Zenovia’s secret (Chapter 29)
Posted by: Maria Atalanti
Published on: 18/12/2022Back to Blog
This text is the product of fiction. None of the characters described are real.
Air Travel to Melbourne Australia
As soon as Zena felt comfortable with Mr. Neophytou, she told him that he is the person named second Neophytou she meets in Cyprus. Thus, he gave her some explanations about the origin of the name:
-Neophytos is a local saint of Paphos with great appreciation from the inhabitants. Usually those who are called Neophytos come from the district of Paphos. It is worth visiting his monastery just outside the city of Paphos. It is very ancient. Saint Neophytos, who lived and sanctified there, during the 12th century AD, wrote extensive texts concerning the history of Cyprus and other important events of his time.
-Unfortunately, during my stay in Cyprus, very little I knew from the treasures that exist here. I had to run a family affair, a secret from the past, in fact.
-Sounds very interesting!
Zena for a very strange reason felt very comfortable with Mr. Neophytou and without understanding how, she told him the whole story of her family. And she concluded by telling him her intention to write two books: one about the workers of peace and one about her great-grandmother and the life she lived.
-You know, Mr. Neophytou, she added, at this time these two issues are of particular concern to me. I am angry at the way society has treated and still treats women and any pregnancy that takes place outside of marriage, that is, outside the acceptable framework that society defines. And unfortunately, this rejection is basically experienced by women as if they are only these participants in practice and in the result.
-My dear Zena, I have been a sociology professor for years, but I have been interested in and studied other fields, such as archaeology and history. I would like to inform you that the issues that concern you are linked, even if they seem different. And I mean war and the position of women in society. Everything in life is communicating vessels, and this fragmentation into specialties in our time, many times limits the view, as it focuses on points and not on wholeness.
-Very interesting! Could you explain it to me more.
-Of course. Recent archaeological discoveries, in Europe but also in China, i.e., in two very remote parts of the planet, have brought to light information about the position of women in the Stone Age and later in the Bronze Age, during which people had organized themselves into societies and settled in a specific place.
-In the Stone Age, people were basically hunter-gatherers, dwelling in caves and moving to hunt the animals they were fed with. At this time, therefore, there was equality between women and men, because they hunted together and fed together. This is evidenced by the rock paintings found in various areas showing men and women hunting side by side. Also, from tombs of this era it is evident that the same burial customs prevailed for men and for women. Both genders were buried with their weapons and with the same honors. Tests carried out on bones found, have shown that they were fed in the same way. In other words, they shared the resources. And for the time we are talking about, food was the supreme good. Also, modern anthropologists have found from the same examinations that women physically were just as strong as a male Olympic athlete of our time.
-Later, when people organized themselves into societies and the conquest and preservation of their land and property became of great importance for their survival, things changed completely. Women stayed in the community, cultivating the fields, giving birth, and caring for their children, while men were involved in wars to protect their property or conquer more. So that’s how the wars began. When the possession of land became the important good for the survival of humans.
-What you are saying is very interesting, Mr. Neophytou. Please, continue. So, what happened to women then? How was their position formed?
-It seems that the position of women then decreased significantly, because it was men who protected the community from enemies. Their role was now decisive. Women were engaged in tasks that did not particularly develop their muscular strength, and physically they became much weaker. Also, from the examination of the bones, found in tombs of this time, it is obvious that they were fed much less than men, basically it seems they lived with what was left over from the men’s meal. Life in communities created the conditions for women to become pregnant more often and unfortunately there were many deaths in childbirths. All this relegated the woman to an inferior being, with all the consequences that followed.
-No matter how you look at it, however you interpret it, all these developments you describe are grossly unfair to women. Nevertheless, listening to you I made a very paradoxical, I might even say heretical connotation, in relation to the existing beliefs.
-Tell me, I’m all ears. And believe me, I really like unorthodox thoughts!
-I, Mr. Neophytou, could not describe myself as a religious person. Still, I remember some religious stories from school. And one of them is the story of Adam and Eve and the original sin in general. I am sure that there are many interpretations of what this myth means, but just now, listening to you, I also came up with one:
-As the story goes, paradise was given to these first two people to enjoy it with all the goods it contained. Later – and again here they blame the woman – under Eve’s responsibility, they ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge and fall from paradise. The Stone Age, as you describe it, may be paradise, that is, everything was for everyone and later when people acquired the desire to own, that is, to possess for their own benefit a piece of paradise, they lost it. And here I will make a feminist comment. Since again the woman is blamed for the loss of paradise, let’s not forget that it was when we lost paradise that we evolved as a species.
