Monday, January 8, 2018
Memories from Gouphes by Dr. Loizos Loizos: “My father’s relation with the Turkish Cypriots…”
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Today I would like to share a wonderful article by Dr. Loizos Loizos about his father from Gouphes… I have also tried to translate this in summary to Turkish because it is a great article about our past… Such articles should be circulated in our schools for the kids to learn about our stories of friendship instead of poisoning them with a dose of nationalism every single day for so many decades… Here is the article written by Dr. Loizos Loizos on the 27th of November 2017:
"My father Savvas (Saouris) was born and lived in the mixed village Goufes. His parents were farmers, as were most of the villagers. The majority of the villagers were Turkish Cypriots something which led the G/Cy to learn Turkish with the Cypriot dialect for communication and harmonic-productive coexistence. The same was true for the T/Cy. During his childhood, my father did not separate his friends, whether they were Muslims or Christians, Greek Cypriots or Turkish Cypriots. For him they were all friends at playing and at "mischiefs".
When the teacher was absent from the Greek school, my father went to the Turkish school at the first classes. His friend Nazim Ismail did the same. They were singing together g/cy and t/cy songs without realizing their content. A characteristic feature of the children's naivety was the song "Mustafa Kemal come to free us", which my father was also singing with his peers.
Later in his teenage years he continued to cooperate with his peers at the fields and with the herd. His cooperation was also close with young Turkish Cypriot women, whom he respected and never gave the right for any misunderstanding.
Together with Mineveri Kaparti they took out water from the well for the sheep to drink, he was working in farming with Chenjie.
In his youth, the friendly ties with the T/Cy became even closer. Together they mingled their flocks in the summer and "they put them to sleep outside", alternating keeping the flocks so as to celebrate their religious days, they were celebrating together in the taverns of Lefkoniko, they were singing together their young loves and supported each other in their claims on the other sex.
My father took part in the wedding feasts of his T/Cy co-villagers. At Ackile's wedding, he sang the song "Instabul sokkaklarum" (in the streets of Constantinople) and at another wedding he secretly took five pounds from the house and "gave as present" (pinned to his suit) to his friend Nazim Ismail when he was dancing to charm Zarifi, his loved one.
During their excursions for feasts at Lefkoniko, G/Cy and T/Cy youths were arrested by the Colonial Police with the accusation that they were singing "leftist resistance songs", "My Stalin, your pistol to hold in my hand, to fight fascism in winter and in summer".
At the friends' company Ahmet from Gouphes and Yiangos from Lefkoniko were the leaders. My father, without organically belonging to the left, was punished more severely because initially he escaped the arrest by resisting.
His close Turkish Cypriot friends were Nazim Ismail, Moustafa Moulla and Ibraim Kourt. Together with them he grew up in the village, collaborated, had fun, hunted and maintained close friendly relations until 1974.
Together with Moustafa Moulla, they also worked closely in hunting. My father's single-barrel front-loading riffle was kept at Moustafa's house, which was at the edge of the village for poaching reasons. With my father's riffle, which the robbers borrowed from Mustafa, there was a robbery at Lefkoniko and the secretary of the Cooperative Grocery Mr Gregoriou was injured by a group of Turkish Cypriots from the villages Artemi and Gouphes.
I write all this, so that you create an idea about the closeness of the relations of G/Cy and T/Cy at that time (before 1954).
In 1954 my father got married in Akanthou, from where his parents also came from, and so he started a new life. He maintained excellent relations with his Turkish Cypriot friends and co- villagers.
Moustafa Moulla came to Akanthou and helped him to renovate my mother's house by cutting cypress trees for the roof of the house and other building and farm works (carobs).
My father continued to cultivate his fields in Gouphes and had the help of Turkish Cypriot co-villagers. They gave him priority in watering the grain from the river, they helped him to harvest and deliver the grain.
From our visits to Gouphes, I keep intensely the memories of our reception every time we went to the village. From the entrance of the village his co-villagers welcomed him and in the centre of the village he stopped with his tractor at the coffeeshop of his friend Nazim Ismail.
Everyone was offering to treat him, and he greeted all the patrons with a handshake, telling each and every one a good word or joking with them. My brother and I filled our pockets with treats (loukoumia), which were offered to us by all the Turkish Cypriot patrons. We delayed more than an hour to get to my grandfather's house, because my father could not get enough of the company of his friends.
In December 1963, when the inter-communal riots began, Gouphes village stayed out of the conflict. However, the fear and uncertainty about the future gradually led the few G/Cy to leave the village.
In May 1964, two of our Turkish Cypriots co-villagers who were working for their day's work in Famagusta were murdered. It was Karatzas and his son-in-law Kemal Emin Demyroz. Then I saw my father deeply pensive and sorrowful trying to predict what was going to happen, while at the same time he was openly against the murderers. He was afraid of the fate of his brother Haili, who lived with his family of six in Gouphes.
In July 1964, when we visited Gouphes to deliver the grain, the climate in the village was good and our Turkish Cypriot co-villagers continued to surround our family with their trust.
