Zenovia’s secret (Chapter 15)
Posted by: Maria Atalanti
Published on: 11/09/2022Back to Blog
This text is the product of fiction. None of the characters described are real.
Cyprus – Summer 2021
Zena, after her arrival at the hotel and the necessary procedures for checking in, which under the specific circumstances included more prerequisites, such as having a vaccination certificate against Covid – 19, contacted Alexis and informed him about her trip. She also talked to him about her new friend, Maria Stylianou. She hid from him the fact that she spoke with Maria in Greek, perhaps, because she was still not ready to do it all the time. She needed a lot of effort on her part, and she preferred to wait a while.
The next day Zena woke up early. The time change upset her body, but as she was very tired, she slept soundly at night. It was six o’clock in the morning. The day before, she had explored the hotel and saw that there was access to the sea. They had placed two jetties and created a small beach because the area in general was full of rocks and the sea wild. She put on her swimsuit and after passing by the impressive pools of the hotel, she went down to the beach.
The time of the morning was magical. The sea was quiet and especially in the space enclosed between the two jetties, it seemed motionless. For the first time in her life, Zena had seen a sea that resembled the mirror’s surface. In her homeland the sea was an ocean that roared and moaned. Here was another dimension. There was no one else at that time. She stepped towards the water and began to walk. It was so clean that she could see her legs and some little fish swimming.
When she dived and began to swim, she felt the energy of the water filling her body and rejuvenating her. She remembered that water always left her with that feeling. In the ocean of her homeland, however, the wild movement of the sea and the high waves made the whole experience a strong struggle with nature and filled her with questions about the dark mystery of the seabed. Here the clarity of the water was incredible and the feelings different. It was a hug that rocked her and tenderly turned her back to the womb that gave birth to her.
After swimming for half an hour, she returned to her room and got prepared for breakfast. She went downstairs to the dining room wearing her mask, because inside the hotel she constantly had to have a mask and only at lunchtime could one take it off.
It was difficult to resist the variety of the rich buffet. However, she tried to choose local products such as halloumi, jams, small olive pies and various fruits. It was all great!
-With such delicacies I will fatten, she thought. I must hold back, but I don’t see it!
Returning to her room, she sent a message to her lawyer from the Paphos law office. He was called Neophytos Neophytou, a purely Paphic name she had been told, because Saint Neophytos was a saint of Paphos, and his monastery was not far from the city. They agreed to meet at noon. He would come to pick her up from her hotel to go for lunch and hand over to her the title deeds in her name.
She then contacted Alexis. The time in Australia was 5 in the afternoon, when in Cyprus it was 10 in the morning. That is, seven hours apart. Thus, she had to talk to him in the morning or even early afternoon. She told him about her experience with the sea and he assured her that she would have other similar surprises in this small place, which was his homeland.
-You know, he told her, it is said that the Mediterranean Sea is the cradle of human civilization. From what we know until now, the first people who created settlements were in the region of Mesopotamia and then expanded to the Middle East and Cyprus. It would be good to visit the settlement of Choirokoitia near Limassol, where people began to settle there, , thousands of years ago, at least from 7000 BC or earlier. I believe you will find it a very interesting place.
Then she sat on the balcony of her room overlooking the sea. She breathed deeply the smell of the saltiness that reached there and took back in her hands the letters of her grandfather. She began to read them again, here and there, where her eye fell. Zenovia’s thoughts, her advice to her son, give her the impression that she had a conversation with her. And now that she was in her homeland, this conversation was taking on a different level.
-I must call Eleni, she thought. Before I meet the lawyer. It’s good to know what she’s going to tell me.
Thus, she called Eleni, who was very excited to hear her.
-Welcome, she told her. How was your trip like? How is the hotel?
-All good, Zena replied. It’s like I’m still in a state of ecstasy. Everything looks great to me. But I would like to talk to you because at noon I will meet the lawyer. Do you have anything interesting to tell me about Zenovia’s property?
-Yes, something strange happened. I contacted the Municipality of Paphos to ask about the prospects of utilizing the plot and to my great surprise I was informed that a developer was recently asking about the same piece, saying that it is his own.
-They did not give me more information, even though I asked, and they probably tried to keep quiet about the matter. Could it be, that the buyer that your lawyer was talking about, is anticipating the facts?
-Maybe, I don’t know. You did well to tell me, so I’ll be more careful. When will I be able to see you in person and go together to visit this property.
