Andrzej’s ode to Karolina

May 17, 2022 • 9:00 am

Karolina and her mother Natasza have returned to Kyiv from their sojourn in Dobrzyn, where they stayed two months after fleeing from Ukraine. Andrzej put together a paean to the child (Andrzej loves kids). He wrote it in Polish (I’ll put his original text below the fold), and Malgorzata translated it into English (below). And there are a bunch of pictures.

The update is that two days ago Karolina and her mom returned to Ukraine to be with the father and the other son, who is twenty. Reports are that everyone is safe.

Karolina

An almost eight-year-old girl, in the atmosphere of panic and terror of war, landed for less than two months in a place completely alien to her world. I remember the uncertain look on her face when she got out of the car, and the first day in the garden when the sight of an airplane in the sky caused her a sudden fear. These fears quickly dissipated, though they could be seen in her drawings and in her anger at the sight of Putin’s photo when she saw it while looking over my shoulder as I read the news on the computer. It seemed as if she had forgotten her nightmares overnight.

I knew it wasn’t true, but it wasn’t a constant fear anymore, and Karolina’s love of cats overrode everything else. She was fully bilingual in Russian and Ukrainian, so the third language of Polish entered her mind at an impressive pace. We played with the language and later I spoke only Polish to Karolina. Sometimes she glared at me and said, without a hint of a foreign accent, “I don’t understand.” She came to a house where cats, flowers and people are photographed (although the latter are the least numerous—unless they are children). I wonder what will remain in her memory of this short stay, and what will affect her, even though she will likely forget most of it? I’ll never know.

Like all children, she loves absurdities and paradoxes, so I can hear her amused voice as she screams “Andrzej” (with mock indignation) when I tell her that the frog has eaten a hippo.

Below are a handful of photos from this stay, some taken by me, others by our Paulina. (It’s easy to recognize, because Paulina’s photos are always better.)

Click “read more” to see Andzej’s original text in Polish:

Karolina
Niespełna ośmioletnia dziewczynka w atmosferze paniki i przerażenia wojną wylądowała na niecałe dwa miesiące w zupełnie obcym świecie. Pamiętam jej niepewną minę, kiedy wysiadała z samochodu i pierwszy dzień w ogrodzie, kiedy widok samolotu na niebie wywołał gwałtowny strach. Te lęki szybko puściły, (pojawiały się w rysunkach i w gniewie na widok zdjęcia Putina, kiedy zauważała je patrząc mi przez ramię jak przeglądam wiadomości na komputerze). Mogło się wydawać, że z dnia na dzień zapomniała o koszmarach. Wiedziałem, że to nie jest prawda, ale nie był to już strach nieustający, a miłość do kotów wzięła górę nad całą resztą. Pełna dwujęzyczność (rosyjski i ukraiński na równym poziomie), więc ten trzeci język wchodził do głowy w imponującym tempie. Bawiliśmy się językiem i pod koniec mówiłem do Karoliny już tylko po polsku. Czasem patrzyła na mnie groźnie i mówiąc bez cienia obcego akcentu „nie rozumiem”. Trafiła do domu, w którym fotografuje się koty, kwiaty i ludzi (chociaż tych ostatnich najmniej, chyba, że są dziećmi). Zastanawiam się, co jej zostanie w pamięci z tego krótkiego pobytu, a co będzie miało na nią wpływ, mimo, że ucieknie z pamięci? Nigdy się tego nie dowiem.
Jak wszystkie dzieci uwielbia absurdy i paradoksy, więc mam w uszach jej rozbawiony głos z udawanym oburzeniem, kiedy krzyczy „Andrzej”, słysząc zdanie, że żaba zjadła hipopotama.
Poniżej garść zdjęć z tego pobytu, jedne robiłem ja, inne nasza Paulina. (Łatwo rozpoznać, bo Pauliny zdjęcia są zawsze lepsze.)

18 thoughts on “Andrzej’s ode to Karolina

    1. I hope the same.

      Alas, the war is not over yet, and Kyiv is still shelled with rockets. Unfortunately, I fear that before a ceasefire (after a Ukrainian victory?) Putin will once again vent all his anger and frustration on the capital. In any case, I would not put it past him.

  1. She is so cute and lively. I’m glad to hear her family will be reunited.
    So many kids didn’t have that experience.

  2. I am happy for her that she and her mother were able to have a short period of respite in such a peaceful setting, with kind people and friendly cats. I don’t think she’ll forget—I think that she will always look back on this visit with fondness.

  3. [ speechless ]

    As if after a Beethoven symphony – that’s what I’m trying to say – there is nothing to say that the post does not already say better than I ever could.

  4. Lovely photos and recollections – thanks! Best wishes to Karolina, Natasza, and the rest of their family for the future. The outcome of the war is uncertain and news from Mariupol isn’t good, but Ukraine’s second-largest city Kharkiv has been free from artillery fire for several days now and Ukrainian forces claim to have liberated the surrounding area all the way to the border with Russia. So there’s reason to be hopeful.

  5. Long-suffering cats! – but I’m sure they realise that it’s all in a good cause. All the best to Karolina and her family; and deepest respect to Andrzej and Malgorzata for their humanity and generosity.

  6. Truly beautiful piece. Kindness can make such a difference in people’s lives. This generous couple has impacted Karolina’s life in ways they may never fully grasp. Love that the cats were a part of it.

  7. Children do remember when people have been kind to them. I have no doubt Karolina will always remember Andrzej and Malgorzata for this reason. …and of course the cats – just for being cats.

  8. I was late to WEIT today, and have nothing to add here. Just a +1 to all the comments. 😻 😼 😽

  9. A beautiful reflection by Andrzejs. Best wishes for Karolina and her family. I’ve no doubt that Karolina will remember this for the rest of her life.

  10. Thanks for the touching story about Karolina, Andrzej. You and Malgorzata were wonderful for taking care of her and her mother. May she and her family live long and prosper!

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