In 1966, Kyriakos Solomou was killed outside the village, resulting with the intensification of the wave of flight of the G/Cy, without the relations of the people being disturbed to a similar extent.
My father continued to cultivate his fields and in 1972, when the harvest finished in Akanthou, he took the harvester machine and the harvesting crew and they all went together to Gouphes to harvest the fields of the Turkish Cypriots.
My father enjoyed the confidence of the Turkish Cypriots and they repaid with the safety of the members of the crew and their agricultural machinery. The brand-new combine harvester "class" remained unattended at night at the fields in Gouphes, without anyone thinking of malice or sabotage.
Together with my father, I was visiting the neighbouring villages, Melounda, Artemi and Platani for various agricultural jobs. We were taking vegetables, mainly aubergines, and we got waterless watermelons and melons. In all the villages he had friends and acquaintances.
In Platani we went late in the afternoon to rent out the fields of Tzamis in Akanthou. The familiarity of the T/Cy from Platani was strange to me, because I was hearing very bad things about the villagers from Platani. This climate began to get bad when the Turkish Military Commander of Tziaos told my uncle Michali (Haili) to leave the village of Gouphes together with his family. They banned every transaction between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, so that my uncle would be forced to leave.
It was April 1974. Then my father went to help his brother to carry out his necessary work. He went to his friends and asked if his brother was in danger. They implicitly but clearly let it be understood that it would be preferable that he leaves. My father fully understood how critical my uncle's position was and made it easier for him to relocate in Akanthou.
I continued to visit Gouphes with my car. I served my military service but that was not an obstacle for me. The community head (muhtar) Hasan Auntach (Mentzis) had seen me at our house in Akanthou wearing the officer's military uniform and smiled. I was seeing my peers at Gouphes armed and we were exchanging a greeting.
The fate of the people was to change in the summer of 1974. The Turkish invasion brought everything upside down. My parents left Akanthou with the tractor and went to Avgorou and then to Ormidia. On the road while fleeing my father was thinking of going to Gouphes to get protected by his friends and co-villagers. His trust in the ordinary people was thus much. My mother's insistence to go where the others went, saved him.
My father's efforts to identify the fate of our missing persons, his brother Haili and his son Loizos, led him to have telephone contacts with his T/Cy co-villagers through Athens. His joy was indescribable when he heard familiar voices to him, even if the messages he received for our missing persons were not pleasant. But on the other side of the handset, he received similar feelings of love, friendship and nostalgia. "Sauri, I think that your voice comes from the sky", said the community head (muhtar) Mentzis.
After the opening of the checkpoints, the visits to Gouphes, Akanthou and the other villages of the area were more often. The contacts with the people of the village brought memories and revived his relations with the Turkish Cypriots.
We, the children, were inoculated by the power of friendship and mutual respect, and we tried to make new friendships with the children and grandchildren of our father's friends.
We overcame every reservation created by war, occupation and division. I developed my relations with Turkish Cypriots friends abroad and discovered the same feelings of mutual understanding, mutual respect and love.
At the first opportunity, I hosted six Turkish Cypriot friends at our refugee home in Nicosia and we ate with our family.
My father played the flute for them and sang to them in Turkish "Instabul sokkaklarum". The Turkish Cypriots were thrilled by my father's excellent knowledge of the Turkish Cypriot dialect. His wise words about the rapprochement that everyone was serving as a "platform" still sounds in my ears, "bravo to for what you and my son are doing, but you have to know that if you did not grow up together as kids and you did not play together pirilia (marbles) you will not reach the levels of mutual love and trust, as we the old ones have".
These words still echo in my ears and I think of the evil that has happened and the separation of the two communities. Everyone has their share of responsibility for it, both us and them too, and this is why the occupation must be ended immediately in order to gradually regain the rapprochement and recover the mutual trust.
Personally, I feel awe in front of my father's and his T/Cy friends' surplus of soul, but also an obligation to follow his footsteps.
I am glad that my Turkish Cypriot compatriots honour me with their friendship, and I do not distinguish them from the Greek Cypriots. For me, friendship and brotherhood are not dictated by religion and nationality but by humanity.
Our common ancestry is helping us in this endeavour, but I am concerned about the dead time gap. We must immediately put an end to the occupation, to reunite the people, as long as the "yeast" (mayia) of our generation still exists. We carry memories that can act positively in creating a common reunited homeland. We should not let the time to go inactive.
Finally, I want to mention my father's funeral in Nicosia was attended by Turkish Cypriots Dr. Kivanch Diren from Istanbul, Moustafa Mourat and his family from Kontea, the dentist Sharper from Kyrenia and his brother Kivanch from Nicosia who laid down wreaths."
Photo: Dr. Loizos with Mehmet Kemal Demiroz whose father was "missing" from 1964 and with other friends...
(*) Article published in the POLITIS newspaper on the 31st of December 2017, Sunday. This article was published in the YENİDÜZEN newspaper in Turkish on the 11th of December 2017 and the link to that article in Turkish is: