bat one’s eye? This is not something that we readily say back home. I heard Tommy, one of the eight men who guards us tell Hanna this. Hanna is one of the girls who traveled from the orphanage with me; she is the same age as me but looks much older and is more physically developed than me. Tommy told her that he wouldn’t bat an eye if she died. He had raped her so many times and she had tried to kill herself so many times and on the last unsuccessful attempt he said this to her as she lay on the ground covered in blood that slowly seeped out of a new cut on her wrist. He became hysterical when he found her that day, the other men tried to calm him down but he wouldn’t listen to them. He tried to beat her but they wouldn’t let him so he spat on her. Two days later he was begging her for sex and when she said ‘no’ he raped her. How can you spit on someone one minute then want to sleep with her the next? You spit on something when you think it is dirty and beneath you. If this is what you think, is it not logical that you would not want to touch that thing?

 

America is a capitalist country. Growing up in Czechoslovakia you are told that capitalism is bad and corrupt. You are told that too many people have too many thoughts in a capitalist country and nothing substantial in their thinking. Their thoughts lead to confusion and a division between the rich and the poor. The rich have too much money and too many cares and the poor have too little money and care about nothing in their attempt to get rich. This is why the poor readily kill and steal in their attempt to be rich and then they get rich and they have too much money and too many cares, so much so that they wish they were poor again. It’s hilarious! This is a word I picked up from Hanna. She says that life is hilarious and if she weren’t always crying in pain she would be laughing at her good fortune of being in America – the cause of her pain! Hilarious!

When we first arrived in America we were moved from one house to another, several times and we immediately saw the difference between this country and ours as we were driven in a van with darkened windows. The skyscrapers – the fast food restaurants – the big cars – the big houses – the homeless people who lived out of supermarket carts – the overdressed shops – the underdressed women. It was very different from Czechoslovakia. The music was so different. We would spend hours watching music videos on the television, our favorites were Whitney Houston ‘Saving All My Love’, Debarge ‘Rhythm Of The Night’, Foreigner ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’, Kool &The Gang ‘Cherish’, Ashford & Simpson ‘Solid’, Madonna ‘Crazy For You’, New Edition ‘Mr. Telephone Man’, Billy Ocean ‘Suddenly’, Sade ‘Smooth Operator’, Jermaine Jackson ‘Do What You Do’ and Tina Turner ‘Private Dancer’. I loved Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ and would watch it over and over again when it was played on the television. We were fifteen and sixteen year old girls exposed to music we had never heard before and we would dance and dance. We didn’t know the words but the videos spoke their own language and we would sing along as if we did know the words. Although short lived they were fun times that united us and gave us something to talk about and write about. You see we were encouraged to write letters to our siblings and friends back in the orphanage. I wrote long letters to Tereza, Leona and Eduard. I told them my name was now Tatiana as this was more Americanized. I also told them about the many things we had seen, the food, the television shows and the music. I tried to describe the things I saw as best as I could in detail so that they would feel as though they were here with me, and seeing what I saw. We were given a Post Office Box address to give them so that they could write to us. I remember waiting for letters from home but never receiving any. After a few weeks of being moved from one house to another the blonde American woman came to the house we were in and told us that we were all going to a final location. We were all excited about this and packed our few belongings.

The say evil has a humorous side and just before it strikes it can’t help itself; it lets you know it is coming. Moments away from our final location we were told the sad news of Mrs. Svobodová’s death and told that we should work hard and do our best to make her proud of us in America!

Our new home was a large three-story house with many darkened windows. There were no other houses next to it on either side, it stood alone, almost sinisterly so. From the outside it looked like a house that could accommodate many families. Once we got inside the house the doors were locked and bolted and the men who guarded us immediately changed in the way they behaved towards us. You see when we first got to America we were told that these men were protecting us from the corrupt American men who exploited innocent girls like us. We were told to regard them as bodyguards and that they didn’t understand our language and as such we should avoid interacting with them, but if we had to speak to them we were to speak only in English. Hanna noted that when we spoke in our language some of the men would stop talking. She suspected that some of them could understand and speak our language and didn’t understand why they pretended they couldn’t. In our first weeks in America they hardly spoke to us and they never touched us; they acted like we were their little sisters. Once the door of the new house closed behind us they grabbed hold of us and pushed us down steep stairs into a large room in the basement of the house. We screamed, we cried, we tried to make sense of the sudden change in our treatment but the men told us to shut up and do as they said. They took our belongings from us and locked us in the room, which was dark and smelled of urine and vomit. I remember feeling sick and trying to hold my breath but everywhere I turned the smell followed and made my insides churn. We were kept in the room for two days with no food and a dripping tap as our only source of water.

