The village idiot. That’s what the Moungko was. We were terrified of him as children. When we heard his guttural animal noises as he walked with his obedient sheep we would hide. The local village children would tease him.
Funny why we are scared of someone that is different.
He was different, I found out later, because when he went for a tonsillectomy as a child the good doctors ripped out his vocal cords by mistake. So his voice and future is destroyed by my colleagues and forebears, not far from the Temple of Aesculapius. That’s how close greatness is to disaster.
My father would always call him over as we sat on the veranda, he drinking retsina from the cellar with mezze, and the children having a treat with gazzosa. Flavoured gassed drinks, from when the Greeks said “Oxi” to the Italian invasion during the Second World War. These drinks were watered down orange, but tart and tasty. The invasion was watered down, “una fazza una razza”, and the Italians have beautiful woman and tasty food!
My father would call him over and offer him a gazzosa in a small glass bottle. The dust from his sheep on the then sand road in front of the house would settle on the bottle as the cold liquid parched his torn throat, and he would smile as he was given sweets, one of which he would eat there and then, his bad teeth showing a big smile. The others would be secreted away in his pants.
In later years the Moungko would offer us sweets, and we would gladly take them.
As he grew older, his body beaten by the harsh Arcadian sun, he aged prematurely. He aged I am sure without bitterness for the doctors that tore out his voice box. And he was placed in an old age home in Tripoli, the market town near the village.
My father used to visit him there.