life rattle show no. 1384

Presented on thursday, february 8, 2018


hosted by guy allen


"The Kennel"
"Saturday Afternoon"
by Susanna Man

Life Rattle Show No. 1383 is the first of two podcasts featuring stories from new Life Rattle writer, Susanna Man.

Susanna Man was born in Gheogheni, Romania, in 1978. Gheorgheni is a village high in the Carparthian Mountains. At the time Susanna was born, about 95% of Gheorgheni’s 20,000 citizens, like Sussanna, were Hungarians. Mixed with the Hungarians were some Romanians and some Roma. I looked up Gheorgheni on the Internet and saw a place of mountain beauty and old world visual charm, like something out of an old European storybook with folk stories of werewolves and potions and vampires.

Many of Gheorgheni’s young people, like Susanna and her husband, Lehel, emigrated to other countries to find jobs. Susanna and Lehel came to Canada on Skilled Workers visas in 2008. Lehel is a veternarian , and Susann has a position as a language instructor for newcomers at Sheridan College. Susanna and Lehel have two children, boys 4 and 2 years old.

"The Kennel" tells of the early struggles Susanna and Lehel went through as they looked for jobs and a place to live in their new country. Susanna and Lehel find a job managing the Woofy Express Dog Kennels. In return for living at the kennels and taking round-the-clock care of the Yorkshire Terriers Woofy Express raises, Woofy’s owner, Donna, gives Susanna and Lehel a place to live at the kennel in Mississauga. The story tells of their adventures with the dogs and of their complicated relations with Donna, the eccentric owner. Susanna’s story has many layers to it. The story is by turns touching, infuriating, funny and gratifying. Really, “The Kennel” is a story of the struggles of two recent immigrants to Canada working hard to survive and find their place in their new society.

"Saturday Afternoon," moves us ahead a few years in the life of Susanna and Lehel in Canada.  They have two young babies, both boys, and Leo, as Susanna calls Lehel in the story, must work Saturdays as a veterinarian in at a clinic in the Beaches. Susanna is left alone to care for the babies in their high-rise apartment overlooking the 401. Susanna has a Saturday Afternoon, of the kind that anyone left on their own with young babies will recognize. We have little writing about the experience of taking care of young babies. That is no doubt because most of the people who take care of young babies are left with neither the energy or the time or nerve to write honestly about that experience.