What did we do during this time? We sat on the cold floor and waited. You have to understand; none of us knew what was going on, our upbringing in Czechoslovakia had been very sheltered in the orphanage. Communism had sheltered us from the wicked ways of so called modern civilization. Of course we cried and cried, some of us banged on the door and begged to be released, begged for food and begged for mercy. For two days we were ignored. It was during this period that I learned something; I learned that Leona had been the first girl selected by the American woman and she had turned the woman down. Despite the American woman begging her and offering her money, Leona had refused to go with her because she said that the woman did not look sincere. She had told the American woman and Mrs. Mertle that she had prayed to God for direction and God had shown her in a dream that the American woman was not to be trusted. I cried when Hanna told me this. I cried when I thought about what I had said to Leona, how I had accused her of being jealous because I had been chosen and she hadn’t and I cried when I thought about the fact that I might never again see her, my sister or Eduard, we would never again be the four musketeers. I would die in this dark cold basement from starvation. Looking back that would have been a luxury compared to what lay ahead.

On the third day, the men who had guarded us during our first weeks took us out of the room one by one. I don’t know what scared me the most, the fear of seeing a girl taken and knowing that it would soon be my turn or the thought of what they were going to do to the girl they had taken and what they would do to me. One of the girls had said during our two days in the basement that they were going to kill us and sell our organs – again that would have been a luxury.

I remember two men grabbing my arms and pulling me out of the room, I remember being blinded by the light as I was dragged up the stairs. Then things start to get blurry. I was dragged into a room and told to take my clothes off when I refused I was slapped several times. I heard girls screaming from different areas of the house and my mind froze with a fear that I have never felt before. Hands ripped and pulled off my clothes and threw them onto a pile already on the floor. One of the men held a hand over his nose while another one said I smelled like shit and needed to wash. I was pulled naked out of the room and thrown into a room with a shower. I was told that I had two minutes to wash and that I should make sure I washed in-between my legs and my mouth properly. Amid the instructions I heard screaming, I heard shouting and I heard the quiet sound of someone weeping as if her heart were being shattered. It took some moments before I realized that the quiet weeping was coming from me. I could taste blood in my mouth from where I had bitten myself when I was repeatedly slapped. I tried to pick up the soap from the floor but my hands were shaking so much. I had never been naked in front of a man and I felt ashamed at this. I felt ashamed and scared. The men were looking at my body and grinning at each other. They told me to hurry up or they would ‘do me’ right there. I didn’t know what they meant but from the evil glint in their eyes I knew that it wasn’t good. I remember picking up the soap and standing under the shower, the water was freezing and I washed quickly thinking that if I did this I would be given some clean clothes and some decency. I brushed my teeth and someone threw a towel at me. I used the towel to cover myself and the men laughed at me and called me a stupid bitch. All this time I knew I was so hungry and cold but the fear in my heart seemed to paralyze my brain. Someone pulled the towel off me and threw it on the floor. I was dragged out of the room naked and taken to a room filled with about ten men. Music played in the background; it drowned out the noise of the screaming girls.

“Have you slept with a man before?” A man I didn’t recognize asked me in my language.

Hearing my language from this man made me cry. I spoke to him in my language, “Please help me, I only came to America to-”

He slapped me, “Answer my question bitch, have you slept with a man before?”

“No,” I replied stunned.

“If you are lying I will know and I will kill you and I will send one of my men in Czechoslovakia to go to the orphanage and kill your little sister, Tereza.”

I panicked at the mention of my sister’s name, “It is true!”

“I know everything about you so tell me the truth!”

“It is the truth, I have never slept with a man,” I begged.

