Dear My Girl

1 Relationship Street
Planet Venus
145212

Dear My Girl,

He’s really not worth it, he never was actually. He will call you up every Friday and every Friday after. You will be known as “Friday girl”, and I don’t suppose you’ve ever met Miss Saturday and Sunday?
I sincerely invite you to see the world from a weekday perspective. Mondays are always the test, a fresh new start. You can wear the day with all you need to do, responsible you are, brighter than that. How about Tuesdays? The thrill is always mid-day when you’ve waited for excitement only to find yourself window shopping, already spending your next salary with your eyes alone. Tighten up, Wednesdays are always the best. Hit the gym, lift a weight or two and when you’re through bath it up, lavender and bubbles soaking you to calm. Thursday ah…what a day, living the night in your very own bedroom. Lights are out and you are free to dream. Chocolate cake will do, only when you’re desperate.
My girl, can’t you see? Friday will never let you down. You will live harmless Saturdays and Sundays. Please consider my offer. We can plan it all out, sign it off on contract. Integrity in our ink. Single is the new you.

With my kindest regards,

Your Girl.

Agios Sozomenos 

Over the healing hills of Agios Sozomenos my grandpa Antonis would stand with binoculars for a chance to get a glimpse of his village Tymbou. Now part of the turkish occupied area, everything that once belonged to him and his family were lost…only left in blurry images to be viewed at a distance. The house my grandparents Antonis and Nikki had built, now belonged to someone else, the land still ripe with fruit now picked by foreign hands…but let us not dwell in the past. Let us start at the very beginning…the magic. Before Antonis was born, his father Demetrios owned very little, so little that his family had barely anything to eat. These were poor times, where people were forced to survive out of hard work and determination. Demetrios invested in farmland in his village Tymbou but the land proved barren and dry. Day and night he prayed for a miracle, yet nothing seemed to change. Despite it all Demetrios never gave up, his iron will always pushed him forward. One morning, while digging in the land, Demetrios stumbled upon something strange. It was a wooden frame, when he turned it over it was a silver-plated icon of Saint Marina. It looked very old, almost 100 years old or so. A strong believer in the mystical, he brought the icon back home as he took it as a good omen. That night, he had a vivid dream, a woman dressed in white spoke to him telling him to plant cotton in the land and that it would soon turn to gold, in return she wanted him to build a church in her honor. A few weeks went by…everything in a constant standstill, Demetrios prayed to Saint Marina and asked for help as he decided to plant cotton in the fields. In the coming months a miracle happened, the land prospered in cotton…leading to Demetrios receiving profit…business flowed so well that he soon hired employees of his own…leading to him buying more acres of land…leading to him practically owning most of the land in the village and becoming the richest man in Tymbou. He hired people with the kindness of his heart, offering them a stable pay and even food for their families. And in the land, the first piece of land he bought he built a church in the name of Saint Marina, a home for the icon he had found. This was a church later known as a miracle giver, people would pray to the Saint and give her offerings as she performed their miracles. My grandpa Antonis and his brothers inherited the land when his father Demetrios passed over, and kept it in prosperous conditions as they also had the charm of hard work, blessed with the gift of kindness. In 1974 everything was lost after the war but what surprises me the most is that my grandpa never ever lost his smile. It still shines bright to this day, his face is one of gratitude and grace. 

© Nicoletta 

Sacred Marriage

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Sweet Village Life

How innocent the love of the past. People would weave stories of a future together, from a mere glance, not even a touch. A gaze in the eyes, my grandmother (Niki) knew he was the one for her. My grandfather (Antonis) was her elder brother’s best friend. Sweet village life joined them together in a sense of community and trust. She would see him every three months at communal gatherings, that was the only time her heart skipped a beat. At 15 years old, Niki had dreams of becoming an actress and had already participated in several local plays. Niki had the voice of a nightingale, waking with song and dancing her way through the day. However, due to poor familial conditions and obligations as an older sister to 4 younger siblings, Niki was forced to mature at a very young age. Pulled out of high school by her mother (Athena), Niki began a career as a tailor. She sowed wedding gowns and garments for local women and men. She held a class for ten women, where she shared her skills and crafts. The women would sing all night, under one lamp, their only source of light as they sowed and learned together. Village life was full of abundance. The abundance you cannot find in your wallet, or at your local bank. This abundance was full of spirit, full of life. With only one bread to fill their empty stomachs, 8 children would sit around the Sunday table full of laughter and joy. My great-grandmother (Athena) though stern would always feed her children with love and nurture.
Life had a complete different reality in my grandfather Antonis world. He was born of a rich family and they owned most of the land in their village Tymbou. The story was that Antonis father in his desperation to find prosperous land, asked for a sign from heaven. As he prayed, he received a vision to start digging on a land which locals considered as barren land. There he found an ancient icon of the St. Marina. She was viewed as a high protector by all locals of the village. It is said that the saint appeared to him and told him to start farming on the land. Everything he sowed and reaped would be turned to gold by her. The only thing she asked of him in return was to build a church in her name. Sure enough, years later local villagers prayed at the church of St. Marina, which was considered one of the most sacred spots of the village. Antonis family was prosperous, employing several locals and offering fair wages to those who worked on their land. Antonis was also a hard-worker. The fields was his work-place where he even had a cot where he would sleep out in the open. He tended to the animals and vegetation, and harvested the cotton fields. His fields generously grew plump fruits and vegetables. In the bliss of growth, he would look up at the stars and listen to the water nourishing the crops. Vitality, supplying the Earth and his community was what made him sleep sweet and sound at night.
This is why Niki fell in love with him. He was such a humble, big hearted man despite all the riches he held in his hands. It would take him several years before he could see Niki as a woman. She was 5 years younger then him, and being her brother’s best friend, Antonis had a lot of respect for the family. This is how naive and innocent village life was. People had morales, codes of honour which they held and followed. Their human instinct and nature was to bring help to others and offer service for the betterment of the whole community. Niki’s beauty though, soon caught attention and Antonis could not resist but ask for her hand in marriage, with her father and mother’s approval and older brother of course!

