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18 May, 2024
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What connects them to the other side?

November 15th this year marked 39 years after the unilateral declaration of the pseudo-state. How can the younger generation connect with the other side?

Eleni Xenou

Eleni Xenou

High school students walk through the cobblestone streets of the old town. The demonstration ended around eleven o'clock in the morning. They are smiling as they walk to their favorite haunts, with Greek and Cypriot flags draped over their shoulders like scarves. They have their phones in hand and take selfies every now and then. The majority of them smoke e-cigarettes, with fewer twisted ones, couples holding hands, and everyone's faces filled with the joy of the holiday. And what about the pseudo-state?  What about the illegal declaration? The irreversible passage of 39 years? What is it that binds them to this traumatic and painful history? The slogans they screamed passionately just before, unaware of the depth of their words? What about the patriotic songs they sang? The story they were told at home or school? Or the one they learned at party youth rallies (for those who still believe in party youths)? What is the link between them and the other side of the barbed wire? What have we done to ensure that they remain connected?

It's not their fault, I think as I watch them sprawled drunkenly on their toned chairs, sipping iced coffee under the sun. It's our fault, and by we, I mean my generation, the last generation of the war, the one who grew up on the edge of memory and experience, with images sporadic enough to etch the trauma into the subconscious's substrate. So, what did we make certain we taught them in order for this day to mean more to them?

They have no personal experiences, images, memories, sounds, or anything else that relates to the concept of "place." They only have pictures, our own stories, traumas, and ghosts.

How many truths have we taught them? Did we encourage them to look beyond the narratives they were taught at home or the other narratives adopted by official history? Did we recommend books for them to read so they could gain their own global understanding of what happened? Did we want them to understand the complexities of our national problem, as well as the small and large "betrayals" we have committed?

Did we take care to debunk the myths so that we wouldn't blame them, leaving them with the fallacy we grew up with and had to confront at some point in order to balance? Are we finally being held accountable? Have we accepted our ideological, political, social, personal, inherited, and other entrenched positions? Have we dug until our fingernails brushed up against the walls every time the realization of freedom rears its head?

Did we experience the conflicts that tore our psyche into numerous contradictions while we were imprisoned? These children grow up with the concept of place but not the elements that comprise the concept's content. They have no personal experiences, images, memories, sounds, or anything else that relates to the concept of "place." They only have pictures, our own stories, traumas, and ghosts. Is this enough to connect with those on the other side of the green line and draw their attention away from the slogan? Did we care enough to show and teach them about the location for which they were marching today, shouting passionate slogans? Did we take their hands in ours to smell and feel it, rather than just suspect it in given shapes?  Did we show them Kyrenia's port, fallen Famagusta, Bella Pais, Morphou, Lapitho, and so many other villages? Did we take them to smell the Pentadaktylos herbs? And to love the "unknown" part of their homeland because of these smells, colors, and sounds? Did we make certain that this occurred? Did we ever demand it from the government? Did we make the effort to make it happen? Or have we done nothing but fill the minds of children with hollow slogans and phony patriotism for the past 39 years in order to see them wandering around on TV on the anniversary of the pseudo-state's declaration?

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