He turned to the men in the room, “Okay gentlemen we have a virgin here; two hundred bucks for two hours!” He told them in English. I saw what looked like money being waved in the air and then I was handed over to an old man with very little hair and a fat gut. He told the man who had sold me for two hours that he would add ten bucks not to use a rubber. The man called him Emilio Russo and told him to make it twenty bucks. He nodded gave him the money then smiled at me and walked out of the room. Two men dragged me out and we followed the old man up the stairs. The screaming seemed to intensify with each step I took. I heard girls screaming in my language, in Polish, in English – girls like me, begging for their lives. Terrified, I was taken into a room with a bed, a sink and darkened windows. The two men dragged me towards the bed and threw me down. They laughed as I struggled to get up and mocked me as I tried to run. They grabbed me and held me down on the bed. I could hear my heart pounding as fear stole my breath and paralyzed me. The fat bald man called Emilio Russo, took off his clothes slowly and smiled at me as he did so. I begged and I cried, I told them that I was only fifteen but the men holding me down told me to shut up. Naked, Mr. Russo climbed on top of me and I screamed. I screamed at the pain of his thrusts. I cried and begged him to stop but he wouldn’t stop, the men wouldn’t let me go. I screamed until my throat ceased and shock took control. When Mr. Russo had finished the men who had held me down took turns in raping me. They did things to me that I cannot bear to think about and as you are reading my thoughts you will not read the things they did. When they left the room I was battered and bleeding. My face was swollen and my lips cut  from where they had punched me several times and . . . I was angry . . . Before I came here I had plans! Plans that I would one day meet a young man and flirt a little, fall in love, have a first kiss, hold hands, go for walks, get engaged, get married, give myself to him on our wedding night, have children and live happily ever after. I had plans! I had dreams!

These animals had taken my plans and destroyed them, contaminated them. Who would want me now? My innocence had been taken away by a man old enough to be my grandfather, a man who had lived his life to old age and had now destroyed my young life. I was angry . . .

I had to clean myself up. The pain was unbearable as I held onto the bed and walked slowly to the sink to get some water to wash myself. I stood by the sink with a wet towel and tried to wipe away their dirt and their smells. When I had finished cleaning myself I looked around the room for some clothes to wear; there was nothing. I heard the door open and frightened I backed away. The man who had sold me walked into the room; he had some clothes, some food and some tablets in a transparent bag in his hands. He placed them on the floor and talked to me in my language. He told me he had paid a lot of money to get passports for us in the Czechoslovakian black market and spent many Koruna (the currency in my country) for us to be taken across Europe to Yugoslavia and then brought to America. He said that he needed to make sure we repaid him all the money he had spent and that it was only fair that we did so. He asked me if I was hungry, if I wanted to wear some clean clothes and take some drugs to stop the pain. I nodded. He told me that I must listen to him and obey him. He said I was chosen like the other girls because I had family that they could get to in Czechoslovakia if I disobeyed him. He told me he had someone in the orphanage watching my little sister Tereza and he could easily arrange for Tereza to be brought here and go through exactly what I had just been through and that afterwards he would kill her in front of me. My heart froze when he said this because I believed him. He had mentioned my sister’s name three times today and I knew he could do what he said – when someone mentions someone’s name three times in relation to a bad thing it is seen as a bad omen in my country. He undid his belt and told me to get on my knees in front of him. When I didn’t move he walked over to me and punched me in my stomach then dragged me by my hair around the room. I cried and begged him to stop but he told me to shut up, he told me that when he spoke to me I had to obey him before the words were out of his mouth. He told me his name was Vitto and he owned my ass. Then he pushed me down on the floor in front of him and unzipped his trousers.

 

 

Ebooks from GLL Publishing available at Amazon, Smashwords etc – Books also available via http://www.gllpublishing.com

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 1

Despite all odds: A Dream Fulfilled Part 2

Truths, Lies And Untold Secrets

Blood Borne Connections

U Murder U (Suicide)

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https://www.facebook.com/gllpublishings.co.uk?ref=hl

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Blood Borne Connections – Chapter 12

Blood Borne Connections - book cover

 

Chapter 12

‘My transformation – Taťána to Tatiana’

 

When I was fifteen, I used to help the teachers in the orphanage teach English and History to the children. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher and I hoped to take some examinations and train as a teacher. My little sister, Tereza, was eight years old and had long ago forgotten our parents. I tried to remind her with photographs but she would shake her head and call me her mother, “Matka Tata”, I tried to get her to call me sister but she would shake her head and say, “No Sestra Tata, Matka Tata” – she reminded me of my mother – strong minded.

The orphanage was a good and safe place managed by Mrs. Izabela Svobodová. She was like a guardian angel – she really cared about us children and never hid her feelings. We used to hear horror stories of different orphanages in Europe where the children were treated very badly. Some had terrible buildings where children would literally freeze in winter and some had buildings with no windows so that when it rained, inside would get wet. We heard stories of girls driven out of orphanages when they were sixteen and ending up as prostitutes. We heard stories of overcrowded orphanages where the children were not cared for properly, not educated and were bullied or beaten regularly by the workers. We didn’t have any of that at our orphanage. We were treated well, given respect and love and told to treat other people respectfully and with love (to love our neighbor as our self).

