Saturday, 2 June 2007

Aunt Bozena of Budatin.

The freakiest thing happened today. Lubos and I went for a bike ride to Budatin village in Zilina. It's the village where his paternal side of the family live. Lubos has never really talked about this side of his family except that his Dad walked out on the family after pumping a slut full of DNA and getting her pregnant.

We shinnied up the mountain past the little alpine style houses stopping at the house where his grandparents lived. By Slovakian standards, it is quite nice. Perched precariously on a mountainside it looks across a valley, motorway and rail track towards Budatin Castle. Across the road is Budatin Cemetery where Lubos' grandparents are buried.

Being a Saturday, the cemetery was packed with widows, sweeping, pruning, polishing and preening loved one's graves. After locating a cemetery attendant (this place was busier than a High Street) she directed us to where his grandparents are buried. It was at their grave that Lubos told me the story of Aunt Bozena.....

Bozena lived in the roof of the grandparents house. She received severe and regular beatings for being too 'slow'. Everyone described her as being a sandwich short of a picnic. Anyway, the tragic story gets even more odious. About 12 years ago she was gang-raped by gypsies and consequently fell pregnant. By the time the family realised she was pregnant (Bozena was too docile to notice), I'm assuming it was too late to abort... or being the 'virtuous' Catholics they were, perhaps an abortion was out of the question?! Bozena gave birth to a boy. Being a dark-skinned gypo and born out of wedlock the child brought intense shame to the family and was palmed off to God knows where. Aunt Bozena's mental health worsened, perhaps it was post-natal depression or the trauma of being raped and then giving birth to the resulting child... who knows. The lady at the local cukraren (patisserie) explained that Bozena's breast milk went bad and travelled to her head, whatever the reason, Bozena never recovered.

Still reeling from Bozena's story we decided to ride further up the mountain. It began to rain and cloud started to cloak the mountain so we turned for home. As we rounded the corner I saw a woman approaching in a tightly fastened blue trench coat, wellington boots carrying a sickle and bucket. As we rode closer Lubos looked at me in shock - it was Aunt Bozena! I urged him to go back and say 'Hi'. After hearing her story, I felt for her and thought she would be happy to see her long lost nephew - WRONG!

As he said 'Hi' and introduced himself Bozena became distressed and dodged Lubos like a petrified feral animal. She scampered into the forest from where she came. She didn't utter a word, the terror in her eyes, however spoke volumes.

In disbelief we rode to the local cukraren for a drink and to make further enquiries about Aunt Bozena. The lady explained that because she gave birth to a gypsy child, Bozena's breast milk was tainted and sent her crazy (Slovaks love their fishwives tales). She explained that Bozena lives alone in the house she was raised in and is only visited occasionaly by her sisters. She lives like an animal and doesn't communicate with anyone!

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