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  • Jane

Marysia’s Treasure

2 hours later. 

I just helped mum get organised with stuff to do - sewing dad’s beautiful ties together to make a curtain. I gave her some lemon tea and bikkies. 

It’s a very beautiful, special atmosphere here. The fire’s still burning but it’s not even cold. The back door is open and I’m sweating. 

The Dzuffer family used to live next door. Luba, the mother, used to help mum when we lived in North Balwyn. She would make me the most delicious meals - small pieces of fried meat in a gravy sauce. I would lick the plate. The family moved from Blackburn to Millgrove and one day Luba told mum that the property next door was for sale. Mum and dad checked it out and bought it! 

Luba and her husband Ivan were Ukrainians. This was a tricky, delicate topic cos the word Ukrainian raised memories of the vicious Ukrainian guards at Auschwitz where mum and dad were imprisoned (cos they were Jews). Apparently these Ukrainians were rounded up from prisons - the worst criminals, more brutal than the Nazis. 

But Luba and Terry were sweet darlings. They had 4 sons. I was very close to the youngest, Raymond who was an angel. He was artistic, talented, poetic and a ballroom dancer. He was gay. I met him years later in Surfers when I was there with Sunny and Yasmin. I remember he kissed me goodbye in the lift (after he told me his partner had died from aids and he had the virus). I rubbed my lips forever thinking that maybe the virus had stuck onto me.

So mum and dad bought this property in the early 1970s. It’s very basic here. Over the years they’ve added the front room that I’m sitting in now. Gil and I are the main ones that stay here. Maziar (our Iranian tenant and friend) loves it and calls up every so often to stay here with his friends. 

Mum has named this place ‘Marysia’s Mayontek’ which means 'Marysia’s Treasure'. She wrote a forward in our visitors’ book explaining her love and connection to this place. When she was a girl in the Holocaust, she dreamed of a little hut somewhere, with a roof above her head and a loaf of bread next to her. Peace. That was all she dreamed for. And this hut is her recreation of that dream.

It is the end of the first day here and mum’s starting to open up, fiddle around and do constructive things like sweep outside and organise this and that. She sewed together 16 of dad’s ties and we made a curtain for the main room. I’m going to give her some photos to stick in an album soon, stuff I never get round to doing. 

This is a healthy place for her - the quiet, the peace, the freedom to potter and be helpful. And the best is that I’m around. She keeps taking my hand and kissing it with full love. She then moves to kiss her imaginary mother’s ring on her own finger, even though she knows that she’s passed the ring on to me to wear. It’s a symbolic action of love and protection, as if she’s saying her mother is watching over me. 

Mum just said I was an ‘unusual person’ - she said this after observing me here. She didn't offer much more info on what she meant.


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