Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Vareneki with schmaunt-fat



Vareneki or Perogies.

I have seen a variety of different spelling of the word vareneki, but it really doesn't matter what you call them, they are delicious.

I grew up with glums filled vareneki, along with heated heavy cream with salt and pepper added. We call it schmaunt-fat.

I also like glums vareneki with a milk based béchamel sauce in place of the heavy cream.


Ingredients 

For the béchamel sauce - schmaunt-fat:

¼ cup of flour
¼ cup of butter
3 cups of milk or cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Melt the butter then add the flour and sauté until the flour starts to brown.  Add 3 cups of milk or cream and boil 3 minutes or until it thickens then add salt and pepper.


For the filling:

Click here for my recipe on how to make your own glums cottage cheese Filling:

2 egg yolk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 cups of glums or cottage cheese

Directions

With your hands combine egg yolk, salt, pepper and glums cottage cheese well (you can use regular store bought cottage cheese too, but you would just have to allow some of the moisture to drain using a fine strainer before adding the egg yolk, salt and pepper). 

For the dough:

2 cups flour to start
6 eggs

Directions

Make the dough. Combine eggs and flour together well. Continue adding little bits of flour as you knead the dough until it isn't sticky at all.


On a lightly floured counter roll dough out to desired thickness into a large rectangle or roll it out on the pasta maker.



Using spoon place a ball of filling along one end of dough. Fold dough over filling and flatten the dough over the filling so that there is no air in the pocket. Using a small round cutter (or small a bowl) cut out Using spoon place a ball of filling along one end of dough. Fold dough over filling and flatten the dough over the filling so that there is no air in the pocket. Using a small round cutter (or small a bowl) cut out vareneki.



If you find that the edges aren't sealed just pinch as needed. Place the vareneki on a slightly floured surface or a parchment lined cookie sheets until ready to boil. You can also freeze on the cookie sheets. Once they are frozen you can bag them for later use.

Boiling

Bring a large pot of water with 1 tbsp butter or oil to a boil. Drop fresh or frozen vareneki into the boiling water and boil 5 minutes if fresh, or 10 minutes if frozen. Vareneki will float when they are done. Drain and separate if you don’t want them to stick too much.


Serve vareneki with schmaunt-fat (béchamel sauce) räakworscht (smoked sausage) or ham and canned peaches or pineapple.


Vareneki are also good with a spoon full of strawberry jam on top of them.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Irked Mennonite


Continued from Guilty Mennonite

I couldn’t believe my eyes. I rubbed them and thought, “Anna, wake up!” I walked back to my bedroom and there was the knock again. I went back to the door, looked through the peephole again and my mom was still standing there.

I opened the door and my first reaction was to hug her, but she put out her hand to shake mine so I just shook her hand. I had gotten use to hugging the people that I loved, but I remembered as soon as I saw my aunt and uncle standing behind her, that we don’t hug, we shake hands with people. All people: the ones we missed, the ones we love and the ones we meet for the first time.

The sadness crossed my mind that I had never hugged my parents, or any of my siblings. In shock and in total disbelief, I invited them in. I felt incredibly strange to have them in my apartment. My mom walked around and asked, “Why don’t you have any calendars hanging on your walls?”  

My first thought was,  “I don’t care about calendars right now!” but instead asked, “Ahhh… how, when and why are you here mom? How did you find me?”

In Low German she said, “Anna, I was so worried about you I just had to come and see you. My brother and his wife had to come to Ontario for a few days and they offered me a ride. I felt that I just had to come and see for myself and find out exactly what you are doing here all by yourself.”

I looked at my uncle as I said, “Wow, okay. So how long can you stay?”

“We are planning on leaving first thing Monday morning,” My uncle said.

“We have many things to do before we head back to Mexico. We need to go to Virgil but I drove straight here from Mexico. Your mom told me that you have your license. Would you be able to drive us to Virgil today? We have to drop off some stuff to your aunt and uncle who live there.”

“Ahhh… I think so,” I answered as I thought, “Aye caramba! I have never driven on a big highway before and good thing I didn’t go clubbing with Bree last night. Oh, I hope my teacher and Hilary will be okay with me taking a day off.”

