Inspired by the famous Greek song Dio Portes Ehi i Zoi, which was performed by legendary Greek singer Stelios Kazantzidis back in 1958, Greek Australian author Doris Falidis Nickolas has just launched her first book, Life Has Two Doors, at the Pan-Macedonian Hall in South Australia.
Dedicated to her four children, the book delves into the lives of four young women from the traditional mountainous village of Agios Panteleimonas in Greece, who left their homeland in the 1950s and 1960s to embark on an adventure in search for a better future.
Born and raised in Australia, migration didn’t mean much to Doris before she visited Greece, but she admits that the trip back to her parents’ homeland at the age of nine had a strong impact on her.
“Visiting my parents’ homeland had a profound effect on me.
“I felt it then, and I still feel it now. I connected. I belonged,” says Doris, who after a few trips back to Greece, started researching her mother’s past.
Listening to her mother Niki talk about the good and the hard times while reminiscing with her friends gave Doris a deeper understanding of the hardships these generations endured and a new appreciation about her Greek heritage.
It also gradually made her more curious about all those women who, at a very young age, had the courage to seek a better future away from home.
Doris started collecting fascinating and somewhat emotionally-wrenching stories, as well as the fears and hopes that those women shared after sacrificing family closeness in order to seize the opportunity for a better life in a hospitable yet foreign country.
Katina, Theodora, Niki and Popi – the four main characters of the book – came out to Australia, and their stories highlight the joys, sorrows and social challenges they experienced as immigrants in an ever-growing culturally-diverse society.
As for the title of her book, Doris says she chose it while visiting Greece in 2014.
“It was a warm summer day and this song came on the radio on our way home from the beach,” she says.
The ‘two doors’ made perfect sense to Doris as they ultimately represented the two countries – Greece and Australia – that all Greek migrants had to walk through to get to where they are today.
Stelios Kazantzidis always had a unique way of speaking right into the hearts of the migrant Greeks, giving them a sense of belonging.
In essence this is exactly what Doris is attempting to do with her book – speak to her readers’ hearts.