Robert Vangard felt himself more and more excited.The days
were passing by and the Christmas and New Year were nearer and nearer.It meant
to him he would soon go back to his beloved wife,Barbara,and his two
children,Szymon and Tomek.
The days were passing fast thanks to a tremendous amount of work he had in many
households in and outside Antwerp.People were coming with their cars to pick him
up and brought him as far away as to
Braaschaat,Kalmthout,s’Gravenwezel,Schilde and many other towns and villages
within fifty kilometers around the largest town in the Flemish spoken region as
Antwerp was.They brought him then back to his apartment.
He was desired by them because he was exceptionally a talented house painter who
turned their houses into palaces.He had so much work to do he did not even had
time for his delicious drink,the so-called Tripel Trapist,a sort of beer and
strong rather.He convinced himself he could do it without faulting himself to
being addicted to alcohol.
His trapist was certainly not a vodka!
Everybody loved him for his stuborness to fight his addiction and he loved them
They,the Belgian people from the villas,often told him he was so much Belgian!
Tall rather,a blondman,bright,friendly and maybe a bit too talkative when he was
drunken but that last thing,the real drunkenness no longer happened,
fortunately.So there was a chance!
The day before his departure to Poland he was invited by his best Belgian
friend,Guido,to a café.They chose to go to “Pigeonier”,a café which was
situated in Lozanastraat,half a way between the City and Berchem parts of
Antwerp.There have not been too many guests in the café and there were candles
on every table.There was also a band in the corner who played and sang some
romantic songs,the ones created by Flemish artists and also the ones which
originated from worldwide superstars such as Bruce Springsteen,Bob Dylan or
The moment they entered the café it was a song from the repertoire of Vaya Con
Dios,a Belgian female artist,which was performed by the band.So they felt there
They ordered two glasses of Danish Tuborg and then asked for the Trapist.
-“Trapist is heavens better than the Tuborg! The Danish beer tasted as if they
pissed to it!”- Robert Vangard announced.
-“Absolutely!”- Guido agreed with him.They both bursted with laugh.
The two glasses of beer had some influence on Robert Vangard's mind because he
became more talkative.
-“If not the two world wars,Guido,the twentieth century would be the best
ever!”- He said and continued.-“The development of planes and rockets,radios
and TVs,and now finally the computers and web conection worldwide,the liberal
order in the West which seems to be marching fast to the rest of the world,the
unprecedented modernity of human lives around the world,the riches of many
people and their educational and real life improvements which empower them to
live the way as only the monarchs and privileged people could live in the
past…And all these thanks to …America,the country which turned the world
three hundred sixty degrees I would say…”
-“No,Robert,I don’t agree with you.”- Guido interrupted him.-“Look,the
Americans become more and more arrogant.I mean the political establishment in
that country.I suspect their leaders represent now not the people of America as
a whole but only the interests of narrow lobbies,such as oil,tobacco and many
other gigantic corporations.They see only money.Nothing but money.They do wars
for money,they disregard any solutions concerning the global warming and
degradation of the environment,they oppose multilateral solutions and go
unilateral way.They are not concerned at all what other people around the world
think about them.You’ll see,Robert,we'll have chaos and things turned upside
down before long!
Americans deserted from their roots,unfortunately.They’re no longer the ones
they’ve used to be! Their politics are shortsighted.Look at what happens in
the Middle East.By failing to press decisively both the Israelis and the
Palestinians they aggravate a hatred among both peoples and a broader hatred in
the Arab world.If they were honest they would say Palestinians have right to
their statehood and they would participate in bringing this option to
reality.Furthermore,they would assist in connecting the Palestinians and other
Arab states to Israel and the broader world,they would assist them to getting
closer and closer in all ways of life and cooperation.Arabs,of course,would have
to accept Israel’s right to exist peacefully alongside them…”
-“But,Guido…the Americans do it! The problem is there is already so much
enmity among the Arabs and Israelis that it is really very difficult to do
anything about it.The faults probably are rather not on the side of the United
States but on the sides of Israel and the Arabs.Israelis are proud to have a
democratic country and personal freedoms,much as it is a case in the West but
they have also some miscrepancies in the structure of their state of which the
worst is to letting their religion to rule the state.This is a total mistake on
their side because their fanatics,the ortodox Jews have most to say and have a
diabolical influence on keeping the Jewish communities closed to the
outsiders,especially those who are not Jews.The Arabs on the other hand have
awful political systems,much based on dictatorship and persecution of those
citizen among them who do not obey their restrictive systems.That’s wrong.The
Arabs should become more open to liberal ideas and create just systems within
their states.So,as you see,not everything is in the hands of the
Americans.Others also have to do their portions of their homeworks.”
