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A minutely remembered description of a childhood on an Aegean island, marked by the furious opposition of hostile yet neighboring cultures. It is an account of how a Greek boy born on a Turkish island tries to make sense of the escalating tension between Greek and Turk, Muslim and Christian, mother and father. It shows with chilling clarity how violence begets violence, in even the most unexpected of people. It is also about the pains of exile and the discovery of long buried secrets that have inflamed the passionate hatred that exists between the two communities.
my mother can’t spy on us.’ Lelia’s eight years are more mature than mine. Beneath her bob cut, she has a face that resembles a golden apple. It’s hard to resist her. She leads me as if I’m a blind man and she my guide. As soon as we step into the main thoroughfare, we turn left in front of Pagona’s house. Another left turn and we’re in a narrow corridor between the two houses. Instead of breaking heads, Lelia prefers to play doctors and nurses. Crouching on the ground, she lifts her tiny fingers
Finally, the back door opens and a rectangle of light cuts into the night. ‘What are you doing out there all this time?’ my mother says, sounding irate. ‘Mama, I’m in the hole. Help me,’ I yell, gargling shit. She screams. ‘Stamo, the boy is in the hole. Hurry. Quickly before he drowns.’ In seconds, the men are standing over the cesspit. Together they reach down and grab an arm each. They yank me out as if I am a feather. ‘Phew,’ says Uncle Petro, pinching his nostrils. ‘What a stench!’ He waves
think we could all do with a cup of tea,’ Irene says. ‘Thank God he’s safe,’ my mother mumbles, slapping her cheek. The next morning, we discover that Kokona’s house burned down overnight. They say she fell asleep without putting a fireguard across the grate. A log rolled out and, before you knew it, her life’s work was reduced to ashes. Even though her neighbours raised the alarm, it was the blacksmith from the foot of the hill who clambered up the ravine from his workshop, half-naked and
is gather his wife and kids and visit the old family home in the Cauldron District. He was born in that house. It’s by the water, at the end of a narrow street that opens onto a square. His younger sister Vasiliki lives there with her husband Yanni and their teenage daughter Zoe. Baba does not have other family. It’s just him and his sister. The others are dead or in America; and since the living are as quiet as those that passed away it amounts to the same thing. When visiting his sister, Baba
search the turbulent depths below me. At this point, the Golden Horn joins the waters of the Bosphorus. They come together in a clash of wills. I remove your photograph from my pocket, Mother. I place a kiss on your lips and let it fly into the darkness. I stride away before the swirling water closes over your head. The most beautiful word in the Turkish language is also the saddest: Elveda. It means farewell. This now I say to you. Elveda. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The author wishes to thank the