Sunday 17 March 2019

Grzegorz has cancer.

My language study ground to a halt last month when I discovered a small scandal about plagiarism that turned into a big scandal about fraud and may yet turn into an enormous scandal about clericalism. 

At any rate, I became so wound up by the scandal that I decided the best thing to do to take my mind off it was to listen to my next Polish lesson in the "Real Polish" series. It was about Grzegorz (G'sheh-gosh) who has smoked for 20 years. Grzegorz' doctor told him to quit. Grzegorz didn't listen. Then Grzegorz' wife and children told him to quit. He didn't listen to them either. Everyone begged him to quit, but Grzegorz told them to stop worrying because nothing would happen to him. 

Are you acquainted with Polish film? If so, you already know what happened to Grzegorz.

Yes, Grzegorz has cancer, and his doctor can't help him: it's too late.  Good-bye, Grzegorz. Good-bye. 

So depressed was I by this mention of the C-word (which in Polish, rak, is presumably the R-sÅ‚owo) that I hit a mental block and stopped studying either Polish or German. I use up all my free time on plagiarism-scandal research because I don't want to think about Grzegorz and his stupid cancer. Incidentally, reading the tax returns of registered charities is a lot of fun. 

I spent too many Italian and Polish classes in 2017 talking about my husband's brain tumour and how he was mysteriously turning into a living skeleton. It was probably cheaper than therapy, mind you.  And as a result I already know the Polish words I need to deal with cancer, e.g. the ones that mean "My husband cannot go through the X-ray, for he has a tube in his brain." 

Yesterday, however, I forced myself back into Grzegorz's terrible story. I wrote it out from two different perspectives. Then I wrote it a third time on printer paper and cut it up for reassembly on the kitchen table. Tonight I will finish studying Grzegorz's fate so that tomorrow I can move onto Lesson 33. 

Life is conspiring to prevent me from becoming fluent in other European languages, but I will not permit it. One day I will be fully fluent in both Polish and Italian and be able to cope in German, French and Russian. Urdu will have to wait until I am retired.  

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