It’s been long, yet, still I cannot forget an old, kind and wise man I met three years ago.
I always think about him, mainly about the kindness of his soul, and always feel emotional. I have been wanted to write about him since long time ago but was thinking that it would have been better to meet him again and, this time, interview him. However, I am quite busy and cannot travel soon; what is more, the possibility of his death is what really stops me from accomplishing this travel..
I met him before three years ago, in a small, almost tiny, village, in north Greece. I had to find out all the residents of that village and write down their details. Names-addresses-work-life-children, etc. As you can understand, I was working for the state census that takes place every ten years in Greece. My duty was to travel in two small villages and discover who was actually still alive since the last time..Quite cynical, however, our life is, most of the times, a harsh ‘joke’ or just a bad one.
It was a sunny, warm evening of May and he was working among his tomatoes and peppers. He was, I think, watering his vegetables while I was passing in front of his house. I could not see him, as he was kneeled caring tomato leaves in his small garden. He did see me though, and invited me in his house. You see, the villagers already knew that I was the responsible for the census and everyone was welcoming me in their houses before I even ‘discover’ them.
I can remember him opening the front garden door and passing me in his patio. Such a beautiful place.. Trees and vegetables around us and a small wooden table with two chairs waiting for people to sit on. He kindly offered me one and as I was preparing my papers he stood next to me silently. A tall, quite strong man, although he was close enough to his nineties. His whole life was captured in his face and body. A man of hard work and hard life. My first thought, though, was that this man is a king. Living in such a nice village, next to a river, sleeping and waking up in the arms of nature.. I could not understand the contradictions such a life usually offers. On one hand, the beauty of the landscape and on the other, the challenge of taming the nature.
He insisted in offering me something to drink or to eat but I was in a hurry; I had to catch the bus back to my house. I felt that he realized my lack of time and, after a while, he sat next to me waiting for my questions. I started with the survey and soon enough we were about to finish. Not so many things to narrate. A simple life, a farmer and a breeder, now in pension caring only about his small garden next to his house. He had lost his wife many years ago and still, was trying to learn to live alone. He seemed to me that he could not overcome her death. A sad man, a lonely man living far from his children in a village full of elderly people waiting for their death..
Soon enough, he started talking about the crisis and, all of a sudden, we found ourselves having a serious conversation about our responsibilities that resulted in the tragedy of our country. I was really enjoying the point of view of that old man and, although, I could understand that he was rarely among people to discuss with, he was, kindly, listening to me. He was speaking less and motivating me to speak even more. However, our discussion deeply affected him and, all of a sudden, with tears in his eyes, he apologized to me for the future he and his generation created for us, the Greek youth. It was a very emotional moment for me. I could see a strong man suffering and was wondering about his actual share of responsibility. How is it possible a farmer and a breeder to contribute in such a crisis? A man that, all of his life, lived under restrictions and almost poverty cannot really have a share in the chaos of our country..
After a few months I left my country-my homeland and still traveling around; however this man is always in my mind and heart, representing the kindness that Greeks used to own. I wish our politicians, the rest of us but mainly me, had the heart of that kind man. Maybe things would have been better, maybe, who knows, we would have been caring about our homeland with pride and deep sense of responsibility. Maybe we would never just follow orders and care only about our own personal welfare. Who knows, maybe..
I wish that I will see this man again; I need to thank him for having the chance to meet him.
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