“Look what I’ve got,” says my three-year-old nephew.
“What is it?”
“It’s a truck,” he responds, waving it in front of the web camera.
“Oh, now I can see it!”
He runs off to find more toys, leaving his teenage brother and sister free to chat.
“Hooley Dooley,” I say, “you’ve all grown!”
_“No, that doesn’t sound right.”
We stop, mid-song.
“Let me hear your note again,” says Yvonne, blowing her pitch pipe.
We hesitantly sing our part, waiting for someone else to take the lead.
“Tenors,” she says, coming over to our section, “You’re singing the Altos’ part!”
_ “Don’t shout,” my cousin yelled, “you’ll wake up yiayia (grandma).”
“What did you say?” I bellowed as we noisily careened through the darkened house just after 2am. “I can’t see anything!”
Yiayia, who was deaf, slept peacefully in the next room, oblivious to our hilarity and collisions with the furniture.
“And this,” I said, indicating the rows of shelves, “is where we keep the ashes.”
“Ashes?” gasped the new receptionist, slowly backing out of the room. “You mean… of dead people?”
“Well, yes. We’re just across the road from the crematorium.”
I woke, startled by a melancholy sense of emptiness and loss.
The relentless tick-tock from my bedside clock, as it edged towards the end of another decade, overwhelmed me with an uneasy feeling:
Had I squandered my carefree 20s and 30s in frivolous pursuit of fun, travel and adventure?
New Zealand 2008
New Zealand 2006
United Kingdom 2004
Athens Olympics 2004
Beijing to Athens 1994
I acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi and Joondoburri people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, the waters and sky. I pay my respect to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.
© 2023 HARI KOTROTSIOS