She didn’t give a damn about education

Author: David Svarc
Location: Beroun
17 March 2000
It’s raining. I watch the drops slide down the window.
Anna is crying. I see tears running down her cheeks.
It’s Friday afternoon and she is restless, waiting for visitors to fill her apartment with noise and laughter. Soon she will get to see her children again. It’s been quite a while. She is both excited and worried.
Worried about whom? her kids?
It starts to rain more heavily. Drops drum on the windows and it gets cold inside. She should start the heater. But what to burn? She walks out of the room to get a sweater.
The door opens wide and Anna’s nine-year-old son Ales storms in. "Mom, I’m hungry.”
Anna quickly fixes him something to eat.
“Only potatoes?” he whines. “There are sausages in the fridge.”
“Those are for our visitors,” sighs Anna. “Eat what we have, and put on a sweater.”
She sits down and lights a cigarette. Why does she have to be sitting here in this cold? Why is there no money to buy food? Why can’t she provide for her boy Ales? Why is she afraid of seeing her kids?
The answer is simple: she is unemployed.
“I should find myself a job. But how?” She lights another cigarette. “There’s no work around here. The farm no longer exists and the nearest town is too far away. I’m forty-five and I don’t have any education. Nobody’s going to give me a job. Anyway, Ales can’t stay home alone.”
She stubs out her cigarette and starts feeling better. There are reasons for her not working.
But are these arguments good enough for her three grown children? By no means. How many times have they tried to convince her to requalify? How many times have they tried to find her a job?
She opens the door to the balcony and leaned against the railing. As she looks at the wet fields so typical for this pre-spring time her parents and brothers and sisters parade before her eyes.
At about this time every year they used to leave Slovakia to do seasonal work in the Czech Lands, her father as a forman and her mother as a cook feeding all the workers. The kids went along too. They went to school for half a year here and half a year there.
She didn’t remember much about the schools. In her family, work was always given priority. When she was still too young to work legally, her father had bribed the authorities to get her false ID. What came after was just hard labor. But she was young and didn’t give a damn about education. Anyway, the farm would always be hiring.
That was a big mistake. Anna turns to look in the direction of the collapsing walls of the farm which gave her and many others work for such a long time.
Familiar voices interrupted her thoughts. She spotted her grown-up, successful and happy kids approaching her house. Watching them come closer makes her feel much better.
And she knows what is behind their success. She supported them through their school careers. When it was necessary, she did not hesitate to make them study hard.
Suddenly, she hits upon a solution.
5 May 2000
The sun is out. It is Friday afternoon and Anna, seated in her chair smoking a cigarette, is waiting for her kids.
The door opens , and here they are: her kids. She throws her cigarette into an ashtray and stands up to greet them.
She offers them tea and coffee and they all sit down in her living room, asking her what’s new.
Anna takes out an envelope.
“What’s that?” her oldest daughter asks. She’s curious.
Anna smiles at her kids and passes the envelope to them. “Meet a newly trained seamstress.”

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