I called my teacher and she was fine with me taking a day off. She said, “Enjoy as much time with your mom as you can and I will see you on Monday.”

My heart was pounding as I dialed Hilary’s office number. I was worried that I might not be able to explain this to him so that he would understand. I felt so torn -- I wanted to spend the time with my mom, but I really didn’t want to take a day off of work and leave them hanging like that. I thought, “How am I going to explain to him that some dietsche people don’t plan things? That they just show up and hope for the best, and that I really had no idea that she was coming?”

When he answered the phone and I heard his amazing voice it helped calm me down. I explained that my mom just stopped by from Mexico and surprised me. I asked if I could have the day off. “Wow, Anna, that is wonderful. But how does someone just stop by all the way from Mexico?” he asked.

“Actually this happens all the time. Often dietsche people decide that they are going to Canada and then go the next day. They often don’t tell anyone about it. The same thing happens when they leave Canada, when they have decided that they are going back to Mexico -- they just go. They don’t think that it is important to tell anyone about it,” I explained.

“That is interesting, Anna. Thank you for telling me. It makes a lot of sense now that you explained it to me. Enjoy the weekend with your mom and see you Monday then.”

“Okay, thank you,” I said and hung up the phone, still feeling guilty but relieved at the same time.

I quickly changed into my brown pleated dress with yellow tulips on it and put my hair in a bun. When I came out of my bedroom and walked into the living room they were all sitting on that ugly flowered love seat I still hadn’t gotten rid of.

I instantly got a headache when I thought about the weeks before, and the thought crossed my mind, “What if they had come over a few weeks earlier when the police were looking for Mark? Dis mio.” I immediately told myself to stop thinking about that.

My mom looked at me and said, “Oba Onn, die lat nu ine knoake-mensch, niche enn aundren tiet” (oh Anna, you look more like a skeleton than pregnant). I turned all red, I was so embarrassed that she said that in front of my uncle.

“Said ekj jünt dot nich?” (Didn’t I tell you?) I answered.

“Well, now I know that it isn’t true,” she said.

“I really wish you could just believe ME when I tell you something over the gossip that people are spreading around,” I said.

“I know. I will try, but it’s not that easy when you are so far away,” she answered.

That’s when I knew that she had come to see if I was actually pregnant. I had to work really hard to keep my nerves in check. I reminded myself that getting angry at her was not fair because none of it was her fault.

My aunt and uncle just looked at each other and didn’t say anything, while my mom and I were talking.

To stop the conversation from getting more intense, I asked, “Are you ready? Okay, let’s go to Virgil. How hard can it be to drive on a big highway?”

“Don’t you want to eat breakfast first?” My mom asked.

“No, I’m not hungry anymore.”

As we walked down the hallway, I thought, “I am so relieved that George is at work right now. I do not want to run into him right now.”

I began to get really nervous as we approached the big white van and my uncle handed me the keys. I started the van, adjusted the seat, took a few deep breaths, and started driving slowly. 

It didn’t even take me long to get the hang of driving that big van.

My aunt said, “Wow, Anna, you are so brave. I have never met any dietsche women that would do such brave things as you do.”

“Well, I decided that since I am always afraid of everything anyways, why not learn to do something new while I am afraid. Since I’m already afraid it doesn’t matter. That is the only way you can learn not to be so afraid of everything,” I said while driving the big white van.

I looked in the rear view mirror to see her reaction. I saw her looking at my mom with her eyebrows raised. My mom just shook her head and my aunt said, “Well, okay.”

When we got about halfway to Virgil my uncle said, “Turn off at the next exit. The sign said that there was a fleesch-pei (meat-pie) place. We will stop and have lunch, I’m getting hungry.”

I said okay and drove to the fleesch-pei (meat-pie) place, put the van in park. We walked in and my uncle ordered a large fleesch-pei. My mom, my aunt and I went to the bathroom. When we came back the man behind the counter yelled, “Sir, your pizza is ready,” and my mom burst out laughing.

She just couldn’t stop laughing. My aunt and I just couldn’t keep a straight face so we started laughing too. We laughed with her until she got it out of her system. When she finally stopped laughing we all bowed our heads, said our prayer, and started eating.

