I was born a daughter of no parents. On the shores of Salamis lies a quaint cottage I used to call abode. From the non-time in which time began, I lived alone, with only the peaceful lapping of the waves to soothe my soul. In time, though, there passed many a patriarch willing himself to adopt me as his own. First I saw the pharaoh-god from afar, bounding towards my untapped riches. Only moments later, however, he flew in fear for the great Persian giant. A large yet fair patriarch, he was soon beleaguered by a native of my town, a certain king, Evagoras. After Evagoras was slain, however, my memory became a little hazy, and the swift progression of time sped up and tumbled over itself. I witnessed in its chaotic passing images of a cult religion and a bull, Greek oracles, Roman chariots, ruthless raids, mud-flinging and leeching tyrants, and slow atrophy. Not all times were bad, although the relentless procession of rulers blurred my vision for millennia.
Time began to slow to a jogger’s pace once the Union Jack was raised over the scape of Nicosia. In this period of calm, I rested in a transient phase of half-sleep, waking up only after almost a century had passed and Cyprus showed her blazing colors on a flag of her own. On that morning, I slid out of my slumber, out of my bed, and poked my head out of the doorframe. The morning air was thin with fog, and I found my steady legs guiding me towards an undisturbed body of water. As the sun burned off a narrow shaft of fog directly in front of me, I could, for the first time in some 2600 years, see my own reflection in the mirrored surface of the water. I puzzled, seeing some mysterious lines adorning my skin. In an instant, a breeze tingled my skin and caused a jolt in my head, and suddenly I could read the legends and the Arabic numerals I wore. I immediately recognized her seal: a dove flying within a wreath, carrying the olive branch of peace and the date of her birth, 1960. Above, though, written in higher relief, I saw “1963” and was puzzled. Was this today’s date? Was this the day of my birth? Was it both?
By now the fog had completely lifted, revealing a fat landscape of green grass and climbing vines, bordered by the vast expanse of a horizon-grasping ocean claiming my vision. Seeing nothing but my vaguely askew cabin in the distance, I decided to follow the vineyard inland until the landscape changed. Beginning to walk away from the boundless water, I took notice of the vines crawling on their supports. After passing a few rows, I noticed a young green fruit, living in bunches, weighing heavily upon the vine. I popped one off from its round companions and stole it into my mouth. Immediately I stopped, feeling its juicy sweetness resonate deeply with some cord at the inmost part of my essence. Quickly, I gathered as much as I could carry and continued on, sustained by the resonating vigor within these powerful little corpuscles. When the sun began to fall, replaced by the moon, I found a small outcrop of rocks laden with delicate and deep red-orange veins in which to comfortably spend the night. Under the stars, I slept well; it was in no way like the chaotic and stressful sleep of the last great expanse of time. When morning came, I felt once again refreshed and continued my journey in this same pattern under a number of moons and suns until the vineyards ended and a small cluster of sturdy cabins materialized against a backdrop of slowly looming low mountains.
I burst into one of these dwellings, slamming the door open and announcing my presence with a bold flash of dust that welled up beneath my feet. Looking around, I saw numerous platforms rising from the ground (the word “tables” jumped to mind), each occupied by several humanoid figures knocking back a pale brown liquid. Nobody seemed to notice my presence, so I walked up to one such “table” hoping that someone might acknowledge me. At long last, one man, a burly one with short hair and butternut skin looked down and, after registering a glimmer of recognition in his eyes, pulled his large hands behind the back of my head and pulled me straight down, head first into the table. I smacked the aged wood with a thud, and assumed a submissive supine position on the board while I helplessly overheard the man speak.
“Haha! Looky-here, Argyridis! I just found me another drink!!”
From across the table, a thinner man bellowed in a softer, yet still quasi-gruff voice. “Eh, Mihri, did you pick that thing up off the floor? Yuk! Way to wallow with the pigs!”
“Haha! Well at least I have another drink!” The man, Mihri, resonated in response while flouting himself about.
“Sure, like you need any more of those” the thin man, Argyridis, retorted.
“It’s that Turkish luck,” A third man sitting at the side interjected. “You know those Turks have been blazing their way across the roulette tables and such. Like Bora the other day, when he won seven pounds over a pair of sixes!” Mihri’s look of Mirthful inebriation turned grave.
“Now looky-here. If you have something to say, don’t go around all sleuth-like. Now out with it!”
The third man raised his arms in a mock gesture of self-defense. “Hey! Calm down there! It’s not like me to purport that the Turks have been pillaging our natural and beautiful plunder for 500 years now!”
Mihri jumped out of his seat, grappling the air in front of the third man’s face. “Now Looka-here! You… You!”
