My Last Lament by James William Brown
We need to be remembered, we need to have our song sung and Aliki is one of the last to do this for people, she is a lamenter, she tells our story, sings our song when we’ve died. Because she is one of the last, she is asked by a young researcher to record some of her laments for posterity, for history, for the stories.
Aliki’s approach to this request is to tell her own story, her last lament. Aliki lives in northern Greece and she begins with the German occupation during World War II when she witnesses a German soldier kill her father for stealing a squash. People are hungry and they will do whatever they can even if it’s the last thing they do. Aliki is taken in by her friend Takis’s mother, who in turn hides a Jewish woman and her son, Stelios. Takis is devoted to Aliki and becomes jealous of the attention Aliki shows to Stelios and this jealousy uncovers deeper problems within Takis.
When finally, the Germans burn down their village, the three, Aliki, Takis and Stelios make their way through the countryside, trying to stay alive and becoming more and more entwined in each other’s lives. There is love and betrayal, there is hope and death, there is renewal and loss.
This isn’t a happy story but it unfolds another layer of the lives that people endured during the most unendurable of times. And isn’t this what we all want? To be heard?