On my way to work these days I take a small detour down a rather awkward narrow side street where oncoming traffic calls for skilled manouvers. But because this street is lined with cherry trees on both sides which are now in full bloom ranging from frothy white to the deepest pink I inch my way through it as often as possible.
A friend lives here with her husband and their three now almost grown sons. Her and his parents came from Greece during the time of the military junta.
I remember the days after her second boy was born. She had asked her husband to take pictures of her during labour standing upright and fully naked and together we searched these pictures for any signs of how hard her body was at work. And all we could see was a beautiful strong woman with a touch of urgent madness in her eyes.
Some years ago her husband asked me to translate several German documents and articles into English for a business friend of his in Greece. He insisted that a contract was drawn up. It was a lot of work and there were many calls to and from Greece before all were happy with the outcome. But I was never paid. There followed lengthy explanations of various reasons for the delay, stories about bank drafts gone astray and commissions not approved and so on with promises of delicious Greek dinners, barrels of fresh olives, case loads of wine once the money had come through.
It never came through. It didn't matter, really. Maybe I should have offered to do this for free. So what, no hard feelings, I told them. Come on, I don't need this money. We are friends.
But no. When I meet her now, always by accident, we hug and laugh and quickly exchange the latest news about our children and our health and so on and then she tells me how her husband has just last week spoken to his business friend and that he can now guarantee that the payment will come next week, next month the latest. And I tell her that this is all water under the bridge and let's forget it. And so we laugh again and we promise each other to meet soon for the Greek dinner before we say good bye because we must dash.
And when I occasionally see her husband in town he quickly changes to the other side or turns his head as he passes me.