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Shades of Gray

November 5, 2003 Shades of Gray, By Anya
We entered Lizbark Warminski just as night started to creep up from the horizon. But this night it wasn’t the sunset or stares that caught our attention. Instead it was the rows of huge cement housing blocks, heralding in Lizbark Warminski that dragged me down to earth. For fifty years Poland had been under the Russian Communist Regime and though the recent ten years of freedom had removed some of the dark reminders, many of them were still here. Most apparent were the gray housing complexes that ran across Poland like scars. But Poland and its people were healing slowly but steadily.

At first the dreary sea of buildings stretching toward the horizon was foreign and strange to deal with. But after a few complexes I started to realize that although the communist buildings were all the same, each window was different. One peeling sill was tipping dangerously under the weight of well cared for geraniums. The last rays of sun light flickered off the geraniums’ dark petals and then disappeared. Lights began to ignite in the massive gray buildings and shadows moved behind the curtains of each window.

On the third floor of one of the complexes a worn patch quilt hung over a window. Inside, a Polish woman was singing softly as she lulled her children sleep in the dim lamp light.

Each window was different in these massive buildings; a tiny candle burning of its own accord in a sea of gray. Here in the shadows of communism I saw one of the links that had brought its failure in Poland. For although communism had understood that all people were equal it had failed to recognize that they weren’t the same.

Last Updated: November 5, 2003

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