Crossing the Barrier
Belen looked through the barbed fence of Nicosia, capital of Cyprus. He had imagined the world as a joyous, happy place to be.
Belen was a lonely Greek Cypriot boy with few friends at school. His mother was constantly busy and worked hard in a shop to provide for the family. His dad had gone many years earlier to work abroad.
The innocent eleven-year-old had only seen his dad in pictures and talked to him on the phone. He spent his time reading ripped paperbacks he had read many times before. He didn’t have the greatest life but tried to make the most of it.
He came to the same place everyday, the place where his grandfather was assassinated by Turkish Cypriots. Every day he prayed for him and his eyes filled with tears. He thought about the Turkish occupied part of the town on the other side called ‘Lefkosia’ and his heart sank.
Today was different: Belen was exploring the fence while his mum was trying to pacify his crying little brother, Johannas.
Suddenly, Belen saw a tiny frame of a little girl crying and running desperately towards him. Tears were flowing like little rivers out of her dark eyes. Belen heard desperate screams of:
“Mummy?” her voice grew higher pitched
“MUMMY!!” she shouted for everyone to hear.
She saw Belen in the corner of the fence and asked: “Have you seen my mummy?”
“No, but where do you live?” Belen asked.
She shook her head and burst into fits of tears again. Belen knew it would be futile to try and soothe her. He took the little girl, Sanem, through a little gap in the fence that he knew from years of exploring. When he brought her home, his mum was initially shocked but a kind caring, person like her would never say no.
When their neighbours saw the girl, they advised Belen’s mother to leave her on the street as it was an criminal offence to care for a Turkish child. But Belen’s mum was having none of it and said she would rather go to prison than let any child die. She treated the girl as if she was her own child and cared for her intensely.
Sanem still yearned to go home but she was hopelessly unsure of where she lived.
“Le… Le… Le… LEDRA!!” Sanem suddenly said, her miserable face lighting up merrily.
“You live on Ledra Street?”
Sanem nodded gleefully and the three of them secretly slipped through the gap in the fence and walked the length of Ledra Street until they found her home.
Sanem’s parents’ red-rimmed eyes, white knuckles and wrinkled faces disappeared as soon as they as they saw her, and they bounded out of their rundown house and started crying in joy.
They looked up at Belen and his mother and they all hugged while they thanked them over a thousand times.
Sanem jumped into Belen’s arms and smiled. Belen was overjoyed. He had finally found a friend.