My mom still giggled as we began to eat. I just couldn’t help myself and asked, “How is the pizza, mom?” And she started laughing again. I knew that that was probably the only time I would see her laughing. I could feel what was coming.

I just knew when we would get to Virgil that my aunts would team up with my mom and try to convince me to go back home with my mom. I told myself, “I’m ready and I am not going home no matter what they say. I am staying and finishing school.” My heart started pounding as I thought about it.

When we got to my aunt and uncle’s in Virgil they had more company: a few of my other aunts and uncles were there. The men were standing in the garage drinking and my aunts were making rollküaken for supper. My uncle got out of the van and went straight to the men in the garage -- he made himself a drink and joined them.

My aunt who lived there came and shook my hand and said, “I’m so glad you came today. We all want to talk some sense into you.”

I smiled and shook her hand and thought, “I know you do, but if you think you are going to get anywhere with that you are sadly mistaken.”

We all went inside I rolled up my sleeves and helped make the rollküaken. My mom and my aunts began talking as they always did about how our dietsche people were changing while living in Canada and how sad it was. It irked me but I just smiled and kept rolling the rollküaken dough.

I could feel my aunts all staring at me the whole time and knew why. They were trying to figure out if I had a watermelon seed growing inside of me. It really irked me but there was nothing I could do about it. That got me thinking and feeling guilty about how much easier it was to be a guest of George’s family.

After the men and the kids ate, I got to eat with my mom and my aunts since I didn’t fit in any other group. They all looked at each other and giggled as they watched me pick the watermelon seeds out of my plate as we began eating.

After we all ate my twelve-year-old cousin and I did the dishes as the parents all went the living room to talk about “stuff” that didn’t concern me and the kids. By the end of the night all my uncles were completely wasted.

That’s when I got afraid again. How the heck was I going to find my way back home knowing that my uncle was too wasted to help me with the directions? It was just like old times in Mexico, only there he would have driven home like that.

That’s when I realised that while I had missed Mexico itself, I hadn’t really been missing much. Not the way life was there. Just my siblings, now that my mom was with me.

I remembered all the turns I had made going to Virgil and managed to find my way back home by midnight without my uncle’s help. My aunt was impressed and thanked me for getting us back safely. Though she hated driving she drove from my apartment to her sister’s where they were staying until they went back to Mexico.

As my mom and I were getting ready to go to bed I wondered if George had noticed that my cousin’s car was there but that I wasn’t home, and that I hadn’t gone to work. I really hoped that he wouldn’t stop by while my mom was there. I just knew that I wouldn’t be able to spare him that look that I was so afraid that she would give him if she met him.

I let my mom sleep in my bed and I slept on the floor. I couldn’t imagine what kind of dreams I might have if I slept on the creepy flowered love seat that Mark gave me.

Saturday morning was like Friday morning all over. I woke up to a loud knock at the door. Click here to continue reading my story.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tomatillo Salsa



Tomatillos are not green tomatoes

While green tomatoes tend to be fried, and tomatillos are usually used in sauces, they look pretty similar on the outside: small, green, and firm. They're both also pretty tart, so are they really just the same thing, called by different names?

The difference between green tomatoes and tomatillos


While both are members of the nightshade family, green tomatoes are hard, unripe tomatoes that can come from any variety of tomato. Tomatillos are not tomatoes, but the fruit of a different plant and they are covered with papery husks.

You can find tomatillos in most Mexican stores and at some farmers markets between September to late October in Ontario Canada.

Ingredients: 

Makes 4-5 cups 

6 tomatillos
6 jalapeno peppers
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp of chopped cilantro
½ cup of white vinegar
½ cup of water
salt to taste 

Directions:

Remove the husks from the tomatillos, lightly scrub them to wash off the waxy coating, and cut then into quarters. 

Wash, cut the stems off the jalapeno peppers and cut them in half.  If you don’t want the salsa to be too spicy just remove the seeds from the jalapeno peppers. 

Cut the onion and tomatillos into quarters. 

Transfer tomatillos, peppers, onion, garlic, vinegar, cilantro, salt and water into a pot.


