the wall and I ( draft )

by valentinestavrou

I was born

and my already prescribed history

rushed to claim me;

a newborn female

of “Greek- Cypriot” descent

and of “Greek-Orthodox”  religion.

 

Imposed on me like a stamp,

 as a girl, I felt

I had to live up to it.

My schools narratives took up my education,

 textbooks provided the malice done to us from those that occupy the land

but they failed to inform me of their side of the story.

 

 

Growing up with an imaginative wall diving my city,

I grew aware of an inner wall

that built itself along my education;

I now call it ignorance.

 

As a young woman, about to grow out of my teens

I met for the first time some of the people I had wrongly considered the enemy for so long

and I felt my inner wall trembling as he said “I’m Cypriot” while we shared pasta.

They all lived in Nicosia too, though in neighborhoods I had never heard of.

I was full of silly questions, “Do you have nightclubs?” “How many airports do you have?”

Yet they eagerly provided all the answers.

We exchanged our versions of history

and we tried to rationalize the way our island’s history has been distorted.

I had to know.

A hot summer’s afternoon I crossed

walking through the deserted deadzone, no man’s land,

not knowing what to expect, unable to absorb the images before me;

a brief encounter with the city and I walked back again.

 

A couple of years later, a sweet summer’s night

we crossed and

it was just us and the city for hours;

she observing us, we, discovering what it felt we should have known.

 

“Do I look foreign to them?” I thought,

as we kept strolling around, inhaling the city ;

the tranquility, the sokaks, the architecture,

and one magic neighborhood that lured us in.

I didn’t have the courage to talk to the old couple

and at that moment I realized,

I was a tourist.

Long time before, Kyrenia’s little port was the impossible

but a random Sunday, it was me in the picture, I had jumped in the picture

the imaginative and reality became the present

and I were there where I thought I would never be; I was at the other side.

 

Here was I again, pass midnight, in an empty occupied city,

in the company of a boy I knew almost nothing about

discovering the mirror image of the city I grew up in

only, it was different.

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