Feeding the Doves
Syntagma square, in downtown Athens, can be a confusing place. Day in, day
out hundreds of people mill around, and on demonstration days it gets
really busy. Anger, tear-gas, screams and megaphones fill the air; cars
and taxis lay siege to the place, while tourists look on from the windows
of the Grand Bretagne Hotel, or from their television sets.
Sundays, the square becomes a different place; it mellows, it quietens.
Frequented by people with time to look around, to notice things, it gets
back the soft, slow, thinking side it is meant to have. That's my sort of
place, that's where I belong. Not even the cops bother to move me on, to
stop me feeding the doves. I guess they have enough trouble on their hands
with all those vultures around.
The doves. These birds are hungry! They flutter and coo, begging to be
fed. The parcel of crumbs and seeds I take to them makes them happy. When
the wife was still alive, she used to prepare a big food bag and send me
to feed them. My arm ached from the weight. She used to say, doves carry
the souls of the dead. I never believed her, of course. I pulled a face
and left the house … I only went to feed them to keep her quiet. I thought
it was what they call women's trouble, getting old and that. I thanked God
for sparing us, men.
Ah, now, now I know different. I know they bring her with them, bless her
soul; they bring her spirit. I know doves carry the wisdom of the world,
bring peace. But does the world know it? No! It stopped seeing the doves
for what they are long ago; instead, it sees them as a load of dirty
pigeons. A health hazard to be dealt with by Health and Safety - while
there are still civil servants around! That's why the world has lost its
soul, if you ask me. Even on Sundays, it fails to see the doves.
one soul feeds