The Rites of Ceremony

Cyprus traditional weddings were a 7 day celebration. This was the custom that Niki and Antoni followed on 29 October 1967.

Friday: Known as the “Bridgia, The Dowry”: Women would come together to hand wash the bed sheets of the couple. They would sing and dance until late evening, filling their hearts with local gossip and homemade food.

Saturday: “The dressing of the Bed”: This was when the women would sow the bed of the couple. They sowed the mattress, printing red crosses for protection and filling the bed with cotton. The men placed money in the bed for prosperity and abundance. As a violinist played traditional wedding songs, the men picked up the prepared bed and danced with it, bringing it to life. A chosen mother rolled her infant on the bed for good luck and to bless the womb of the bride. The bed would be transferred from the bride’s parental home to the couple’s home. All participants would go to the couple’s home and celebrate until the morning, feasting on food, wine, music and dance.

Sunday: “Wedding Day”: The bride would be dressed in the morning by her relatives at her parental home. This was accompanied by a violinist playing music and the women offering her blessings through the crossing of a sacred belt around her. The groom was also prepared at his home, shaven by his best man. The couple were escorted to the local Greek Orthodox church, where they were anointed by rose water. a symbol for enduring love by their neighbours and friends. At the church, vows of matrimony were made and traditional rice was thrown to the couple.
*My grandmother and grandfather were the first local couples to have a photographer at their wedding. This is why my grandmother is shy in the photo when my grandfather kisses her on her cheek, as public affection was not common.*

Monday: “The Dance”: The couple held there first dance ceremony, where the locals glued money on their wedding garments. This was a sign of great wealth and an abundant life.

Tuesday: “The Gifts”: The couple would go around the village and receive gifts from all locals, neighbours and friends. The gifts were usually chickens, pastries, eggs and household items. In exchange, the couple would hold a dinner party that would last until the dawn, where they would dance and sing.

Wednesday: “Kocholoufkia: Legumes”: The relatives and good friends of the couple would meet up and eat beans, black-eyed peas in order to fast from the vast meals of previous days. This gathering also promised dance and song until late hours.

The following Sunday: “Antigamo: Re-Marriage”: This was a big feast held to celebrate the matrimony where the priest, family members and people who could not attend the church ceremony gathered to celebrate the marriage once again.

Sacred Bond

Even though this 7 day ceremony would seem a bit far-fetched for our modern society, the art of it all had deep meaning. The whole community would gather together to join two partners in this sacred union, bringing them together through blessings. Everyone worked in harmony with one another with naivety and innocence and would literally rejoice and celebrate for the lucky number of 7 days. The rituals performed on each of the 7 days by the community, proved to bring positivity to the couple and all had the intention of manifesting good fortune upon the couple.

In these times, where we have so lost the essence of unity and true love, going back to the past is a necessity in order to heal future generations. Ceremonies like these, the morales of village life is not something necessarily that needs to be revived, yet is something that can remind us of the notion of joint community, bonds of sisterhood and brotherhood. Music, service, dance, art and play can heal all wounds of modern society. Our system has become too complex, full of absurd laws and rules which deprive us of our freedom. In this deprivation, we have become fixated on trends, fashions, the latest “it” thing and have forgotten that we are human. We have forgotten where we have come from. The land, mother nature is so craving for us to remember her. By focusing on the prosperity of the land around us, the tending of plants, animals, the rejoicing and celebration of other’s happiness, we can truly heal this world.

War Cannot Take Our Love Away!

In 1974, my grandparents lost the home they had built for their beautiful three daughters and all acres of land in their village Tympou. In the Turkish illegal invasion, 5,700 Cypriots became refugees. With a smile on their faces, courage in their hearts in the years to come they were to rebuild their lives on the non-occupied areas. My grandfather was forced to become a truck driver to support his family, and my grandmother became a shoe tailor. What surprises me is that despite all the difficulties, all the pain and loss, the fighting and treachery of war these two people still sang and danced. They rejoiced each day and never were saddened by defeat.
People like this, Niki and Antonis, are true heroes. Their rare gem of sacred marriage truly inspires us to follow their example and light the world with unity and love.

 

© Nicoletta

Oh, Mother

Mother-Earth

In your hands I call the pain
To succumb to the tears
Of your rainfalls.
Oh, Mother
Forgive us
For what we have done.
Thousands of years
You have made this home.
And what have we done in return?

Mother, I breathe your air
In gratitude.
I bend down on two knees
As I thank you
For your trees.
I thank you
For all the blessings you have filled
In this beautiful land of yours.

Green and blue I worship you.
Mother, your grace
Joining us with the power of love.
Are we too blind to see
All that you have left us
Out in the open?

Mother, forgive me
For not praising you sooner.
The days birthing
My eyes awake
How could I have missed
That my skin and bones
Are one and the same as yours?

I thank you once again
And a million times more
For waking me up.
Mother, shake them all from slumber
To see how alive you truly are.

owl

© Nicoletta

If this poem had a voice, this is what it would sing…

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