When I was young, around ten, I remember my grandpa givin' me a 50 drachma coin every sunday, not those bronze-like recent ones, the older ones which had an image of Solon upon 'em. Didn't know at that time, or at least I wasn't able to figure out whether this old man sitting by the brazier, my grandma right next to him sticking unpared potatos into the core* to bake, this old man had a life so full of memories and so gracious, that he should be feeling real proud of himself.
Still, no recollections about givin' himself any credit whatsoever, never talked about his struggles, exiles, dangerous situations, while those few things about this side of his life I know came from my father, some of them have read 'em in an interview he had given on a newspaper called “the truth”.
None of these 50 drachma coins are left, I've deposit 'em in arcade games slots for paying out the fun those machine games had given me, or bought myself ice-cream or Pannini stickers.
Only thing that's left in my mind about him are a few scattered memories, some of it at his home, some of it at the hospital just before he dies, pictures from the battle of Crete on the wall, the national resistance diary and a bit of his expression, which was always peaceful and smiley.
Later up I was told that my grandpa was a hazy man in general, harsh, melancholic due to his first child, Dimitris, who died of an illness at the age of 20. Recently, my father hanged on our tavern's walls some cornices with paintings by this brother of his, whom he never got to acquaint for real.
When sometimes I'm feeling disappointed by things around, when things seem getting dark, when there's no light at the other end of the tunnel leading the militant path to socialism, when reason 's not enough to keep the fire flaming inside me, I'm thinking of my grandpa's life, watching into this picture of him – the one showin' him holding the waiter's tray -, at this very tavern I work and hold the very same tray. His face in this, is not the same I remember since childhood, no smiling, no peace, an angry, stubborn, fierce glance ready to collide with destiny, not the destiny other people had chosen for him, the one he had chosen for himself and for the whole world.
So, I grab some of his pride wich is still hangin' in the air, decades after his death just like many other militants. I only wish, when real challenges come, I 'll manage, differently practiced, to look at them in the face. I still hold the tray and watch his picture underneath the TV set, on wich unsuspicious customers watch football games, and keep thinking that he, a man of untamed spirit, managed to live two lives, the one of a militant and the one of a father, a husband, a grandfather. I wonder whether I, a tamed man, manage at least to have a life, knowin' that to earn this right, it takes nothing else than not stopping strugglin' both against the leveling day-in, day-out and the uncertain, full of challenges and clash, future running right upon us.
Don't know whether I grow old, have grandchildren or my glance will be peaceful at that time. Don't know if there will be money in material form for my grandchildren to hold in their hands. I sure hope so, in case I 'll be having grandchildren after all, within their few memories of myself, there's enough to keep them going, just there's enough for me from my grandpa Frangkiós.
Frangískos Lagonikákis (poexania)
*firing material for the brazier, made of grinded olive cores
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