The living statue
I was spending September 2013 in Chania, Crete staying in the converted Turkish guest house owned by German Lena the architect. There were two ways to get back from the harbour. One, the long way round past all the shops and restaurants and the other along the waterfront by the naval museum. I decided to walk along yet another waterfront way, along the ancient Venetian walls, towards the Jewish memorial sculpture of the hand coming out of the water commemorating the decrepit German merchant vessel 'Tanais' which was torpedoed by a British submarine identifying the cargo vessel as German and not knowing there was human cargo aboard carrying 900 prisoners of war including the entire Cretan Jewish population of 265 passengers locked down in the hold on 9th June 1944. 2,000 years of Jewish civilisation extinguished in 45 minutes according to eyewitnesses on the 'Vivid' ship responsible in the maelstrom of the war. Only 7 Jews survived the holocaust including Costas who lives in Heraklion who I have met on high holidays at the synagogue.
It was a quiet dark route by the sea and far from the crowds of tourists strolling around the seafront. It was almost midnight and I was Cinderella returning to my Turkish pumpkin.
I could hardly believe my eyes. There in the dark in the midst of solitude was a tall fair haired middle aged Living Statue wearing a tunic robe and gazing out across the waters of time. Why was he there? Tourists did not walk that way. He was 'off duty' so to speak. He didn't look Greek to me but perhaps from The Balkans, ex Yugoslavia.
I HAD to speak to this ghost of a man and ask him what the hell he was doing standing in the dark at the witching hour. I spoke to him in my basic conversational tourist Greek.
"Why are you here at midnight?" He ignored my question and asked me which country I came from. I told him England. He continued in Greek so I knew he did not speak English. "Where is your husband?" He asked straight to the point. "Dead" I replied monosyllabically. With that he began to raise his tunic slowly murmuring "milissoumi"!
I had not come across this Greek word before and had no time to fumble in my bag for my ever present notebook and pen and ask what the word meant. I beat a hasty retreat not knowing what other garments or worse he was about to reveal up or down!!!
I kept on repeating the word eager not to forget it until I got to the friendly Swedish woman who I knew closed her colourful fashion boutique at midnight. There she was, taking down the dress rails and displays outside her shop. I demanded to know if Millisoumi meant let's F----. On hearing such a familiar word, after his own heart, the Greek opposite with an art gallery came over and joined in. No, it was not the four letter word but let's talk. Then came a big debate over the event and what the Living Statue really meant. By this time I had got my notebook and pen out wanting to know more about this world famous F word. What was it in Greek? How do you say F--- off in Greek? Well a woman has to know these words, doesn't she? Then I asked about other intimate parts of the body for both sexes knowing that sooner or later I was going to come across them. Be prepared is my motto. Knowledge is power!!!!
Soon my page was full of 'useful' vocabulary should I meet another Living Statue. I later asked other Greek men about the meaning in context and of course, as I suspected, the Statue had sex on the brain and thought he had perhaps encountered an opportunity with no witnesses.
To this day I wonder how a living Balkan statue would perform in the stillness of the dark.....
Did I miss an interesting experience at midnight?
Written in Aegina, Greece - September 2015.