When Kyrios Vasilis the old man next door died, his children set about emptying his little house, the barn and the stable. Out in the middle of the field that over the years had produced fine crops of potatoes, corn, wheat and even peanuts when they were getting good prices in the late 1970s before imports started from Italy, there they were – all that remained of their parents’ earthly possessions.
There was the cart with the enormous but thin wooden wheels, with iron bands around the circumference that made such a heavy rumble on the flat roads across the fertile plain that encircles Pyrgos. The neighbor would use it to take his produce to town, to the elegant neoclassical Market Place designed by Ziller, built in the 1890s.
Then there was the huge abari, a wooden box about a metre high and two metres long with a division in the middle, one part for storing his wheat and the other for his corn, but now perched crookedly at an angle on top of rickety wooden chairs with woven plastic seats, dirty red and faded yellow.
On the heap there were also two old empty wooden trunks that had held their mother’s dowry of hand woven cotton bed linen and heavy blankets made from wool, and mats made from prickly goat hair for use in front of the fireplace. The trunks gaped open, their lids at a strange angle.
There they all were, in a jumbled pile.
And then they weren’t there.
We’d gone up to the village for a few days to cut the brambles hanging over from the field above ours, and when we got back we realized that everything had disappeared. There was just a big black circle in the middle of the field.
I still wonder, did his children also burn the photos that I’d seen on the wall of the little house.