Allaxá #ikaria

Διαβάστε το άρθρο στα ελληνικά εδώ.

Oh, those old times of the past, that fill us with feelings – mostly inherited in our DNA from our ancestors, since not all of us got to live them- inspiration and emotion. Every time I hear a story from the island, in a heartbeat I become its protagonist; the kid who buys candy from the auntie at the seashore, the dancer at a celebration, a barefoot baby stealing onions and green almonds; I become the grandmother that washes clothes in the river, the mischievous neighbor, the young lad on the mountain.

Aris has an office in Koukaki. He is a graphic designer and these few last months it so happened that he did some work in exchange for something else. A business card and a leaflet for the neighborhood dinner was made in exchange to some hot meals. The poster on the cleaners window was given in exchange to fresh clean clothes for months. Exchange! My mom cried: “Allaxá!” The daughter of a friend asked her what language they speak where she comes from. Ikarian, she said… In her language, therefore, it’s called “allaxá”.

In my island, a long time ago, people where poor. Money was scarce, really, so instead, people dealt with allaxá. It was an everyday social practice, honest and mutually beneficial. Anyone with an inclination for an art, a piece of land, a talent, would cover his/her everyday need based on allaxá. The shoemaker would mend the shoes of the carpenter, who would repair a door; or of the shepherd in exchange for some fresh cheese; or even of the farmer who would in turn weed out his small patch of land and so on and so forth. The mattress maker would exchange a duvet for some oil and wine, and the fisherman would get meat in exchange for some fresh fish.

I would really like to talk about the compulsory community service, as, at least, a folklore element of the island, without getting into the politics of it (after all, even when I try to write the word politics, I seem to always get it wrong)! You see, every young man had to offer at least 5 or 6 days of work to the community… That’s how the school in my village got built, the road to Arethousa, and a lot of other important tasks. Another type of allaxá where, this time, the community offered to the workers something in its turn (I don’t know what it would have to offer toady, but I chose to be a romantic, after all, and I will not get into this discussion).

And as life makes its turns, so do people, and their mistakes form concentric cycles, forcing me to think that this is the time to go back to allaxá. To really appreciate the talents of the people around us, to talk Ikarian, to say good morning to our neighbor, to really need them, and for them to really need us!

Dora Tempeli for