The narrative, My Polish Teacher’s Tie written by Helen Dunmore is a story of Carla Carter and her Polish pen friend Stefan who preferred calling himself Steve. Carla who herself was half Polish was fond of poetry and it was this art laid down in letters that connected her…
From then onwards, she lost command over her mother tongue. It was Stefan that brought her back to her instincts.
The friendship of Carla and Stefan started when one day the Head of the school announced the teachers exchange program. The theme of the program was “Polish teachers looking for English pen friends to improve their English”2. It was something that stimulated Carla and although she wasn’t eligible, she was confident enough to get the details from the Head who was reluctant to do so.
She received letters from Stefan who started calling himself Steve. The letters mostly contained poems in both English and Polish. They had developed and reached a very comfortable level of communication so she told him about Jade and memories of her childhood when she knew how to sing Polish songs. But what she didn’t tell him and he assumed was that she was a teacher and not someone from the catering staff. Her conscience told her that she wasn’t doing something wrong by hiding her designation.
The stream of letters kept flowing between them when one day the Head announced that a Polish teacher was coming to England and paying a visit to the school. He was going to stay with a teacher named Mrs. Kenward. It was Stefan Jeziorny, Carla’s pen friend who was coming. He was also expecting to meet Carla, the teacher. This news alarmed her because she thought Steve would find out that she pretended to be a teacher and that might cost her to lose their friendship. But when he arrived, Carla met him and introduced herself wearing the blue and white uniform of a caterer. To her surprise, Steve was filled with so much joy that he sang a Polish song to her that spurred back her memories of childhood.
Carla noticed something unique in the attire of her friend, a red colored tie with bold green squiggles that she admired. That tie represented the flag of a different country, a country either one of them didn’t belong to. 3
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