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”.
Continue reading “Euphemisms of an old lady”
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”
‘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”
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”
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.
Continue reading “The House”
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.
Continue reading “The Cat”
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.
Continue reading “She Wouldn’t Budge”
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.’
Continue reading “Your Toothless Mouth”
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.
Continue reading “The Gordian Knot”
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’.
Continue reading “Words versus Actions”
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.
Continue reading “The Concept of Love”
Dr Dimitri Karalis
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.
Continue reading “Education”
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.
There are three. They mark the period leading up to Lent. Today is the last − forty days before Easter.
I wait for my mother and her sister outside church. They go to every ψυχοσαββατο. To commemorate our dead. The night before, Mum prepares κολυβα a mix of boiled wheat, bread crumbs, walnuts, sesame seeds and sultanas covered by a layer of icing sugar and decorated with slivered almonds, puts the προσφορο she has bought from the bakery next to her bag so as not to forget it and writes a list of the dead.
Yesterday, she added the name Γεωργια, her oldest sister. Γεωργια died on Wednesday. She had been bed-bound for the last two years, bound by her atrophied brain for many before that. Unable to speak, comprehend, eat, see from one eye, control bladder and bowels. We heard from people who returned to Βρονταµα that her bones had perforated, that she was given nourishment through a syringe, that she lay on her bed σαν κουβαρακι − like a little ball of string.
Continue reading “Ψυχοσαββατο − Soul Saturday”
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”
Dr Dimitri Karalis
In my early youth, I became aware of the effect of thinking upon human destiny. I was wondering though, why parents, schools and societies were not aware of this vital issue. How is it possible I was asking myself, such a conspicuous effect of the mind upon our life to remain entirely unnoticeable?
Nothing in life arrives by luck or accident without first being planted by our own thoughts and deeds? Wealth, poverty, happiness, unhappiness, success, failure and what else, are all part of our thinking process. We become what our thoughts and deeds are -and harvesting exactly what we have planted there. Good luck, co-incidence and external opportunities for success in life, are only random voices of ignorance and superstition. They resemble the hooting of the owls in the night, which only the daylight will calm and silence.
Continue reading “Thinking and Destiny”
‘Honest friendship is a better choice than emotional love for a steady diet, says an American thinker. Suspicion, jealousy, prejudice, and strife follow in the wake of passionate love; and disgrace murder and suicide lurk just around the corner from where lovers cooing like mating pigeons. Emotional love is a matter of proximity; it makes demands, asks for proofs and wants frequent reassurance. Friendship seeks no ownership –it only hopes to serve, and it grows by giving even from a distance. Unfortunately, this does not apply the same with passionate love. Love bestows only that it may receive, and a one-sided passion turns to hate in a night, and then demands vengeance as its right and proportion. Friendship asks no foolish vows, it is strong in absence and most loyal when needed. It lends ballast to life and gives steadily to every venture’.
Continue reading “About Friendship”
By Dr Dimitri Karalis
‘How delightful it will be to converse intimately with someone of the same mind, sharing together the pleasure of uninhibited conversation on the amusing and boring things of this world; but such a friend is hard to find. If we must take care that, our opinions do not differ in the least from those we are conversing with, we might just as well be alone”. It will be more pleasant sit alone in a reclining chair and with a book in our hands to read the thoughts of a distant friend silently without arguments and quarrels. Great thinkers love to be alone; they are willing to give their hands into society but they prefer to keep their thoughts private’.
To listen often into senseless arguments and unripe views of the intolerant crowd, are not only unpleasant and unbeneficial, but intellectually harmful too. Men differ from other men insofar as they keep, or not keep their eyes on the goal for truth; or as they set, or not set, their hearts on reaching it. Most toddlers on their way amuse themselves with hedonistic pleasures that soon turn to pain. The spiritual mountaineer should be free and caring a light load as possible, if he wants to reach the summit faster without obstacles.
Continue reading “Reflected Moments”
Loula S. Rodopoulos
Torrential rains and winds thrash us as we alight from the bus and negotiate oncoming traffic. Cars – windscreen wipers on full speed, headlights full beam, begrudgingly slow down to allow us to cross to the hospital. There are no traffic lights or pedestrian crossings. As we reach the other side of the road and step on to walkway, the umbrellas snap in our hands. We wade through spreading puddles of mud, splashed by water from the footsteps of other commuters. I fear slipping so, head down and bags tucked under my left arm, I tread warily. By the time the warmth of the hospital heating hits us our clothes are dripping wet. It is 8.45 am. We left home from a nearby township at 7.40 am.
