As the late afternoon sun beats down on the wide open expanses of these sunburnt plains, Roko wipes the sweat from his brow, but nothing can wipe the broad smile from his deeply tanned, charmingly weather beaten face. The vines won’t plant themselves, but this is his farm, with his young family, and his cold beer waiting in the fridge for him when he gets back - and nothing can take that away from him. text...
The work is hard but nothing is as hard as what he’s had to endure to get here. Bloody fighting fractured his childhood and tore apart his family. A street kid, running with gangs across Europe, constantly on the move, avoiding persecution and stealing food to keep his little sister alive. Then out of the blue, the opportunity of a life time – a boat, a months long voyage, and a new strange land with nothing but the shirt on his back.
Not that the lucky country was the kindest exactly, either. But the weird looks, taunts and insults fired his way from the “Skippy’s” who couldn’t understand him and his people were water off a ducks back compared to bullets and shells from whence he came. And besides – this was his chance, his one real shot to make a life for himself, and no “greasy wog” trash talk was going to get in that way of that.
So Roko thinks – work hard, head down, have a laugh and a drink and thank god everyday for what you’ve got. Meet the love of your life (from the neighbouring village in the old country, no less). Save up enough for a ring and a down payment on a block of your own. Maybe a truck? Build a community for other folks in the same position as you – una faccia una razza – cos there are plenty more arriving everyday. 18 hour days, 6 days a week – but you’re doing it for your wife, your family – and so your kids don’t have to.
And now here he is – taken over the old neighbours block, planting up more vines, business is booming – looks like the Skips are coming around to all this wog food and drink. Roko digs a small hole with his hands, the grains of deep red dirt running through his fingers as he gently cradles the young vine into the soil. Free as a fledgling. A transplant, from the other side of the world, thriving in his new home. Roko wipes his hands on his old vest – that’ll do for today – now where is that beer?
Written by Con-Greg Grigoriou