Because of Covid I’ve stayed away. After this visit I wonder whether I should have.
This is my aunt Athina and her friend Thea Alexia, 2 gregarious, generous rockstars who live in a big multicultural apartment block 20 mins away.
Athina and Alexia have each other and the people in the apartment block for company, they all look out for one another in extraordinary ways, it’s heartwarming.
We met outside as we agreed and Athina and Alexia sat on a bench at least 2 metres away, Noa and I sat on the grass. It was a lovely day and my aunt was excited by the visit, I could tell even from behind her mask by the way in which her eyes creased. It made me sad. We chatted about this and that and they passed me sweet melomakarona (honey biscuits) along the grass. I made a pathetic little joke that it was like East and West Berlin, we laughed cynically while they sterilised their hands. I ate the melomakorono and both my aunt and Thea Alexia got excited by the way Noa and I oohed and aahed as we relished them. In a sweet bite I could taste home, I could taste familiarity, history, celebration and togetherness. After a while I got up to leave and brushed the grass from my clothes, Noa whispered to me like a bird with a beak from behind her mask, “I just want to give her a hug”, she said referring to my aunt, I said, “you can’t.”
We waved to say goodbye, unnatural not to touch. But my wiley aunt moved quickly to walk alongside me to the car, wanting to extend the time. As I closed the boot ready to go she took her hand and moved the hair that was in my face behind my ear, she did this slowly. It was a little gesture, but a poignant one. It said so much. It said, I miss you, I miss what was, it said I need you, it said don’t forget me.
I keep playing that gesture over and over in my head, I am glad my aunt reached out. Go and see the people you love, sit outside, wear masks, douse yourself in sanitiser if you have to but don’t sterilise your humanity. Don’t let this pandemic take away the essence of what life really is about, relationships. What are we if we don’t have that?

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