Saturday, 26 May 2012

500: Boureki

The phone is ringing; the screen lights up with the word 'HOME'.

"Baba, lunch is ready! If you don't come now, we're gonna start without you!"

"What's for lunch?" he asks.

"It's a surprise!" his youngest yells and disconnects.

It's half past twelve, and he has been up since seven today. In total, he has travelled 15 kilometres in his cab. And he has made €11.50 (gross), in a cab that requires €32 to run in expenses (petrol not included) on a daily basis. Should I stay or should I go? plays round in his mind. On hearing his child's voice, he starts up the engine. By the time he returns home, he will have driven 20 kilometres; his takings will stay the same.

He arrives home to find the children setting the table. He takes off his jacket and slings it over the armrest of the sofa. The plasma TV set on the wall above the mahogany kitchen unit is blaring out foreign babble in musical form on MAD TV.

"We couldn't wait any more, Baba!"

"Good thing I came now, then!" he laughs.

Just then, his wife comes out of the bathroom with a fresh load of washing.

"Just let me hang this up and I'll be with you in a minute!" she calls out to him as she makes her way to the master bedroom.

He follows her. She goes out to the balcony to hang the laundry, he goes to the ensuite to wash his face. Summer has come too early, leaving him with a parched skin. He can't sit in the cab all day, but he can't stay out in the sun, either. It's going to be a difficult summer.

As he heads back into the kitchen, he looks out at the garden he planted: to zucchini has already come up, the tomatoes have flowered, the vlita has practically created a lawn. 

He joins everyone at the table, which has been set according to the family's daily dietary traditions: there's a little bowl of olives, a plate of feta cheese swimming in olive oil, a leftover sausage from the previous evening's meal (cut up in small pieces for everyone to have their share), and a slice of bread next to each person's plate, which is empty.

"Is that all we're having?" he said, feigning a moan. Just then, his wife came into the dining room holding a large baking tin. He could smell its aroma from where he was sitting.
"Boureki! Where did you find the zucchini? You didn't cut off all the small ones, did you?" he said reproachingly. 
"They're not from our garden. Yiani's plants are already overproducing and I saw him carrying a huge bucketful as I was taking out the trash."

"What do you mean? Was he going to throw them away?"

"No, he was taking them to the chicken coop, and I simply asked him if I could have a few."
Well, he thought, thanks to her resourcefulness, as least we won't starve.
*** *** ***
As a friend of mine noted recently, "Democracy, like social justice, is not handed away, it has to be earned in the hard way, and that's what we are going through now. We are in our learning curve and we are still at the bottom. However, out of this borrowing that we will never pay back, we have infrastucture as a country, investments in tourism and agriculture, nice houses to live in, and cars to last us for another 10-20 years."

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