“Tell us, at last, mistress Vgerou, what are you? Greek? Turkish? French?”

 

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Excerpt of Novel: Vgerou Glyka Fanou written by Giorgios  Hatzopoulos

I don’t know she is Greek, Turkish or French —I don’t even know when one begins and the other ends—but she is the one that saw flesh and clothes become one, blood running in streams between girls’ legs, She is the one that saw women’s breasts sliced, brains spilled on shoulders like a cup overflowed, infants chopped up, flung aside on the rocks. She is the one that saw the great Massacre, the one that lived the strike and the slaughter, the one that grew on tears and mourning. The one that heard the clash of swords with flesh, the screams of the mothers watching their daughters raped, the grinding of teeth and gunshots ringing in the air. The one that finds no sound of nature sweet anymore, no chirping of birds at dawn, for, in her ears, the cries and the screams are still echoing. Although she found the power to love and be loved, to bear five children, and raise and nurture them, her sleep has always been as bitter as death and her dreams haunted by the hundreds, the thousands of dead that were lost in just a few days, their names and their memories, the children that were supposed to remember them, lost with them. A thousand sculls rotting in woods and plains, her own parents and siblings amongst them, her neighbors, people that she knew and lived with and lost. And yet, she never said: “Curse this race that massacred mine. Curse these people that slaughtered mine!”

But she does think unforgivable those who walked in the path of cruelty. Be they Turkish or Greek, Jewish or French. Inexcusable those that in the name of God or money, greed or revenge, soil life with their acts. In her tears you won’t find hatred. She asks for no vengeance. She asks for remembrance! Remembrance and memory, as bitter as chicory. Bitter memory to put on the tip of your tongue, and remember the sweetness of life. Not only for us Chiotes, but all of humankind! And with it, to remake her from start. That’s what she is!

Translation by Kiki Hatzopoulou