An unexpected experience – by Madhuri.

Devadasi in Delphi
Devadasi in Delphi

A friend and I were just leaving a cafe terrace by the water in Agios Georgios in the late evening, to walk back up over the hill to Afionas and down again through the olive trees to Arillas.

The light was silvery on the calm bay.

I glanced over to the cafe and saw a wavy white head of hair – strong nose – a beaming smile with just a tooth or two. An old lady, sitting in a chair. My heart said, “Mama!”

I waved – the old one waved – and my friend and I left the cafe and started back up the road.

But every step, my chest was pulling me back to that old luminous being. My heart was starting to droop and grieve… it would be very ‘normal’ just to keep walking – the old lady was a stranger. A few more steps – we’re halfway up the road to where it curves into the hills. Then I stop.

“I have to go back,” I say.

My companion immediately understands. We turn and retrace our steps, and as we walk up the slope to the terrace my hand is on my heart, an apologetic beam on my face as I feel my heart signalling its joy at this reasonless opening.

“Your mama,” I say to the rotund proprietor. “She reminds me of my mama – .”

The old lady isn’t the least bit surprised. She opens her arms and beams and grins, and I lean in close, and it is as if Devadasi, my mama, gone these two years, has a deep suntan and gold hoop earrings! (Neither of which she ever had, but it didn’t matter a whit!) And yet I could feel the unique, strong, sexy and womanly woman this old lady had been and still was. She kissed my right cheek and then my left, and I murmured joyful sounds, and then pulled away, and my friend and I left again, and the evening had opened its portal and all the sky and hills were full of surprise and love and space.

And I felt so hugely relieved that I had said yes and gone back, and not let that moment fold away and die.

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