The grey eyed Cinderella – Chapter 8
Posted by: Maria Atalanti
Published on: 15/06/2023Back to Blog
It was already summer. Demetra Kalliroe’s the younger mother, was in the kitchen of her house preparing the food for the dinner. Aunt Kalli and her friend Elpida would come to dine with them. She was also waiting for her daughter, Kalliroe, to come to help her but she was late, and Demetra was starting to get impatient.
Just as she was about to get angry, the doorbell rang. Kalliroe rushed in like a tornado, did not even let her mother speak, put on a kitchen apron, and asked:
-What do you want me to do mom? Sorry I’m late, I was very busy working.
-Working or did you spend the night with your friends again? Anyway. Start peeling the potatoes because I’m wrapping the stuffed vine leaves and I can’t do it.
As the two women sat side by side at the table, one peeling the potatoes and the other wrapping the stuffed vine leaves they began to chat. Demetra wanted to know more about Aunt Kalli and her friend Elpida. She herself lived in Limassol and did not have many contacts with them, but she knew that her daughter saw them almost every day.
-Ever since I brought them into contact, they have wanted to meet again. Aunt Kalli kept inviting Elpida to come to Cyprus, but she was afraid to travel alone because she has a problem with her legs. On the other hand – between us – I think that at times she loses touch with the environment and gets confused. She’s not like Aunt Kalli whose mind is a razor’s edge. She is much more tired and troubled by life.
-Well, how did she finally come?
-She came with her granddaughter for a month. Her granddaughter, also called Elpida, stays in Larnaca with some relatives and her grandmother with Aunt Kalli.
-And what are the two of them doing alone in that house?
-Don’t say it like that! You can’t imagine how much Aunt Kalli takes care of her friend! Every day they take a taxi and go to the beach. The sand, the sea and the sun have helped Elpida a lot with her legs. She almost walks completely normally. On the other hand, I think it has also helped her spiritually. She is happier and more focused. So, they have lunch on the beach, in a restaurant, and in the early afternoon they return. They rest for a while and then talk, talk for endless hours.
-And what do they say?
-They talk about their lives and tell each other their innermost secrets. Aunt Kalli, who hardly tells you anything about her past, she tells everything to Elpida.
-And how do you know that?
-Oh, sometimes when I go to visit them, they have the entrance open, and they sit on the veranda and talk. I sometimes hide and listen to their conversations without being seen. So, I’ve learned a lot of things.
-Shame on you! Is this how I raised you? To eavesdrop on other people’s conversations!
-Don’t worry, I’ll only use them for good. In any case, what I learned, Aunt Kalli would not have revealed to me on her own. Did you know what aunt did after Lady Raffiel had died?
-I, my child, do not know who Lady Raffiel is, and I will know what aunt did next! You tell me.
-No, I won’t tell you. You didn’t raise me to reveal other people’s secrets!
-So ready and so cunning, I don’t know where you got it from!
-From my grandmother Persephone, my father’s mother!
-Fortunately, you didn’t take from her malice!
-Why, what did she do to you?
-What didn’t she do to me? If it wasn’t for Aunt Kalli, I don’t think I would have married your father. Your grandmother didn’t want me because I was both poor and a village girl, according to her. You see, your father was a lawyer from Limassol, and I was a secretary from a village. My own father was a builder and his own lawyer. Persephone had big fights then with her son. She didn’t want me at all. That’s why I love your father so much. He put me above everyone else. He didn’t listen to his mother!
-Your grandmother Eleni wrote all this to her friend Kalli, and she immediately replied: Don’t worry about anything. I am coming to Cyprus on the first plane. I will take care of everyone’s outfit. Don’t buy anything.
-When she came she brought everything with her. A suit for your grandfather, so well made that he had never seen one before, and certainly not in the future. For my mother she brought fabric to sew the dress herself. But the magic was that big box she carried, with the fabric for my wedding dress. She opened it carefully and told us:
-This wedding dress design was the first one I had sewn for a very rich girl. I liked it so much that I saved the drawings. In case I ever got married, I would like to sew one for myself as well.. Of course, I never got married, so I will sew an identical wedding dress for Demetra. The lace is not the same as the original wedding dress, but the result will be just as good.
-You know, answered Kalliroe, she told me about this wedding dress. It must have been very beautiful.
-Only beautiful? Princely. When Prince William of England was married, his bride wore a very similar one. The main similarity was in the collar and cut at the neck. Not to tell you that mine was even better. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the wedding on TV. But it wasn’t just the design but the fabric too. In both cases, lace dominated.
-Aunt Kalli was a great seamstress. You can’t imagine how she applied it to my body, how she knew the way to hide all the imperfections and emphasize the good points. But the pinnacle of her skill was the dress she made for your grandmother, Eleni. Your grandmother’s body was spoiled by the hard life, lack of exercise and indifference to her appearance. Well, Aunt Kalli worked her magic, hid her swollen belly, and highlighted her waist, which to be honest, was almost non-existent due to the fat. When she finished the dress she told her to put it on, she also asked my father to wear the suit she brought him and asked them to walk.
