Monday, January 28, 2019

Seven Plautdietsch Words

Continued from A Mennonite “rom-geschwien”

“Next year Anna will host a party!” said Paula.

I smiled and thought, Dot bedua ekj (I doubt it)!  I wondered:  If I actually did host a party, what would it look like?  Would anyone even show up? 

As everyone got back to mingling, I wandered around the house looking for El Guero, but every time I spotted him, he was surrounded by a group of men I had never seen before. I felt out of place, and homesick. “I need to get out of here!” I concluded.

When I finally spotted Izaak again, I practically ran to him, “Hey Izaak! Let’s sneak out and go home,” I said.

“Sounds good to me,” he answered, and we successfully snuck out and left without saying goodbye to anyone. I regretted my decision to go home immediately after walking in at my parents’ house, when I overheard my aunt, who was visiting, letting Mom have it. She had strong opinions about what Mom should do with her rebellious daughter.

Woarum lots du di so munk de Mexa rumschween? Onn felt blus mul geschet dot lada full to heven!” (Why do you allow her to hang around with the Mexicans? Anna just needs a good old spanking!)¨

I felt bad for Mom and realized that my time to leave was long overdue. I ran across the yard to Uncle Jake’s house and was happy to find him packing his bags.

“Anna, are you ready to go? We're leaving at five a.m. tomorrow morning!”

“YES!” I replied, and proceeded to help him pack.

By the time I came back inside, my aunt had left.

Mom looked depressed and hopeless. I wanted to hug her and tell her that I was sorry, but instead, I told her that I was leaving the next morning. I sat down at the kitchen table and watched the relief wash over her. I felt her letting go of me when she told me that she was glad that I was leaving, that she couldn't carry the burden of my choices on her shoulders anymore, and that she had placed it into the hands of God.

I had dreamt of this very moment and thought that I would feel free, knowing that she had let me go. But I felt anything but free.

I helped my sisters tidy up and sweep the sunflower seed shells off the floor. While Maria was helping me pack my suitcase, my little brothers came running in, shouting, “Anna, someone is whistling and flashing a lighter on the street for you.  Die sed du sus rut koom (He said you are supposed to come outside).”

My heart dropped to the floor. “Who is it?” I asked in a shaky voice.

“I don’t know. I think he's a Mexa because he spoke Spanish, but I can't tell.”

I thought, “Oh no! It must be Aaron Neudorf, because only a Dietscha would flash his lighter to get a girl’s attention.”

“Okay, just stay inside—maybe he will go away,” I told my little brothers as I lifted the corner of the curtain and peeked out the window. I continued to pack my suitcase, hoping that whoever it was would take the hint and just leave. But no, every time I peeked out, the lighter was flashing. Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore, and decided to go and see who it was before he came to the door. On my way through the kitchen, I was tempted to grab a mason jar. But I remembered that I had put those days behind me and continued to make my way to the street. My heart was pounding so much that it felt like I was going to collapse. When I got close enough to see that it was El Guero, I was shocked, “What the heck are you doing here?” I asked.

Por qué te fuiste sin decirme? (Why did you leave without telling me?)”

“Um… Ah, wait! How do you know about the lighter flashing thing?”

“Anna, I have been around menones long enough to learn a thing or two.”

“Okay, um… ah, where are the rest of them then?”

“It’s just me. No one knows I’m here. I walked a long way.¨

“You did?”

“Yes, okay, now it's my turn to ask the questions: Por qué te fuiste?”

“I suddenly felt like I had to go home, and you were busy, so I just left. I’m sorry.”

No, no, no te preocupes (No, no don't worry), he said as he took a step closer toward me. He put his arms around me and whispered, “Lo siento (I'm sorry),” into my ear.

“I’m leaving tomorrow morning,” I said.

No me digas eso! (Don’t say that!)”

He slowly moved his hand up under my chin and pulled my face up and said, “Si no hago esto, lo lamentaré por el resto de mi vida. (If I don’t do this, I will regret it for the rest of my life),” and before I had a chance to respond, his lips were on mine. My Low German thought said, “Ran nu de dea oles waut du kos! (Run to the door as fast as you can!)” But my body said, “Don’t move!” and time stood still until seven Plautdietsch words echoed across the dark sky and yanked me back to reality.

