Archive for 06/06/2021

Swamped, a novel, by Manolis Aligizakis

Posted: 06/06/2021 by vequinox in Literature



Eteo let his attention dive into the shallow water under the dock where small crabs went about their business on the sea floor and the small perch fed on the barnacles bunched up on the dock’s piles. A few starfish decorated the sandy floor while seaweed floated left and right like orchestra that a conductor directed its myriad violins in this naturally balanced world beyond human influence, a balance suddenly interrupted by his mobile phone. Yannis was ringing him.

       “Hello, John.”

       “Hi, how are you?” Yannis asked

       “All good. I got a few shares for you today, and I hear this one could be something serious, and not too long from now. Are we still good for tomorrow?”

      “That’s great, thank you. Yes, tomorrow; you’ll to come to the house?

      “Yes, I’ll see you there early afternoon.”


Eteo put away the phone while his eyes focused on a kid no older than ten years and his father, who looked Vietnamese, and were trying to throw a crab net over the deck into the water. With the boy holding the rope, his father tied a piece of chicken to the bottom of the trap with a string then he tossed the net as far as he could. Eteo heard the splash of the apparatus hitting the surface before sinking slowly to the bottom. The boy was happy, but his father looked even happier because he had managed to toss the net farther than ever before.

There were lots of other people on the dock this afternoon, some chatting, others silently observing the beauty of the flashing water and the small swells rising and passing by the piles under them. Eteo started his walk back toward his car with his mind running back to his childhood years again. It was strange how often on his daily walk he thought about his early life in the village, as if this solitary walk was his allotted time to reconnect with his roots, to rediscover the young child who had become the adult he now was here in this far-off part of the globe thousands of kilometers away from that starting point in a village of no more than two hundred inhabitants, all of them small farmers looking after their olive groves and grape vines and summer vegetable fields. Their way to survive, to make ends meet, to raise their children, to school them, even to send some of them to high school or the rare exceptions, like Eteo, to university. In fact, Eteo was the only one of twenty or more cousins who had graduated from university. He owed that to his father, who while his children Eteocles and Nicolas were still in elementary school vowed to take the family to the city in the hope of educating them properly, and indeed Eteocles had been educated to the highest level one could attain in Hellas of the sixties and seventies.

He felt a strong, exuberant emotion rising from deep inside his psyche filling the upper part of his body and turning his face hot and red as he recalled his father’s decision to relocate the family to the city and educate his children. His father had never attended more than one or two grades of elementary school, who only learned to write a few words, yet he had the foresight to sacrifice the comfort of life around other family members—and there were plenty of family members in the village, particularly on his wife’s side, with her nine siblings, each with children of their own—to go to the city and work in construction in order to give his two sons a better future. In the end, Eteocles had graduated first in his class with a diploma in political science.