At the Metro Station

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Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

I clamber down the stairs to Argiroupole metro station, heading to work, in central Athens. She’s sitting on one of the benches there, dark-skinned, dark-haired, probably a Roma, in her twenties. A long limp pony tail, a shabby red T-shirt, a flared flowery skirt, tattered flip-flops. An equally scruffy two or three-year-old boy is wringing out of her grasp.

She sees me and raises her open palm. ‘Please, madam.’ I flick into my skirt pocket and take a euro out, drop it to her palm. ‘Efharisto, efharisto,’ she nods. The boy grabs the coin and shoves it right into his mouth. The woman plunges a finger into his mouth and hooks it out. He whimpers.

Poor boy, I think. He must be hungry. I unzip my bag, take a Mars bar out and hand it to him. He grabs it, peels it off with his teeth and wolfs it down.

The train thunders its way into the station and squeaks to a stop. The Roma woman stands up and approaches a couple with a small girl near me, palm raised, mumbling something I can’t hear. They turn their backs to her and haste into the compartment.

I move to the edge of the platform ready to board. The Roma woman is so close now I can smell her sour armpits. Her skirt brushes my bag. I switch shoulders and keep my bag close to my body. I take a seat and place my bag on my lap. The small girl sits across from me, chubby and pink-cheeked, a red, velvety ribbon in her hair, a toy Smartphone in her hands. I smile to her and she smiles back.

I glance out the window. The Roma woman sits on the bench, pulling the boy to her lap. I watch as their figures blur away from me until they become a smudge against the white walls of the station.

6 Replies to “At the Metro Station”

  1. Picturesque this extremely well presented essay Konstantina.
    It is a pleasure to read and relate with one’s own experiences at the train station. Unexpected smiles, wonder of other people’s lives and characters, hustle and bustle of station arrival and departure times.
    The writer’s seat on the train belongs only to that writer as long as there are readers to share it with.

    Well done
    Iakovos

    1. Thanks Iakove. It’s frightening how easily one sides with his/her ‘own kind’ and totally obliterates from his/her view people who are different. We tend to be engrossed in our own busy (or cosy) lives, and ignore anything that disrupts it. So tragic but so very true.

  2. With a smile from heart…this world will be better, dear Konstantina! All we have need it…και επειδη μ’αρέσει η λέξη “χαμόγελο”θα πω…”το χαμόγελο που δίνεις ,ξαναγυρίζει πάντα σε σένα! Σ’ευχαριστώ Κωνσταντίνα!
    τζενη

    1. You’re so very right, Jenny. I wish we could all smile more these days. All the Best, Konstantina.

  3. Beautifully written, Konstantina. I could so well see and sense the scene you created at the Metro station. Your heartfelt gestures to the child were example for all. Many thanks for the read.

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