“Woah, calm down there Mihri!” Argyridis jumped out of his seat and threw himself between the two agitators. “And you, Lionidas, keep that controversial mouth of yours shut! Mihri only just found this here money and wants a drink. Better know, before you know it, one might-”
“Enosis!!” Lionidas cried. “Enosis!!!!” Within moments, the whole room was filled with shrieks of “Enosis.” In the middle of it all, I screamed, yelling out for everybody to stop it, to act civilized, to talk to me, to explain it all to me, to stop treating me like object. But it was to no avail. After a few minutes, with the help of the establishment’s owner, Argyridis stopped the ruckus, talking very calmly of equality to the two agitators, something about Greeks and Turkish under one flag of Cyprus, before sending the two home. Mihri scooped me up, ensconcing me within his pocket while grumbling in defeat about his missed drink. Unfortunately, that was the last light I was to see in years, and I remained in a catatonic state while residing in this man’s pocket.
In the interim, I only noticed the greatest of changes. Flashes of cold, episodes of searing heat, drawn out into long cycles of unbearable time with brief respites in between. After eleven of these cycles, the greatest of changes took place. Mihri, my captor, took me out one night to witness the scene I had seen ages ago. The table was much unchanged. Argyridis was there, older, frailer, but still recognizable under that warm smile. The third person, that Lionidas fellow, was gone (and I suppose had been for a long time). Amazingly, through the slow draw of time, Argyridis still recognized me and, through the course of some sober small talk, pointed to me with an outstretched finger.
“That the same lady you picked up some time ago?” His voice sounded tired.
“What’s that been now? Ten, eleven years since you found her?”
“Suppose so.” An awkward silence ensued. Moments later, Mihri’s soft voice returned. “Say, what do you think of this Coup business? You know, with president Makarios being almost killed and all?”
“Oh, that,” Argyridis responded. “Well, it can’t be any good. But I suppose it will all die down in time and both sides will eventually see the strength in unity”
“I know how you feel, Argy.”
I had given up trying to communicate with humans long ago, but when a sudden sound rattled the cabin just outside of the door, a cry of warning escaped my lips. Of course, nobody heard, and several uniformed men came storming through the entrance, all yielding some dangerous and complex-looking rods. Screams of panic tour through the room as its human inhabitants all braced for the onslaught. Some instinctively ducked down, seeking the refuge of the tables, while others raised their hands and a few even braced their arms and lunged forward, ready to fight back. And then there were those who were just too late. Those who were caught in the streaming paths of glistening metal balls with barely time enough to turn and see their destroyer, let alone react. Those who became the source for streaming rivers of a thick red ooze. Those who plopped to the ground. Those like Argyridis.
In moments, half of the room was gone, the other half corralled out by the suited men. One such man, carrying a discreet, bulging bag swooped me up, adding me to the pile of lustrous metal and brilliant stones inside. Now a vassal of this strange man, I once again relapsed into a timeless state of confusion. The ground underneath me seemed to rumble, to shake, to erupt in fissures that divided me in two. Yet I remained whole. This was the paradox of my being. That after ages of being lost in the abysses of my own existence, after feeling ripped apart from the inside by some great external pressure, I should somehow remain intact. Feeling this fire around me, time lapsed in chaos, and what felt like millennia, like epochs, felt like moments, like picoseconds. I felt the movement through space, only discernable by the slow quieting of the ever sharpening tumults beneath me. At one point, the movement all but ceased, with only a faint vestige of the distant battle maintained, and light shone upon me once again.
A smiling face looked down at me. The face, however, did not look down upon my like my friends at that oh so distant table. We were, dare I say, at the same level. The word “equal” came to mind. He picked me up with soft hands, carefully caressing my edges, still smiling. I continued to look into his eyes, and he into mine. Forgetting my disabilities, I muttered “hi” and heard a level “hi” in return. It took me a few moments, but then I realized the enormity of what had just occurred. He had heard me! Better yet he had listened! Twenty-six hundred years, and I finally have an equal to talk to! As time flowed at a carefully measured place, we held many conversations, through which I was able to rediscover who I was, those components of myself I had lost over the years; The word “identity” came to mind. My friend, too, was all the wiser, finding I had much to say about my recent tumults. Through this discourse, we pieced together the warped and malleable portions of my past, forging a deep new meaning to time, one cast in the beauty of bronze. One day, he even had the brilliant insight to hold up two mirrors to myself, allowing myself to see an image on my back for the first time. Looking with a wonder-stricken awe, I recognized the invigorating corpuscles of a formative time now lost in nostalgia. Seeing this connection so deeply and mysteriously engrained in me, I felt a strange new feeling in my heart and, in that instant, a new and dangerously beautiful term popped into my vocabulary: Pride.
~1963 Cyprus 50 mils KM 41~