Monday, 23 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
At the time I lived in Nicosia, from 1984 to 1998, the memories of the Turkish Invasion of 1974 were still fresh in people's minds. We were always aware of scuffles and tensions along the Green Line, the line that divided the Turkish-Cypriot northern third of the island from the Greek Cypriot southern two-thirds. I lived not far from the Green Line that ran through Nicosia, and I was inspired to write a novel about life in an unstable country from an artist's perspective. Here is an excerpt from my novel:
'At four in the morning we heard a man chanting a Turkish prayer from one of the mosques in the other side of Nicosia. The hauntingly beautiful melody sent a delicious shudder through my warm, naked body as I lay next to Tom. Drowsily, I thought about the Green Line, and the many people hidden from us beyond it. Hearing the same prayers, breathing the same fragrant night air.
From the Guest House you could see the flags that marked the Green Line. It was only since I moved there that I had become truly aware of its presence. The long street ended abruptly, cut by blue and white striped barricades and an unyielding check-point. I lingered nearby, squinted to try to see the derelict yellow villas and walls of broken windows trapped in the buffer zone beyond the check-point. I glanced in disbelief at the young soldiers standing there with their guns tucked casually under their arms............ Is this real? It looks like a scene from a film! Surely these angry young men were partying at some nightclub last night?
Sometimes, when I wandered along the section of old Nicosia that lined the partition, I looked at houses on the other side and imagined figures moving behind the curtains. Were they also looking at me, wondering about life on this side of the wall?
Deserted houses merged seamlessly and silently into the partition. Then it continued its determined path behind and between crumbling buildings, and meandered along the top of ancient, stone walls, mutating into barbed wire and sandbags. Its uncompromising form glared at me, taunting: 'On my other side, not very far away from where you stand, you could see...'"
Now the Greek Cypriot side of Cyprus is in the EU, and attitudes have changed along with the interest in MTV, and the internet. I often wonder what changes another 10 years will bring. In my opinion artists have a lot more freedom than they did when I lived there. I used to paint on the streets and get chided by Tom's friends!