The great-aunt-once-removed (by far the most common species of) yiayia who lived opposite the marble-tiled (turned holiday) villa your dad built for his parents but which they refused to move into; the ignore-her-at-your-peril yiayia who lurked outside the church and once—in a grab for his attention—pulled down your brother’s swim shorts as he queued for ice cream; the merciless-face-pinching-related-by-second-marriage yiayia (face pinching usually being the male preserve of leathery papous) who wanted you for her grandson and smelled of yeast and mastiha; the middle-one-of-a-trio-of-falsetto-voiced yiayias who in summer-cruel widow’s black congregated at the corner on straight-backed chairs and whom you pictured years later—with their whiskers and their skin tags and grown-long-with-age noses—while you studied Macbeth; the great-aunt-proper yiayia who, according to your dad, once threw stones at passers-by out of loneliness so should always be indulged with a visit (during which she might bring you a breadcrumb-encrusted glass whose rose-water contents you’d eject over your shoulder into the bushes when she wasn’t looking); and finally, still to be found at the village’s edge (despite your dad’s attempts at relocation), your one true yiayia, her cheeks sweet and seasonal as watermelon.
Hear Michelle Christophorou read her piece
Michelle Christophorou has kissed a lot of Cypriot grandmothers. She is the author of novella-in-flash Kipris (Ad Hoc Fiction, 2021), shortlisted for a Saboteur Award. Her fiction has appeared online and in the National Flash Fiction Day, Bath Flash Fiction Award, and Bath Short Story Award anthologies, among others.