We resolutely stride down the corridor to the Oncology Unit situated in a major, University linked, public hospital, determined to secure our position in the inevitable queue. I drop the health insurance book and latest blood test results on the nurse’s counter. I then hurry down the corridor, around the corner and grab a hand scrawled numbered pink prescription ticket, left in a makeshift holder outside Office 1, to secure a place in the prescription queue.
Continue reading “A Torrent of Angry Words”
I walked under the old elm trees. It was a cold winter’s day and the air was sharp. There was no one to break the stillness. I was conscious only of the dank smell of wet leaves underfoot and the sheep and cattle grazing peacefully in the paddock across the creek.
At last it was possible to be myself, away from people. My thoughts were in emotional turmoil. Watching death creep insidiously through my mother’s body as cancer claimed her was hard to bear. I tried to grasp the inevitability of losing her. She was noble in her dying, never complained. “Andy’s randy today,” was all she would say when beset with pain.
Continue reading “Mother’s Day Remembrance”
by Dr. Dimitri Karalis
same article in Greek here
Myths or mythos for the ancient people was an allegoric vehicle to awaken the soul from its forgetful past for those who were spiritual and sensitive enough to recognise the veiled truth behind it. The Greek word μύθος= myth, derives from the sound‘mou’=murmur, which we produce when our lips are closed and the word Μυστήριο=mystery= inexplicable, adjoins with it. Together they form a secret communicating organ for every soul who is ready to recollect the forgotten experience from their previous incarnations.
Continue reading “The Meaning of Myths”
by Yiorgos Veis
Over a career of fifty-five years, Kostas Paniaras has developed a rich code of media and moves from painting to sculpture and special installations, freely adopting various materials through which he gains access to the illusion of the new image.
In the process of his quest for the truth, artistic acts/reflections of an undefined inner self and memories resurfacing from a remote past take part in the constant game of the alternating presence and absence of ‘subject’ as well as in the various possibilities for the final verdict of his temporally-and above all spatially-displaced work.
Continue reading “Paniaras’ ultimate sea”
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.
Continue reading “The philosophy of loneliness”
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.
Continue reading “The truth about loneliness”
Loula S. Rodopoulos
They sit at the table on the balcony, stripping virgin vine stems of leaves, buds and stringy bits. Their voices, with the rustling of the sprouting pine needles, echo in the breeze across the platiea – until the final stem is stripped. Then the aromas of the boiling saucepan – aniseed, garlic, spring onion, olive oil dressing – that blends with the breeze.
She walks down the slope. A rugged vista of vineyards, wild grasses, yellow sparti, pine and conifer trees engulf her – lift her to the horizon where she floats over mountain peaks and sea until she finds herself perched on the cemetery rock where she penned her first poem.
Continue reading “Anecdotes after reading Ritsos”
In a time when words are wasted. Repeatedly. In a time when one must struggle against becoming yet another living platitude. Defiantly. When everyone has depression, and pills will help you find yourself. Predictably. I look up at the skies of the infinite winter, attempting to read God’s handwriting. Confusedly. Standing at the edge of the night, I notice that the worst is yet to come. Fatefully. The smell of darkness encircling me, I remain still, pondering the silence. More and more.
Continue reading “In a time when words are wasted”
by Dr Christos Galiotos
What does it feel to be marginalised in a country that I call home? I have asked myself the question infinite times at the wake of consciousness. How can it be that I feel as a foreigner in the land that I was born? Is locality of birth a defining feature in the construction of my identity? Does my birth place mean that I have immediate bonds with Australia? Musing about my cultural identity I discovered from long ago that my ancestry, roots and soul are definitely Greek. I feel Greek, I speak Greek, I think in Greek. I have often wondered what about if I was born in another country, perhaps a neighbouring Asian country, would I still be Greek? Would I still feel Greek? I feel that no matter where else I would have been born and bread, I still would be Greek. Being Greek is a way of life, a lifestyle.
Continue reading “Philosophising about identity”
(C) Nicholas Fourikis
As it takes me one to three years to write a book, I want to consider many issues before deciding what to write. The worst scenario I can imagine is to rush into a story and abandon ship after six or twelve months.
I don’t want to even think of ‘whodunit it’ stories and I’m not a romance writer. My heroes fall in love and I chronicle the occasional lovemaking scene but I don’t want to fill a book with bed hopping heroes enjoying the delights of the flesh.
My book should be a hero’s journey for without heroes nothing changes and the world we live in becomes a depressing place. Reading the lives of the saints fascinated me, I rejoiced every time Ulysses escaped from yet another near death experience and I cried the day Martin Luther King was assassinated but I’m not into biographies of well-known heroes. I want to write about the unsung heroes you and I would chronicle.
Continue reading “Breaking the rules of writing”