This is how Evgenia Triantafyllou portrays the inner conflict of the main character of her short story My Country Is a Ghost. The ghost of the mother of the main character, Niovi, symbolizes the cultural identity, which ties her to her home country and how lost and longing she feels now in a new place. The brilliantly written and award-winning story illustrates an allegory of the loss of connections and heritage during immigration to a new location. Ghosts in this situation act as a symbol of the cultural identity of both the main character and all other actors in the story. The author explains that first-generation immigrants lose their ties to their home country, but also don’t have cultural ties with the new place, so they don’t have their ghosts.
As mentioned earlier, Niovi immigrates to another country, searching for a better life. Things are developing in such a way that everyone has the opportunity to carry the ghost of their loved one with them. Unfortunately, Niovi was not allowed to take his spirit across the border. The matter is in the policy of the international community, which is explained by a woman inspecting Niovi: “If she didn’t die here, I am afraid she cannot follow you,” the woman said.” (Triantafyllou). At this moment, the emergence of an internal conflict in Niovi takes place. On the one hand, she is sorry to let go of the ghost of her mother, which symbolizes all her cultural characteristics and ties with her native country. On the other hand, she needs to abandon her own culture to be able to assimilate into a new place.
Despite the complexity of choice and the painful temptation to leave everything as it was, Niovi decides to open the doors to the future. “She gave the necklace to the impassive woman and let herself drift down the aisle as if a forceful gust of air ushered her away.” (Triantafyllou). After leaving their native country, the person begins a painful separation from their native culture in an attempt to acquire a part of a new local one. As soon as Niovi lost sight of her mother’s ghost and entered a new life, “everything felt like lead, and she could barely move.” (Triantafyllou). However, in this situation, she remains alone with no connection to her own home expressed as a ghost.
The new place met the main character coldly as local people have their ghosts. It is not just about the weather; even the locals paid attention to her because of her out-of-the-crowd features. “Every time she went out, the city’s people would notice her, look at her, and scrutinize her; her absence of the ghost.” (Triantafyllou). Noticing people casually carrying their ghosts and taking them for granted, she looks at them in amazement. Paying attention to these people and the “unbound ghosts,” she involuntarily remembers her home and her mother and falls into melancholy. Moreover, the picture of her mother’s face is already blurring in her mind, and even the photos on her phone do not give her a clear image. Despite all the aggravating circumstances, she does not lose hope for a bright future and continues to live.
Niovi’s new job is directly related to her mom too. She got a job as a dishwasher in the hope of becoming a cook again, which connected her with the ghost of her mother in the past. “Cooking was what her mother had done best when she was alive, and when they were still together in Athens, daughter, and ghost, cooking could help her not forget the things she desperately needed to hold on to.” (Triantafyllou). At the workplace, the girl meets new people. She recognizes the chef Remy, who, just like her in the past, cooks with his ghost grandmother. Remy’s ghost awakened in her all the tender feelings and memories of her mother; envy and sadness absorbed her and contributed to the development of her inner conflict.
The Saturday of Souls approach warms up her feelings and memories of all the values and rituals that she spent together with the ghost of her mother. The heroine flatters herself with the hope of a miracle meeting her mother. Finally, on that Saturday, she meets Remy, and together they come to “a place in the city she had never been before, but she had not been to most places anyway.” (Triantafyllou). The place of celebration for all “ghostless,” where the girl feels scared and restless, strengthens her hopes for a long-awaited meeting. Entering inside and approaching the long table, Niovi performs the rites and opens her eyes, not daring to raise them. “She saw her mother’s eyes for the briefest of moments, And then what there was of her mother’s ghost scattered all around her and soaked this new country so she could finally call it her own.” (Triantafyllou). Thus, a fleeting meeting with her mother helped her to accept a new place.
My Country Is a Ghost is not just a fantastic story about a girl and a parallel world. This is a story that illustrates the difficulty of letting go of the old and accepting a new, unbridled, unusual, and challenging change in life. The story makes you empathize with the main character and closely follow the development of the plot, the difficulties, and the reflections that the heroine faces. Through all the work, Eugenia Triantafyllou ultimately attempts to show the complexity of accepting innovations in life. These transformations that occur with the main character are closely related to her cultural identity, which does not allow her to assimilate into a new country.
Triantafyllou, Eugenia. “My Country Is a Ghost.” Uncanny Magazine, 2020, Web.