Poland glossary












August 1999



It was a difficult conversation because my narrator found it extremely hard to open up and give more that just short answers to my questions. Because of her age, poor hearing and also far from perfect fluency in Polish, Mrs. Swieboda wanted her friend to be present during the conversation. When yet another woman joined in, maybe my main heroine was not in the centre of attention, but thanks to such a form of discussion, one can notice certain similarities and differences in their points of view. The more so, that the matter of having a small community is very important for these women, and that brings about shared viewpoints, experiences and similar attitudes towards the surrounding world. During the conversation of the three women, Mrs. Swieboda remained the authority for the other two – despite her keeping silent for some time – and whatever was agreed on, had to be silently accepted by her.

In my opinion, she is a simple woman who finds it hard to express herself. I felt her surprise at my questions, as if she thought life wasn’t worth greater attention. On my part, I tried to jump from one topic to another trying to find at least one she wouldn’t find so obvious and worth a little more consideration. I had an impression that a long time ago she had accepted her role of a woman, with the typical place and mode of behaviour, feelings, and ways of expressing attitudes – those defined long ago in the traditional society. Taking such a context into consideration, it is understandable – although a bit depressing for myself as a woman too – that she avoided expressing her own individual judgements and opinions.

[During the conversation, another German woman, Mrs. Swieboda’s friend, is present, helping her as Mrs. Swieboda is short of hearing and sometimes does not understand my questions. If not marked otherwise, the answers are Mrs. Swieboda’s]