Memories and melancholy

by Hilary  

Managed to get up in time to get to the garage, not exactly there for 9 o'clock, but about half past. Just as Fotis went to open the box containing the part a man strode in, full of his own problems and insisted that Fotis deal with it immediately. Well, I knew that he would do my job eventually, so I waited patiently, with my book, like in the doctors waiting room. Eventually, Fotis was free, and he finished opening the box, lifted out the part, like it was a specimen, or octopus, and looked satisfied. It was the complete unit around the steering column, including the windscreen wiper indicators and sensors, no wonder it was so expensive.

He said it would take about an hour, so time to look around Prinos.

While Thassos may have changed to become like everywhere else, this cannot be said for Prinos, which has nothing for the tourist, expect a visit to the health centre if they are unlucky or a trip to the Bazzaar on a Monday along with all the bored housewives.

It took about 10 minutes to slowly walk up the high street, looking in every shop window, mostly butcher?s shop and supermarkets, until I reached a small, unloved square, backing onto unfinished houses and a school hall. Surely I can do better than this, I remembered a little oasis of tables and chairs shielded from the road by geraniums and potted plants.

The moment I walked into the shady green area I realized my mistake. A small group of old men sat in the corner and stared with disbelief as I sat down against the wall and asked for a Coke. It was the Café Neo and I had broken the unspoken rule and ventured into their domain. As it wasn?t my village it didn?t seem such a problem, so without making eye contact, or looking their way at all, I read my book. The woman running the place switched over the TV to a greek music channel and the plaintive tones set the mood. I was back in Greece as it used to be.

Another old man shuffled in and walked towards the group, as he passed an overpowering smell of sweat. I remembered my father, the same strong smell, and how we would have sat around in his vest on a hot day, just like these men. It was like a link to his memory, I was filled with melancholy, wishing he could be here, how well he would have fitted in. My drink was finished, I waited for the air to fill with the same musty smell I remember so well, a glance over to their sallow skin, grey hair, an aquiline nose, and tears were in my eyes. Just remembered, haven?t taken my B?s yet.

Time for the beach now. Something wrong with the hot water, some airlock after they came and dug the road up, leaving a hole filled with lumps of clay and gravel. I cant believe they are finished. It happened the night before last. As there was a leek in the main water supply by Poppy?s house, all night you could hear it flowing, along with the bells of some stray goats. Early morning an old battered jeep pulls up with 4 men. One man has the drill, and he drills for about 2 hours until he makes some indentation into the road. Water is flooding down the road, awash with red earth. As he makes a small fountain, this same man, that has been doing the drilling, scoops up some rubble and fumbles in the hole. So far the other 3 men have just been standing in the shade, smoking and looking involved. Someone must have mixed up something, not concrete, not even as good as the stuff the gardener used for our bricks, and put it down the hole in lumps. Then they left, leaving a mud slide and unfinished hole. I suppose I will have to get out the hose and spend an hour washing the road. Later.

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