The Greek Old Man
Photos taken by HH
“The Greek Old Man” Article written by HH Sheikha Khawla Bint Ahmed Al Suwaidi. Pictures taken by HH Sheikha Khawla Bint Ahmed Al Suwaidi.
We met Mr. Ellios, the Greek old man who didn’t disappoint us when we asked to meet him to tap his life experience in this warm, beautiful country which extends a huge, welcoming hand of its people of all ages to welcome us, we strangers, as if we are family members.
The Greek Ellios strikes you with his expressions and furrows left on his face by years of misery and hard work; with his rough, darkened nails that have been used to dig out and weed his land. I can’t forget his insistence when he invited us to his farm and how he was jumping as if he was in his twenties rather than nineties. He used his bare hands in the soil, landscaping the small heaps around the vine that is greatly respected in Greece, and which grows circularly, embracing its earth and bending irresistibly with the wind. The movement of his hands to help him explain his words, his resonant voice, his strong arms, all make him an example of a strong Greek man. I asked him, “what is the secret of your happiness and the smile that persists since we met you?” “That’s because I don’t need anyone.” He answered. “I can do everything with these hands,” he continued as he raised his hands and tapping on his wide chest. “If I want a home, I am adept in construction, and I have built the house of my little family. If I need food, I resort to the land and plant whatever I need using my own hands. If I wanted seafood, I am a skilled, persistent fisherman. I am also a good hunter. So, the secret of my happiness is that I don’t need any human being, except my mind and hands. I am a self-reliant person who needs no one,” he went on. He went on to say that life has previously been full of high values and that the motto of the Greeks was integrity and honesty. “Oh, if only I had a son. My production would have been four times more than now. But the Lord had blessed me with two daughters only,” he continued. “Sir, I want from you an advice that you would like to give to your children and grandchildren,” I demanded. He sighed deeply, pondered for a while and then said, “Buy as much land as you can because land is a precious asset and a source of pride. Build a house that meets your requirements, not too big and demanding in terms of maintenance and not too small to squeeze your life up. For even if your land is too big to be cultivated, the Lord will fill it with grass for cattle to feed on as a divine source of life,” he said.
“We all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. The earth always gives you double what you give it. When we were leaving him, I remember him saying, “Please accept my invitation to my farm, as I have agreed to all your requests.” When I told him that I have to go to my children, he stared at me and said, “Your children can wait as I have waited. You are our guests and you should accept our invitation as we accepted yours.” “Good Lord,” I thought. “How can he sum up, with his good nature and morals, the goodness of the Greek people, with their very kind and generous.” The various Greek dishes that were served were very rich. I remember how much I was amazed by the big size of the roaster’s leg that was put on the table. I wanted to see such a roaster alive. Later I saw a similar one in an Italian village and was struck by its huge size. The small tomatoes, the greeneries, the small sardine, etc. All of this was their national dishes. I couldn’t eat anything. However, Ellios devoured almost everything on the table after some hesitation as he felt a little ashamed of eating before us. Your conversation is full of wisdom, Ellios, as you roam in your lands, describing how you work hard and how you carry the grape yield in big hay baskets put onto donkey’s backs and travel alone to the center of town to sell them dozens of kilometers away. I raise a respectful hand to commend your courage and self-reliance. May the Almighty Lord grant you a long enough time to see you again.