Yeraltý Notlarý, 05 Mayýs 2008

Sevgül Uludað

 

The woman with the blue eyes…

Karpaz is difficult… Even though we live on a small island, still Karpaz is far away – it is not like Nicosia or Kyrenia or Famagusta or even the small villages around Cyprus when you publish something and immediately you get a response… Karpaz is different: It is still isolated and lives in its own world…

It is like going back in time, when you go to Karpaz… Even though 30-40 years have gone by, the past is still living here, not wanting to go anywhere… Therefore, information is hard to come by… You need to work step by step, stone by stone, beach by beach, home by home in order to gather information about what happened in the past. Because in 2008, the big question we are still trying to find answers to is: Who did what in this country? Who caused the division? Who built the walls inside the minds of the Cypriots, be it Turkish Cypriot or Greek Cypriot? And how did they build these walls?

So I go to Karpaz almost every week now, driving from Nicosia, sometimes alone, sometimes with a Turkish Cypriot woman whose brother is `missing`… She offered to help me find other `missing` and is sharing what she knows and her contacts in the area. She is bringing me to homes I would not be able to enter, to places I would not be able to go alone… She is unique: Even though her brother was killed by some Greek Cypriots and he is still `missing`, she is trying to help find some of the Greek Cypriot `missing`. She does not sleep, like me, only a few hours a night and sits on the couch, like me, thinking and waiting for the morning to come. Her beautiful blue eyes have seen too much: The suffering of her mother was so immense that her story is unbelievable. Her mother had waited throughout her life for her `missing` son to return. During the exchange of prisoners of war in 1964, she would have three sheep and three butchers waiting at the three doors of her house. Her house had three entrances and she would tell her daughter: `What if he enters from that door and we don’t have time to sacrifice the lamb?` So the butchers would wait at the three entrance doors of the house for the `missing` son to return. But he wouldn’t come back and gradually instead of three butchers she would have only one butcher waiting and her ears listening to the radio to give the `good news` about her `missing` son as they announced the exchange of prisoners. But one day, it would be clear that her son is not amongst those exchanged as a prisoner of war. So the butchers would go away, taking the sheep with them, not sacrificed because the `missing` son did not return…

But the mother of the `missing` son would not give up hope – she would never stop waiting for her son… She would go to each and every fortune teller – not only in Cyprus but she would travel all the way to Beirut or to Damascus or to different towns in Turkey to find out where her son might be and when he might return… She would spend a lot of money for that – fortune tellers would read her cup and perhaps give her some hope… All of a sudden she would take off and go places, asking questions about her son… She would visit other `missing` families and see if their `missing` had returned or if they found out anything…

She would ban all her grandchildren from picking tangerines or oranges from the fruit trees in her garden… Because she would want her `missing` son to find the fruit on the trees to pick with his own hands, when he returns. So the grandchildren would never be able to pick an orange or a tangerine from her garden because all the fruit would be waiting for the `missing` son to return… Her mother is no longer alive – she died, waiting for her `missing` son to return… But her memories are with her and she remembers all of this with pain…

Her blue eyes and her mind is full of this – that’s why she chooses voluntarily to help me find other `missing` persons – whether they are Turkish Cypriot or Greek Cypriot… She understands that the pain of the `missing` is not Turkish or Greek or English or any other nationality. That the pain of the `missing` is a human pain. It is the same colour – the colour of humanity…

So together with her we go places in Karpaz, looking for the four Greek Cypriots `missing` from Koma-tou-Yalou (Kumyali) or two Turkish Cypriots `missing` from Galatia (Mehmetchik). Together we go to strange places we shouldn’t be but it’s okay because we are doing this not for Turkish Cypriots or for Greek Cypriots – we are doing it for humanity… She understands that easing the pain of the families of `missing` is beyond politics or ethnicity… It is a human task because she remembers what her mother went through together with her and she can never forget these, never…

We sit in a restaurant to eat but the things we eat make us sick – not because the food is not good – the food is perfect but what we hear on these trips to Karpaz is really sick… At night we do not sleep, neither her, nor me – thinking of the day we had spent, hearing unspeakable things… Thinking of the rapes we had heard of, thinking of the killings or possible burial sites… We meet a guy who was in the death squad at that time and when he speaks, she starts crying and protesting him:

`You are not talking about sheep you know! You are talking about human beings…`

Our lives become intertwined – we share something special, a humanitarian task that is hard and sometimes dangerous to do but rewarding because in the deepest place in our hearts we know that when `missing` persons are returned to their families, the pain would be less or at least easier to bear…

And she too, still waits for the bones of her `missing` brother to be found and returned to her, so she can bury him next to his mother and father…

24.3.2008

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