Friday, June 11, 2010

ALBANIANS AND AUSTRALIANS - What do they have in common?

     Next Sunday morning they went to visit George. Mrs Hysa offered to take them there in her big, white Holden as Dad's old car broke down. Slowly moving through the inner city they passed many restaurants and evening entertainment places. All which were now closed and quiet. They passed a couple of bar girls walking home from their niht shifts.

    " Oh, I don't know how these girls can dress so immodestly," said her Mum watching them from the corner of her scarf. After that she gave her full attention to Victor, who woke up in his 'child safety seat' and demanded his bottle.

    " Here we are," Mrs Hysa stopped the car in front of  a inner Fremantle apartment: " It used to be a warehouse here and now look..."

     " Very interesting.," her Dad looked up at the two-storey iron-and-glass building: " You can sqeeze a hundred people here."

     " I don't think so," laughed Mrs Hysa: " Australians like their space, mostly singles live here, just like George."

When George saw their car from his glassed first floor, he came rushing down the sairs and opened his sliding door: " Hello, nice to see you," he squeezed Dad's hand and turned to Saranda: " My sweetheart, translate to your Mum that I am very happy to see her."

    " Gee, you live in a submarine," Dardon screamed in excitement as they entered the down-stairs living area made of black steel and glass. He examined for a while a big shell and then stopped in front of a huge aquarium.
There was a colourful wall painting of the sea above it: " Look, Saranda, what do they call these in the English?...Merr...

    " Mermaids, you silly billy and stop shouting," Saranda pushed him forward and they followed the others upstairs.

The family was standing at the massive iron windows admiring the panoramic views of the city. Dardon, in the meantime touched the mirror and..." Look, Saranda it's a sliding mirror door, let's see, what is behind." He had already disappeared behind it.

    " Wait, Dardon, you can't go in there..." She pushed the mirrror and entered a big main bedroom:
" Dardoon, where are you?"

    " Come here, it's a boy's room, gee, he is surely lucky to have all this stuff..auch." Something hit the ground with a big bang.

    " Dardon, what are you doing?" Saranda followed the noise through a luxurious bathroom. Finally she had found Dardon in the end room behind a huge surfboard.

    " Saranda, please help me out, it's really heavy, I don't know how they use it. Oh, that's better ugh..."

    " Are you O.K.?" Saranda asked as she looked around. It was surely a boy's room filled with stuff that any boy would long least any boy in Kosovo.

    " Look, a new skateboard and computer...have a look, there is a TV with Nintendo, could we play, please?"

    " No, we have to go back, come on..." Saranda turned around to leave the room, when she noticed a big photograph of a blond boy on a surf beach. He had a gold medal around his neck. There  was something familiar about his face. She went closer. It was Jack.

    " Saraaanda, Daaardon, where are you?" Mum's worried voice echoed in the room. Saranda quickly grabbed Dardon's hand and rushed out through the bathroom and bedroom.

    " There you are, you cheeky monkeys!" Mrs. Hysa met them near the mirror's door.

    " Sorry, Mrs. Hysa..." Saranda was too tongue-tied to say anything else.

    " Where have you been?" Dad looked sternly at Saranda.

    " We, wee have been looking for toilet, yes, Dardon needed to to, so..."

    " No, I didn't," protested Dardon at once and Saranda slapped his hand secretly.  Why her brother never gets anything, she thought angrily, while Dad kept watching her sternly under his dark thick eyebrows.

    " To tell you the truth, Saranda, I don't believe you any more..." Dad pointed to the corner of the sofa:
" You will sit there for the rest of this visit and don't you dare move."

    " There is always trouble with you kids, oh, may god help us." Mum added sadly and patted gently Victor's head, who fall asleep in her arm.

    " We forgot about our religion, about our tradition..." Dad stormed at Mum: " We forgot how to raise them properly, like Granny wanted us to do, according to the Koran."

    " It's not late, we can still do it," protested Mum weakly.

Dad looked up at Saranda coldly: " And we will, be sure of that."

George asked Mrs. Hysa to translate to him what all the fuss was about. All he could do was take another beer from an esky on the bar and scratch his head: " You know, Mrs Hysa, I have lost my wife in a car accident two years ago, which was caused by me. My son ran away from home and I barely noticed, too depresssed to care about anything anymore..."

    " I'm sorry, George, really sorry," said Mrs Hysa and then she turned around to translate it to Mum.

They looked at him in amazement. Finally Dad said: " That's horrible, George, but it's not your fault, maybe it was God's will, but in our culture children have to obey their parents no matter what."

George passed the kids some icy orange juice looking at them with deep understanding: " Everyone has something new to learn, doesn't matter which country they come from, agreed, mates?" He winked at them. But Saranda kept her eyes on the carpet, where Victor, freshly awake, was crawling following its geometrical pattern.

Then George turned to their parents with a full plate of chicken rolls: " My perents were strict with me too. I had to work hard on the farm in York, do you know where that is?"

    " I have no idea, I haven't been anywhere yet, but I'd love to see some farming here, we, we had a small farm back home." Dad nodded.

    " Oh, it's a pity, I'll take you there, my parents still live there in an original Australian farm house."

    " That's great, George, you and farmer?" laughed Mrs Hysa taking another roll from the plate: " If I put on weight, George, it will be all your fault."

    " I am a fifth-generation Australian. My family started farming in York in the 1880. Unbelievable, and you see I am obsessed with the ocean."

    " The Albanians in Kosovo have a long tradition of farming too, but the conditions are very, very poor there," Dad suddenly added.

Joyce twirled around the room singing a catchy song in Albanian.

Mrs Hysa clasped her hands happily: " My daughter can speak Albanian now."

    " I taught her this song." Dardon joined her proud as a peacock and they swirled fast around the room. Suddenly Joyce lost her footing and fell down crying.

George picked her up quickly and handed her a big lolypop. For that he was rewarded by a big smile.

   " That's better Joyce," he laughed and sat her down on the couch next to Saranda, then he turned to Dad and handed him another Coca-Cola: " I bet the country, you come from has some pretty long history, not like here.."

    " You bet, George," Mrs Hysa said proudly: " We are the direct descendents of the Illyrians who held vast territories covering all of the Westeren Balkans in 2000 B.C."

    " That's true," added Dad: " The name 'Albania' comes from the name of the ancient Illyrian tirbe who lived in Albania and Kosovo in 200 AD and now Serbs tell us we have no right to live there."

    " English is..." Mum had no idea what they had been taling about and tried to join in.

George noticed her embarrassment and quickly joined in to save her: " ...terrible language to learn, I totally agree," he winked at her: " I have been always bad i nspelling, I can tell you that."

    " I can help you to learn Albanian, George," Mrs Hysa laughed: " if you teach me how to do these amazing chicken rolls."

George spread his arms laughing: " One language is more than enough for me, I am still not very good at it anyway."

Everyone cheered up. The little Victor giggled happily when Joyce handed him a bag of chips. Saranda sipped a little bit of juice and started to feel better.

    " Saranda, ded yhou hear, George is a farmer and he has problems with spelling, just like me." Dardon whispered to her ear but she turned her back to him.

It was all his fault anyway. She was alswyas the scapegoat because she was the eldest, and a girl. It was not fair. But neither was it that Jack ran away from home and left geroge grieving alon. Saranda couldn't stop thinking about Jack for the whole week.


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