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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Family Photograph

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The photograph is black and white and was possibly taken about the year of 1900.  It is a photograph of the nine children of the Wood family.  My grandfather George was one of these children.

I feel a great attachment to the photograph.  It is like looking at a still from a movie as I take a peek into the story of their lives.  They are all dressed in high fashion of the day and are posed in the garden having a tea party.

Grace looks to be the eldest and sits at a small table with a cloth draped over it.  She looks very poised with her eyes lowered to the teapot raised in her hand.  She wears a beautiful wide brimmed hat, a sash around her waist and a dress high to the neck with puffed sleeves.  Louie stands to the left of her facing the camera and holds a tray of sandwiches in her hands.  She wears a similar dress but looks more severe in a black hat.  They remind me of Russian Tsarinas.  George sits on a cane chair to the left of her and side on to the camera.  He is very suave and must be about twenty years old.  He wears a boater straw hat jauntily on the back of his head showing off his thick black hair.  He looks assured leaning back in his chair with his legs crossed, teacup in hand and neat black moustache.  To the right of Grace stands Fred, Ida and May. Pretty young Ella sits in a chair smiling at the camera.  A big thick sheepskin rug is in front of the table where the two younger children sit, Marie with a bonnet and Percy with a straw boater.

I have never met my Grandfather George, he died before I was born.  I only have this family photograph and the stories my mother has told me about her father to imagine how he would have been. He died at the young age of thirty eight.

I think how important the photograph is to me to have captured that day when the family was gathered together, documented for me to see two generations later. I have been told the story of their lives and have that knowledge as I look at the photograph.  It is as though I know more about what is to happen to them than they do.  Even though I have never met anyone in the photo the connection is strong.  Their blood runs in my veins.

Graciously they lived, each having their own story to tell, all caught in the history of time.

 

From Dusk to Dawn

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Poetry & Prose (Essay) by N.N. Trakakis – 2012

“FROM DUSK TO DAWN”
Poetry and essay collection by N.N. Trakakis, 2012 edition

At Diasporic Literature Spot, being a literary website, from time to time we receive books from established as well as aspiring writers. I would say that in most cases these books can be a hassle to read and an even bigger problem to write about. However there are those certain books, by certain emerging or inspiring and aspiring writers that we feel privileged to receive, to hold in our hand and to read deepest thoughts in creamy or white colour pages. These specific books are the reason why Diasporic Literature is in existence. Continue reading “From Dusk to Dawn”

The philosophy of loneliness

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Part 2 of “The Truth about loneliness

Let us consider this little story: The man asks his wife whether she cooked dinner in order for him to come into the house and have his meal (considering that the woman is a housewife and their relationship is normal). His wife tells him “the meal will be ready in 5 minutes”. So he keeps at his job for a further 5 minutes and then goes into the house to find that his meal is still not ready. Was his wife a liar or was she merely stating the fact that the meal will be ready soon? Even though good intentions were there on the part of his wife, she did not realise how quickly five minutes went and didn’t have the meal ready on time. In fact the man had to wait a further 10 minutes for the meal to be finally prepared. He lost 10 minutes from the work he was doing and became a little agitated, affecting his relationship and his work for the rest of the day. Are the negative thoughts going through the man’s mind a result of his wife’s miscalculation of time, or were they a result of his impatience and hence inadequacy in toleration.

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The truth about loneliness

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Something has been upsetting me lately. Something that crept into my philosophical thoughts without warning and left me sleepless at night, when the moon shines high outside of my window and the wind that visits me cannot take away feelings of helplessness. Something has come as an uninvited guest into my night to shed light where there was darkness and shade where the light was blinding me; an aide to help me deal with the pain of emptiness.

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Christmas Mass at St. Joseph’s

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"The Journey" - Artist: Michael Morgan

By Gabrielle Morgan

A sense of peace prevailed among the people who seemed to be relaxed and happy after the pre-Christmas rush.  They waited expectantly for Mass to begin which was to be celebrated by a visiting priest from Rome.