-“I’m afraid there is too large clash of the civilizations,Robert.”-Guido
turned disapprovingly with his head.-“Sooner or later it will get over a red
line.We’re heading towards war,perhaps even towards third world war.”
-“No,Guido,don’t say it!”- Robert Vanguard protested.-“I believe the
wars are no longer an option.People are so much educated they stage evolutionary
changes in every region of the world.We’ll have a much better world!”
-“You’re an idealist,Robert.”- Guido remarked.
Despite that the differences in their lives were large and Guido was twice older
than Robert they enjoyed their companionship.They had definitely different
opinions which concerned the world but they certainly had one voice when it came
to talking about women.
They desired women,cherished them,fantasized about them,dreamt of them and had
their heads full of them.There was no life for them without a woman.Guido got
married to his wife out of a Romeo and Juliet alike affair and they got three
sons and a daughter.Robert Vangard’s affair with his wife,Barbara,was
similar.He loved her so much! A bit over one day more and he was going to see
her! He shivered from the anticipation!
They stayed in the café till late at night and talked no longer politics.Their
minds were filled with women and they talked about women.
It was past three a’clock at night when Guido brought Robert Vangard home and
the next morning reappeared before the house belonging to Robert Vangard's
brothers.They packed the luggage to Guido’s car,a Citroen AX,and went to the
bus stop,situated outside “Holiday Inn”,the stop from which departed coaches
belonging to Sabena Airlines which brought passengers to Zaventen Airport,just
outside Brussels,but also some international coaches,including “Karolina”,a
bus belonging to a joint,Polish-German venture.
-“Merry Christmas,Robert and a Happy New Year!”- Guido wished his Polish
friend when they embraced themselves to say goodbye.
-“Bye,Guido.Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year also to you and your
family!”- Robert Vangard answered.
The bus was already moving,so Robert Vangard jumped inside it.
-“See you in the New Year,Guuuidooo!”- He called to his best friend.
The door got closed and soon the vision of the coach was gone from Guido’s
The nearer his homeland Robert Vangard was he felt himself as if eagle’s wings
were growing at the sides of his arms.They passed Frankfurt on de Oder,the
German border town and surprasingly,did not have to wait long at the border’s
customs,perhaps,because they were arriving in the last day before Christmas Day
while most travelers did it at least a week earlier.An hour later they were
again on the move.Most of the passengers were Polish people who returned home
after being absent for months or even years.
There was in their country a shock therapy of Polish Minister of Finance,Leszek
Balcerowicz,who was more concerned with his liberal ideas and promoting Poland
to Western corporations than with the economic problems of ordinary Poles.
But it was typical in all the other Western countries in which the economic
order and regulations honoured large corporations and people with small incomes
had practically no chance to start a business,because of governmental
regulations,high tax payments and large numbers of obstacles.
The travellers in the coach did not bother this time with any problems,joked
with each other,made friends,sang and expressed their enthusiasms of being back
in their own country.Despite that Germany and all the other countries west from
Germany were richer than Poland they would never want to live permanently
outside of Poland.Their country was simpy the best,very romantic,friendly,not so
much “imprisoned” in a terribly large number of regulations which governed
the western life,not really so free as the slogans had it.Many Poles used to say
that once the communism was gone Poland was more free than the western
counterpartners,because the soul of the nation was very much
individualistic.Somehow it was true but to a degree.
