It is night. I’m in my early teens, it’s one of those scorching Greek summers without a/c, and it’s happy hour for mosquitoes all over the land. I’m in my bed, reading. I read a lot back then, so my lack of friends (or a reasonably functioning family) wouldn’t hurt as much. I read almost anything I found. But that summer I’d found a paperback collection of Agatha Christie’s novels. And I’m reading breathlessly the adventures of an old woman solving crimes.
I know know that her works have their issues. There’s colonialism abound, all stories take place in upper class settings, but there’s an element that really resonates with me: There is an old woman solving crimes.
I suspected, even at that young age, that family and children would never be in my life. And old women’s lives, from what I saw then, revolved around children and grandchildren, sitting on their creaky old chairs, with perhaps a cat on their lap, knitting and doing chores around the house. The end. Nothing wrong with that, of course, if that’s one’s choice. But I knew it wouldn’t be my life. Okay, except for the cat. And several more cats.
And here comes a book telling me that old women have choices too. For instance, solving crimes.
Or, writing books.
Thank you, Dame Agatha.
It is night. It’s the Antioch region, circa 960 AD. There are news of bandit raids nearby. And another old woman has to make her own choice: be true to the mother she is, or to the amazon she once was. Or, can she be both?
My short story “On Marble Threshing Floors” is very close to my heart, because it’s very personal to me. It deals with an ongoing struggle between what’s my heart needs and what society, in many ways, insists on: old women have little use once they age. They should lay down their arms—their dreams, their ambitions, their hunger for life—and await death.
Or, like Maximu, the amazon in my story, they can make their own path. Be it against bandits, be it against windmills, be it against the whole world, as long as they remain true to themselves. And as long as they regard their magic as potent as this of any man.