Monday, October 11, 2010

She had the wildest-looking eyes I had ever seen (GRAMUP 2)

“The sun was setting and we saw people emerging from the olive groves at the end of a very arduous day. That is to say, the picking is not such hard word–they seem to take it slowly and they relax over their meal under the trees–but beginning and ending the day, carrying supplies out and returning home with huge bags of olive on their backs, looks very hard, especially knowing it is all they have. The women do most of what is difficult. Mothers walking home with supplies for the meal strung in front and bags of olives behind, while their husbands merely lead the laden donkeys. As we sat by the road that evening a woman approached us who looked as though she had escaped from some monastery, a prisoner of mad monks. She had the wildest-looking eyes I had ever seen, but seemed to know the other women and to have just come from her own trees. She looked at us and said, “You speak English?” and when we said yes she asked, “Where you from?” We had begun to notice something about her accent, but thought nothing of it and told her we were from New York. “No,” she said. “I’m from Albany, can you believe it?”

“Are you Greek?”

“No way, you are kidding? I’m no Greek. I married a Greek, the S.O.B. I used to live in Jersey, Atlantic City, on the boardwalk. I married this guy and came over with him.”

Basically, her story was this: her Greek husband had already been married in the old country. His first marriage was Orthodox, and his second was not, so, by Greek standards, he is not a bigamist and any children by his second wife are not hers to keep. The poor woman was living in Deep Mani … in order to day near her children, trying to work out a way to get them to America. She could not entice her husband back to the States, of course, because, as she said it, “He sets foot in the States and I got him for bigamy” (113–114).

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

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