Monday, April 19, 2010

Life is what we make of it - part 5

Lipsi kept pace with the rest of the world in its own way. There were more tourists to be seen now, there was a ferry every hour to Athens. The tavernas by the beach dished out cusine from across the world. The place was still serene. Most of the younger generation had left the town in search of jobs. Not many new faces had settled in, and so even today, everybody knew everybody else from a long time back.

Alanah didn't own the pump anymore. She now ran a store that rented diving, fishing, and other water sports gear. She still had her house, and rented out the top floor to tourists to keep money flowing in. The pump still stood where it always had - a salute to a hard earned dream. She had last seen Stravos twenty years back, when he was 6. She vaguely remembered him getting on the car and waving goodbye. The rest was hazy, or maybe too painful to scratch. She was not radar-less, but she was quieter than before. She was a perfect landlady though, always leaving her guests alone. She left an occasional basket of grapes or a bowl of olives on their doorstep.

Christina had recently been widowed and had moved back to Lipsi with her daughter, Isadora. The studio had been revived, and the evenings were again a meeting place for the two friends. Christina usually sat with one of her unfinished sketches and a glass of wine, Alanah with her soup. She had never touched wine since her rehab days. There were days when nothing was said, just the comfort of togetherness and the setting sun was enough. And then there were days when Isadora regaled them with her stories, when they laughed like they didnt have a care in the world, moments in which she was able to forget even her little Stravos.

Isadora's life always had Alanah in it, even though she had met her only a few months ago. There was a time when she was a kid, and her mother had left her with her dad and come to Lipsi for a year to be with Alanah. Christina had no secrets from her daughter, and yet that year was never talked about. Isadora had been curious, and on seeing Alanah, her curiosity had magnified. These days when Christina plaited her daughter's hair before bed, she was tormented with questions by Isadora. About that one year when Christina had left everything to be with this queer little woman. But it was not her story to tell, and so she said nothing.

Isadora's curiosity was getting the better of her. she started asking about Alanah's past to old Yorghis who was a tailor, and then to Andreas who was a butcher. All they said was that Alanah was part of their island for as long as they could remember, they smiled and changed the topic. But these futile attempts of the young mind did not go unnoticed by Alanah. And so one day while the three sat outside Christina's studio watching the sun set, Alanah decided to scratch open her past for this beautiful girl to see and maybe in telling would be her salvation too.

She started with Ireland and her childhood, her family, her city, her school, and as she described this unknown locale to Isadora, she revisited the old bylanes, the garage, the school, her friends, her mother and Pegaso. It always ended with Pegaso even after so many years, It always ended with Pegaso. She talked about Lipsi and about beautiful Christina. She talked about her life, that started on the trampled veil of Christina's dreams. She spoke without pretentions and as she spoke she held a mirror to her soul.

This was not a story to be told in one evening, and so days passed. They carried on with their routines and in the evenings, they sat together to talk about the past and watch the sun set over it. Isadora was learning so much about her mother from Alanah. She never knew, for instance, that her mother could sing, or that she had the guts and the strength to run, carrying a completely sloshed Alanah on her back, through a lonely night from the rehab centre where Alanah was locked up in. Christina and Alanah had so many jokes that Isadorah didnt understand before, but now they made sense. And then they came to that missing year in Christina's life.

That day, Little Stravos was at the petrol station and he had asked a strange question. "Mam, why is Magda tired always?" "She is not." Alanah had said. And he had replied,"Yes, she must be, because she always goes to bed when she comes to our house, and Papa has to go and sit with her." That moment from so many years ago seemed as clear suddenly as if it was this morning, and she was washing the cars at the station, while Stravos played with a tyre and talked to her. Christina came and sat close to Alanah, held her hands as they together went over the murkiness that followed.

Alanah remembered her thoughts of that distant day. "Magda and Pegaso in my house, on my bed! It cannot be, there must be some misunderstanding, It surely cannot be!" She had continued washing the car, it was a red truck, she even remembered the number plate of that truck, insignificant details permanently etched in her memory. The next day she had gone home early from the pump. Stravos was playing in the garden. She took him by his hand across the street to where Yorghis lived, then she went back. she had opened the door very quietly, a tresspasser in her own home. It was very quiet, and then she had heard them laughing. He was calling her his little furry rabbit, something he called Alanah when they made love. She stood there watching them. Beautiful Magda with her long dark curls and her olive skin, and she caught a reflection of herself in the mirror, it was not the right thing to do, but it had been done, the last vestiges of her pride had been shorn. They saw her then. Alanah had thought, "Why did I come home and disturb them? Now its all in the open, if I had not come back, we could have gone on forever pretending everything was alright. All of us." And she had looked again at the beauty of Magda and she had known that she had lost. Pegaso had broken the long silence. He had said, "Please dont make a scene Alanah, you'll upset the child." Thats what he had thought of first, not upsetting little Stravos, to hell with her being upset of course!! She who had left her family and land to be with him, her getting upset was not being considered at all!! Suddenly things seemed as if they had tilted, like a picture being crooked on a wall.

the final part will be in tomorrow ths time, thanks so much for bearing with me!!