Saturday, January 21, 2012
We climbed a dark narrow stairway and walked down a hallway and my mother knocked on a door. We entered an equally dark apartment in downtown Chicago. There was a small wooden table in the room which was the kitchen. My brother and I would play while my mother talked to a white haired old man in a language we couldn't understand. The white haired man was my grandfather.
After a short conversation with my mother the white haired man went to a cupboard and retrieved a small package and brought it to the table. The package was about six inches square and wrapped in tin foil. The white haired man would open the package carefully. A cream colored block was inside; it was shiny and oozing with liquid. The white haired man called my brother and me over to the table.
My brother wouldn't come to the table, but I went over to see what the package contained. With me standing and him seated, we were eye to eye. I was about three years old at the time. I remember he had a slight build, a dark complexion, and a white stubble of a beard. His breath smelled strongly of garlic. He cut off a small section from the cream colored block and offered me a piece saying it was candy. I took it and tasted it gingerly. It was the sweetest candy I've ever tasted.
The only time I ever saw the white haired man smile was when I tasted the candy. He seemed pleased since my brother and mother didn't like the candy. Afterwards the white haired man would wrap up the candy in the tin foil and put it back in the cupboard. Shortly thereafter we would leave slowly descending the stairway.
When I was in my twenties I learned my grandfather on my mother's side was Greek, that his last name was Grivakis, and the candy I had back then was sesame halava. This is all I can remember or know of my grandfather. Today I had a piece of halava I bought at the grocery store a few days ago and remembered my grandfather.
(photos taken from google images)