Onn… mamme said du sus nen kum. (Anna, Mom says to come inside now.)”

El Guero stroked my cheek with his thumb, ran his fingers through the hair on the back of my head and pulled me in for a tight squeeze. “Will, I ever see you again?” he asked.

“I don’t know, but I don’t think that I am ever coming back here again.” 

Onn… mamme said du sus nen kum. (Anna, Mom says to come inside now.)”

Ekj woa mess bolt kum! (I will come in shortly!)” I replied.

“You are breaking my heart, Anna. But I understand. Here is my phone number,” he said, and handed me a piece of paper.

“I have to go inside now.”

“Okay, I am going to watch for your novela to come out.”

I giggled and said, “You'll have to wait for a very long time.”

“For the novela or to see you again?”

“Both,” I said.

He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me one more time and said, “Have a safe trip back to Canada.”

“Thank you,” I replied and ran to the door shaking from head to toe.

When I got back inside and made eye contact with Mom, she said, “I don’t even want to know who that was.”

“Na yo,” I replied and went right back to packing my suitcase.

I had one last argument with my little brothers about being their sister. I decided just to let it go because I knew if I hadn't won the argument by now I wasn’t going to. I hugged them all before they went off to bed. Being hugged by a strange woman who claimed to be their sister was awkward for all of them. I was okay with it because by that point I had accepted the fact that awkward was going to be my companion for life.

I lay awake all night staring at the twinkle of light on the ceiling caused by the dimmed oil lamp. I had so many mixed feelings, and my brain just wouldn’t shut down. I wondered if I would ever come back again, feeling frustrated and confused about everything. There I was, twenty years old, and I couldn't name the feeling I was experiencing when El Guero kissed me.

Thoughts raced through my head: I really need my friend Kristina back; she would be able to tell me. I am not asking George! Or maybe my friend Josh would be the right person to talk to about this. No! just get a book, Anna! No one can know about this!

As I lay there thinking about how amazing El Guero’s kiss was, guilt did everything in its power to destroy my pleasure. “I’ll probably never see El Guero again, so this will just be another memory that I will carry with me wherever I end up, and I am choosing to replace this memory with the one of Jake Dyck.” Guilt and shame laughed in my face when I thought that. I fought to hold on to the memory of the short-lived moment I had experienced with El Guero until I heard footsteps coming toward me.

Onn, bes ol upgewakt? Um Jap es rid tom farn. (Anna, are you awake? Uncle Jake is ready to go,)” said Mom.

Jo, ekj san mes rid. (Yes, I’ll be ready shortly,)” I replied. I got dressed and grabbed my suitcase. Dad was sitting in the rocking chair in the kitchen with his head down, and when he looked up, I saw tears on his cheeks. I controlled my desire to hug him, shook his hand and said goodbye. I fought back my tears as I thought, “I don’t even know this man.” It was very awkward, and I didn’t know what to say. He had been absent during most of my visit. We had exchanged few words, and I had never even gotten a chance to ask him about Posen Land, as I had planned.

Mom accompanied me to Uncle Jake’s truck. I threw my suitcase into the back of the pickup, hugged Mom quickly and got in as fast as I could. Izaak hardly had a chance to get out before I trampled over him to get to the middle of the seat. Izaak and uncle Jake both got out to shake Mom’s hand. Uncle Jake hopped back into the pickup, looked at me and said, “Listo?”

“Yes!” I replied and held my breath.

Mom waved and said, “Ekj wanch gunt ne glakelge rez. (I wish you a safe trip.)”

I made eye contact with her one final time before Uncle Jake drove off the property. I thought, “Finally!” That ordeal from the bed to the pickup felt like eternity, and there was an ocean ready to burst through my eyes.

My thoughts became so dark and depressing that it was hard to breathe. I felt like I was mourning the death of my entire family, because at that moment I was sure that I was never going to see any of them ever again. All I could do was listen to the kethomp, kethomp, kethomp sound that the tires made while Uncle Jake silently focused on driving, and Izaak slept. Click here to continue reading my story.

photo credit to Isaak Wall

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