Part 7:// Coffee and other superstitions
The coffee from the second floor was of somewhat sharp scent that hits you straight between your eyes and could not be associated to a French morning, not to any of the French mornings. This was the scent of wide, cool and damp warehouses along with the sackcloth, whatever the content of the bags stored there. This was not the appropriate coffee for waking up hours, when it came to ask Granny Rakitza's son-in-law. Whenever his ways brought him to the house, he would howsoever drink his coffee while rendering the jawbation grumble its due. This very same coffee roamed at large with the posture of a proud and sole proprietor of the granny’s room and no one in the whole Lord creation’s world was able to set a face against it. Mia knocked on the door and at the very moment it opened, a stronger wave of warehouse scent broke over her.
„Pardon me, granny. How are you today?“ „Ah, you...Maria...what a portent last night...” between the „you” and „Maria” she'd remember to make a break and have some breath inhaled. „...I was tossing and turning all night long, fell hardly asleep before the dawn. He came out. I had a dream last night with my son-in-law, the senior. He was walking in his manner wearing a pullover not that well pulled so his white shirt edges were out. Passing us by, he walked on to some strangers, eating something. Then I asked my sister-in-law what is that, that Jovan is eating. He was peeling and egg and eating it…and he went to the strangers. Yesterday they called from the Hamburger to tell me he has passed away…Eggs! Eggs are trouble, Maria…you.
The main topic of the morning coffee time was instantly and clearly presented – telling fortunes of all kind, prophecy dreams and other sorts of superstitions. „They even have a national ranged vampire...“ Mia frowned, „Some Sava from the Danube windmills.“ How could it be possible at all, praising St. Sava and having a Sava vampire at the same time. Strange people. The Golden mean, means nothing to them.
Second floor mornings of the kind were to be conducted as most refined rituals and usually were closed with women small talk, the last year's blueberry jam and turning the coffee china over. „Don't we have any charming male in there, granny? Seems like I quite fell for him. He's from the town in the near. Is he seen somewhere in the sludge?“ No. He was not to be seen. The charming male wouldn't nod approvingly to such „women's nuisance“, „no telling fortune by the coffee grounds in this house” he retorted so firmly that Mia never repeated it. Disliking the matter, he was obviously avoiding her cup too.
„Confront him, at last! How old is he? What is that you are waiting for? Aaaah, men!“
Granny Rakitza's sound and contagious laughter spread in the house, looking for any place to come up, flew across the yard to the iron porch, turning at corner bricks of the neighbouring houses, thus making the occasional passers on the street stopping at the post with Rakitza's brother obituary pasted on it, wondering why this woman is not grieving over her loss. Normally, neither one would be honoured a decent explanation. The answers were left to people's imagination and the freedom to exaggerate. Mia left the orange and green over white linen cover on the table, letting the steam from the bread wriggle through the fiber of the tea towel. The old woman sat and began to pour the proprietor coffee in the china.
„Heh, Maria! I have the most thick-headed children ever born...Today is the service for the dead at the graveyard. I have bought some sweets in kilos, my daughter had and my daughter-in-law – also. We have enough sweets to hurl the crows up the hill. Pffff, and I need to go for this funeral abroad, though I opsolutely hate to do so, you see, I have to. When my man died, they all came and spent a lot of means...I'd need at least five thousand to have at hand. Is Stanko coming today?“
Whom was she asking...
The old woman continually persisted on older names. In the moments she would catch Mia's eyes smiling, she would instantly fall into the pond of excuses so innocent, that it was not that hard to have a name changed for a little while. „I keep calling you Maria, but what was your name? Something Jewish, wasn't it?“ The decent of Mia's name explained was left somewhere in the corners of that room; all Pardon me plies steeped in the gun powder-dry soil as a last year's snow. After the tea afternoons in Mia's room, granny would forget to return the red slippers, handed over to her and finally she received them as a present. None of these things were deliberate or ill-minded. Granny was just joyfully absent minded.
One couldn't say which part was the colder – granny's bare feet or hands, as she was used to spare the expensive electricity and was washing with cold water. Granny would notice the red slippers on once she would try to put her own flip flops and as this was not quite successful, she would return with the haste an ashamed child with fingers in the jam could produce. Then two small strawberries would appear on the top of granny's cheeks, taking off the slippers and excusing herself all the way to the upper floor.
„Take it easy, granny. I won't be gone soon. Not a problem to forget them!“
It was quite a time now of inner contemplating how to leave the slippers as a gift and not offending granny. Sometimes it seemed to Mia that her grandmother has filled with presence the old woman's voice and a warm feeling started to fill up her breast. The scent of the lordly coffee was fighting to gain mastery over the bread steam so clearly that their personal Armageddon was almost seen in the small room. The telephone rang and perturbed Mia's thoughts. It was mother.
„Yes, I kneaded dough and...“ „Again?! “Don't you have bread in the shops there? Are you under a deep snow cover? The news announced a state of emergency in the country and...“
Mother had the habit to express her thoughts clearly and well-articulated in proper language, which was something she taught her children too. This wasn't the case now, the words rolled out as glass balls, each biting the edge of the previous.
„And did they eventually mention some mountains in the breaking news? Maybe the people there are under the snow. We are fine. I'm baking bread as mine is better in taste, well not as good as yours...and not far so good as grandma's“ the last line remained on a stand-by as Mia didn't want to make her mother sad...Nothing could be compared with granny's delights. „I hope you're not lying to calm me down“ this one plugged Mia out of her thoughts. „You are a constant concern.“ „Pfff, mom, who would dare to lie parents in the middle of the advent and on all other occasions. What can go wrong? Everithing's just fine...“ „Just fine“ the voice in Crete repeated behind a smile. „It seems to lie to me while in Greece is much easier. As if you're not an accomplice.”
Somehow Mia couldn’t return her back at the platform of a more normal conversation while growing aware of the fact that the same interrogation will be left for the next day. Facetious.
Thank you very much!