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A minutely remembered description of a childhood on an Aegean island, marked by the furious opposition of hostile yet neighboring cultures. It is an account of how a Greek boy born on a Turkish island tries to make sense of the escalating tension between Greek and Turk, Muslim and Christian, mother and father. It shows with chilling clarity how violence begets violence, in even the most unexpected of people. It is also about the pains of exile and the discovery of long buried secrets that have inflamed the passionate hatred that exists between the two communities.
divan. The wick of the kerosene lamp is turned down low and the flame is sputtering. A string of black smoke rises from the glass funnel and coils beneath the ceiling. I remove my father’s shoes and throw a blanket over him. For a second, I fantasise about dousing him with kerosene and setting him alight. That ought to put an end to everything. The clock ticking loudly on the kitchen shelf brings me back to the room. Wearily, I climb the stairs and get into bed. My feet, my fingertips, the roots
with a broom and dust cloth. She cleans out the straw, the animal droppings, and paints the walls a fresh, clean white. As a final touch, she blesses the house by burning incense. The living room is on the ground floor and the communal bedroom on the mezzanine. The kitchen with the built-in oven is at the far end of the property, next to one of the wells. In between is the ruin where Baba grows tomatoes in the winter. Because the external walls of the building are daubed in the red soil of the
going to be in August. The sheet I’d thrown over myself when I came to bed is bunched at my feet. I strain my ears and listen. The grown-ups are talking outside. I can hear my mother’s voice, my father, my mother’s sister Irene and her husband Petro. Our neighbour, Chrostalenia from across the creek, and Zotico are there as well. They are sitting in the starlight, yacking away without a thought for those of us that have to sleep. Judging by the tone of their voices, though, it’s serious.
I can smell it from ten feet away, and it makes me dizzy. When he sees me, Levent Efendi nods in my direction without interrupting his conversation. I nod and smile back. Refik leaps up from a nearby table and falls into step on my left side. I hook my hand through his elbow and then I do the same to Timon on the other side. The walk to the water takes us down a short flight of steps and across a narrow street lined with linden trees. No one speaks. We come to a standstill on a small wooden pier.
will be far away. Breezes will sneak in and skitter across Mama’s floors and find their way into the kitchen. They will settle in the hearth and wait for whoever comes after us. Cobwebs and silence will be tenants in upstairs corners where once we slept and the vigil light burned in the shrine. On the street, an unearthly presence broods where soon men will walk horses and donkeys to the country. The sound of goats’ bells will not fill our ears. We won’t be here to see this ritual that makes the