When Robert Vanguard arrived to a local town Bielsko-Biala with the coach he
already felt himself a bit tired after plus minus eighteen hours of travel.
He managed to get on a two floors train within half an hour and was arriving
soon to Orlica, the village of his final destination,which bordered with another
village,Rajcza,known in all of the country for its picturesque landscapes,the
breathtaking mountains covered with all sort of trees,the fresh and crystal
river,named Sola and many attractions organized by the inhabitants of the
His sons,Szymon and Tomek,ran outside the house and greeted him
His wife waited for him on the first floor where they lived.The grand floor
belonged to his father.He was impressed by the changed looks of his wife who had
short,blond hair this time,even shorter at the back side of her head than at the
front side.It was a sort of hair fashion of the moment and whether one lived in
a town or a village it mattered no longer.She had light blue jeans on herself
and a pinky blouse of some highly gentle sort of fabrics.She looked great and he
shivered while looking at her.He approached her and kissed gently.
-“Barbara,I missed you so much!”- He whispered to her.
-“It’s good you’re back at home.”- She answered.
They kissed each other gently again but because their children were too noisy
and demanding they moved to the largest room they had in the apartment and he
got all the toys and other gifts he had out of his luggage.The children were so
much euphoric with all the toys,the formula one cars which they could direct by
the means of a remote control,the Nintendo games and many other presents that
they forgot about their parents.
Robert and his wife could deal now with each other quietly,without interference
from their children.They moved to the kitchen,he had a dinner which he consumed
as much enthusiastically as his children played with their toys.The reason was
simply that he was away for several months and had no opportunity to deal with
the Polish style dishes he was accustomed to.And his wife’s dishes were even
better.Then they had some drink and narrated their stories to each other while
seeping orange juice. Soon it was already evening and because he was too tired
after so long trip he went to sleep on a separate bed.
The next day Christmas began.He visited his friends in the village and together
with his wife and children they came to see his wife’s parents as well as her
sister and brother.
In the evening they celebrated a so called “vigilia”,the most holly part of
the Christmas period,just before the anniversary of Jesus Christ to be born.It
was a family event number one in every Polish household.
Robert’s father,Josef Vangard,was invited but because he had sclerosis in his
veins all over his body he was unable to walk up the stairs on his own.Robert
assisted him and it lasted over fisfteen minutes to get up from the grand floor
to the first floor.As always for some time his father expressed his desire he
would like to die because he suffered too much.Robert Vangard was terribly sad
when he looked at his father.Just two years ago his father still was in a good
health which afterwards deteriorated exceptionally fast.As the proverbs
say:"One day you are healthy the other day you might be sick."
When they managed to get to the first floor finally,his father's face turned
joyous for a moment.Also for him it was a great evening,and despite all his
suffering he certainly desired to spend that important evening together with his
son,wife of his son and their children.
They prayed to God together,gave traditional wishes to each other and then began
enjoying the delicious menu on the table.They consumed together all the
fantastic foodstuffs Barbara prepared and then sang Christmas songs and watched
TV in which there were portrayals of what happened in many households across
Poland in that very exceptional evening.Jesus Christ was born at the midnight
hour and they watched the mass beamed to them from the TV.They had relatively
long sleep,up from about 2 a’clock at night till abot 10a.m.
The following two days still were a family affair but this time in a broader
sense.First they were visited by a number of family relatives and then they
visited some of them.They arrived in late afternoon of the second day of the
Christmas in Katowice,the Silesian capital,and met with Robert’s mother and
his sister as well as the husbands of Robert’s mother and sister,Wolfgang
Barton and Mirek Starcz.On the third day Robert Vangard went to a car market in
Zywiec,a small town situated thirty kilometers away from Orlica.He bought there
a Polish designed and produced car,the so-called Polonez.When he came home with
the car his children again expressed their enthusiasm.Wanting or not he had to
let his children inside the car and had a ride with them around his village and
the neighbouring ones.They paid a visit once again to his mother and sister in
Katowice and his children as well as his sister’s children were happy to meet
themselves and share their happy expierences concerning the lot of toys they got
as Christmas gifts.On the way back home they visited also his brother,Marek,and
his wife,Maria,in Bielsko-Biala.
