from Dreams and Realty
by Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm
Marian came to Canada in the early fifties.
After several years here he decided to build a house. His own house with his own hands. The money he had put aside was just enough to pay for the materials. He spent a long time watching others build and mad his own preparations.
He worked in his spare time, after work and on Saturdays. On Sundays he rested, as the Good Lord commanded, and gathered his strength.
There was a lamp-post across the street from his house, so he could work by its light well into the evening. At night he returned to his rented room and slept.
He looked on his growing house with love and pride. The work went slowly but methodically.
The neighbors didn't much like this stubborn Pole who worked with such passion. He never had time to shoot the breeze; on the contrary, he was aloof, taciturn. But most important, he was a newcomer. An outsider.
For some time Marian had noticed rocks accumulating around his house. They were just calling cards from jealous neighbors to the new man in town.
"They're ignorant", he said to himself. "They came here just like I did. Some sooner, others later.. Only the Indians can say I've come to their country".
One Saturday afternoon he was sitting on the roof to finish covering it with boards. He had been working almost four months now' in fact, he would soon be able to move to and finish the work while living there.
On the opposite side of the street he saw a young man bend down and pick up a rock. There was no doubt about his intentions. Marian looked at him. The watched each other. The stranger stood motionless with the rock in his hand. Marian turned his head slowly as if returning to his nails. Quickly he looked around. He saw an arm upraised, ready to throw. The men looked at each other again. Under Marian's stare the arm feil, almost automatically. Once again, Marian turned as if to resume his work, then quickly looked back again. The man lowered his arm once more. They played this scene out several times. Paralyzed by Marian's gaze, the man could not throw the rock. Finally, Marian had had enough.
"You son of a b----, what are you trying to do? he shouted.
"You f-----g DP"*. And the rock flew, falling next to the home.
Quickly Marian climbed down off the roof, and in a few strides stood face to face with the intruder.
"What do you want, you son of a b----?"
"DP", was the only answer he got. The stranger's face was ugly with contempt.
Marian hit him once. And again. The man lay on the ground. Marian finished the job with a few well-placed kicks.
"Give him some more!" he heard. He looked around. Windows were open. Neighbors who had watched the fight were smiling genuinely, for the first time.
"Good going!" they shouted.
Marian had found favor. He cooled down. He smoothed his tousled hair and returned to his work as if nothing happened.
After that there was no further evidence of his neighbors' envy.
* Displaced Person - and official connotation given by the United Nations Organization to refugees in Europe after WW II.
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