By Jolanda Kastrati
I am from happiness
From large fields and high mountains, alfalfa and corn fields, small family farms
From mountain, sea, river, and hills
From a one-family house surrounded by flowers all year round
From peach, orange, lemon, fig, vine, and plum trees
I am from the neighborhood women visiting daily at 5 to smoke, drink a coffee,
and talk with each other about their problems
I’m from nightly dinners with neighbors, eating, drinking and dancing
I’m from the delicious smells of Sunday family lunches and pies cooking
From baklava to pancakes with honey: yummy, yummy, yummy
Early morning smells of mountain tea, deep fried corn meal cookies, and honey
I am from the sweet aroma of roses when Mother opened my bedroom window
From waiting anxiously at Christmas time, being together to open the gifts and cheering each other with glasses.
I’m from the chirping of birds in the morning, Swallows that build nests in high corners,
wanting to feed and care for their babies
From happy children playing together with stones, skates, and bicycles
I am from Catholic churches, bells ringing at 8 am, 12 pm, and 6 pm
From every Easter, people going around the village with candles in hand,
to pray for more than one hour
From children waiting outside early on Easter Sundays, extending hands for cookies and eggs, and then leaving the houses happier when they got more cookies in their bags.
I’m from proverbs “Family is everything,” “Think 100 times and talk once,” “Patience is a virtue,” and “Make four eyes”
“Whoever is shy will die,” and “We learn as long as we live”
From Mama’s angry morning yelling and Daddy’s wishes for sweet sleep
From Grandmother’s repeating the phrase, “Don’t put off today’s work until tomorrow because you can do it even the day after tomorrow”
From an old beautiful Northern accent, quite difficult for Southerners to understand.
From traditional “Cifteli” music playing on the tape recorder
From the traditional dance everybody has to learn.
I’m from feeling the scorching heat of the summer, the cold chill of winter, the golden autumn, and the freshness and beauty of spring
From the fall of the leaves in autumn, barren winter trees budding in spring,
and leafy and full in summer
From teachers pulling sideburns as punishment for those who make mistakes
and do not obey school rules.
I am from glasses of brandy and wine prepared at home for anyone that visits the house
Fresh roasted lamb on a spit with vegetables
From a variety of pies prepared with homemade filo from corn bread and “tave dheu”
From white beans, potato with chicken, pickles and feta cheese
From smelling the marmalade every fall.
I am from those moments.
(photo from Pixabay).