| Social Issues |Phileleftheros



So close, yet so far. We have learned not to look over there. We are used to our world stopping at a certain point, beyond which there’s something else, distant, unknown now, almost foreign. Until the unexpected happens, good or bad, and we cast our gaze in that direction. If the mountain turns white with snow, if the mountain burns… There are certain events that pass over the checkpoints, mentally remove the barbed wire and take us back to where we should be.

Twelve thousand acres of vegetation burned. That means nothing if you don’t have an idea of the area. Beautiful places of wild vegetation untouched by “development”. Kantara, Flamoudi, Ardana, Agios Andronikos, Agios Iakovos, Mantres, Akanthou, Lefkoniko… Our villages, our place [Translator’s note: can also mean ‘country’].

Many of us who were young in ’74 and those born after who never crossed the checkpoints do not even know how this landscape looks. We see the side of Pentadaktylos that is bare and rugged, with the Turkish flag engraved in the middle, flashing at night to remind us of the occupation. Which, however, we got used to. Until a catastrophe comes along to remind us.

The other side of the mountain is different. Those of us who didn’t already know it, but at some point crossed the checkpoints, were surprised by what lies behind the mountain we face every day. Many said that we shouldn’t go, that we are recognising the regime, that we are strengthening the occupation, that… But today, as when we first saw it – as if on a journey to another place – we know how beautiful our country was (is). We know what our other half looks like. When refugees say that the Turks got the most beautiful part, it is not their pain that makes it so.

Someone said, “let everything burn, since it is not ours anymore, they should not enjoy it either.” A petty reaction. Like some men who kill their children when they divorce so that their ex-wives will not enjoy them. But this is not the general sentiment. Most of us felt as if our home was burning and we couldn’t rush to help put out the fire, but were stuck watching, not involved, and thinking: Do those who undertook to put out the fire love the place as much as we do and will they do everything possible? Do they care as much as we do?


Daily columnist at Phileleftheros for 20 years and editor-in-chief of the architecture magazine Synthesis. Earlier she worked for Alitheia and Politis. She was born in Dikomo and has been living permanently in Nicosia. She is married with one son.

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