Euphemisms of an old lady

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Translation into English by Irini Papas

The old lady had never learned anything else in her life except to drop blessings from her lips, as if the blessings sustained her.
Her eyelash colour faded, her face was a mass of wrinkles.

“Daughter, give me the votive candle so I may light it, and may you reign like a queen one day”.

On Sundays, in the courtyard under the vine, they’d turn on the radio.

“Daughter, bring the radio, and may you pick up soil and have it turned to gold in your hands”.

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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. Continue reading “At the Metro Station”

On the Phone

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Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

‘I know you and dad wanted something else for me but- Yeah, a rich, pot-bellied prince. You think mine is a frog, eh? He loves me to bits, mum; he really cares, that’s what matters.’ Sonia punches the pen’s tip fast against the notepad on the coffee table, peppering the white sheet with inky dots. ‘We’ll find something to eat. He’ll get a job. God is merciful- No idea why He’s not to the Syrians, mum, but we’re in Greece, things are much better.’ She runs her tongue along her lower lip. ‘We’ll survive- What if he hasn’t got a University degree? I can’t find a job either. He’s a trained plumber, anyway. Continue reading “On the Phone”

You Reap what you Sow

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Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

Tzoras jots down the date of the primary school students’ last excursion this year. A week before his son’s University entrance exams. He couldn’t possibly be absent from this critical moment in his son’s life.

He unlocks the top desk drawer and takes out a deck of cards with famous actresses on he’d bought on an educational trip to Thessaloniki. He counts them. Fifty one. One’s missing. Fingers move deep into the drawer, through grade books and the register, under the desk pad. Nowhere. Continue reading “You Reap what you Sow”

The House

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Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

He pushes the heavy iron gate open by the bars, flakes of peeling paint chafing his cold palms. The soles of his shoes scrunch against the grainy soil the pouring rain had carried this afternoon from the garden down the marble stairs, landing in small, grungy pools on the dirt road. He can feel the wet weather in his bones as he climbs up the steep, narrow steps, the night air heavy and cool on his cheeks.

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The Cat

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Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

I have always loved pets, particularly cats. I have, really. It is true that when my dear husband died I set my mind on buying a feline to keep me company. A quiet, good-mannered Persian one I had spotted in the shop window of the big pet shop downtown. Until I heard from the shop assistant there that it would need to be groomed daily. That put me off buying it. Too much trouble, I thought and figured I could do without a companion for a while.

Until that shaggy stray cat appeared at our doorstep one day. Mr Nikos, the neighbor next door fed it every day. Of course, he never allowed it into his house.  He just let it roam the premises, ignoring the fact that the horrid animal relished to empty its bowels on my fluffy, brown doormat. Every single day I would wash it clean off its contaminated excrement, the mat having by now become as sleek as a steak.

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She Wouldn’t Budge

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Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

Strategoula’s square jaw tightened as I pulled her messy, straw-blonde hair hard at the back, like plucking a dead chicken off its feathers. Her head bounced back and forth as if joined with her shoulders by bed springs. She reiterated by kicking me hard in the stomach and then I felt her pincers-firm grip on my left wrist. She twisted it to the point of crackling it strained, the acute pain shooting hot tears into my eyes. I managed to release myself with a sudden jolt and stumbled into my house, locking the door behind me.

‘You’ll never come in!’ I screamed my lungs out, my nose misting the window overlooking the concrete yard.

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Your Toothless Mouth

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Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

You know what struck me the most when I saw you lying flat on the hospital bed? I realized I’d never seen you without your impeccable false teeth. You looked older, defenseless, robbed from authority.  A catatonic man with cheeks sunken along the gums that framed a wide dark cave of a mouth, a forehead jutting out of the white pillow, wet wisps of hair drowning underneath. Tiny red drops were sprouting out of your face, and your eyes… so different! I wondered where all that sparkling, ingenious green had gone to. Now coated with some thick membrane, they were just two anguished, anaemic slits on a hallucinating stranger’s face.

‘Pour me some water, Dina!’ you stammered. ‘There, from the tap,’ you pointed to the serum hanging on your right. ‘Bring me my coat that’s hanging there,’ this time you showed me the blank wall to your left. ‘Time to go home.’

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The Gordian Knot

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Athena’s street looks abandoned, still, like a dusty street before a duel in a western. Shop windows dim, like the dirty spectacles of a myopic child; cardboard boxes scattered over shabby floors, like presents that have been left unwrapped; dust blanketing the window displays, like stale icing on a cake. On the pavements, in flaky flower stands, yucca leaves cower over brittle trunks, like rusty, weary swords.

The economic depression has gravely affected retail sales all over Greece. Chopped salaries mean less money to spend on consumer goods. How do all these redundant people earn a living now, I wonder. Something has to be done soon or lots of people will starve.

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Words versus Actions

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The skin of my yiayia’s hands dry, like peeling garlic; blanketing a tangle of frustrated veins. Eyes round, tinged with terror, mouth agape, pale legs grappling with the white sheets in an effort to revolt against stagnation.

I want so much to comfort her, ease her pain. ‘I’m here for you. I’ll always be,’ I think but never utter the actual words. We’ve always shied away from exchanging soppy phrases such as ‘I care for you’, or ‘I love you’.

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The Concept of Love

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          By Dr Dimitri Karalis

The Persian poet Saadi once in his spiritual ecstasy, found himself walking among the burgeon gardens of Elysian Fields (paradise), brimming with exotic blooms and rare perfumed heavenly flowers.

He thought to gather a few in his apron for friends at home, but the exquisite fragrances intoxicated him so much that he dropped the apron together with the flowers.

Endeavouring to tell his friends of the wonderful sight and the rare aromatic scents of paradise on his return, he found it impossible, because the human tongue was too poor for such heavenly description.

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Education

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Dr Dimitri Karalis
South Africa

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Education is useful when the student is taught how to think liberally and not just to copy academic literature. Excess of forced education, often produces lower intellect, intolerant and Calvinistic attitudes (teachers, lawyers, politicians, religious clerks and so forth are often common example). It was never meant for humans to study a lot in order to find the right work in their life. All humans where born with certain talents to follow in their life, which lead them to a unmistakable happier life with intellectual and spiritual maturity.

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