Zenovia’s secret (Chapter 28)

Posted by: Maria Atalanti

Published on: 11/12/2022

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This text is the product of fiction. None of the characters described are real.

Cyprus – End of September 2021 – Larnaca Airport

It had just been announced by the loudspeakers, but it was also obvious from the departures board, that Zena’s flight would be delayed for two hours. This irritated her somewhat, but she proceeded towards the airport cafeteria and found a table to sit. She ordered a cup of coffee and she began to reflect on this unique summer she had experienced in her life.

It all began, of course, with the death of her father and her own promise to read the letters that her grandfather Evangelos had exchanged with her great-grandmother Zenovia. This promise had led her to Alexis, initially of course to give them to him to translate them, although later she was forced to learn Greek herself to read them. To her great surprise today she could speak and comfortably understand this language, which a few years ago she considered impossible to learn.

-How strange life is! She thought. Two years have passed since my father’s death and the changes that have been made are so many times greater than what has happened to me since the day I was born until today. They are not, in any case, unpleasant changes, on the contrary they are interesting and promise another course, other joys and most likely other sorrows.

Then she remembered her marriage to Alexis. Leaving Paphos and coming to Nicosia, they had run all the necessary procedures. Thus, on Friday, September 3, 2021, in the wedding hall of the new Nicosia City Hall, in the presence of only the parents of Alexis and Eleni, who was the witness, the ceremony took place. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, more people were not allowed to be present and these few wore their masks.

Alexis had asked her to wear the blue dress she had put on that Christmas Day 2019, when they went to Mr. Jacob Papadopoulos’ party in Melbourne. This dress really flattered her and although her eyes were not blue but black it made them shine more than they shone every day. At least that’s what Alexis was telling her.

The ceremony could not have been plainer. Something that satisfied her, since she has never believed in established situations, nor in traditional events. She wanted to be unbound by all this. But their marriage ceremony with Alexis was simple and spoke to her heart.

The day after their wedding, Alexis left for Australia, because his obligations towards his job did not allow him to stay in Cyprus any longer. She remained three more weeks to settle the last outstanding issues and say goodbye to the people she met, this special summer of her life.

She initially returned to Paphos and visited the friend she had met on the plane arriving in Cyprus, Mrs. Maria Stylianou. A lady who she really liked for her love of learning and friendly character. Zena felt great with her company and would maintain a friendship with her.

She also went through the locksmith and took the box they had left him to fix the lock. Really the man took the job very seriously. Apart from the fact that he repaired the lock, he constructed with the help of a goldsmith a silver key, cleaned the wood of the wild olive tree, and passed it with a special oil that highlighted its wonderful colors and rich lines. It became gorgeous. The price he charged Zena was high, but it did not matter. The result was excellent.

Then he passed through Limassol and visited Vicky, who was the closest she had to Zenovia. Not because Vicky was a relative of Zenovia or knew anything about this extraordinary woman, but because once their great-grandmothers were friends and shared secrets. And when the hearts of two people are united in this way, a spiritual kinship is created that Zena wanted to maintain. Vicky even promised her that on a subsequent visit she would invite her sister and cousins to get to know each other and share memories.

Feeling satisfied that she created channels of communication with the people she met in Cyprus and particularly liked, she returned to Nicosia. There lived some other people she would like to meet. They were Manthos Mavrommatis and Katia Taoushiani. The people who helped her communicate with Mr. Mustafa Akinci. Even though she would like to meet them together with Alexis, since this had not been possible, they made an appointment and the three of them met. She immediately felt that they had a lot in common with each other and would maintain a friendship.

At the same time, she started working with Eleni to close all the pending issues related to the reconstruction of Zenovia’s house and now their own house with Alexis. After agreeing the last details in relation to the design, they chose the sanitary ware, floors, tiles and whatever else the house would need to be completed. Even for the garden Zena approved a general design.