Boil for 10 minutes and let it cool down. In the same pot use a hand blender to blend it until it is a chunky liquid and there you have it. The tastiest salsa ever!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Guilty Mennonite


Continued from Awkward Mennonite

It had been a long time since I wrote anything in High German. I had a really hard time pulling my thoughts together. I had to dig deep to find that memory I had stored away for so long. It was there, I just had to find it.

During my years at the Mennonite school in my colony I wrote plenty of letters. Every Friday we did letter writing. They all began the same way. We memorised a format and then when we actually wrote a letter to our cousins in Canada, we would write it just like we had memorised it and add things like what day of the week it was, what the weather was like and what we had been doing. 

We memorised how to write our every-day-of-the-week routine. Monday was the day for laundry and ironing the pleats back into the dresses that we wore on Sunday. Tuesday was cleaning, baking in the morning, and then in the afternoon we would crochet and embroider with friends in the colony. Wednesday we baked, sewed and ironed after we cleaned.

Thursday was hair day (getting new braids), sewing, and baking. Friday we did a load or two of laundry to get through till Sunday, and sewing. Saturday was massive cleaning day -- we washed all our furniture, windows with Pine Sol, raked part of the yard around the house, and baked tweeback and sweets for faspa on Sunday.

If we ever did something out of the ordinary -- for example, the few times we got to go to the feria (fair), or going to the town of Patos Nuevo Ideal -- we would have no idea how to write it. Most of the time our mom knew and she would write it down for us. We kept a list of those words for the next time we might need to know how to write them.

As I began to remember how to write a letter, I thought, “Maybe I should just call home,” but the more I thought about how complicated that was, I began to think of all the reasons of why that would be a bad idea. I did not feel like doing what it took to make it all happen:

Calling the store in Nuevo Poervenir (a Mexican town) and asking the owner to drive to my colony to ask my parents when they could come to the phone. Waiting for him to get back to call again and see if/when they could come to the phone, then calling back, not knowing for sure if they had enough time to even get there.

It was exhausting, and not to mention really expensive, to call Mexico. I didn’t have the money, and all I did on the phone was explain to my mom that what she had heard about me wasn’t true anyways. Every time I hung up the phone after talking to my mom, I felt so awful and guilty about the choices I had made and what I had done to her, I just wanted to die. 

By lunch break I was back to writing a letter instead. I started and then would slowly drift into thinking, “Hilary is such a nice man to give me all the things I needed to write this letter to my family.” I would pull myself out of that and write for a while and then I drifted off to the dream I had about George, then my stalker, then Rick’s suicide.

I didn’t know how to write about anything that was on my mind. I got back to writing about the weather, that I was working in the factory again and that I was still alive. I thought that would about cover all the basics and decided that that was all they need to know. Whether they would accept that was a whole other story.

While writing the letter I began feeling so guilty again, about all the things I was doing like shaving my legs, wearing pants, and wearing lip-gloss once in a while. And the most sinful of all were the thoughts I was having about George after that dream I had had. I thought “Dois mio, I’m in so much trouble.”

Those guilty feelings became such a pattern. I was feeling good about the choices I had made when I thought about my own well-being, especially my nerve problems. It was such a battle between what I had been taught was wrong and sinful and what I was learning firsthand. I wanted to please my mom but I also wanted to experience life on my own terms.
 
Growing up in my colony I watched many women being treated like Mrs Braun. All of that was not spoken of. I remember getting in trouble often for suggesting that there was something wrong with that and that those women deserved better. I was selfish to think that a woman would think of herself “deserving” anything.

“Why can’t you just accept and do this like everyone else does? What makes you think you are so special that you don’t?” said my aunt, who thought that I just needed a good old spanking to set me straight.

After going down that memory road, I was feeling good and confident about making my own decisions again. Until the next time the guilt monster ate me alive. When I thought, “What if my aunt is right -- will I have to pay for all my selfish joy with sorrow later?” It was a constant battle that kept me on my toes and made my nerve problems worse.

Many times I thought, “Do I want this bad enough for it to be worth it? What if I went back home, forgot about all of this, and went back to the way things were before?” Then reality set in again. “That could never happen, not after all those rumors that went around about me.”

