“Ησουν το παιδί της γειτονιάς” (you were the neighbourhood kid), said a fellow villager (συγχωριανός) of mine when she saw me. We probably hadn’t seen each other in ten years.
At the time I was going back and forth to Potamia quite a lot as I was part of a committee in charge of setting up a village museum. Unfortunately that didn’t happen in the end but it gave me a chance to get re-acquainted with my village that I’ve always loved, as well as admired for what it represented; an anomaly within the southern part of the island, a place where some Turkish Cypriots had never left and never stopped living side by side with their fellow villagers.
I had stayed away for quite a while due to my parents’ divorce, when I was 18 years old, and of course during my teenage years even though I was living there it was as if I wasn’t, as all of my time was spent in Nicosia with friends. Those were the years where living or being from a village was not cool.
It was Eleftheria who had said those touching words to me that meant so much. I think at any other time of my life I wouldn’t have appreciated them but at that singular moment they really spoke to me and have stayed with me ever since.
Before I sat down to write this story, this was one particular memory that was being played on repeat in my mind for the last few years while I questioned my own identity. This moment though was what Potamia stands for, its true soul, and maybe what I stand for too. I was a child like any other Cypriot child to them.
Potamia is the one place I know who I am, not in so much as being able to define it ethnically but in feeling it. In this one place, there are no labels and no one needs to ask me any questions.
- How can you forget a language?
- Our dialects