From the financial point of view, the payments were initially settled with the compensation paid by Mr. Nicolaou for the encroachment he made on her property, which amounted to almost half a million. The fear of taking the case to court and the possibility that he would not be able to sell the villas he built, because he could not issue title deeds, forced him to capitulate and pay.

Meanwhile, Zena had given a power of attorney to Alexis’ father, Mr. Nikos, and now her father-in-law, to manage her finances while she was away and at the same time to proceed with the procedures for the sale of the part of her property that she herself would not use. So, in that respect she felt safe. Her father-in-law, anyway, now a retired man, was thrilled with the idea that he would have something useful and interesting to deal with.

The relationship with Alexis’ parents brought a warmth to her heart. Ever since she had lost her father, who took care of her in one way or another, she thought she had lost parental affection forever. And yet, Alexis’ parents opened their arms and accepted her as their child.

-My daughter, you make my son happy and for me this is everything, his mother, Mrs. Androulla, told her one day. We thought he would stay in Australia and never get married. Now we hope to get grandchildren and enjoy them while we still can. Naturally we have grandchildren from our other children, but we would also like to see our Alexis happy.

Some time ago she would have considered this comment banal and would not have been interested, but now so much had changed within her that the words of Mrs. Androulla made her emotional. The phrase “My daughter, you make my son happy…” often sounded in her mind. Great words, with great expectations and many obligations on her part!

Her thoughts led her again to this important event of her life: her marriage. Now she saw it as a commitment to Alexis and their love. A promise that they would face the problems of life together and if they had children, they would try to implant in them the principles of life in which they themselves believed, but also bequeathed from their ancestors, so that they would be useful people on this planet.

Of course, she was sure that not everything would be rosy. Her own unruly temperament and Alexis’ traditional principles would certainly collide, but she was determined to find a way to manage it. After all, life had given her a wonderful companion. There was no need to waste this happiness with stubbornness. Alexis was very patient, and she could easily understand a sensible argument. It was up to them to find the best way to compromise and come to an understanding.

They had discussed it thoroughly with Alexis and had decided to live the next years of their lives in Cyprus. Zena, since she was married, would very much like to have children. Now that she has known what “family” meant, she would like life to continue to be perpetuated through her own offspring.

All these associations brought to her memory another decision she had recently made. Her life until now had been devoted mainly to actions to protect the planet from ecological destruction. She felt it was a sacred course and all people who love our earth should do it. In her home country, Australia, this is a priority and she herself had served it passionately. Something that she will continue to do in the future.

But coming to Cyprus and knowing firsthand the suffering that wars accumulate, how they divide people and how they uproot the experiences of a lifetime, in the most violent way, she decided to work for peace.

With the new decisions she had made about her life there was no room for combat journalism in the way she had practiced in the past. She could no longer travel and report. Having children would like to be close to them and experience their growth, something she herself did not have. On the other hand, her age did not allow her to delay the creation of her family. She had to do it immediately. And she wanted to do it well.

After her meeting with Mr. Mustafa Akinci and what she read about Lellos Demetriades, she realized that the recorded history speaks very little about the servants of peace. It refers much more to the supporters of the war, and even if it criticizes their actions, it mentions them and maintains their names through the centuries: Attila, Jenkins Khan, Hitler, Mussolini, and many others either glorious or reprehensible generals. Peace workers are either not mentioned at all, or their deeds are written in small print.

During her various trips, in the past, in war zones, she had met other people with similar actions. People who put aside the differences of their peoples and fought for their welfare. She had done several interviews at the time and had kept this material. Now it is time to write a book about all of them: about the workers of peace.

On the other hand, she had a lot of information to write a book about her family and especially about Zenovia. She considered her great-grandmother’s story to be tender, romantic, dynamic, revolutionary but above all it outlined a time that it was lost. And Zena wanted to project through her book this era with its difficulties and problems.