I went home feeling terrible and exhausted. I went straight to bed.

The next day at school while sitting at my usual spot at the table in the cafeteria, laughing at Steve and Chung’s jokes, Steve asked if I would like to go clubbing with him and his friends on the weekend.

“You can think about it and call me if you decide you would like to come,” said Steve, and he gave me his phone number.

“Okay, I will think about it,” I said, and thought, “This sounds a bit more tempting than when that dude told me if I ever wanted to experience the time of my life, that I should go party with him.”

I left school early, picked up a cappuccino for Christina, and drove to Christina’s house. She was home all by herself, she looked so pale and sad. She tried to be happy that I had thought to bring her a cappuccino, but she was still way too sad, she couldn’t even fake a smile.

I tried to convince her to just come back to work because that was the only thing that I could imagine I would do. I left her house feeling like a hopeless failure of a friend. 

When I got to work I was hoping that I would run into George. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and I missed him. I desperately needed one of his chin up, deep breaths and smiles only pep talks he always gave me. But instead I ran into Bree in the bathroom.

She was all dressed up and she was wearing makeup. I had to look twice to be able to recognise her. I was afraid she might show me a new piercing she got, but instead she said that she was going to a club after work and asked if I’d like to come.

“I think I would like to, but I have to get up early in the morning to go to school,” I said. 

“It’s Thursday night and you could miss one day of school, couldn’t you? You will be missing out on a great time.”

“Maybe next time,” I answered.

I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to go clubbing with Bree. I had been invited to go to clubs and clubbing by three different people. It got me thinking, “What exactly is clubbing, anyways? I’m going to look it up in the dictionary as soon as I get home.”

The entire shift all I could think about was how I could make my sad friend Christina happy again and how I missed George. By the end of the shift I had convinced myself to check and see if George’s lights would still be on when I went home. And maybe I would go talk to him for a little while.

Sure enough, his lights were still on when I pulled up to the parking lot. My heart started pounding immediately. I got more nervous as walked up the stairs into the hallway. I walked past his door a few times and listened carefully. I could hear that his TV was still on. I stood there for about five minutes to work up the courage to knock on the door.

Finally I just went for it and knocked. He opened the door and it was just like the last time. He saw my face, put his arms around me and I began to feel myself getting lighter with each breath I took. He made me a cup of tea and turned off the TV.

As he handed me the tea he asked, “How are you doing?”

“At the moment I am wondering, what is clubbing? I got invited by three different people and now I am really wondering what it is,” I answered.

He explained what clubbing was and said, “Now you got me all curious, who asked you to go clubbing?”

“A man that everybody calls dude, you know the one that works in shipping on the afternoon shift?”

He looked at me with one eyebrow raised and said, “Ahhh… yes I know that one. And who else asked you?”

Steve, a guy that started school a few days after I did. He’s the one that ran into a post on his bike, hurt himself badly because he was staring at my dress. And Bree asked if I wanted to go to a club with her tonight.” I answered.

“Really? Bree asked you to go clubbing with her tonight? Did she tell you what club she goes too?”

“No.”

“Hmmm… okay, next time you see her, ask her what club she wants to take you to.”

“Okay.”

I looked at the clock. It was past midnight. I jumped up, walked to the door and said, “I have to go to sleep.”

“Okay, have a good night,” he said.

The next morning I woke up to a loud knocking sound at my door. I got up, tiptoed to the door, and peeked through the peephole. When I caught a glimpse of who was standing that close to me just on the other side of that door, my heart skipped a beat and dropped to the floor. Click here to continue reading my story.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Glums - Dry Cottage Cheese


Ever wondered what to do with a bag of milk that has started to separate, thicken or gone sour in your fridge, or leftover buttermilk? You can turn either it into glums (dry cottage cheese) or mix the tow and have even tastier glums (dry cottage cheese).

This simple recipe is perfect for whatever amount of milk and or buttermilk you’ve got left because it takes no additional ingredients. You don’t even need to measure anything. All you have to do is pour some milk, buttermilk or both into a pot, heat it for a few minutes, and let it sit.

First you heat the milk/buttermilk on low heat. It begins to form a curd, even with no added acid.


