The topics we apparently long to read over and over again and war and love. Both are well covered in A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible by Christy Lefteri. It is well-known that the Greeks and the Turks are not the best of friends, but it seems like when Cyprus is added into the equation all hell is loose. Sometimes I wonder if it is pure utopia for humans on this planet to live in peace and harmony.
Let’s begin with war. “I remembered how the Turks and the Greeks and the British had once lived together, like the trees on the hills. Apart from the divided cafes, they actually lived peacefully; their mosques and their churches side by side; their priests and imams walking along the same foothills… It was only since the Greeks demanded union with Greece and freedom from colonial rule that their lives had become divided.”
Yes, Britain is of course an important player in this game as well. In a way so many modern world problems can be squeezed into the little island of Cyprus. Sad, isn’t it? “When I was a teenager…I learnt that we had two enemies. The British Colonialism, who would not give us independence… and the Turks, who wanted to divide our fragile island, who wanted from then, to cut us in two.”
Moving on to love, and the other aspects of the book, in fact. The year is 1974. The Turks are invading Cyprus. The book is written in lyrical prose, and from the point of view of a Briton, a Turk, and a Greek. Koki, shunned by her community, is a young mother who finds her 11-year-old son shot dead. Adem is a Turkish soldier, looking for his lost love. Richard is a an elderly man living in London and hearing the news about Cyprus, a place where he lived and loved.
The book has many sad and violent scenes. In many ways it is not an uplifting read, but yet somehow I managed to look at a bigger picture, and I found hope in even the most desperate of moments. Sometimes I wonder if it has to do with me having read too many gruesome books throughout the years, or if I still believe in the good of people. Maybe both?
In the end I will not remember this book for being violent or sad. Somehow the most memorable aspect to me is Koki’s relationship with her father. I have to say he was quite the man. He let her be the girl and woman she was, even though he knew society did not accept her. He obviously had his flaws, and limits of understanding his daughter’s actions, but that made him even more humane. This is not a book for everyone, but is nicely different from many war and love stories I have read.