Saturday, April 17, 2010

Life is what we make of it - Part 3

By the summer of 1970, the people of Lipsi had grown used to Alanah. She was a part of the island now, her broken,yet enthusiastic Greek was indulged in, her tireless labour at the petrol pump was begining to bear fruit. She sent the first cheque home to her dad that year. The afternoons were spent renovating Christina's chicken coop. Her 'never say die' spirit and Christina's art was transforming the small unused space into a bright sunlit studio. They usually spent the late afternoon under the canopy of this studio, watching the setting sun over a bowl of fresh revithia(chick pea soup, usually flavoured with lemon and pepper) and some patata salata(potato salad).

Alanah was happy in her marriage. Pegaso was not lazy like his other friends. He did not waste time at the local bars. He had his moods, but he also had his endearing ways. He loved to sing, he played the lute to Alanah as she tended to their small garden, he cooked for her whenever she was over-worked, he was patient with her on nights when she cried for her parents and family back in ashbourne. He loved to braid her long red hair, arrange flowers in them, play with them. He loved this tiny, frail looking girl from Ireland whose beauty was in her energetic spirit, in her love for life, in her love for people. Pegaso was also proud of the fact that he was the only one to have brought home a girl from a faraway land.

A few summers down the line, Stravos was born. Alanah had hoped that the news of a grandchild would soften her parents, but there was no return mail from Ireland. Pegaso's parents, however, were delirious with joy. His usually reticent father even danced at the christening ceremony of his grandchild. Christina brought with her all the baby clothes she had made, when she was expecting Pegaso's child. Alanah kept her promise and every month a cheque travelled from Lipsi to Ashbourne, and with it travelled pictures of the house, the pump, of stravos and of her and Pegaso. She wrote about her life, she asked about theirs, but there was never a reply. Many a times she craved for a glimpse of her mother, for a taste of her home made jams, she craved for the smell of books that filled their small house in ashbourne, for her younger sisters, but none of them bothered to write even a line to her. Alanah's only touch with Ashbourne was an old man who ran the garage where Pegaso had taken up work. Maybe he blamed himself for this unfortunate link, but whatever the reason, he did keep Alanah informed of major milestones. He wrote to Alanah about her sister's wedding, her father's retirement party, about the tough time the family went through when her mother was hospitalised for almost a month. Alanah ached to go back and see her family for a few days, but she knew that she was not welcome there anymore.

Summer turned to spring and time kept pace. Stravos was five now. Pegaso had lost both his parents to old age and related afflictions. Alanah had paid off the entire sum of money she had taken from her dad. Christina got married to a painter from Athens. The pump was doing going business and life seemed to have sorted itself out finally.

Alanah was never vain. She rarely looked at herself in the mirror. But nowadays, she had started noticing the grays appearing in her hair, she had started noticing that her never very full cheeks looked a bit hollow, and also that there were shadows under her eyes that didnt go even after a good nights sleep. She watched these signs, and she smiled to herself. These were the fruits of her honest and tireless labour, these were her medals. She had never possessed the careless selfishness that usually comes when you are born beautiful. And so she never dwelt for long on these signs. Until Magda came into their lives.

to be continued ...