Dumov Kosta

At the start of 1938 and exactly in the month January on one unusually cold night, the boat Ai-Stratis did not unload. The next day Duma, an old prisoner of 1936, took us and we went to the gully near the monastery to cut branches to make beds for ourselves. As we went along the road, I watched him and wondered. He was a huge man with very broad shoulders. He wore a long coat and woolen, home made pants. He did not own any other things. He got by with those things the whole of the period of the exile.

In one corner where the winter sum baked, we sat and he told us about life in exile.

"To beat the difficulties," - he spoke simply and softly - "you need faith and work…"

"And what sort of work can exiles do?" asked one of us.

"It turns up. You have to want to. I work with the group that cuts timber. The collective buys timber from the villagers in Avlakjata, in the village Dimitar - where there is interest - and we go and cut it. We make it into small pieces ready for transporting. With Hristo Antoniu we also make lime. Many of us from my village Vladovo know this sort of work. Those of us who are from villages work in the fields from spring onwards. We give half of our pay to the shared account and that way we help the collective and also cover our own costs a little. And the most important thing is that we are not sitting and thinking all the time about the "endless exile".

Harder days came. The war started. The world war reached the dry island and took a dramatic form. On the one side Gestapo and the Greek police, our collective on the other. There were fewer and fewer in our rows. Some were dying, some withdrew. All of this time Duma was at the forefront, as always, calm, upstanding.

Later on we continued on. He did not escape alone. If my memory does not mislead me, with him were old Fahantidi from the village Rudnik - Surovichko, Micho Asteriu and others. Their families made an effort to pull them from the mouth of death. We sat on the hard cliffs of the island's shore both happy and saddened - because the others were going to freedom while we remained bound to the island. And those in the boat were also both happy and saddened. They waved to us for the last time. As the boat disappeared so did the white handkerchiefs they were waving and then finally their outlines could no longer be seen. We did not want to leave. We stayed until the boat became a black dot and then even that disappeared. That is when we set off for the camp and were envious that they had saved themselves, while we …

Later the newspapers arrived. Instead of letting them go free, as they had promised, they had imprisoned them in the prison camp "Pavlos Melas." And one early morning in 1943 when the sun had already started to redden the blood of approaching freedom, they were taken out and executed. On the road, as they were getting out of the truck "cage" they pulled them aside for execution, one of the police who was known to him suggested - "Kosta, mate! Won't you sign a declaration to save yourself?"

Maybe it was the first time that Duma was afraid. His face became sickly pale. His lips, his eyelids trembled quietly. He turned to the mountains as they heard the rat-a-tat of the Hellenic gun. He looked to the north … he straightened his body, which was bowed by all its sufferings, to its full height. He cleared his throat so that his voice would be clearer. And with the Internationale he stood calmly before the executioners, because right up to the end, he fulfilled his debt to the people and to the party.

K Purnaras


From: For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters

© 2009

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For Sacred National Freedom: Portraits Of Fallen Freedom Fighters