God of Hunger
“Welcome to our home Theo. Noosh has told us much about you.”
The eyes of the two friends met, one showing concern in his eyes by what may
have been said and the other returning a reassuring look suggesting that nothing
but good had been imparted. Come and sit down. You must be tired after your
journey. Would you care for tea? Care for tea! Such language. Such civility.
Such serenity. All new to Theo. There was nothing like this at home. When
foreign guests came and a party was hosted the situation was far from civil or
serene. Throughout the proceedings the Xenee would be smiled at while in
Greek Theo’s mother would provide a running commentary. E, morre. Pesane
sto faghee sa ghourounia. Ma aftee ee kokeenokoleeee then trone sta speetia
tous. Erhonte s’emas kai mia kai kalo. Vre papse gheeneka. Ase tous na fane.
Tee se niazee? Tee meee nyazee. Oreeste. Tee me nyazee. Pote tha feeghoune.
Na eeseehasoume (Well I never. They are in the trough like pigs. These red-
arses do not eat at home. They come to us and shovel it in. Shut up woman. Let
them eat. What is your problem? Well I never. What is my problem? When will
they leave? To give us peace and quiet.) And so it went on. A nerve wracking
undercurrent of criticism punctuating the occasional. „Yes. Welcome. Please.
Have more. Help yourself. Of course ..’
Life in the Kokopoulos household was hardly ever harmonious. Conversation
was unusual. Communication within the family was hardly ever conducted at
normal decibel levels. It was either shouts and screams or long brooding
silence; followed by shouts and screams. Peace settled on the house in the
afternoon when mother read her romances Romantzo and Theesavros sent out
from Athens as journals printed on cheap paper. Stories of the heart
interspersed with cartoons of Zacharias and Ee Hondree, his fat wife, cookery
and embroidery read to the accompaniment of sounds from the roof caused by
the expansion of corrugated iron being pounded by the midday sun. Father
would be at the workshops stripping down a tractor, shouting at his son for a
spanner whose size was never specified. There was sadism in the hot, oily air.
And peace again at night as KK listened to the BBC World Service and Theo
serviced the guns. In times between it was shouts and screams or silences like a
distant volcano between explosions.
At the Faramdoulas tranquillity was the norm. Speech was soft and none softer
than in the mouth of the father who returned home after surgery to greet his
house guest. Howw arrre youu? Gladd tooo meeet youu. And your famileee?
Theo heard speech as soft as the breeze from the overhead fan. And he liked it.
As he liked the house. And its contents. Each room panelled in delicate
embroidery or fine weave. The Faramdoulas, he came to learn, were dedicated
collectors of Persian art: „This one is from Isfahan. That from Ter’an. Tiles
from Quom.’ Edged with a script Theo had not seen before. More beautiful than
Greek in its flow and flourish. „What did it say?’ „Ah, quotations from the Holy
Quoran. Come let us eat.’