Fermented Identity – by Justyna

26 Nov

Hi my name is Kazek and I am two and a bit years old. I love Vegemite. Fermented yeast extract. Rich in vitamin B. Makes my skin smooth. When my mum is not looking I stick my hands into the jar and just gobble great bits of it, not bothering with the toast and butter. When she is looking I ask for a spoon. I usually eat it on Polish bread (toasted of course), which is sourdough, so I have a whole load of fermentation from the moment I wake up and sit at the table.

My mother loathes Polish television so we don’t watch telly at all and I’m not up on all the ads and sing songs. But she has made an exception for Aussie jingles. I know most of the words to ‘happy little Vegemites’. She sings it to me before I fall asleep. I’m a consumer for life. It’s weird, since she was never a ‘little Vegemite’ herself. In fact from what I can gather Tabitha introduced her to the proper way of eating it when my mum was 19. Right amount of butter, toast essential, hey presto and you have deliciousness in your mouth. From that moment on my mother was born-again. I think she uses Vegemite on a daily basis as a way of clinging to her Ausiness. The other day after breakfast she gave me a small Australian flag to play with and then took photos. It was a ridiculous juxtaposition. I was wearing my leather ‘kierpce’ at the time (typical Polish folky highlander slipper-type shoes). 

It’s funny because my mum looks Polish, sounds Polish and my dad says she even has a Polish ‘soul’. At the same time she also sounds Australian, often behaves like and Aussie and understands the world in a very different way to the people here. Really she’s just a wog all over again except this time in her motherland. Must be tiresome being split in half all the time. Hope she doesn’t ever make me immigrate or impose too much of her Australian ways on me. I don’t want to be all torn up and split down the middle like she is for all eternity. Neither here nor there. Must be frustrating.

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5 Responses to “Fermented Identity – by Justyna”

  1. Bill November 27, 2011 at 1:05 am #

    Thanks to you, Justyna, I even like vegemite!
    BTW, I love the picture of Kazek with the Aussie flag. He’s getting so big.

  2. Tabitha November 28, 2011 at 1:24 am #

    Oh, the end of this post made me really sad! Do you not think there’s some way of sharing two homes without it tearing you down the middle? I think that with your awareness of the frustrations and difficulties, surely you could guide Kazek through on a smoother course?

    For someone like me, so totally mono-cultural, having access to two languages and two cultures and two homelands just seems like the most amazing gift. Grass is always greener, eh?

    • Beth November 28, 2011 at 9:38 am #

      Yes, this made me sad too. I spent a long time feeling torn down the middle with the old NZ, but it was so easy to go back there if I really wanted, and not the same huge things of a different language and major cultural differences.

      At least your parents are in the same country as you though – we spent every holiday when we lived in NZ coming to Australia and every holiday when we lived in Australia visiting NZ. I’m sure you’ll steer the right course Justyna. x

      • Justyna November 28, 2011 at 10:50 am #

        Aah dudes, it’s not so bad. But I have been thinking about it all of late. I think the major difference for me living here is that my Australian world is not here with me. You all are not here. In Sydney I had my family and cousins and aunts and uncles to define my Polish side. But I had all of you, my friends, my work, my uni my everything else to define my Australian side. In Krakow I do not have these major bits of support. Just Poles, Poles, Poles. And that I guess makes me feel frustrated,

  3. Justyna November 28, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    And as far as the expats go, well I’m not an expat either. So I don’t fit into that scheme of things. Besides for the expats I’m too Polish to be an Aussie, etc. etc.

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