“But what’re we doing?” Her boyfriend Maksym’s mother was ushering Isla out of the lounge room and into the kitchen with quick gestures and quiet, accented English. Behind them the male Ihoryshyns were watching the start of the football on the television, commenting to each other in what she was beginning to recognise as Ukrainian.
“Eggs.” That was Grandmother Ihoryshyn, grey hair up in a bun and wearing an apron over her smart day dress. “It’s time to do the eggs for Easter. They’re well out of the way,” she gestured towards the lounge room with a small implement she was holding, “so you two girls can help us and we can get to know each other better.”
Isla realised that Oleksandr’s girlfriend, Gaye, was in the room too, sitting at a corner of the table with her long black hair pulled back with an obviously borrowed pink ribbon and an apron over her black clothes. Isla waved weakly at her across the room and put on the apron Mrs Ihoryshyn gave her. On the table were four cartons of eggs, pencils, candles, tissues and three more small implements. Saucepans were lined up down the kitchen bench.
“So, how do we do this?” Gaye leant on the table while the other three took their seats.
“You don’t do this in your families?” Mrs Ihoryshyn looked at both young women as they shook their heads. “Ah. Well, first you carefully draw your pattern on the raw egg’s shell.” She went on to describe the rest of the process and finished, “Of course, we use our mothers’ patterns.”
“So Gaye and I really have to make up our own,” said Isla slowly.
“I can do that,” Gaye volunteered, perking up. “What colours do we have? I’ll swap these pale ones for brown ones, if you like Mrs I – I’ve an idea.”
As the younger women got involved in the task the two older ones exchanged a satisfied look. These two girlfriends might do. If they would learn how to do the eggs, perhaps they would learn the other things as well?