-Do not believe it! And what did they do? Did they accept?
-At first they refused, but when she told them that they should not allow Persephone to belittle them, they accepted.
Kalliroe could not help but laugh when she thought of her grandmother and grandfather walking the catwalk in front of Aunt Kalli to learn how to walk like aristocrats.
-Do not laugh! Aunt Kalli had a great influence on them. She kept saying to them:
-Be proud of who you are! Keep your body upright to show others that they should respect you. And keep smiling. To appear friendly, not rigid, and uncomfortable.
-And what happened? Did they succeed?
-They succeeded so well that when we got to the church, everyone was whispering in admiration, and your grandmother Persephone dropped her jaw. It was the biggest performance my parents ever put on. Naturally the first and the last. But my mother never again allowed Persephone to underestimate her.
-And what was Grandma Eleni’s dress like?
-Aunt Kalli brought her a silver fabric with gray shades, which combined with your grandmother’s gray hair, looked like she was wearing a silver crown on her head. She also gave her a pearl necklace, which matched perfectly. She was very impressive. See my wedding photos. You will understand.
-Now that I know all this, I will definitely see them again!
-The only thing I forgot to tell you was that she also did our makeup. And you can’t imagine how well she did it. Like a professional.
-I see Aunt Kalli played a big role in your wedding. She was your good fairy!
-I owe her a lot. That’s why I named you Kalliroe. To honor her. We must always take care of her. She also took care of us when we needed her. But with the conversation we forgot the food. Stop peeling potatoes. You have peeled enough. Now go and set the table. We will eat on the terrace, facing the sea. We will be able to see the lights from the harbor as well as the city lights. It is very beautiful there.
-Do you remember that Elpida’s granddaughter, the other Elpida, will be with them?
-Yes, of course I remember. Your sister will also come from Nicosia. There will be a total of seven of us.
Around seven in the afternoon the guests began to arrive. First to arrive was Persephone, Demeter’s other daughter who was a philologist and worked at a school in Nicosia. Then came the two old ladies together with the young Elpida and finally Demetra’s husband, Nikos, arrived from work.
Persephone was more brunette than Kalliroe and more serious. Her eyes were dark and full of intelligence. She paid great attention to the two ladies and chatted with them while her mother and sister carried the food to the table. She mainly asked Elpida if she was having a good time, if she liked Cyprus and various other things like that.
-You can’t imagine how glad I am to be here. I thought that I would never see Kalliroe, Kalli as you call her, again in my life. Sometimes I think I’m living a dream. May the girls who brought us together be well. I thank God for this meeting, every moment. My soul will go away happy.
-I tell her to stay with me, as long as she wants, but she will go back with her granddaughter, said Aunt Kalli with a complaint.
-Really, why don’t you stay here? Persephone asked as well. You look so happy.
-I am my child, I am very happy, but every person’s homeland is where the people one love is. I love Kalliroe very much, but I also love my children and my grandchildren. That’s where my heart is. On the other hand, my health is not very good. We are both elderly. If my condition worsens who will look after me?
She was silent for a while and then added:
-May God helps me to come again. At our age, you know, nothing is certain…
The atmosphere was heavy with this conversation and Persephone immediately changed the subject to lift the spirits of the two ladies.
-Aunt Kalli, do you know where your name comes from?
-No, I do not know. Tell us, you are the philologist!
-Kalliroe, means beauty and flow. It is an ancient Greek name. Various divinities related to the waters, such as the daughter of Oceanus, the daughter of the river Achelous and others, were so named. It means the one characterized by good flow, by abundant water.
Aunt Kallie laughed.
-That’s why since I was little I loved looking at the sea so much, she commented. The liquid element is in my nature.
-And your name, Mrs. Elpida, is ancient Greek. Elpis was the daughter of Zeus and represented what the name says: Hope. Be proud of your names. They come from the depths of the ages.
At that moment Demetra asked everyone to sit down at the table. Dinner was served.
The atmosphere at the dinner was extremely pleasant. The two ladies were telling stories from the time they lived together, their first years in London and the many blunders they suffered, until they learned the life and habits of the English people. Everyone was laughing, especially at the flowing way Aunt Kalli was telling them.
Then Demetra, who had a very beautiful voice, began to sing. Her voice lured the others to join her, and the merriment ignited. In a moment Aunt Kalli rose from her chair and approached the porch railing. She looked towards the sea and a wish was born in her heart:
-God, she whispered, if happiness has a substance, take the energy of this happy moment, and distribute it to the people who are unhappy.
Then she discreetly wiped a tear that fell from her eyes and returned to her seat smiling. The happy mood of the company continued until late. Only Aunt Kalli saw a cloud, like a mist, hovering over the company and dissipating into the atmosphere carrying seeds of joy and bestowing them where there was need.