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Monday, October 11, 2010

Another day at work: Turkish Invasion of Cyprus

There are days when I don't abjectly hate my job at the hospital. Today I had an educational conversation with a new patient that came, Ms. V. -akis. I asked her if she was Greek and she said yes. I told her that I was in Greece ten years ago, visiting Athens, Delphi and Kalambaka. She said she studied in Athens before but that she's originally from Cyprus. Then she proceeds to tell me her story. She said that the Turkish Cypriots invaded her village and she and her family lost everything. She talked about how they lost the embroidered silks they made with their own hands. She talked about her mother waking up at 4 in the morning to tend to their silk worms and their garden. She talked about her father's house built with stone with his own hands in the 1940s and how he planted citrus trees and lemon trees that bore many fruits. Then she talked about how when the Turkish Cypriots came, they tore the trees down, took their lands, defaced their village church that stood their for hundreds of years by taking down the cross that proudly stood on its dome and painted over the saints' faces. They used it as their mosque and right across from this church, they built their own mosque. They took the gospels and the artifacts from inside, looted them for their gold and destroyed what they thought was not fitting for them. But the land they used to build their mosque on was hers. It was her land, land that she recently purchased with money that she made from working as a school teacher. It was all gone. She became a refugee. A year later, she migrated to the U.S. This loss is a story shared by many. I'm not too familiar with the story since it's news to me. I know other histories. When she talked feelingly about her loss, I had to restrain myself from tearing up because it reminded me of others who had lost as well. It's the same story everywhere. The Chinese invading Tibet. The Palestinians caged into a small settlement in their own land. The Native Americans all but completely annihilated and displaced. It's about greed and power.

On a lighter note, Ms. V -akis told me that anytime I saw the surname with -akis in the end, I should be aware that this person comes from Crete. I told her I'd remember that.

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