Mutterings IV

An exclusive excerpt from the book "Mutterings IV" by Panayotis Kousathanas, an emblematic personality of Mykonos.

The poet, writer and essayist Panayotis Kousathanas turns back the clock to the time when Mykonos welcomed its first devotees…


A LAND ABLAZE BY THE ABUNDANCE OF LIGHT
Elli Nezeriti’s first meeting with Mykonos and Piatigialos in 1950.

Born in 1920, educated in France and something of a renaissance woman, Elli Nezeriti was one of the most loyal friends of post-war Mykonos, building friendships and strong bonds on the island. A director and scriptwriter, Elli has directed, among others, a film shot entirely on Mykonos and Delos in 1960-1961 based on her own script. From her emotive first book, Mykonos, I have selected for Mutterings IV her narrative by the name of “On the Way to Piatigialos” [Platis Gialos beach], for sentimental reasons.
That was the site of the village of grandpa Panagiotis and nanna Anezo; where my cousins and I swam all alone every time our fathers took us to see the elderly couple; where I went on to spend my summers up to 2002. Today, everyone has heard of the sandy beaches of Platis Gialos and Psarou, split by the cape we call Takounou (or Takounas). Few though, only those on the older side like myself, remember these places as Nezeriti describes them: virgin, authentic, with crystal waters, sensual light and scents, lacking all that is pretentious and hollow today…

I stayed for hours at Piatigialos as if kept there by something. I knew that I would never have the chance to live again that very moment of departure…

The Piatigialos essay is by no means the only notable part of Nezeriti’s short book. Its pages, sanctified by time’s passing – almost seventy years have passed since its publication – have genuine things to say in a voice that is quiet, tranquil and full of love. They speak of the harmony and beauty of the island’s nature, its people of that time, its locations which are now renowned the world round but are spoilt while they used to be untouched and untainted. Of the island’s benevolent spirit, Mando, who would step down from her pedestal to walk the Town at night before she was driven away by the night-time partiers and the spirits of present day. Of the beautiful Mykonian girl called Ernoula, who could see spirits. And of even more.


Nezeriti writes: “I stayed for hours at Piatigialos as if kept there by something. I knew that I would never have the chance to live again that very moment of departure…” Those same words come to mind in a different garb, as written five years later by Albert Camus, about that very place: “Finally; happiness, happiness nearing tears. I would like to keep beside me, to hold tight this enormous joy that I though know will be lost” (1955)…
Elli Nezeriti’s first visit to Piatigialos was in August of 1950. And it was a little earlier, a few days after the feast of the Apodosis of the Dormition, when at the sandy, wind-sheltered outer wall, touching the dry stone of the reed partitions which separated the sand from the plots, blossomed on its own, unwatered, the humble but aromatic sea daffodil before being trampled by thousands of tourist feet, generously spreading white light and intoxicating perfume – the one Latin-minded botanists like to call Pancratium maritimum. Elli Nezeriti, thirty years young back then, all alone on Piatigialos’ sand in the company of the murmur of the waves, and of the sea daffodils. Impossible, younger generations who haven’t lived this unique experience would say.

[The remainder of my commentary on traveller Elli Nezeriti’s inspired essay is available in my recently published book]

MUTTERINGS IV was published by Indiktos, Athens 2018, and kindly sponsored by the Municipality of Mykonos.

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