Dinner with Mr. & Mrs. Kyriaku

Dinner with Mr. & Mrs. Kyriaku

She was going to meet Thaddaus’ parents this evening. The prospect made her very nervous particularly because of Mrs. Kyriaku, although Thaddaus assured her that she had nothing to be nervous about. “As I said, if my mother makes you feel uncomfortable, we will leave immediately,” he declared. “I will not subject you to her foolishness. We can always go back to my place or to a restaurant and have dinner.”

She examined her reflection in the mirror, wondering if the plain black dress with the flared skirt looked okay. Perhaps the pair of gold drop earrings would spruce up the outfit. The only makeup she wore was a Burgundy shade lipstick. On her feet were a pair of black pumps. She opted for her black and gold clutch bag.

When Thaddaus showed up outside of her building, his eyes swept appreciatively over her. “You look lovely,” he remarked.

She smiled, flattered. “Thank you.” He looked wonderful in the black shirt and black trousers.

They hugged and kissed. Then, he released her to open the passengerside door. “Shall we go?”

Nodding, she climbed into the car. “Were you and your parents ever close?”

“Maybe when I was a child, I was close to my mother but then, she became too controlling. She wanted to run my life and I would have none of it.”

“What about your father?”

“He and I got along well. I got my love for riding from him. Back in the day, he was quite the equestrian. He has won his share of trophies.”

“Are your parents retired?”

“No. My mother owns an art gallery and my father runs a restaurant.”

“Your father runs a restaurant?”

“Yes. Are you wondering why I have not taken you there for lunch or dinner?”

She nodded.

“I didn’t want us to be stared at or interrupted when we’re trying to have our meal in peace.”

“Oh.”

“Now that you’ve graduated from University, what are your plans for the summer?”

“I don’t know. I guess I could take a break and then start looking for a job so that I can live in my own place.” She had graduated from Boston University last month, he had attended and so had her parents and her cousin whom she was living with. After the ceremony, he had taken them all out for lunch to celebrate. Then, they took them all to his mansion where they spent the rest of the day. The night before her parents returned to Banjul, he took them and her out for dinner and the following day, he took them the airport. After they bade them farewell, she had turned to him and said, “They really like you.”

“And I really like them,” had been his reply before he put his arm around her shoulder and they left the airport.

“So, you plan on moving out of your cousin’s place once you find yourself a job.”

“Yes.”

“How would you feel about spending the entire month of July in Greece with me?”

She stared at him. “Greece?”

“Yes. We can visit the different islands and Athens.”

“I would like that very much.”

“Good. I will take care of the arrangements.”

She sat there, her mind spinning. He had just asked her to spend an entire month in Greece with him. Was she dreaming?

Twenty minutes later, they were pulling up outside of a sprawling Greek style mansion. As they approached the front entrance, her heart began to pound and the nervousness returned. She hoped and prayed that everything would go smoothly.

A man dressed like a butler answered the door. He greeted Thaddaus with a bow and a smile. “Good evening, Mr. Thaddaus.”

“Good evening, Dimitrios. This is Ms. Sambu.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Sambu.”

“Thank you. It’s-it’s a pleasure to meet you too.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Kyriaku are in the drawing-room.” He closed the door and then, preceded them to the drawing-room.

Mariama gripped Thaddaus’ hand as they went through the foyer, down a corridor and to the rather attractive drawing-room where a woman with her silver hair pulled back in a ponytail and dressed in an off the shoulder black dress stood by the fireplace. A man dressed in a suit was sitting in a armchair. He rose to his feet when they entered.

“Father, Mother, I’d like you to meet Ms. Mariama Sambu,” Thaddaus announced.

Mr. Kyriaku greeted his son with a handshake and a clap on the back, then, his gaze shifted to Mariama. Holding out his hand, he said, “Pleased to meet you, Ms. Sambu.”

She shook his hand, her eyes shy as they met his. “Pleased to meet you too, Mr. Kyriaku.”

Mrs. Kyriaku was watching her son. “You need a haircut.”

“It’s good to see you too, Mother,” he replied drily.

Mrs. Kyriaku turned to face Mariama. Her eyes traveled over her. Extending her hand, she said, “Ms. Sambu.” Unlike her husband, she didn’t smile and her manner wasn’t warm and welcoming.

Mariama shook her hand. “Mrs. Kyriaku.”

“Why don’t we have sit down and have a chat before dinner?” Mr. Kyriaku suggested.

“And I will ring for Dimitrios to bring us some Ouzo and mezedes,” Mrs. Kyriaku said.

Holding her hand, Thaddaus led Mariama over to the loveseat where they sat. Mr. Kyriaku resumed his seat on the armchair while Mrs. Kyriaku occupied the accent chair beside the fireplace, her sharp gaze on her son and his date. Dimitrios brought in a tray with four glasses of Ouzo and Dorthea a tray with mezedes (appetizers) which they set on the table before they left.

Everyone helped themselves to a glass of Ouzo and to the appetizers. “We have mezedes with Ouzo for two reasons,” Mr. Kyriaku explained. “To enjoy the flavors and to lessen the intoxicating effect of the drink.”

“My parents always warned against drinking on an empty stomach,” Mariama said and then, wished she hadn’t say anything when Mrs. Kyriaku looked at her. She sensed that the woman didn’t approve of her.

“So, Ms. Sambu, how do your parents feel about you living in America?” she inquired.

“They’re happy for me.”

“Are they?”

“Yes.”

“Why did you choose Boston?”

“There are only two universities in Gambia. I didn’t want to go to either of them. So, I asked my parents if I could study abroad. They said I could and suggested I choose either England or America because I have family there I could stay with. I chose America and then, I applied to Boston University. I was accepted.”

Thaddaus gently squeezed her hand. “And I’m very thankful that she chose Boston.”

“How did you and–may I call you Mariama?” Mr. Kyriaku asked.

“Yes, you can call me Mariama, Mr. Kyriaku.”

“How did you and my son meet?”

“We-we met when he came to a concert at Symphony Hall.”

“After the concert, I was determined to meet Mariama so I introduced myself to her and offered to give her music lessons.”

His mother stared at him. “You offered to give her music lessons?”

“Yes. She turned me down because she couldn’t afford to pay for them so I told her that I won’t charge her.”

“Why would you give her free lessons?” Mrs. Kyriaku demanded. “I thought you were running a business not a charity.”

“I did it because I wanted to see Ms. Sambu again. The music lessons were simply an excuse to spend time with her.”

“And, how are you enjoying the lessons?” Mr. Kyriaku asked.

“I have been enjoying them very much.”

“The music lessons are over but I’ve taught her how to ride and now I’m teaching her Greek.”

“Do you think it’s worth your while to teach Ms. Sambu our language? Greek is a very hard language for native English speakers.”

Thaddaus returned his mother’s steady gaze. “It’s also hard for those but those who speak Romance languages as well but fortunately, many words within the English language that have Greek roots.  And, besides, Ms. Sambu is a very apt student.”

“I love Greek mythology, art, food and now I’m feeling the same way about the language,” Mariama said.

Mr. Kyriaku smiled. “Good for you. And speaking of food, I think it’s time that we headed for the dining-room to have dinner.” He rose to his feet. “Shall we?” he said to Mariama, holding out his arm.

She got up from the sofa and walked over to him after she set her glass and plate on the different trays. She placed her hand on his arm and walked out of the drawing-room. At least she had found an ally in Mr. Kyriaku.

Sources: Mia Ava; De’ Lancie; Holidify; The Traveler Insiders; Boston University College of Fine arts; Language Bird