Annie, our organist, had not arrived.  I was told she wasn’t well and we must proceed without her.  With a full church congregation, I realised how much we depended on Annie.  She travelled miles by car each Sunday, after already attending Mass at her own Church, to play the organ for us.  Now it was up to me to choose an Entrance Hymn appropriate for Christmas morning, one which everyone might know by heart.  I thought quickly and chose the carol ‘Silent Night’. Without accompaniment, a cappella style, a chorus of voices filled the Church – The Mass became alive.

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I Was Not Found in A Suitcase…But I was named….

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By Michael Morgan

I still see the images as though projected on a wall screen or a plasma T.V. set, super clear and detailed, the single gold fish in a bowl leaving an iridescent slick as it moved, the white screens around my bed.   I can still smell the coal tar disinfectant permeating the air,  the matron all in white, large in stature.  I compare her now to a Spanish Galleon in full sail.  I remember her name, Sister Pump.  I was seven years old, my tonsils had been removed.  A fashionable operation at that time.

I was in “Airlie” Private Hospital, Ivanhoe, Melbourne, a few minutes walk from my home.

It is now 64 years later, and as I write I have in my hands a series of recently obtained documents, one of them being my original certificate of birth.  It is an old scrunched up photo copy.  I see the name of the Sister in attendance at my birth, Sister Pump.  I see my birth mother’s name(s).  She was twenty seven years of age and she lived in another State.

I was named after the hospital.

AIRLIE —- was my name!

So it was to be.  I was kept in the hospital under the control of a lawyer who acted on my mother’s behalf.   And then Mr. And Mrs. Morgan came along.   I was the chosen one.  Airlie (I gather Airlie was a Scottish place name) became Michael.  I then lived a life in a gilded cage.

Paper clipped to the tattered birth data are the documents and affidavits that explain “the social” reasons for my mother having her baby away from her home town.  She stated that she had a child about eight years old and that she would start up a fund for my upkeep until after I was adopted or placed in care.

I recently traced my birth mother’s movements until I was the age of nine, then all documentation seems to stop.  No new marriage certificates, no death certificates, no change of name certificates, it seems to be a void.  My birth father, because of his position, refuses to give information and here I continue to muse.  There is a lot more to tell, I may do so.

Some question why I bother with this so-called “baggage, it’s just a form of psychoneurosis they say.”  Such sophistry does not bother me.  Rightly or wrongly a simple word is the key to my searches.  Lies.  They seem to dominate life and more and more I seek the truth.  I have experienced loss, redemption, and discovered riches beyond my wildest dreams.  I will continue the quest.

I have chosen to speak.

 Michael Morgan (c)

Mr Eucalyptus

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by Iakovos Garivaldis

Towards the end of the final decade of the 20th century, I met a very interesting man in his late 60s in Melbourne who became a dear friend in later years and during my involvement with the Hellenic Writers’ Association of Australia.

Larry arrived to Australia as S. Papadopoulos

His name was Lawrence (Larry) Darrell, or Solon Papadopoulos before he changed it, when he first arrived to Australia. Lawrence was a lonely man all the time I knew him and as the story of my life goes, I did like to talk and associate with men older than me (he was about 20 years my senior) and usually lonely.

The way we met was quite bizarre since he contacted me in 1999 when we were having our first Book Exhibition of books by writers of Greek origin in Melbourne in co-operation with the Archives Museum of RMIT University and AHEPA Victoria (a Hellenic cultural organisation).

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A Birthday To Remember

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The food was prepared, the table set.  It looked like a subject for a Renoir or Bonnard.  Just luscious to look at.  Time for a relax, guests due to come at 7 p.m.  Divine aromas of luscious food cooking permeated the atmosphere.  Bliss!!

