​​THE GRZYBOWSKI FAMILY


CZESŁAWA RACHEL-GRZYBOWSKA



ix. TENGERU, AFRICA


After a night spent in the tiny Kondoa settlement we reached Tengeru. 


It was the largest settlement in Africa. It had between five and six thousand inhabitants. Surrounded by lush vegetation thanks to the fertile volcanic soil. It consisted of round houses called hives. It lay at the foot of an extinct volcano - a conical mountain - Meru. However, the greatest impression was the Kilimanjaro massif. Although located almost on the equator, it was covered with eternal snow. I don't know how far it was from the camp but it felt like it was very close. The serene, dark blue sky dotted with the stars of the southern hemisphere was the backdrop for a pink mountain top, changing colours until finally away in the distance, somewhere high up only a golden border remained. This is how the evening spectacle ended before again at sunrise revealing the mountain in its majesty covered with a silver-blue cap. One cannot forget such a vision.

It was not difficult to settle in Tengeru, as the way the camps functioned and the conditions were very similar to Kidugala, although initially it was strange to live in a circular hive. However, we were glad that there was a cinema that people liked to go to when there was a little money. Tarzan was generally loved, but one movie stuck in my memory in particular. Unfortunately, time has blurred the title, but I know Deanna Durbin sang in it and the movie was very sad. During the film I shed many tears, but all my life song, laughter and tears hid just below the surface.

Danusia and I returned to school. After six months of forced vacation, I had to take an exam in Polish and mathematics. I passed successfully and joined the third grade of middle school.

The year was 1948 and having finished schooling, time had run out to take the next step. More and more frequently transports were departing for England because the Polish army had transferred there from Italy and families were being reunited. Many people faced a difficult choice - to return to Poland or stay abroad. There was no idealised, free and independent Poland. In 1945 the Allies, in the persons of Churchill and Roosevelt, handed over our Eastern Borderlands to Stalin in pacts made with him in Yalta and Potsdam. This is where most of the Anders army originated from, so the road to their homes and properties was closed. Virtually all of Eastern Europe, including Poland, fell under the influence of the tyrant - Stalin. The so-called "Iron Curtain" had come down. Communists who were completely dependent on Moscow ruled everywhere. Only after 50 years, when Solidarity was founded and the then government was forced to agree to free elections in 1989, did Poland regain true freedom. Russian troops left Poland and the oppression ended.

As I mentioned before, mother wanted to be as far away from Russia as possible. So the decision was made that we were going to join my brother Władek in England. The choice was inevitable but not easily made. After all, Stenia with her husband Brunon and daughter Ewunia were already in Poland, as well as the rest of our large family who managed to escape from the slaughter of Wołyń in 1943. Thousands of Poles who remained were killed by Ukrainians.


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