-Tomorrow I can’t because I am busy, but I will try the day after tomorrow to be there. I will be very happy to meet you in person! Be careful with the lawyer. We do not know what his intentions are.
-Don’t worry! Everything will be fine. I know how to take care of myself.
-Well, we will be contacting tomorrow to agree on the details. Until then, be careful. Not all Cypriots are saints! Now you will get to know the other side of them.
-Thank you so much! Everything will be fine, you will see.
Hanging up the phone, Zena kept thinking for a while. It seems that the pressures to sell the plot of land would intensify but she herself was not a person who was easily persuaded.
-We’ll see, she whispered.
She began to get ready because the lawyer would come in a while. They had agreed to meet in the lobby of the hotel, around 12.30 noon. She wore a yellow dress that matched her brownish-blond hair and illuminated her dark eyes. She was very impressive. She emphasized her eyes with a green pencil and put on a light orange lipstick.
-With the mask covering the face, no one will see it, she thought, but it doesn’t matter.
She always wanted her make – up to be complete. She did not like it half-jobs. She took one last look at the mirror, took her handbag, and went down to the lobby. She asked the receptionist if anyone had asked for her, and was shown a plump gentleman of medium stature, around forty, sitting further. She approached him and asked him in English:
-Are you Mr. Neophytou? I am Zena Vassilopoulos.
Although Mr. Neophytou was wearing a mask, Zena understood from the expression of his eyes that he was left with his mouth open when he saw her.
-Oh, yes of course. It’s me. I’m so glad to meet you! You’re gorgeous!
-Thank you so much! It is probably my Cypriot genes!
-I don’t know, probably it’s the mixture. Very strange the combination of your colors!
Zena laughed flattered.
-Let’s get started, she said to change the conversation because she was begging to feel uncomfortable.
-Please follow me. My car is just outside.
In the parking lot of the hotel, the Mercedes of Mr. Neophytou was waiting for them.
-We’re going to Coral Bay, he told her. There is a restaurant with amazing view. The locals call the location Maa or Paleocastro. There are archaeological remains of a settlement and walls of the Late Bronze Age, 1200 BC. The name Maa probably comes from an ancient deity. You see how the names are maintained in these places!
-I am amazed at the history of the country!
-The whole of Cyprus, but especially Paphos, is what we call, every step and an antiquity. Near the hotel you are staying in is the archaeological site Tombs of the Kings, a cemetery basically of the Hellenistic period, with burial elements that resemble similar ones in Alexandria, Egypt.
-I don’t know what to say! Everything seems to blend with the history of the past but also with the history of my family.
-Near the port of Paphos is another archaeological site, which includes houses with mosaic floors, of exceptional value and quality, of the period of the 3rd and 4th century AD. It would be good to visit them.
-I will visit them. I feel enchanted.
-With the conversation, we arrived. Here is the restaurant we will have our lunch.
They proceeded towards the restaurant, which was located high up and down you could see the bay, which looked like a horseshoe, and the tourists sunbathing on the beach. They sat at a table overlooking the sea and Zena looked at the landscape impressed. She had almost forgotten why she was there. She felt like a tourist.
Zena left the choice of dishes to Mr. Neophytou, and she did not regret it. The fish here tasted much better than she knew.
-It’s the Mediterranean Sea, he told her. Here everything is tastier.
-I got it, she replied stuffy. I’m afraid I’ll put a lot of weight on it until I leave. The food is excellent.
As soon as they finished eating, Mr. Neophytou handed her an envelope.
-Here are all the title deeds, he told her, transferred in your name. You will also have to come to my office for some signatures. The plots in the village of Statos are very small and have probably merged with the adjacent properties. We will have to claim some compensation from the current farmers if you wish. However, they are of no value, in relation to the area here in Paphos.
-No, I wouldn’t want to. From what I understood from Zenovia’s letters to her son, she had given them to the family of a friend to cultivate. All I could do is pass them on to them, although I don’t think we’ll find a way out after a hundred years.
-Okay, as you like. We can see it later.
At the time of the dessert – they had ordered a traditional baklava – Zena saw a gentleman approaching with a wide smile. So wide that it looked fake. He was around 45, tall, brunette, very fit with a tailored T-shirt to project his muscles and a relatively well-made face. He was the man who for some women would have seemed very charming, but for Zena he would not. He was just the person she would not like.
He greeted them in English and introduced himself to her:
-Andreas Nicolaou, developer. You should be Zena Vassilopoulos.
