Silence and darkness are two very powerful and intense experiences.
The experience of both is sometimes so strong that our imagination begins to play tricks on us: we imagine we’ve heard something; we imagine we’ve seen something.
It’s the not knowing that really takes its toll on us.
The onset of night time in Potamia for me has always meant the sight of dark fields where the inky blackness of the night spreads into nowhere, into no man’s land (the buffer zone).
This is probably the case for a vast number of Cypriot villages, as after a certain time everything shuts down, with the one difference being that Potamia borders no man’s land. With that comes the fact that your orientation is dependent on knowing that over the hills is the buffer zone and then Louroudjina. The end of the village is where Ayia Marina church is located and beyond the church is a National Guard camp, mines and the buffer zone.
As a child I always remember that when we reached the church it was time to turn back. There was nowhere left to go and the presence of the army camp was scary enough, creating a sort of urgency in getting away.
Not knowing but also not asking is never a good combination. For a child they lead to wild imaginings but for an adult they lead to assumptions and false impressions.
In my family, no one spoke about the troubles very much, but no one asked very much either. For Natalie the child, this led to some strange ideas about how many Turkish Cypriots there were in the north – not very many to fill up the vast amount of space that was north of the dividing line. They must have been very spread out or very close together, in clusters.
I also wanted to find out how other family members had felt and that I wasn’t the only one that had cultivated some strange ideas along the way. Here are a few interesting quotes from them:
“I never thought about the other side too much. Didn’t think it was particularly weird or anything that’s just how it was back then. Couldn’t go there that’s life.”
“Before the border opened, I’d look over in to the distance over the border and it was the side of the island we couldn’t go to, that we didn’t know much about, and that was that. Just kind of a blank space where the Turks were.”
“There wasn’t much communication about the past, troubles, and what was on the other side of the border, the 90s and the lead up to 2003 seem like a different time to me, both because we lived in the village, and that our leaving almost perfectly coincided with the borders opening.”
“You had this idea that if you just got up on that hill you’d see people below in Louroudjina. The north was like the land where time stood still – that’s what we heard it was like.”
- Why I decided to relearn Turkish
- Hazy days, clear minds