The guests arrived on time.  The first drink was poured and then we heard the fire siren, and then another.  The hills around reverberated with the sound.

Oh no!…  I was a member of the voluntary Country Fire Authority.

Hearing those sirens, I made up my mind;  “Sorry folks I have to go, enjoy, I won’t be long.”

Driving carefully to the tin shed Fire Station took one and a half minutes.  Park, throw keys on floor,  grab yellow coveralls, hat, goggles, large handkerchief, pull on boots.

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Homage To Frederick

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For fifty years every April llth, my birthday, I have taken from my bookshelf a small, blue, relief stamped volume, entitled “Life of Frank Buckland,” printed by Nelson.  Not a great book, but fascinating, a grand opening to a new world for a young man obsessed with learning.

When I open this book it is with rememberance more than nostalgia, in fact reverence, that I view the inscription “From F. Thomas to Michael on his 12th birthday, April 11th 1952.”

I have always been blessed in my life when all seems to be a struggle, when creative drive goes, when the daily news of world events begins to overwhelm, my guardian angel gives to me the gift of a situation, or person, to transform and regenerate my life.  Frederick was such a gift.  A mentor and someone who has always inspired me.

I was absolutely hopeless with mathematics – numbers, figures, adding up, multiplying, subtracting, dividing.  I might as well be dealing with Aramaic, Hebrew or Chinese.

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Out, in search of Father…

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father_son

(Extract from an award winning short story in Greek)


Growing up in the outskirts of a large town serves as a conduit of conformity to tradition for any youngster; it is bound to implant a character that preserves countless family values and a certain obliging cultural mannerism. Thessaloniki, Greece was no exception. The whole setup inspired me copiously and in a wasteful feeling of togetherness so intense, so pervasive, one could almost sense its palpable presence in the atmosphere; concealing, at the same time, emotions that were seeking an outlet through a rebellious behaviour within.

I saw a myriad of soft orange-pink settings by the seashore, which expanded my horizon for infinite miles; always thinking that our world ended at the spot where the wave stopped moving inland and that another began beyond it; the edge of the wave acting as a threshold between the world I knew and the world inspired by my wild imagination.

But I was almost never alone at recollection time in adolescence. Holding tightly onto the strong rough palm of my father during our walk resulted in many an outlandish evening. Looking up, I could watch this affable, dominating figure, as tall and handsome as men come, casting his long serious gaze into the distance, a little further than his own shadow; always thinking whilst these thoughts ended silently somewhere in the golden sunset. And then, all astonishingly, they would find their way into my own thoughts causing trepidation and wonder. As for me, I was constantly examining his face in an attempt to discover a glimpse of hope radiating out from his placid expressions, developing into a relief from hardship or intolerable family obligations. I distinctly remember how persistent the thought of touching him on the face was; to feel the curves of his elastic but wrinkled skin as well as the prickles on his cheeks, to get within close proximity of his extraordinary figure.

It wasn’t difficult to detect the pain engraved in deep straight lines across his forehead. Forty or so years in parenthood do this to a man, they told me. Personally I contemplated that being a father must have its own merits, but I couldn’t perceive that it is fathering that has the most incredible rewards.

On the other hand the thing that interested me most, the thing that would make me climb the highest mountain and cross the largest ocean was his enigmatic smile usually surfacing towards the end of our walk. Tired as we were we would stop at the rocks and I would immediately rush for the most comfortable seat on his lap. We didn’t always stop at these rocks, which besides the daily pounding they took from the waves without a single complaint, were also witnesses to our most intimate discussions. I distinctly remember the tone of his voice, always rough and ever so steady. Then, at the most timely moment, he would turn his brown-green eyes over me and resting his hand on my hair, he would smile uttering the words “it is going to be fine, my son”. This remarkably simple phrase was the assurance that allowed me to return peacefully to my own thoughts, fully satisfied with a spontaneous sense of securityWho was I not to have believed him.

© Iakovos Garivaldis

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