Alcandor and Caterina settled in a rented home in the Riverland of South Australia, and Alcandor immediately found a factory job, supporting the bountiful fruit industries of the region.
At first Caterina stayed home to look after Dymas but, once he was at school, she joined Alcandor working in the factory. They wanted to work hard for their children to provide for them in a way they were unable to do in their homeland.
When Caterina went to enroll the children at the local primary school, a Greek interpreter was provided for her. The headmaster asked her to provide evidence of the children’s birthdates, so she arranged to return the next day with their birth records.
That evening, while washing the dishes, Caterina remembered she needed the olive wood box for the children’s birth certificates. Alcandor had produced it on their arrival in Australia to present the necessary documents to prove their identities, but she couldn’t remember seeing it since then. She turned to Alcandor who was sitting at the kitchen table reading a Greek newspaper.
‘Darling, I need the children’s birth records from the olive wood box. Where have you put it?’
Caterina was unprepared for his response. Her husband’s body stiffened and his knuckles whitened as he gripped the pages of the newspaper. He didn’t raise his eyes, and hesitated before answering her with an uncharacteristic abruptness. ‘What do you want it for?’
‘I need to take the children’s papers to the school so they can be enrolled.’
Caterina stood motionless, her hands dripping sudsy water onto the floor as she faced her husband. Without looking at her, Alcandor stood up and roughly pushed his chair aside. ‘I’ll get them for you. Don’t trouble yourself.’
Caterina turned back to the sink as Alcandor left the room, her face flushed with shock. He had never spoken to her like this before nor denied her access to the wooden box. The box belonged equally to both of them. It was a family treasure. Why was there a problem now? And why did he speak to her so harshly?