(This is an excerpt from the up and coming part three of my Trilogy. This passage reflects the state of despair and disappointment Christine begins to feel as her journey in Greece continues along paths unexpected and unfulfilled)
There were those moments of intense loneliness and isolation where she felt like a swine, hoggishly seeking attention and hospitality and love and acceptance. Grunting and greedy but disgusting in the eyes of all.
She relied so heavily on the hospitality of the people in Greece she finally realized, for her dreams to be actualized. But people soon wearied of you, and fast.
Going to the Angelos’ now seemed a burden and she felt as if she were an intruder destroying their pristine and peaceful existence.
The woodpecker given to her by Katerina hung over her bed, dangling beneath an Icon of Christ.
Peck peck peck
This image once gave her strength and focus. ‘Think of the opportunities Christine! Persevere, don’t give up damn it! You have come so far. God is opening doors for you. Knock, peck, smash away. Build, use the stepping stones that come your way. Build the foundation to a new life. Build it solidly, wisely, so that it doesn’t collapse and you are left with nothing!’
Christine continued to peck, somehow found the strength to continue this journey as she shivered in her bedroom on cold, lonely nights.
Peck peck peck
Was Christine pecking into a dead tree after all?
By late November, Christine had found herself in a bit of a crisis. Poor, lonely and love-sick.
Even though Akantha had promised her some extra hours, teaching the Cambridge Proficiency to University Students, a day could not be decided upon so it was scrapped, much to Christine’s dismay.
The isolation that plagued her life in Patras paralysed her. And she thought. With obsession. Of Helen, Constantine and the kids. Fantasized about sitting in the square with them devouring a yiros, smiled when she imagined herself chanting alongside Constantine, while the kids looked on bored. Laughed when she remembered their trip to the monastery and the delightful Daphne wearing that ghastly bright red skirt.
No one called her. Helen, Uncle Giannis, Aunt Sophia, Fedra. Even though they all knew she was in Patras. Alone. Even though they all knew her number.
Constantine had disappeared from her world. He who had promised so much; who winked and smiled, who shamelessly flirted with her that night at the Festival and told her not to despair, not to give up; who—she thought with anger—had ostracised her from a cousin she had come to admire.
Most despairingly, she was slowly forced to accept that perhaps, just perhaps, Pelagios did not want her. Did not see her as a potential wife, bride, lover, mother of his children. She still called him, met him on occasions for a coffee but his external friendly nature was shaded with a sense of aloofness and indifference. Constantly misinterpreting his actions, she smiled in utter bliss when he raised a toast to their eternal friendship, and fantasized about their wedding and passionate love-making.
She had established her routine at the school and it was the one thing she enjoyed the most, teaching her students and learning so much from them.
‘So who’s your favourite football team?’
‘Have you been to the new shopping complex on Saint Andrew?’
‘The carnival will be starting in March. It is one of the largest in the world. . .’
‘This is Greece, Miss. It’s a miracle the buses can even get started. . .’
‘Did you feel the earthquake last night? Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. There are always earthquakes in Greece. . .’
They sniggered, laughed, jested and teased Christine with her charming accent, friendly nature and occasional fits of anger.
Both the school owners, Akantha and Andrew, were relieved when she had handed over to them all her paper work, and Akantha even started to smile at Christine, even complimenting her once in a while. But she still strutted around like a stern dictator, checking on Christine and the rascals she was teaching, determined that the schools’ reputation not be destroyed by the soft, easy-going girl.
She had enjoyed a day-trip to Corinth and had spent time with two local boys who both fought over her, lied, cheated, swindled and tried to seduce her.
Yes, by the end of November Christine had gnawing doubts about her situation. When a weekend has passed in which she had not communicated with one human being in the whole of Patras, she realized that something was wrong.
Did she have a problem or did others? Should she have reached out more to the people around her; the stern old woman opposite her, the young student at her parish who saw through her as if she were invisible, the grimy fruit seller at her local market who was enraptured by her, the horny Kurdish immigrants who followed her eagerly, her fellow teachers who treated her indifferently and ignored her attempts at real conversations.
Her flesh and blood just a heartbeat away?
Should she have contacted the Angelos’ time and time again, or did she not want to be seen as a pest.
In her despondency, she had even tried to contact Uncle Angelo but to no avail. Had even attempted to phone Andronikos—her lusty bus driver—but only received a message telling her this number was closed. Tried frantically to find the number for Kostas, her friend at Delphi. But could not find it anywhere.
And she asked herself amidst all of this, her attempts to contact her Mafioso uncle, the cheating Andronikos—where did she belong? Who was she?
Christine had always felt alien. Strange. In the land of her birth. As if she was searching for something. Identity. Yes. Greeks born and nurtured in the motherland did not need to worry about this. They knew who they were. They knew where they belonged. Their souls had been pastured in the land of Greece; they grew in the holy soil of Hellas.
But for Greeks in the Diaspora—they were forever searching and it seemed home was neither here nor there.
Neither Melbourne nor Athens. . .
Only the church gave her identity—gave her a sense of belonging. Gave flesh to this concept of what it meant to be ‘Greek’. And the church in her motherland. . .
So, she created this land according to her image.
In the Image of Christine, it was created. . .
Creating images of heroes and heroines with warm hearts and kind words, of an exuberant hospitality, of benevolence towards the foreigner—towards one’s own flesh and blood. An image fertilized by films she watched as a young girl, where Greeks boldly fought against the enemy, where beautiful people fell in love in exotic settings, of a community welded together in patriotism and loyalty to the motherland, to the church and to each other.
Christine clung desperately onto the belief that she was Greek, coming back home to her motherland with. . .
Under foreign skies
Far from her own country. . .
As she imagined a non-existent house with a small flourishing garden, of ancient columns that dotted the land like magical totems, of relatives and friends knocking at her door.
Knock knock knock
But gradually the voice got louder, that mocking, spiteful voice that pained her in Athens, in the village, in Thessaloniki. That took on another dimension in Platamona, that made her shrivel and die. That left her vulnerable and weak, exposed, raw, bloodied. That became a shrill screech, then a whisper, then. . .
That voice telling her to. . .
Stop a moment and think
Your nostalgia has created
A non-existent country, with laws
Alien to earth and man
A land that did not exist. A land that could not exist. And she lamented like the poet, who proclaimed. . .
Wherever I travel Greece wounds me. . .
As she let him smooth the wrinkles from her worn-out, crumpled face
Telling her she was in fact nowhere
Like everybody else.
 George Seferis
 George Seferis
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