Zvetanka Nikolova Didnt manage to come to the experiential workshop in TOPOS ALLOu and prefered to write and send a letter.

Translated by V.Alexandrova from Bulgarian into Greek       Facilitator: A.Kougia    Translation into English: D. Mylonas

It is with pain in my soul that I will tell you a story that will always stay in my memory and soul. One night I first met with the lady that I was about to care for, when I first came to Greece in 2005. That’s how all jobs start, you’re supposed to keep company to an elderly lady or gentleman, there’s no difference. I was 56 years old at the time, the lady was 65. Her husband was a seaman, a captain on a ship – he had died and she was left alone. Her daughter lived on the upper floor of the house with her family. The lady was physically healthy – I was simply to tend to the housework (cooking, cleaning, etc.) and keep her company.

In the morning I went there with my baggage of clothes. The lady received me at the door. I greeted her but she didn’t answer me. She was blunt with me and said “Leave your baggage here, take these 20 euro and go to the market to bring me 10 kilos of oranges”. I replied “Madam, which road should I take to the market? I am not familiar to this area”. She said “I am not obliged to tell you, you will ask for directions as you go, and without a trolley. I want you to bring the oranges now, and carry the oranges with your hands”. I left and walked around, there was no one to ask for directions on the street, I walked and walked but couldn’t find a shop to buy oranges. At the end I got to the market and bought 10 kilos of oranges. The way back was uphill, and carrying those oranges when I finally got back to the house I was tired. I left the oranges at the house, and the lady told me “Now, quickly, go back to the market and buy potatoes, zucchini and some other things. Again, without a trolley, carry them with your hands”. I thought that again I would have to walk back uphill carrying all that weight. When I got back to the house again from the market, the lady said “Now you will go back again to get fruits”. I did everything like the lady asked, with receipts from the shopping. I started to think that I would not be able to stay long at that place. Anyway, the first day had finished.

Next morning I visited the lady in her bedroom. “Good morning madam, how are you? Did you sleep well?” The lady replied “Pull the curtain aside. Ten centimetres to the right. No, no, 5 more centimetres to the right…no, 5 cm to the left..”..and so on for about half an hour. She was playing with me.

The behavior was the same every day. One day I asked the lady if I could go out to get a card for my mobile mobile. I took with me only the money I needed (10 euro) without my purse and when I returned I found my purse empty! I realized that the lady had stolen the rest of my money but did not speak because I was afraid. I panicked because that was all the money I had (10 euro for my mobile phone card and another 40 that were stolen). Just the next day came another lady in the house for coffee, who spoke very good Bulgarian. This lady told me to leave but I didn’t then because I was afraid of having my passport taken away – I had heard such stories.

One day the lady sent me to the pharmacy. When the pharmacist saw the prescription, he understood where I was working, and he told me “Do you know how many women have worked in that house? 25! No one could endure it to stay there and work?” When I returned to the house, I decided to leave that place – I was getting sick after 5 days. She gave me a little food, no sleep, and was commanding me day and night. When I got my baggage and was ready to leave, the lady started shouting at me “Get out of my house immediately!” I replied “Madam, why are you treating me like this?” She replied “Because you are an animal, and animals should be treated accordingly. You are not a human being, to work in this house”. I started crying. I went out the door and waited there for her daughter to come and pay me for the week that I had worked there. I would get 100 euro. Her daughter told her that I was the last woman she hired to help her, and she gave me the money. I went out on the street. I was shivering. I thought “And now, where should I go?” This phrase is following me my whole life. Like we are sentenced by our country to suffer, to endure, to swallow our tears because we are not allowed even to cry, and to hope that one day we might go back to our country, even older and with grey hair, just to live one full day in peace in our beloved country, Bulgaria. When will this happen? Maybe never…