Aleksander Smolar – Henio Świderski (130/201)

And there were other prisoners who I remember – one prisoner who made a big impression on me – he was a criminal – and that was Henio Świderski whose nick-name was… he was called ‘prince of darkness’ or ‘Hitler’. He had an incredible natural intelligence. He was 36 years old and he’d spent 16 of those years in prison so he hadn’t really had much time to commit crimes. He would commit a crime and
get a prison sentence straight away – that’s what he said, I don’t know if it’s true. He had one brother who was a Pallottine monk, which the Pallottine Fathers later confirmed, but I never met him. The second brother was a secretary of the Party
organisation so you could say it was a Polish family. He’d been locked up with various generations of political prisoners and he spoke every language that he came across. He was locked up with those people for instance who were pro-Chinese… with some Natolinians or later with Mijal’s supporters who were pro-Chinese. He knew their language very well. Then there were some other people. He had an exceptional grasp of their language, was very concerned and spoke seriously in their language. At the same time he was… relations between us were extremely cordial, more than cordial – they were very friendly – he was sort of in love with me. He would speak to me after we’d been separated – he was the only person other than my aunt who called me Aluś. He used to call out first saying, ‘Aluś’ and then he’d tell me what sentences Jacek and Karol had been given. He told me this – for instance, he told me this through the window. At the same time he was exceptionally sensitive. Whenever he thought that I was showing off or talking down to him, he’d get really mad, he’d get really mad, terribly angry and then he would say to me – he had this little saying which was supposed to express all the contempt he felt for the intelligentsia which I was part of, ‘You ę, ą ti bua, proszę’ – this was the formula which I can no longer remember. ‘Ę’, ‘ą’ are vowels which a normal person, so to speak, a man of the people, doesn’t pronounce.
They’re difficult sounds to make. ‘Ti bua’ was supposed to be a French word but there is no such word in French. The Polish word for ‘please’ – ‘proszę’ – with the accent on the ‘ę’ was also meant to symbolise the intelligentsia, he held that social class which I belonged to in contempt. After that, he wouldn’t talk to me for a long time with that ‘ę, ą and ti bua, proszę’. In any case, my relationship with him gave me a great deal. He was from a totally different class, social group so I found it fascinating – talking with him was fascinating. The way he talked about life, about relations, including sexual. He had a very rich sex life. To this day I can recall several stories which
are bit indecent but I’ll tell them anyway. Among other things, he told me about a girlfriend he had, she was very young, underage. By then, he was over 30 years old. And her friends were laughing at her.
‘You and this old lag, you’ve got this old lag,’ – in prison parlance, lag means
an old criminal, not a youngster. To which she replied, ‘He might be an old lag but his ‘kindybał’ is young’. Well, you can guess what ‘kindybał’ means here. When he heard about this, he was so touched that he went… he took her to – what were those shops called that sold Western clothes? And he bought her an outfit. She was a just a young girl but he bought her something that was incredibly expensive and elegant and very middle-class. He told me lots of things – they were all highly amusing. Later, I lost touch with him and I didn’t have any way of making contact with him again. I don’t know if he managed to stay alive considering his lifestyle; he’s probably long dead. I don’t know. In any case, this was for me… these were my closest friends in prison.

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