And he sat down at their table, after asking the waitress for a coffee. Zena immediately understood his role. He was the one interested in her property. She did not say anything and waited to see what will happen.
Mr. Nikolaou was looking at her, one could say with impudence, and turning a blind eye to Mr. Neophytou, he whispered something that Zena did not understand but was sure that it was a sexist comment. For a moment she thought about getting up and leaving – at least that is how her explosive temperament commanded her – but she was restrained because she wanted to see the development of this show.
The sequel was quite annoying for Zena because Mr. Nicolaou began to flirt with her relentlessly, giving her false smiles, lustful glances, and cheap compliments. How she was restrained she did not even know herself. In the end he came up with the contentious issue.
-I know about the property you have in Kato Paphos, and I would like to buy it. I can pay you as much as you want. I have already prepared plans for its development, and I can show them to you!
Here Zena could not restrain herself any longer. She became furious. She stood up and, turning to Mr. Neophytou, who was obviously in a very difficult position, said firmly:
-By what right, Mr. Neophytou, did you inform Mr. Nicolaou of my property? I made it clear to you that I am not interested in selling it!
-And turning to Mr. Nicolaou she added:
-And how much audacity do you have to prepare plans for the exploitation of an area that does not belong to you? I have said it and I repeat it: I am not interested in selling my property! And if ever I am interested, I will find the buyer in my own way. Goodbye!
She proceeded to an employee asking him to call her a taxi. Mr. Neophytou ran after her, apologizing and begging her to return to her hotel with him.
-No, she told him bluntly. Thanks so much for the meal but I had enough for today!
When she returned to the hotel she was quite upset. She put on her swimsuit and dived into the sea, which was no longer as serene as in the morning, but she did not care. Swimming helped her calm down and after taking a shower, she put on something light and sat on the balcony of her room. The dazzling daylight had begun to soften as the sun went down and dusk spread its colors on the horizon. As time passed, the rose became a deep orange, which slowly turned into red and replaced the blue of the sky.
-Magic hour, she thought. I am very lucky to see the sunset from my balcony!
She decided not to have dinner after the lavish lunch and so she ordered a salad to be brought to her room. She ate early and thought about lying down early, as well. Darkness had fallen and Zena was sitting on her balcony enjoying the sweet night and silence when she heard a knock on the door. She was surprised. She did not expect anyone. She put on her mask and a robe and went to answer it.
The biggest surprise of her life awaited her at the door, along with a bouquet of flowers. Mr. Nicolaou, without wearing a mask, and with a false smile on his lips, offered her the flowers and suggested to her with impudence.
-I came to get you to go for dinner!
-Thanks, I have just dinner and I will lie down. I’m very tired, she replied trying to look polite, but sparks were coming out of her eyes.
-So early? Now is the time to go out, he insisted, offering her the flowers again.
-I said no! She replied and closed the door in anger.
She immediately picked up the reception and complained about giving her room number to someone without asking her. The girl who answered the phone, almost cried. She constantly apologized saying that the gentleman who came claimed that he was her relative and wanted to surprise her. That is why they did not notify her. Zena left it behind. There was no point in continuing.
She sat down again on the balcony and thought about how to deal with the situation. She felt very annoyed and deep down – but in great depth – she was somewhat afraid. She decided to talk to Alexis. The time was completely inappropriate. In Australia it would be well after midnight.
-I had lost my sleep, she thought. I’ll wait for midnight to pass, and I’ll call him.
Around 12.30 a.m. she called Alexis. He was surprised by her morning phone call. When she explained to him what had happened, his oriental attitude woke up inside him. He became very angry with the behavior of the two men.
-You must leave Paphos immediately, he told her. Get in touch with Eleni and book a room at a hotel in Nicosia. You’ll get to know my parents there too. I will find a solution with the Greek language groups, and I will come as soon as possible! You will not face these deceitful on your own!
-For god’s sake, Alexis. You don’t have to come. I’m not a little girl either. I know how to take care of myself.
-I am not discussing it. In a week, ten days at most I will be there. Settle in Nicosia and do tourism there. Such behaviors can become dangerous.
He gave her no room to answer and hung up the phone.
Zena’s feelings were mixed. On the one hand she was irritated with his despotic insistence on facing her own problems himself and on the other hand she felt the sweet relief that his own concern and affection brought to her life.
After a while, she decided. She would follow his advice. Tomorrow she would leave for Nicosia!