I thought it was only in marriage where I had this sort of conversation:
“What’s the matter?”
“But something is bothering you?”
“Just leave me alone.”
But as the years have passed and egos have softened more often than not, with a bit of space we can share the problem and halve the worry.
I thought about this because this morning I felt like I had nothing to write about. Just for now. I know I have to cover the Alberton Hellenic Community, the Greek Federation, SAHETI, the Bank of Athens, Pandenaughties Golfing Promotions, my sister and business in Greece. How that built the man up and how the one thing broke him. But those stories will come. For now I felt like I should write about nothing.
So when I started writing I remember there were many times when I was younger and moody and my father would ask the same question:
“What’s the matter?”
I would fob him off, my ego being too big in the beginning. He would persist sometimes, at other times he would just give me space. I suppose that defines our relationship. As the years passed I came to understand him better and could ask the same question of him. If he was really negative about something I would ask how bad the situation was.
“Very bad” he would answer.
“So, has someone died, or is someone really ill?” I would ask.
Looking offended, he would say: “what do you mean?”
Then he would realise what I was asking and we would talk.
Greek family philosophy is at odds with existence in the modern world, and there was always something the matter. It was certainly never “nothing”.
Like instead of playing sports some afternoons, we would have to attend Greek School. Or like we were not allowed sleep over at South African friends’ houses. Or like we were expected to marry a Greek. I put paid to that expectation with my lovely Italian wife whom my father loved dearly. Or like in July instead of going to Durban for a holiday we would fly out to Greece, be the envy of everyone and come back a week after school had started. One just could not travel for four weeks only. It was a long trip and one needed time, at least six weeks to recover the flight and have a good time. Or like we were not allowed to have a girlfriend at high school, and even when I was at varsity things were odd in that respect.
But all that has passed, as has my father, and it really does not seem to matter anymore. It’s nothing now. Not the kind of nothing that does not matter, but the kind that has passed and become part of one’s life.