So much change. I sound like a Donald Trump speech. Sorry. But Poland really has changed. Driving to my grandmother’s from the airport, I couldn’t recognise the place. I’d been here two years ago. Long tracts of land have turned into swanky buildings. We went to visit my grandfather’s grave. He’s buried in the oldest cemetery in Warsaw. Powązki. My uncle drove us in his black Audi. Breakneck-Speed Tomek we like to call him. This time we crawled through Warsaw’s summer road repairs. Tomek was swerving and turning to find a way through.
‘Where are we?’ my grandmother asked.
My mum was quick to attack. ‘You don’t know your own city?’
My grandmother hardly ever took my mother’s bait. She peered interestedly instead. ‘It must be new. What church is this?’
My mum rolled her eyes. ‘It was built last month.’
My grandmother spoke more slowly as if she was pulling thoughts from a over-filled closet. ‘Ahh, it’s St. Stanislaw’s Church. Partisans were rounded up here during the uprising. They were shot and killed. One woman survived it. I think she was pregnant.’
I looked closer. Even for Warsaw the church didn’t look like it was built last month. On each side of were glass-lined apartments. Their balconies cut like crystal. The red-brick church stood solid and tall in between the building, its red spire pointing high up into the air.
My uncle swung the Audi into a quick turn. A tall wall bordered the street he turned into. It ran for as far as you could see. Tips of trees poked out from behind it. This was my grandfather’s cemetery. ‘We’re here.’