A modern re-telling of the Old Testament story of Ruth.
Elek Mazur had brought his family to the United Kingdom soon after Poland had been admitted to the European Union. In 2005 he took his family from a small flat, in a rundown block in Wroclaw to live in Milton Keynes. Elek and Nadzia had been married 17 years when they arrived and had two sons, 15 year old Keilijan and Mahary, 13.
Soon after arriving in the UK, Elek started a small handyman business and in time, when the boys were old enough, they joined him transforming it into a thriving family concern. The boys had each learned different skills. Electrics for Kielijan, plumbing for Mahary while Elek continued the trade learned from his father, carpentry.
Together they they grew what Elek had started as a tiny, backyard business into a successful enterprise, which a few years after the boys joined their father in work outgrew their home and had to move into its own premises.
There was not a big Polish contingent around Milton Keynes, so as Keilijan and Mahary grew up, as well as joining Elek in the family business, they began to date local girls. In time both the boys married. First was the younger Mahary who married Ruth and a year later, Keilijan married Orlah, who had come to Milton Keynes from Ireland.
Not long after the second wedding, Elek died when the floor collapsed in an old house he had been working in, ironically to replace rotten wooden joists to make it safe.
The boys, who now had wives to support, carried on the business bringing in outside carpenters when needed on short term contracts. While the Mazur company supported the boys and their mother it no longer thrived and grew after the death of Elek.
All was not well in the remaining family. The boys had inherited a genetic disorder from their father, Elek. It was never discovered because of his premature, accidental death. So a few years later, it claimed the younger Mahary first and in one more year, Keilijan. Leaving a family of widows to fend for themselves.
At first Orlah and Ruth tried to manage the business, hiring in necessary skills. Slowly orders dried up as it seemed with the death death of the founders the good name was gone, The hired hands, with no stake in the business, were never as conscientious as Elek, Keilijan and Mahary.
To make matters worse, there had been a referendum in the United Kingdom and Nadzia’s adopted home had voted to leave the European Union. She had been in the UK many years and had even applied for and acquired a British citizenship, but after the vote to leave, Brexit as it was being called, Nadzia began to detect an undercurrent of if not hostility, certainly some unfriendliness, where there had been none before.
Nadzia resolved to return to Poland, though it grieved her to leave her daughters-in-law, the only remaining connection to her dead family. With Ruth and Orlah she set about winding up the business and distributing its assets between herself and the two girls. There wasn’t much to share out after settling some outstanding business loans. Terminating the mortgages on their homes, brought in a little extra, from the accumulated equity.
There wasn’t much money but Nadzia thought she had enough to return to Wroclaw, where she hoped she could find work before the money she had set aside to rent a small home ran out. The only thing left to do now before she packed up and left for Poland, was to tell Ruth and Orlah.
When Nadzia explained to Orlah and Ruth her intentions, Orlah decided almost immediately that she would go back to live with her family in Ireland. Ruth seemed unsure what to do for the best and withdrew into herself, while she considered her situation.
Very early the next day, Ruth quietly let herself into Nadzia’s home, she and Orlah both had a key each, and started to prepare breakfast for herself and her mother-in-law. It was almost ready when Nadzia came through the kitchen door. They sat down together for their meal, making desultory conversation, until Nadzia could no longer put off the question unanswered since the day before.
‘What will you do when I return to Poland’ Nadzia asked her daughter-in-law. Ruth slowly raised her eyes from her breakfast plate to meet those of her mother-in-law, holding them in silence for a few seconds before replying ‘I’m coming with you.’
Nadzia looked relieved but still asked why Ruth wouldn’t return to he own family, or stay in England, where she was from. ‘I loved your son and you are the closest I can be to him now he’s gone. Don’t make me stay.’ What about your parents, your mother.’ Nadzia asked. ‘I love them of course I do, but I’ve never been so close to mother as I have become with you. Please, don’t go without me.’