If the first book she wanted to write was to honor and showcase the people who have  promoted and still promote peace, this second book was about everyday life. This everyday life that shapes existence and evolves humanity, with the struggles of anonymous people like Zenovia and Demetrios. Which teaches that people with dazzling beauty like Vangelis can be fireworks in this world, shining brightly and lasting for a short time. And if today we live in a time when the “stars” are covered by the spotlight, we must remember that they are all shooting stars. Quality and durability are within the humble anonymous existences.

She felt a warmth in the heart with this prospect. She dreamed of sitting at her desk, at her home in Paphos gazing at the sea, as she gazed at the Yarra River in Melbourne. There was a bustling city that matched the dynamic life she led at the time. Here the landscape is calm, perfect for taking her to the deepest layers of her being and tracing the words and meanings that would help her to express what she wanted to say. She smiled at that prospect.

She looked at her watch. It still had thirty minutes until it was time to leave. She paid and began to head slowly to the boarding gate. She noticed that a few others were also sitting there, reading, and waiting.

She settled into a lonely position and continued to think. She felt good with her contemplation. They were not scattered anxious thoughts. They were full of reflections on her future. She unconsciously touched her belly. She thought she was pregnant. She had not gone to the doctor yet and had not told anyone. She wanted the first to know about it to be Alexis and she would tell him as soon as she saw him. Thinking about his joy, she smiled happily.

This possibility would also determine the time of their return to Cyprus. She would like to give birth to her child in Australia, where she thought the medical services were more organized and after coming to Cyprus. So, their return would take at least 10-12 months, enough time for the construction of their home to be completed.  She was sure that Eleni and her father-in-law would do everything in their power for their house to be perfect. In this respect she felt very secure.

As much as it seemed great to her that she would become a mother, it seemed also strange. Apart from the fact that never in her life she had such a desire, she herself had never known maternal affection. One day when they were talking with Alexis and she told him of her fears, he encouraged her by telling her:

-Don’t worry maternal, as well as paternal love is innate. It is a property that nature gives to its living beings to perpetuate species. See how your father raised you, alone, without knowing anything about that. And he made you a fine person. A little spoiled of course, but strong and free!

Although, he called spoiled to tease her, she knew that deep down he was right. She felt a thrill in her heart at the thought of her father, the most beloved man in her life until she met Alexis. Now she had both in the same pantheon. Where in the future she would like to put the children, she would have.

At that time, the announcement of the start of boarding was heard. Passengers wearing their masks and keeping their distance from each other began to move forward holding passports and boarding passes.

-It is time she thought, to leave Cyprus and meet Alexis in Melbourne. My feelings are mixed. On the one hand I am happy, on the other hand I am sorry to leave this place, which has given me so many surprises and opened so many horizons for me. I’ll come back though!

Getting on the plane, she quickly found her place. Luckily she was by the window and would see the take-off and the journey to Dubai, where they would make a stop. In the seat next to her was an elderly gentleman with a very kind appearance. She immediately introduced herself:

-My name is Zena Vassilopoulos, and I am traveling to Melbourne, she told him.

-Oh, I am so glad,” replied the kind gentleman. My name is Stylianos Neophytou. I am a retired university professor, and I am also travelling to Melbourne. My son and his wife stay there, and I am going to visit them, although difficult times for traveling.

-You are right, but life goes on. We should take care and strive for the best.

-That’s what I thought too. I don’t know how much longer I will live, and I would like to enjoy them now that I can.

By the time the plane took off, they had caught up in conversation, and Zena felt that her trip would be enjoyable.

-I’m lucky to travel with you, she said. Your company seems very interesting to me.

-I will say the same about you, my charming lady, Neophytou replied.

And while the plane ascended into the skies and passed over the clouds the two fellow travelers, expanded the scope of their acquaintance, enjoying each other’s company.


Photo: Civil marriage veneu inthe New Town Hall of Nicosia

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