– Come on Tourouda, leave the small talk for the morning, we’ve got work to do!
My grandfather and I plowed the field, when we heard in the silence the elderly man calling his wife. Suddenly I hear my grandfather say:
– Hello Athanis! Get in here and do not hurry that much!
This was the first time I remember listening to some of the island’s typical patois and this thought came to my mind this afternoon of September, when I saw Mr. Athanis (Thanasis was his name) going back to his village along with his donkey.
I was up in the hill, in my grandfather’s yard in Gomati, sitting on the threshing floor and looking at the colors of the sea that changed with the sun and hearing the waves knocking on rocks. I thought I was on a boat in the sea. Like those pirate ships that came in the old days here at Gomati full of pirates, looting the village that was then built down to the beach. All the stories I heard came to my mind as if they were in a movie. How much have people suffered from the raids, they had to leave the village and their homes, abandon them and build a new village far from the sea, between the mountains, high, at a creek, by creating a pothole and name it Katalakkos. Were they serious? In these places, were we ran, played and laughed, pirates and corsairs stole and fought just like in the movies.
It’s always nice here in the threshing floor. The yard and the threshing floor are my time machine! When I do not imagine pirates, I travel to the stories I have heard from the grown-ups about plowing, harvesting, winnowing, haystacks, oxen, pitchforks, so many things they have told me and I have seen some of them. I was always impressed by the idea of the fruit falling like a plumb on the threshing floor and the straws that I imagine as yellow small flames in the air.
Generally speaking, I like the island! I like the yard, the beach and the rocks from which I dive with my brother and our parents shout “not so high” and I love when we make excursions. A few days ago we went with buckets and shovels to Aliki to pick up salt. I thought it had snowed in the summer. Only when we stepped on it did I realize that it was not snow, but salt, a white sheet of salt, as if you were in another world, on another planet.
– Eliza, are you helping me stomp the grapes or what?, my grandfather woke me up from my thoughts.
He had already emptied the baskets of grapes, that we had all collected together, in a large black wine-press that had been filled above the middle. Then my brother and I walked in and we started stomping the grapes, which was very fun. A crazy idea came to me then: to put the mask and start diving in the juice and the grapes. Once I said it to my mom, everyone laughed out loud. Sometimes I wonder why the grown-ups laugh with my ideas. Instead of a
mask, however, they gave me a glass of sweet grape juice. Everyone was very pleased with the freshly stomped grape must.
I saw my dad looking at the sea and almost spelling to say a poem:
– “We have so much sea in front of us. Wherever we end, the sea begins. “
I knew it was the beginning of storytelling, with those stories I like so much!
Sophia Sifaki from Greece is the winner of the first Mediterranean environmental-themed short story prize with her story The Treasure. Sifaki’s story The Treasure spins an enchanting conservation tale in which a young doctor arrives on the small Greek island of...