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«Ze Sntory Ov My Live»
(oops, I forgot to blow my nose, …HONK, ok, so here we go again…)
«The Story Of My Life»
Starring Eleni Ikanou (as Eleni Ikanou) and others (as others)
My name is Eleni Ikanou. I was born in B. capital city of B. 30+ years ago.
My father, Kostas, is Greek but my mother, Francesca, was not Greek. She was from M., a big city in I. She died from a severe heart attack a while after I was born.
Both my parents were immigrants in B.; my father was a first generation immigrant, my mother was second generation. That was during the coal&steel industry boom in B. after WWII. I was born on a Saturday of May at about the end of all this in the 1970s. I was a «fruit of love». My parents were not married when I was born. They intended to do that later when they would visit Greece in the summer. Things didn’t work out that way.
-> car ad
-> supermarket ad
-> cell phone ad
-> cheese ad
-> CD with the O.S.T. of «The Story of My Life» ad
My mother worked in the offices of the coal&steel company and my father mined coal in the pits. When I was a teenager I wanted to believe that my parents’ lives were as dramatic as the lives of the heroes in Zola’s novel «Germinale». They weren’t. My parents were happy, working, consuming and lovemaking in B. In Greece there was a military dictatorship. Mini-skirts (for women) and long hair (for men) were forbidden.
From babyhood to childhood I grew up under the broad warm wing of my father’s mother, Eleni K. So not only I didn’t feel orphan, but I was rather spoilt. Fortunately my grandmother, who came from Ikaria, did not show her love for me with words but with acts. Through her acts she taught me the old mediterranean laws of honour, obligation and gratitude; she showed me the basics of how to be ressourceful and self-sufficient («you do it or you do it», she said); she told me stories and she also taught me the basics of how to make and tell stories (she didn’t start with «once upon a time» but with a casual and sudden «hey listen, did you know…? You didn’t ! Oh no ! So sit down right now and let me tell you…»).
I heard so many wild narratives from her that I’d surely have been a crackpot or a fool, if she didn’t make me always look at her in the eyes («look at me, look at me; look at what I’m saying» she ordered). While she was talking her eyes changed colours and shades, shined on-off, closed and opened, and so gradually I learned how to make out which part of the story was true, which was a lie, which was just for fun or a game of the mind, which part was didactic etc.
«Look at the kid, mother» my father protested. «With the wild stories you tell her, she goes around with her mouth wide open. Her teeth will grow too big and she will never be able to close her mouth again»!
That was a joke of course. It was my father’s practical way to make my granny stop overexciting my imagination by filling my mind with stories. There was no other way to make her slow down and let go a bit, but via a practical threat that I would be deformed. That was because the great storyteller of my life, Mrs Eleni senior, was completely unable to understand the meaning of the word «imagination» («fantasia» in Greek). She thought it had to do with ghosts («fantasma» in Greek). «I never told any stories with ghosts to the kid», she answered.
Eventually my teeth grew too big for my mouth. The kids at school (the Greek Orthodox Community school in B.) had started calling me «hanos» (a small fish with a big mouth always open, «swallow all», «eat air», stupid). I didn’t let them say that on me for too long. I told my first full story in public at the age of 9. We were in the school bus and caught in a traffic jam. The story was the summary of a new James Bond film which I was supposed to have seen with my father the previous evening. How could I? I was too young. I improvised the plot from the photos that were posted outside the cinema.
The outcome was something like «James Bond Saves the Little House in the Prairie»…
I have a clear recollection of that first story I told out in public, because I was forced to narrate it to the school mistress later that day. There had been a scandal; the word had spread in the school that I was allowed to go out downtown in the evenings and watch James Bond films !
TO BE CONTINUED
(hopefully next week or earlier; whenever I cash the cheques from my sponsors)
NOTICE: For only this particular group of entries I’d rather not have any interaction. So please, my 7 stars, friends of this blog, hold and do not post any comments. To go on with the story the storyteller needs most to have a silent audience.
Thursday March 23, 2006 – 12:48pm (PST)