The curds will continue to form. It only takes about 5 minutes. Strain the glums (dry cottage cheese) through some cheesecloth or a clean cotton cloth.

Growing up we often made glums on the middle holiday during the three holidays at Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. The Mennonites didn’t run the cheese factory during the holidays so everyone would make glums at home instead, so the milk wouldn’t go to waste.  

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Awkward Mennonite


Continued from A Haunted Mennonite

As the door closed behind me, I stood there for a moment to catch my breath before I walked into the waiting room. I was so nervous and feeling extremely awkward as I sat down beside Mrs. Braun. I asked her in Low German if I could hold her baby.

She looked at me with those sad, depressed and teary eyes. I could tell she wasn’t breathing deeply enough, just like I always did when I was in that state. It seemed as though she hadn’t heard what I said.

“I would love to hold your baby, is it okay if I hold your baby? Do you know who I am? I think you know my mom.” She nodded her head as the tears rolled down her cheeks onto her baby’s blanket. I explained to her what darop (colony) I was from. She already knew but I didn’t know what else to say to her.

“Can I show you something?” I asked.

She just stared at me in a daze so I just I started to breathe. I told her how I was breathing had helped me during tough times, I asked her if she could try it. She handed me the baby and I put it up against my chest just like I used to do with my little brothers.



I began rocking the baby back and forth, continued breathing and the baby calmed right down. I asked what the baby’s name was and finally she spoke. She said that the baby’s name was Johnny.

I told her that I would like to help her. I would stay with all the kids so she could talk to the nurse without any interruptions. The nurse walked in and overheard me offering to help. She said, “That is a great idea, Anna. Would you do that?” She turned to Mrs. Braun and said, “Then I can take my time to go over everything with you.”

Finally Mrs. Braun began to acknowledge what we were saying to her. She said, “Okay,” got up, and followed the nurse, looking lost and confused.

While holding the baby I started talking to the rest of her kids in Low German until they stopped fighting and throwing toys around. The receptionist thanked me and asked if it would be alright to give them a lollipop.

I said, “Yes, but only after they put all the toys back.”

The baby fell asleep in my arms so I put him in the car seat. I told the kids if they would put all the toys back and say sorry to the receptionist for throwing them, she would give them a lollipop. They just stared me for a while, then finally the oldest one started and the rest of them helped until the toys were all put away.    

They walked up to the receptionist in a line with their heads down and all said sorry at the same time. She said, “Okay, thank you for picking them up,” and handed them each a lollipop while I sat down on the floor. They all came and sat down beside me, one by one, and asked if I could help them take the wrapper off. I opened one lollipop after another until they were all opened.

I picked up a book that said Green Eggs and Ham on the cover. I asked the oldest boy if he had ever eaten green eggs in Mexico and he said, “Oba nee, dan sant de sea schita” (Oh no, then they are very gross). We all laughed and agreed with him. He asked if the people in the book ate the green eggs.

I said, “I don’t know, why don’t you read it and find out?”

The oldest boy said, “We can’t read. Can you read it to us?”

“We really want to know, read it to us,” they all said.

There I was, backed into a corner by a bunch of kids who were growing up just like I had. They were curious about books but they couldn’t read. My heart started pounding as I began to consider reading out loud to them.

I felt like I was backed into a corner by a monster named Awkward that was about to bite me. Just the thought of it sent shivering awkwardness up my spine. I took a few deep breaths as I scanned the room for anyone that might judge me. Luckily there was no one else in the waiting room.

I inhaled a big deep breath as I braced myself for that monstrous fright and went for it. I said the first sentence out loud in a shaken cracked voice, paused, and took another deep breath. I didn’t make eye contact with the kids but there was no sound of them. They were sitting completely still and waiting for more.

I took another deep breath and said the second sentence, paused a bit, and moved to the next one. I skipped the words I couldn’t pronounce and just kept going. With each page turn my heartbeat slowed down a bit.

I began reading a bit faster each time I started a new sentence. I came to the end of the book. I looked up and they were all staring at me in a daze. One of the younger boys handed me another book and said, “More! Can you read this one?”