Mrs. Svobodová would not stand for bullying or ill treatment of the children by any worker and for this I loved her as I would a favorite aunt if I had one. The day she was suddenly taken ill and had to be taken by ambulance to a hospital in Prague was a sad day for all of us. We had a new woman come in to manage the orphanage called Mrs. Mertle. She told us that she was from Poland and had lived in Czechoslovakia for over twenty years. She said she had so many new ideas for the orphanage which she would immediately implement because she didn’t think that Mrs. Svobodová would survive her illness. The first thing I noticed about her was what I can only describe as bleak ‘hollowness’. Maybe I am wiser now and I am looking back in hindsight and this makes me critical of her actions. The truth is if I am critical of her actions then what should I say about my own?

It was on a Wednesday that the lady from America came to the orphanage. She came in a big car that most of us had never seen before and she wore a big hat that none of us had ever seen before. Her blonde hair shone in the sun and her clothes looked like she had stepped off the page of one of the contraband American fashion magazines which Mr. Kovář, our head gardener and security man kept in his shed. Tereza said – ‘she looked shiny and new and not real’. Wise words from a little girl!

“She wants to take five girls who can speak and understand English very well back to America and give them a chance of a better life, a life free from communism.”

Even now those words still haunt me. They still manage to pierce my soul, to unpick a healing wound in my heart and lay it bare for all types of infections to invade – to shatter me! I wish that I had never heard those words spoken by Mrs. Mertle that day. I wish that the American lady had never come to the orphanage. With all my heart I wish that Mrs. Svobodová had never taken ill and had to leave the orphanage. But what good is wishing? I could wish until I was blue in the face and nothing would have changed.

Back then, I thought I was one of the chosen, one of the selected few. All five of us went around looking down on the other children – we acted like we were better than them. There were over ten girls between fifteen and sixteen who could speak and understand English but I had been chosen because in my head I was special. My mother had talked about leaving Czechoslovakia and going to the West and I was going to live her dream. The American lady told us that we would either be adopted by a good American family or be able to live in an American orphanage. She said that she had a lot of contacts in America; she knew people in modeling agencies and wealthy people who were looking for European nannies or au pairs who would be happy with us because we were all pretty and once we were eighteen we could get jobs. We would be able to help our brothers or sisters by sending them money for a ticket so they would one day join us in America. At the time I didn’t think it strange that the five of us selected all had a brother or a sister in the orphanage. In fact Mrs. Mertle said that this was an added bonus as we were securing a bright future for our siblings. The thought of leaving Tereza broke my heart but the thought of having a better life in America and one day sending for her to come and live with me consoled me. I told myself that I was not only doing this for Tereza, I was doing this for mama and papa as well.

Within days our paperwork was organized and we were set to go. I asked my best friend, Leona, to look after Tereza for me and promised to write to her every week. Leona begged me not to leave the orphanage, she said that she had had a dream that the communist regime would end before 1990. She also said that she had a bad dream about the American woman but I refused to listen to her. Leona was always having dreams; we sometimes teased her and called her ‘Leona Josephina the dreamer’. We often told her she was like Joseph in the Bible who was always dreaming and annoying his brothers and like Joseph she had been sent to annoy us. She would retaliate by telling us that Joseph’s dreams came true and that God speaks to people through dreams. She was so serious when she told me that I should stay in Czechoslovakia and wait for a few more years. She insisted that things would get better, we would be older and wiser and then we could all go to America or England or Canada, anywhere we wanted to go. She reminded me that we were the four musketeers, me, her, Tereza and Eduard, Leona’s little brother. We had made a vow that we would always stay together and I was now breaking that vow. She cried and begged me for two days but I wouldn’t listen. In the end to get some peace and quiet I told her she was just jealous that she hadn’t been chosen. You should have seen her face; it was like I had hit her with a baseball bat. I have been hit with a baseball bat in America several times so I know what it feels like. On the day I left Czechoslovakia I begged Leona to forgive me. I knew she would take care of Tereza but I didn’t want to leave in the middle of a fight with her. She is a good Christian and she said that she had already forgiven me. We hugged and cried and hugged some more. I kissed and hugged Tereza and hugged Eduard (he tried to be a brave little boy but I saw the tears in his eyes). My own tears blinded me as I climbed into the bus that would take us across Europe to our ultimate destination – America.