And finally they were back at home in the evening hours.Children went to bed and
both,Robert and Barbara could now share time together to the best of their
wishes and desires.
Robert Vangard approached her,took her into his arms and kissed her.She turned
away from him.
-“Let me in peace.Don’t you see that I’m pregnant? We’ll have a baby
soon.A daughter…”- She explained her reaction.
Robert Vangard was stunned.Since he arrived home from Belgium they had not have
sex,not even once.He,naturally would treat her in most a gentle way.She was so
strange.Why she did not want to share intimacy with him ? What happened with
-“I don’t understand your behaviour,Barbara.”- He said what he thought.
-“Have you heard there are some strangers in the village? They are
Russians!”- His wife abruptly changed the theme.
-“Russians?”- He felt stunned again.-“What are they seeking in our
-“I don’t know.They’re very strange.They arrived with skis but have not
gone to the mountains to do skiing,not even once.Most of the time they stay in
-“In Parkova restaurant?”
-“Yes,exactly! They’re not friendly at all,are noisy and mistreat the
waitresses in the restaurant.Our people stay away from them.”
-“Typical of Russians! They have to learn some civilized norms as yet!”-
Robert Vangard repeated a stereotype of the nation east of Poland as percepted
generally by the Polish people who rather despised their enormous neighbour.
-“They’re already for six days in our village and it looks they seek someone
or something.Our villagers suspect they are part of some Russian mafia.
-“Shit! I don’t understand those people.The world has nothing but problems
with them!- Robert Vangard expressed his anger.Barbara Vangard looked at him
-“You’re too much agitated.What’s wrong?”- She asked.
-“What’s wrong? And you dare to ask me this?”- He bursted out.-“Look,we
havn’t seen ourselves for months and you behave so strange…You don’t want
love making.No any intimacy.Nothing.Is this normal?”
-“Well,we have enough time for each other.I don’t have to satisfy your
wilder needs and urges at any time you want?”- Barbara Vangard riposted.
-“Shit,you’re now cruel to me with your words! Don’t you see that I love
-“You forgot that perhaps I do not share this feeling with you right now!”
-“Well,isn’t it strange?”
-“Strange or not strange,I don’t bother about it!”- She ended their angry
exchange of words and went to her room,locking the door behind herself.
Robert Vangard felt himself broken at his heart,a deep sadness overcame him and
he went to “his” bed,the one which always was "their" bed.
He had nightmares at night and got asleep in fact in the morning hours.
Nothing strange that he woke up about ten a.m.,much latar than he planned and
instantly noticed neither his wife nor his children were present in the house.He
rushed down to his father’s apartment and learnt from him Barbara must have
gone to her parents.
He telephoned there.His wife’s father answered him.
-“Is Barbara there with you?”- He asked.
-“Please give her the handle.I want to speak to her.”
-“She doesn’t wish to speak to you now.”
Robert Vanguard could not believe what he heard.He was perhaps never so much
stunned as right at that moment.
-“What have you said? She is not wishing to speak to me? Are you crazy? Give
me her to the phone!”- He demanded.
-“God,she’s my wife! Why not?”- He thought he was getting sick from a
terrible feeling something was awfully wrong.He knew her parents gave her
advises against him but to do what they just did,not even let him to speak to
her by phone,has never crossed his mind.
-“Beacause you mistreat her.”
-“Beacause I mistreat her? How’s that possible when I love her?”- Robert
There was no answer and the line simply got disconnected.
He sat down on a chair,feeling overwhelmed by a despair...
To be continued…Author: Thaddeus Hutyra,e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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