Friday, October 15, 2010


I came across them as I was walking in the garden, heading towards my favorite spot by the sea. A young couple, totally absorbed in themselves, taking pictures of each other with a mobile phone camera. The girl was maybe in her mid twenties, a bit on the plumb side, with a beautiful rounded face and a flowing mane of blonde hair. Given her dark olive complexion I assumed her hair colour wasn’t natural. The young man was probably the same age, very thin and much taller than the girl. There was something about them…about the girl that caught the eye. Her face was lit up with an aura of excitement, of ecstasy as she tossed her hair left and right to pose for the pictures. Then I watched as she held the boy's arm and stood on her tip toes, bringing her cheek right close to his as her outstretched arm clicked a picture of their smiling faces, with the sea in the distance behind them. Then she turned the boy around, and again, cheek to cheek, clicked another picture of the both of them, this time with the trees and flowers of the garden in the background. Again they moved and floated from one position to another, with the girl, radiant with emotion, always leading the way.  A keen observer would make no mistake in guessing who the active partner and who the passive one in this dance of love was. When they had finished, I watched as the girl gave the boy an impassioned look, then, taking his face in both her hands, kissed him…on the lips…in full view of everyone.

I was taken aback by the audacity of the girl, by her boldness and daring in a country where such a public display of affection is strictly frowned upon, considered an act of indecency punishable by law.  I looked away and continued my walk towards the sea, leaving them behind in their amorous embrace. But I couldn't help feeling a pang of envy. When I was their age such an act in public would have been scandalous and unthinkable. Had things changed that much while I wasn't looking?! Had young women become this assertive and liberated?! As I approached the sea, I welcomed the sense of freedom it always gave me. The lingering picture of the enamored couple made me think how wonderful it would be to live freely and openly, with nothing to hide…to feel and express ones emotions without fear or shame…without secrets to conceal or inhibitions that cripple.

As I headed back some time later, I saw the couple still where they had been. This time the young man was standing up, smiling at the girl as she sat on a bench in front of him.  I looked at her as she tied her thick hair in a golden bun. Then from somewhere she pulled out what looked like a long black scarf. In a blink of an eye, and with quick and experienced hands, her hair was totally hidden under a black veil. Then she stood up and in another second she had all but disappeared behind a black 'abayia, with nothing of her left visible except her hands and face …still flushed and beaming with love. She gave a long passionate look at her partner then turned and walked away, with the young man following her at a distance.

I watched them in amazement and wonder as they disappeared into the horizon…a small black figure followed by a tall shadow…and all I could think about was those pictures…those many…many pictures.