 

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Blood Borne Connections – Chapter 11

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Chapter 11

 

‘Tat’ána’

I was born Tat’ána Nováková in Czechoslovakia in March 1970. My parents, Jakub and Kateřina were both schoolteachers in a small town not too far from Prague. My father, he taught History and my mother, she taught English. In the 1970s Czechoslovakia was under a communist regime and had been for many years. There was a lot of unrest as many people were against the communist regime. I remember my father telling me of a time when things were not so severe and most people were happy. I was about six years old at the time. When I asked him why all the people were not happy, he said that ‘you cannot please all the people all of the time’. That is the closest translation of what he said in my language into English. As a historian, my father had studied the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and taught about men like Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk who became the first President of Czechoslovakia in November of 1918. He often told me how the Czechs and the Slovaks united to form the country despite the cultural, historical and religious differences they had. I used to love listening to my father talk about my country and how proud he was to be a Czechoslovakian. I think my mother shared his love for the country but not for the government of the country and was very verbal about this. My father often joked many times that she was strong minded in her ways. During that period, many people had been arrested for trying to oppose the communist government and my mother often said that she thought we should leave for the West and live in a Democratic country, where the people were free and had a voice.

What are my earliest memories of my home? At three or four years of age, I remember the green grass of summer and the fresh fruits. I remember running in a field near our home and thinking that I could run to the end of the world because the field was so big and no matter how fast or how long I ran, I never got to the end of it. (Looking back, I must have been running in circles). I don’t recall many children in the area I grew up in. I had no cousins that I visited; there were no grandparents who visited us. My parents seemed to live a life where they were the only person in each other’s life and I was part of both of their lives. At three or four I didn’t notice how isolated we were because my parents were sufficient for me. Sufficient is a new word I learned not long ago; it means enough. I think it is because of my mother’s vocation that I have grown fond of learning new English words and using them in the right fashion. Sometimes I have problems because I use words that people here in America do not fully understand. One of the men who guards us calls me ‘Little Miss Big Words’. I will come to the men who guard us later. So back to my early life—when I was seven years old my mother had a baby girl. She was born on the fifteenth of October and called Tereza, which is her name day on the Czechoslovakian calendar. I don’t know if you are familiar with how children are named in my country. Let me explain how it works. There are three hundred and sixty five days in a year and each day has a name attached to it. If you have a child on a particular day you have to call it the name attached to the day. A special permission form is required from the authorities to give a child a name that is not on the Czechoslovakian calendar. Let me think for a few moments . . . yes that is correct, I have explained it how it was explained to me. My sister Tereza was like a little fat ‘moving’ doll that ate and ate then slept and I loved her. I couldn’t wait for her to grow up so that we could play. For some reason I thought that she would grow up and I would remain the same age then we would both be seven and would play outside in the green field together. Why did I think this? It is strange looking back that I would think this—they say innocence is a buffer that protects you from harm. Life, while I waited for Tereza to grow up, was the same. My parents loved us both equally and they showed their love openly. I spent time with my father learning about the history of my country while my mother took care of Tereza. My father loved our country and he loved to teach me the history of our country and other countries of the world. He was not always in work because of the conditions of the country and because of a lot of mistrust among people. A number of small groups tried to oppose the communist government but they were quickly squashed. I remember how happy my parents were when the first organized opposition called Charter 77 appeared in January 1977. Even though it wasn’t a political party as such it had many people sign their names to it and it posed a threat as it offered independent thinking, which opposed the communist rule. Many of the people who had signed their names to it were arrested, interrogated and dismissed from work. The government closed schools and churches that they thought were teaching anything which contradicted what they dictated. Communism says that everyone is equal and should live in a classless society. It dictates that there are no wealthy people and no poor people but communal ownership among all people. It not only says this, it stops anything that contradicts what it says from contaminating the minds of the people it controls. Television, radio and newspapers are either banned or controlled. Is it good? I’m only fifteen and haven’t lived long enough to make a decision on that. What I can say is what I saw: communism takes away the individuality of a person. It strips them of their voice and it strips them of their thoughts; it tells them what thoughts to think and how to think those thoughts. In a way it can leave a person without responsibility for their actions and free to do things that are wrong and free not to do the things that are right. To some people it is good and to others it is not good. As my father said ‘you cannot please all the people all of the time.’

My parents were killed in a car accident when I was ten years old and my sister was three years old. We had no family to take us in so we were placed in an orphanage

 

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Beautiful Things

 

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