Introduction

The lesson “Maternity” is written by a famous Greek novelist, journalist and short story writer, Lilika Nakos. The story comprises of three main settings- a camp of Armenian refugees, a camp of Anatolian refugees and a Chinese family. The story deals with the uncertainties occurred in the life of a fourteen-year-old boy Mikali and his new born brother in a refugee camp in Armenia,situated on the outskirts of the town.

Mikali and his brother

Mikali, the protagonist of the story, was in need of a nursing mother to feed his starving little brother as he lost his mother after she gave birth to his younger brother. Since there is no one to help Mikali, he has sought shelter in the refugee camp. The Turkish massacres in their native country have created thousands of refugees.

Majority of needy people live under carpets hung by four corners with sticks and most of them in the camp are forced to take some jobs for their survival. Not able to go for any work,Mikali has to eat the stale bread, available in the camp and most of the time, he and his brother had no food to eat.

The hardships of the refugees

Malnourishment and lack of proper food and shelter is the most important theme highlighted in the story. Basic human amenities are denied to the major characters of the story who are marginalized. “The country spread out before him in arid wasteland, covered with refuse.” describes the lack of concern of the people to the refugees. The people in the camp are unwilling to help Mikali and are irritated with the screams of the baby. Even the women refuse to hear Mikali in the camp.

They are horrified to see the baby as it looks pale and undernourished. Mikali goes to the other side of the camp where he sees the Anatolian refugees who have fled from Turkish massacres. The people there turn a blind eye to Mikali’s request of providing milk to the infant. As a woman in the Anatolian camp saw the baby’s face, she screamed in horror as the baby was swollen.

Towards the end of the story, a China man comes to the rescue of Mikali. The Chinaman usually visits the camp to sell paper knick knacks and charms. He addresses the fourteen-year-old boy’s problems with care and consideration as he could not bear up the struggle of the young boy. The Chinaman takes Mikali to his home and his wife feeds the baby.