The Tarmac Lady

Maroulla, a tall, strong woman dressed in black stands in a makeshift tent set amongst hundreds of others. Inside the tent, she is talking to the ‘Mukhtari’ (leader of the village).

Mukhtari
Maroulla, I know that you are suffering more than most. But everyone in this refugee camp is in the same boat. They have all lost their homes and possessions.

Maroulla
I know Mukhtari. I am not asking for special treatment but I have six children and my husband is one of the ‘unknowns’. I am alone with no one to help me. Winter is coming and the children have no clothes (she begins to cry).

My eldest boys and I have stooped to laying the tarmac for the new roads. But it pays very little. I ask them to use scarves to hide their faces and bow their heads when anyone is passing so that no one sees to what level we have fallen, and bring shame on our name.

Mukhtari
You are wrong to tell them to do that Maroulla. You have done nothing wrong. You are refugees in your own country and you are now helping rebuild it. You should neither hide your faces or yourselves.

You should be proud!

It is others who should hang their heads in shame.

Maroulla
Even with that I cannot afford the food and clothes I need Mukhtari. Is there nothing you can try and do for me?

Mukhtari
I wish I could ‘Maroulla mou’ (my Maroulla). I really do. In all the months, you have been here I know that you are one of the few that has never moaned or asked for anything despite your six children and not knowing what has happened to your husband. But our government is at full stretch trying to re-house the third of the population displaced.

I wish I could offer you more hope, but that is hard to come by at the moment.

Scene
Lefteris, a 16-year-old boy runs into the Mukhtari’s tent breathless and waving an envelope.

Lefteris
Mukhtari! Mukhtari! There is a telegram!

Mukhtari
Who would send me a telegram?

Lefteris
It's not for you Mukhtari. It is for Maroulla. We have been looking for her everywhere and then someone told us she was with you.

Maroulla
Oh, my God! No good news ever arrived by telegram.

It must be about my husband.

Please Mukhtari, you read it for me.

Scene
Lefteris hands the Mukhtari the envelope as Maroulla begins to tremble.

The Mukhtari reads the document to himself and then turns to Maroulla.

Mukhtari
Maroulla, the telegram is from London and reads as follows:

“Authorised Bank of Cyprus Nicosia to extend credit to you of CY£200. Please make sure children are clothed for winter and have some toys and sweets. You are not forgotten Maroulla! Your cousin Pambos Lambis”

Scene
Maroulla falls to the floor wailing and making the sign of the cross on her chest.

Maroulla
God is great! God is great!

Mukhtari
[with tears rolling down his cheeks, bends down to help Maroulla.]

Get up from your knees Maroulla. I will drive you to Nicosia tomorrow.