What We All Need to Hear to Stop Freaking out and Start Moving in the Right Direction
I was ten when the martial law was introduced in Poland.
Suddenly, there were tanks in the streets and members of the Polish opposition movement, Solidarity, got arrested and thrown into jail without a trial.
The mass media, public services, healthcare, power stations, coal mines, seaports, railway stations, and most key factories were placed under military management.
My parents were told in no uncertain terms that they would either follow military orders or face a court-martial. It was a really dark time.
But for me, as a kid, the worst part about the martial law was the sudden lack of mail.
A window into a better world
Mail had been a major highlight throughout my childhood. There was no doubt in my mind that we got the coolest mail on the street (perhaps even in the whole town!)
In a country completely isolated from the rest of the world, my family would regularly receive postcards from Antwerp, Hamburg, Los Angeles, New York, Colombo, Piraeus and other amazing places. They were mailed by my dad’s best friend, uncle Malinowski. He was the chief engineer on a ship and the only person I knew who was allowed to travel outside of Poland.
For years, I’d run to the mailbox the moment I spotted the postman. He didn’t always bring a postcard. But when he did, I’d clutch it as if it were the most precious object in the world, rush back home and demand that my grandma or my parents tell me about the place that the postcard was mailed from.
At night, I’d take the postcards to bed. I’d look at them in the dim light of my nightstand lamp again and imagine that uncle Malinowski’s greetings contained a secret message, a message written in some…