It’s Tuesday, the day I spend all day alone with my children. My sister has sent me a copy of the great Australian classic “The Bunyip of Berkeley’s Creek, ” with its beautiful line drawings of billabongs at night and isolated homesteads with decrepit windmills. I read it to my Polish babies, who show their gums once in appreciation and go back to windmilling their arms.
Later, I am pushing the pram through the snow, trudging through the tail end of a six-month winter as the wind howls and I try to balance an industrial strength milking machine on one of the baby capsules. I look at my peacefully sleeping children (Janek wobbling his chin in one of the private Roman orgies that fill his sleep, Maja with her hat pulled down on her forehead and her eyes scrunched up like a little Chinese girl) and am suddenly overwhelmed by a sad and terrible feeling that they aren’t mine. I wonder what I’ve done. They don’t even have my name.
In the evening when they fall asleep, I start crying and tell Marcin it’s because I will have to explain to my children what a bunyip is. Not to mention a billabong. Their heads will be full of the Warsaw Uprising and the Swedish occupation and an irrational mistrust of all things Teutonic. All those mundane but magical features of an Australian childhood will be alien to them. School uniforms, third degree sunburn, the sad and terrible sight of wilting Santas in December encased in organ-boiling red felt. It hurts me to think about what they will miss.