HERE WE ARE AT ZATOUNA, DAD, GIORGOS AND MYSELF!
HERE WE ARE AT ZATOUNA, GIORGOS AND MYSELF, BACK THEN IN 1968-1969, WHEN DAD WAS IN EXILE AND WE FOLLOWED HIM. HERE, WE ARE IN FRONT OF TERRI’S COFFEE SHOP, AT AI GIORGI’S CENTRAL SQUARE, WHERE DAD USED TO SIT WHEN THEY LET HIM GO OUT FOR HIS DAILY WALK. (HE WAS OFTEN REPRIMANDED THOUGH, AND THEN THEY DID NOT ALLOW HIM TO GO FOR A WALK AND HE STAYED AT HOME.) MUM NEVER ACCEPTED AN OFFER TO LEAVE THE HOUSE, AS A SIGN OF PROTEST AGAINST THEIR CONFINEMENT. BUT WE, WHO HAD LONG BECOME REAL VILLAGE CHILDREN, RAN AROUND IN THE UPPER AND LOWER QUARTERS, AND WE WANDERED EVEN MORE ABOUT THE SURROUNDING HUGE MOUNTAINS OF ARCADIA. ZATOUNA IS MY SWEETEST HOMELAND! WHENEVER I GO THERE, I CAN’T STOP THE TEARS FROM FALLING, OR –TO BE MORE PRECISE– I BURST INTO HEART-RENDING TEARS, WHILE WALKING AROUND IN THE VILLAGE. THAT IS WHY NO ONE EVER KNOWS WHEN I GO THERE, SO I CAN CRY, CRY BECAUSE I AM MOVED TO BE IN THAT PLACE, WHICH IS SACRED TO ME.
OH, I MUST BE TROUBLING YOU WITH ALL MY MELODRAMATIC STORIES! HOWEVER, WHEN I SAW THIS SO TENDER PHOTOGRAPH AGAIN, I DRIFTED DOWN MEMORY LANE. IT ALL SEEMS SO DISTANT, SO UNBELIEVABLE, AND SO STRANGE, AS IF IT WERE OUT OF A NOVEL! BUT I REMEMBER MYSELF VERY WELL, THE YOUNG UNRULY LITTLE GIRL, AND MOST OF ALL, MY SWEET GOGOS! AND DO I REMEMBER MY GIGANTIC, HANDSOME AND YOUNG FATHER! HE WAS SURROUNDED BY TENS OF POLICEMEN, BUT IT LOOKED MORE AS IF HE WAS THEIR CHIEF (HE WAS IN THE MIDDLE AND THEY WERE AROUND HIM, ON HIS RIGHT, ON HIS LEFT AND BEHIND HIM), DURING HIS DAILY WALK. IT WAS MORE AS THOUGH THEY WERE ESCORTING A COMMANDER IN CHIEF, A HERO WHO THEY GUARDED WITH DEVOTION!
YES, THAT IS HOW I REMEMBER HIM! SO IMPOSING, WITH THE YOUNG BOYS AROUND HIM LAUGHING, HAPPY AND DELIGHTED BECAUSE THEY WERE THE LUCKY ONES TO ESCORT HIM! WHEN WE WERE NOT AT SCHOOL, WE ALWAYS TRIED TO BE PRESENT DURING THESE WALKS! WE LOVED THE PRESENCE OF THE YOUNG MEN IN UNIFORMS AND DAD’S ENDLESS CONVERSATIONS. AND THEY LISTENED TO HIM WITH EAGERNESS AND KEPT ON ASKING HIM QUESTIONS. HE HAD BECOME THEIR MENTOR. WE FOLLOWED THEM, WE WOULD JUMP AROUND AND IN FRONT OF THEM AND THEN WE WENT CLOSE TO OUR DAD AGAIN, SO PROUD OF HIM AND OF THE THINGS HE SAID! AND THE YOUNG MEN ALWAYS TOOK CARE OF US; THEY OFTEN HUGGED US, LIFTED US UP IN THE AIR, HOP! HOP! AND THEN WE WOULD GO CLOSE TO OUR DAD AGAIN, FEELING PROTECTED NEXT TO HIM! NOW I REMEMBER THAT DAD ALWAYS CARRIED A STICK WITH HIM. WE WERE LIKE MASCOTS, SO TO SPEAK, FOR THE YOUNG POLICEMEN. OFTEN, WE WOULD RUN, FAR AWAY, TO THE CHURCH OF PANAGIA AND TO THE SCHOOL, AS IF WE WERE RUNNING AT A RACE.
WE COULD RUN, GO FAR AWAY, WHEREAS HE COULD NEVER DO THAT! HE ALWAYS HAD TO WALK, HE COULD NEVER RUN, AND HE ALWAYS HAD TO STAY CLOSE TO THIS HUMAN MASS OF POLICEMEN THAT ALWAYS MOVED TOGETHER, FROM ONE SIDE OF THE VILLAGE TO THE OTHER, ALWAYS A TIGHT MASS OF PEOPLE THAT NEVER EVER SPLIT UP! NOW THAT I THINK OF IT, THIS MASS WOULD LOOK VERY WEIRD IF ONE SAW IT FROM THE SKY. A MASS OF PEOPLE MOVING EVERY DAY, FOR OVER A YEAR, FROM ONE SIDE OF A PRACTICALLY RUINED VILLAGE TO THE OTHER! WHAT A PECULIAR MOVEMENT!
WHAT WOULD THE HAWK AND THE EAGLE OF ARCADIA THINK, UP THERE IN THE SKY, AS THEY FLEW OVER ZATOUNA? SURELY, IN THEIR EYES, THE SCENE WOULD BE ABSURD, AS MY DEAR FRIEND, VASILIS KOUMIS WOULD SAY! NEVERTHELESS, NO MATTER HOW ABSURD IT WAS, FORTY-FIVE YEARS LATER I WOULD LIKE –OH DEAR GOD– TO BE SURROUNDED AGAIN BY THIS MASS! JUST LIKE BACK THEN! GOODNIGHT! IT IS FOUR IN THE MORNING!!!
The text refers to the well-known photograph of my father, in which he is seen sitting on a chair, outside Terri's coffee shop together with Giorgos and me –we were young children back then– on his right and on his left, looking at the foreign journalist and cameraman who is filming us and who keeps asking my father questions tensely and the latter answers impulsively; a ridiculous policeman threatens him, forbids him to talk to our father and shouts at our father that he must not speak in a foreign language, which he, who is uneducated and ignorant, cannot understand!
That is how we children felt at that moment; although we were young, we were more intelligent and more educated than this short, hillbilly policeman, who thought he represented THE AUTHORITY OF THE VILLAGE AND THE SURROUNDING MOUNTAINS! But he was so ridiculous, so small, so unimportant, stupid, poor in spirit, as one would say! And we could see that and mocked him with our cunning little eyes! Have a look at YOUTUBE; see how cunning and determined we were!
We had grown accustomed to that place, Zatouna.
In this photograph, we all look beautiful!
THE TEXT IS DOOMED, SINCE I HAD POSTED IT FOR MANY DAYS AND MANY TIMES ON FACEBOOK DURING THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD, BUT NO ONE EVER 'LIKED' IT, AND OF COURSE I DID NOT RECEIVE EVEN ONE MESSAGE!
I hope someone will read it this time.