“Czesc” the stranger stared back at her uncomprehending her words. Of course, he did not speak Polish. She could see clearly, now that he was dressed in a more Western European fashion than any local would wear.
Try English of course! It was the common tongue among Europeans.
Taking her school scarf from her neck, she began making a tourniquet for his leg.
In her poor and somewhat broken high school English, she asked if he could stand.
Nodding his head and saying yes in a strange accent she had never heard before. He began to rise with her help.
The question was what to do now? The nearest public telephone was far away. She was afraid to leave him in his weakened state, and it was more than she could do to explain in her poor English she was going for help.
Helping him to walk as best she could and saying, “Hoch hoch “ changing to English she repeated “Come come” she aided him back along the path and down the river towards her grandfather’s apartment.
Of course, that was sensible, Mrs Kornaszewski was a state nurse, retired now but still able to deal with the odd emergency that happened in her apartment block, the same one Zuzanna lived in with her grandfather.
Now she felt a little calmer as she always did when she had worked out some difficult problem.
Slowly too slowly for Zuzanna’s liking they made there way along the path by the river. Several times stopping to let the stranger regain his strength.
Zuzanna had already worked out her next course of action. If the stranger fell and she was, unable to make him rise again she would run ahead and return with Mrs Kornaszewski. It was only about half a kilometre to the apartment block.
However, the stranger seemed to realise his predicament and garnered a little extra strength, somehow knowing the young girls intention to aid him.
After what seemed to Zuzanna like kilometre’s they reached the lower apartment block where she lived. Settling the stranger in a chair just inside the room she ran upstairs to Mrs Kornaszewski’s apartment. Please God be in she prayed as she came to the top floor and banged on the door.
“What’s the matter girl you look as pale as a ghost,” Zuzanna quickly explained she needed help with the stranger and the extent of his injury to his leg.
Grabbing her medical bag from behind the door Mrs Kornaszewski and Zuzanna made her way back down to the ground floor.
5 minutes later and a few bandages and Zuzanna running as an errand girl for clean water and a basin and the stranger was ok. Mrs Kornaszewski explained to Zuzanna that she had done the most sensible thing under the circumstances. The stranger had been in no real danger from bleeding to death laughed the old nurse but it had looked that way for a while.
Possibly, he was anaemic and the slight blood loss had disoriented him enough to make him semi conscious.
“Good strong cup of tea plenty of sugar and let him rest for an hour, he will be well enough to go on his way, I suppose you should really take him along to the emergency room at the hospital and have them put a few stiches’ in his leg”, the last bit was added as an afterthought. With that, the old nurse left her alone with her charge.
Blinking with surprise, and noticing the stranger was now more coherent. She attempted to speak in her broken English. “How feel you now”?
The stranger smiled, Zuzanna felt as though the sun had just risen in front of her in all its majesty.
Again, in this strange and wonderful accent the stranger said “Thank you”. After a moment smiling again, he said “dziêkujê”
“How wonderful you speak a little Polish”. Zuzanna giggled and a little smile spread across her face.
“Let me make you a cup of tea”. Off she went to the small kitchen, and left the stranger sitting in Grandpas chair with his leg supported on the small stool.
Coming through the kitchen door, she saw Grandpa standing in front of the stranger. Obviously not happy at the prospect of Zuzanna entertaining some Strange man in his home.
Grandpa stood hands on hips raising an eyebrow at Zuzanna; she was carrying a cup of tea to Kevin, and in grandpa’s best china cup and saucer no less.
Defensively Zuzanna started to explain the whole affair from sitting in her classroom to meeting the stranger in difficulty.
Grandpa stood quietly and listened carefully to all that Zuzanna had to say.
Removing his cap and scratching his head he turned towards the stranger, who was attempting to rise from the chair.
Both Zuzanna and her grandpa settled him back him the chair.
Grandpa asked Zuzanna “What’s his name”?
Zuzanna was at a loss; of all the things she had done, it never occurred to her to ask him such a basic question.
The stranger sat in the chair bemused at the banter between Zuzanna and her grandfather, unable to understand the whole conversation spoken in fast Polish.
“Hi sorry about that but grandfather just asked me your name and I couldn’t tell him, I don’t know it”!
The stranger smiled. “My name is Kevin”. First in English then “Jestem Kevin”