Tuesday, October 12, 2010

She even spoke Greek with a New York accent (GRAMUP 3)

“Raised in Buffalo, married to a Greek and living in [Mani,] this parochial setting, [Lisa, born in Crete] had been walking a social tightrope for years. She even spoke Greek with a New York accent, as if determined not to lose that part of her identity. What poured out of her that night was a monologue on the roughness and violence of village life. There were hints that something was wrong in her marriage, but she was not comfortable enough with us to say more. She did say that her American upbringing was not good training for the job of a wife and mother in Mani. While her husband’s parents lived she was expected to slave for her mother-in-law. But when they died she was suddenly expected to take charge while her husband fell to pieces. She had to wash the corpses, dress them, bind them, prepare them for the grave­–and she had never so much as seen a dead person before.

Poor Lisa was thrust into a position in which she could do nothing right. She would always be the foreigner, the outsider or the whore who had stolen the affections of a handsome local boy, a real palikari.

[While revisiting the village] I caught up on Lisa’s news. Things were very bad. Because of the divorce, more and more people learned that Yiorgos had mistreated her. Before that became known, her leaving was a scandal in the village. Most people had sided with Yiorgos. Other than Marikaty and a few young women, Lisa had no allies, ….

It did not help that Lisa was considered part American, the American bitch who ruined a beautiful local boy, the President of the village. Only Yiorgos was no longer President, and that too must be Lisa’s fault. After the bombing of Belgrade it got even worse. One old woman stopped Kelly [Lisa’s daughter] and offered her candy and informed her that her mother was a whore. …

... Yiorgos refused their children Greek passports. Until they came of age they needed their father's consent to leave the country, and he refused to give it, claiming the American might steal his children. Now Lisa was afraid to leave as well, in case Yiorgos could give her more trouble or attempt to prove she was a negligent mother” (198–199, 268).

Mason, David. 2010. News from the Village: Aegean Friends. Red Hen Press.

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