The way to Mastavlyany

The shasheika waved between the conifers with conifers, elms in reeds, bogs with "devil's eyes", until it rested on a sign with the inscription "Mostowlany".

To the left, behind the plowed field, you could see an overgrown forest.

There, beyond the narrow strip of Svislacha (western), is already Belarus.

But the mobile operator does not take into account some 500 meters and sends us all a polite "Welcome to Belarus!".

A well-informed satellite warns that you need to turn off the Internet, otherwise the Polish operator, after such an invitation from his Belarusian colleague, will deduct a hefty amount for roaming from your account.

One of us did not believe in this absurdity and after a couple of hours he deeply regretted the wasted three hundred zlotys.

We stopped at the sign and went to the bank of the border river with a name that awakened in our Menchukuo souls nostalgia for the native vistas of the other Svislachi (eastern).

Several large khaki tents loomed ahead, with the cozy smell of wood smoke rising peacefully into the non-autumn blue.

In the next minute, three strong guys in camouflage and with machine guns behind their shoulders came out to meet us.

We began to wait for them and only then saw a sign with a warning that 50 meters from the border, passage is prohibited.

It used to be possible to get close to the very shore of Svislacha, but the border crisis with emigrants provoked by the Belarusian authorities did not give us and others, forcibly deprived of their native landscapes, the opportunity to admire them at least from across the river.

Church in Mastavlyany

Corner stone

After driving a couple of hundred meters through the village, we see a large Orthodox church on the right on a hill with a cemetery.

And in front of him, almost imperceptibly, a modest monument to the most famous native of these places rested.

A low stele with an inscription, crossed scythes - the legendary weapon of the rebels, the wheel of a peasant cart.

The monument was erected in 1988, to the 150th anniversary of the leader of the invincible.

It was expected that from this note there would be some indication of the way to the house of the national hero.

Expectations did not come true.

Behind the hill with the church is a bend, a gravel road, bushes on the right, a field ahead, and on the left on a steep slope, a sweet little dog is barking.

Our driver hits the gas and drives sharply up the clay potholes to the abandoned boiler room.

A blackened fence in front of a lean-to house opens to the eyes.

From her corner, an uncle of uncertain age peers out at us.

Gives us a "Good day!"

We introduced ourselves, mentioned the reason for our visit.

He hurriedly said: "Please, please!", spun briskly and led us through the poisoned yard behind the house.

"Here, please, your lordship!".

And retreated a few steps back, gently leaving us alone.

Monument to Kastus Kalinowski and the rebels of 1863-1864.

in Mastavlyany

We began to look at each other in silence.

A clear rectangular hill, covered with a blanket of herbs, from under which the rounded side of a gray boulder protruded.

By all accounts it is angular.

Overhanging withered branches with rotten pears.

In the middle of the hill, a bare apple tree stood, dropping its leaves and fruits under its feet.

The rectangle of the foundation was evidently hidden for the most part under the log cabin of the rough house.

The old foundation was apparently too big for the new owners, and this saved the sacred stones for us.

Stunned by our first impressions, we began to imagine where, what and how it was between the walls on this foundation almost two centuries ago.

"Maybe there was a light here," one of us speculates.

A wonderful view from the hill on Poplav, the river and the forest behind it.

I can imagine how little Kastus admired the reflections of the morning sun's rays over the flowery expanse of the estate.

I think that I remembered this beauty all my life.

"Well, where was his pram, what do you think?"

The friend fatherly thinks that the children were probably in the warmest living room.

Although the family was relatively wealthy, it was not such that each of the children had a separate room.

Little Kastus apparently grew up next to the elder Viktor.

At the age of five, he suddenly stopped being a child, when his mother died during another childbirth.

Six years later, the father sells the manor house with the weaving manufactory in Mastavlyany and buys an estate on the other side of the Svislacha, in Yakushovka.

The political games of the powerful of this world have made these two geographically very close places of Kastus's birth and upbringing almost unattainable today.

Who will make Kastusya's cradle

Having silently experienced the emotions of meeting with a mystery, after an hour's drive back, we began to leisurely express ideas on how to restore Kastus Kalinowski's estate.

First, we listed possible obstacles to the realization of the idea:

  • the place of the former manor is private property;

  • it is in the border zone;

  • there was already an attempt by the local community to set up a memorial sign at someone else's house - the attempt was unsuccessful;

  • there are no funds either to buy back the yard with all the uncle's property, or even more so to restore the manor;

  • You don't see people around who would willingly take on themselves the huge burden of these long years of worries...

And after a week or two, we can already tell about good news:

  • for now, autumn has ended in Podlasie (and in other places where the current Belarusian population is densely concentrated), and with it the snow has fallen and painful thoughts about the impossibility;

  • it is worth a try, said one of us;

  • it is possible that we will succeed in something, said the other;

  • nothing is impossible if someone really wants something, the third added firmly…

And I already know who will make a cradle for our Kastus, who later at the age of 26 shook us all to freedom from slavery...

Zosia Sukhavey

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