I took the book and began reading again. When I finished that book and asked, “Aren’t you going to school?” I already knew that the answer to that question was no.

The oldest boy said, “Mom wants us to go to school but dad won’t let us. Our grandpa said that people who go to school just want to sit around and read all the time and they don’t learn how to work. That’s why we have to pick cucumbers every day. We have to wake up when it’s still dark outside.”

One of the smaller girls said, “Mom doesn’t like Canada, she is crying all the time.” Her older sister elbowed her and said, “Grita, dü muts nijch emma aules sajen” (Margaret, you shouldn’t always tell everything).

“It’s okay Grita, I won’t tell anyone,” I said as the door opened. Mrs. Braun and the nurse walked into the waiting room. The kids were so disappointed they didn’t want to leave. They wanted me to read more stories to them. That was such an amazing feeling that I wanted to experience again.

I helped them all put on their shoes on and Mrs. Braun looked at me with such gratefulness and said, “Dankschien fea me so sea üthalpen” (Thank you for helping me out so much). 

She asked what she owed me for doing that, which is common among Dietche people. By asking what they owe you for doing something for them, is their way of saying that what you did for them is worth enough to ask. That means that what you did is very much appreciated.  

After hearing those words, I finally felt like a useful participant of human society. I told her that she didn’t owe me anything and that I would be happy to help her again.

I held the door open until they all went through it and closed it. I didn’t want to look at or walk past Mr. Braun again. I went back to the waiting room and waited until they were gone.
The nurse came and sat down beside me and said, “Anna, you were great. Thank you for helping Mrs. Braun like you did. That made all the difference in her visit today.”

On my way to school I realised what freedom I had, while feeling sorry for Mrs. Braun. I felt guilty and not worthy of it as I thought about how I had the choice to go to school, which had already opened up a world of possibilities by finally allowing me to read, while she had no choice but to go with her husband.

I couldn’t imagine her having any of her own choices. Just like so many of the women I had left behind in my colony in Mexico.

I got to school just as it was break time. I explained to my teacher why I was late. She said, “That’s okay, Anna. Not too many people can work a fulltime job, show up at school on time every day, and hand in completed extra work. I’m amazed that you’ve been able to do it for this long. You are free to take time off, especially if the reason is to do what you did today.”

I went to work feeling accomplished and proud. That was until I walked into the factory. A chill went up my spine as Christina and Rick crossed my mind. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I felt like crying again. I looked up and there was George walking toward me, noticing that look.

“Hey sweetie, how are you holding up?” he asked, and the tears just started rolling down my cheeks.

He hugged me and said, “I know, Anna. This f#cking sucks,” as he struggled to fight back his own tears. Sadly, the bell rang, everyone but George left, and Bree walked in.

She said hi in an awkward-sounding voice. She gave us a half fake smile, put down her backpack and went to work. In a sad voice, George said, “Well, I better let you get to work.
Talk to you soon,” and walked out.

There was nothing but empty sadness in the atmosphere as I started working. Eight hours of that quiet sadness got me thinking really deep thoughts about Rick and my grandfather’s suicide, my whole family and Mexico. I wondered how and what they were doing. I decided that it was time write a letter to my family.

At break time I thought I could go to Hilary’s office and ask him if I could have a piece paper and pen. Besides, I thought I could benefit from the sound of his therapeutically hypnotizing voice. I took any chance I could to listen to him speak to me.

I just knew that I had made the right decision when I heard him say, “Absolutely, Anna. Here, take a whole pack. May I ask what you need it for?”

“Sure, I want to write a letter to my family in Mexico. All that sad quietness is making me think of all the things I need to tell them before it might be too late,” I answered.

“In that case, here are some envelopes and stamps that you will need. How is everything, how are you doing?”

“I am doing okay most of the time. After what happened with Rick I almost forget about what happen here such a short time ago. But every time I feel sad about anything George is always there making me feel better.”

“That is great, Anna. I am relieved to know that, he is an amazing friend to have. Sadly, there aren’t too many of his kind left, I’m afraid,” he said. I was thinking, “Please don’t stop talking,” but he did, and I went back to work before my fascination with the sound of his voice had a chance to turn awkward. Click here to continue reading my story.

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