When she was born, Anya felt an instant connection with the baby. She breathed in the milky scent coming from the baby, stared at the rosy cheeks, rosy lips and those piercing blue colored eyes and tufts of blond hair on her little bald head. Anya instantly felt in love with her daughter, although she thought she would grow hating her. Motherly instincts came naturally to her, overwhelming her. She would do anything to protect her child, would even sacrifice her own life.
But she couldn't keep the baby. It was too dangerous for her to keep the baby, they said. Best thing was to sent the baby to an orphanage and she would raise in that orphanage.
Anya didn't want to send her daughter into an orphanage. The conditions in the orphanages were terrible, some don't even treat the children properly. But her caretaker assured her that this orphanage, run by a group of Catholic nuns would look after her daughter well.
She put the silver colored necklace with the heart shaped locket around her baby's neck. The locket glistened in the light. She started sobbing.
"Remember me through the necklace," Anya whispered to her sleeping baby. Her caretaker came into the room and with a look of sympathy, she took the baby away from her.
And Anya felt as if someone had ripped a part of her body from her.
1958, Livingston, New Jersey
Anya wondered how her baby daughter was. On October 28th, her daughter would have turned sixteen. Sometimes, she would think about her daughter. Is her daughter still stuck in Poland? She wondered how her daughter's life was like, living in a communist country. She could picture her daughter in her mind--soft porcelain colored skin with blue colored eyes and dark blond hair. Anya imagine her daughter's hair to be long, flowing down her shoulders. She imagined her daughter to be carefree, like she used to be, before war took away her childhood.
She glanced at the letter she had received from one of her friends from Poland. They have promised to keep a track on her daughter. Her daughter was no longer in an orphanage but was adopted by a simple middle class family from Warsaw and was living in Warsaw. So far, she was brought up with tender love.
Does her daughter that her real biological mother was living more than thousand miles from each other? She doubted if her family had told her about her background.
If her daughter was here, she would have made a cake for her sixteenth birth. A chocolate cake. She would have given a party for her sixteenth birthday. Would her husband. George welcome her into the family? George was a loving husband and Anya was blessed to have a husband like George.
Anya wished her daughter was here with her, right now, so they could celebrate the birthday together.
1990, Warsaw, Poland
Patrick Kusack sits across from a middle aged woman, with dark blond hair and blue eyes. Anya's daughter...he thought. The woman may looked like that German Nazi who raped Anya but...every bit of her behavior and character seemed like Anya.
Her name was Karolina Kowalski. A pediatrician. Following footsteps of her grandfather...Patrick thought. Studies medicine at Warsaw University, married now and have three children--two boys and one daughter. They are living in a comfortable upper middle class suburb of Warsaw.
She was holding a locket--a locket that belonged to Anya. The poor girl was adopted as an infant from the orphanage. And she found out only two days ago, after her adopted father told her the whole story, before he passed away.
Patrick can recognize the locket. The heart-shaped locked with the letters AR engraved in front. Anya got the locket on her tenth birthday from her grandmother.
"Your mother...was a Jew." he explained. He didn't know how to tell her--that Anya was herded into Warsaw Ghetto, a very beautiful girl during the teenage years, and that she was raped by a German Nazi on her way back to her room. Now that Patrick think about it, it was funny how the Nazis with their purification ideologies would commit a crime like this.
Karolina bit her lips.
"I understand, if she doesn't want to talk to me," she replied softly. "If I was her...if I was in her situation, I would have understand." she wiped a tear from her face. "She would probably not want to see me,"
But deep inside, Karolina wanted to see her mother. She had seen black and white photographs of her mother, during her teenage years, beautiful with auburn hair and dark brown eyes. She fled Poland after the war with her siblings to start a new life in America.
And she looked happy with her new family, living in New Jersey--with three children and three grandchildren. Karolina did not want to ruin her mother's new found happiness. She wanted her mother to be happy with her new life.
She got up and bidding good bye, left the room.
Communism and Iron Curtain had fallen and now people can travel to West without a problem. Karolina could go to USA and reunite with her mother. But Karolina did not want to torment her mother with the past she probably wanted to forget. She didn't hate her mother for abandoning her--she admired her mother's courage and bravery to give her up by saving her. She thanked her mother for bringing her into the world. The locket would always give the connection to her real mother. That was all she wanted.
They have agreed to meet at Starbucks, a rather convenient place. Anya was sitting on one of the chairs at the corner table, watching her granddaughter, Malsha tapping on his phone, obviously sending a text message.
"They are on their way Grandma," Malsha assured Anya, squeezing her hand.
Anya smiled though she was feeling nervous. Through the latest technologies and internet, her tech-savvy granddaughter, Malsha had befriended a Polish boy named Henrik. And after years of acquaintance and friendship and a brief romance between the two, Henrik and Malsha found that there was a connection between Henrik's grandmother and Malsha's grandmother--that they are in fact both daughter and mother.
Henrik and his grandmother had already arrived in New York and agreed to meet in Starbucks.
Anya stared out the window, watching the busy New York street, cars and vehicles passing by, people with their phones walking on the sidewalk.
"Here they are!" Malsha said excitedly, waving them.
A brown haired boy with a sweatshirt and jeans hugged Malsha. Behind the boy is an elegantly dressed woman, with white cropped hair, wearing pearl necklace. Anya's heart leaped. This was...her daughter. The woman stepped towards her, tears in her eyes. The same blue colored eyes, the same rosy cheeks, same rosy lips, same facial features. The woman used to have dark blond hair which turned into now snow white hair. The two women stared at each other for a brief moment. Anya realized with a pang that the woman was wearing the locket--the locket she had put around her neck, seventy seven years ago.
"Mama..." the woman said, her voice choking a little.
And the two women hugged, sobbing quietly. After seventy seven years, Anya was finally reunited with her daughter.