-Very interesting interpretation, my dear Zena. I don’t know if the theologists agree with you, but I like it! You know many myths of antiquity deal with issues that have to do with the evolution of the humans through the centuries. It seems that some memories are preserved in the collective memory of humanity and with myths, which are sometimes sensational, an attempt is made to interpret this development Do you have in mind the Greek myth of Prometheus?
-Perhaps Alexis mentioned it to me. I don’t remember. Please tell me. I’m all ears.
-Prometheus was a Titan who helped Zeus, the supreme god of the ancient Greeks to seize power, unlike the other Titans who fought against him But then he gave people the fire and taught them many sciences, disobeying Zeus, who did not want people to progress Here I would say that the fire symbolizes knowledge, as in the myth you mentioned, where the firstborn were not allowed to eat from the tree of knowledge For this act, however, Prometheus was severely punished by Zeus. People, on the other hand, with the gifts of Prometheus evolved as a species, but also became prey to war. In a way, in both myths, the progress of humans, with the introduction of knowledge, brought about disputes and wars. It is what we call it, no evil without good or vice versa.
-Very interesting all this. It is a big issue to interpret the myths of antiquity. But you have given another dimension to the issue of peace that I intend to write about. As a journalist I have learned to limit myself to the facts and simply describe them. It is very interesting, however, to refer to myths and other themes, which through the centuries have defined and determined human behavior. A field of expansion is created in scope and depth of the situations caused by the events, which makes it easier for one to have a more holistic view. Perhaps in this way I will better understand the world around me and have suggestions to make, rather than just criticizing.
-You are excellent Zena. Well done. For everything there is the cause and effect. Oh, here we are, we have arrived in Dubai. We will change planes here.
-Yes we will have to get off. I hope we are on the other flight together.
-Certainly! Let’s pursue it. So, the journey will not seem so long.
After waiting for a few hours, they boarded the plane for the trip to Australia. It was already evening. After receiving the meal, they were offered, they put on their masks and tried to sleep. If you can sleep in an airplane chair, wearing your mask! Some others, with headphones in their ears, watched movies, from the hundreds of options offered by the airline, on the small screen opposite them.
Zena noticed her fellow travelers for a moment. An anonymous crowd of people of different origins, different genders, different races, and ages, stacked next to each other, really like sardines, crossing the skies from one point on the planet to another.
-I’m lucky she thought to have Mr. Neophytou by my side. Such a long journey through loneliness is difficult.
The plane was traveling east, so it was not long before dawn shown. Zena lifted the sunshade of her window a little so as not to disturb those around her and looked out. They flew over the clouds, spreading from below sparkling and soft. Many times, since she was a child, when she traveled by plane and looked at the clouds, she wanted to lie and sink on them.
-Will they hold me, she thought, or will I fall to earth! If they can hold me though, it will be the most wonderful feeling!
A sweet light spread around. The sunlight caressed the clouds and sent hopes and life-giving power towards the earth.
-Under the clouds it will be dark, she pondered. People will be immersed in everyday life and their problems and forget that above the clouds the sun shines and as soon as they move a little it will illuminate them with its glow. It is important to remember the light, even if we do not see it. It’s always there.
At that time the lights of the plane came on and the flight attendants began to share the breakfast. Mr. Neophytou opened his eyes and said good morning to Zena. She lifted the sunshade completely from the window and enjoyed the magnificent spectacle of the sunrise above the clouds.
After they finished breakfast and put on their masks, they started chatting again. Zena told Mr. Neophytou about the associations she made about light and clouds.
-You know, she told him, I don’t particularly like air travel for the crowds you see around you and the confinement in such a small space. But the magic of traveling above the clouds and crossing such long distances in such a short period of time is magical. We defeat gravity and enjoy the sun and light.
-Very poetic description! First time I hear it. Usually, people are immersed in their thoughts or fears.. But you observe the world around you. That’s why I think you’re a good journalist.
-Really, how do you see the times we live in today? That frenzy that became our daily routine in the constellation of coronavirus.
-Humanity has experienced pandemics many times, in fact it is said that we live one, of such magnitude, every hundred years. And judging by the previous one, which was the Spanish flu, about a hundred years have passed. Of course, it is the first time that there is such globalization, that people travel so much and transmit the virus so widely and with great speed. It is, surely, the first time that so many vaccines have been released and governments – at least western ones – are making so many efforts to contain it. But it is terribly difficult. Because no matter how many restrictions are put in place, it is always up to the individual whether one will consent to protect themselves and others.
-We always return to personal responsibility and individual morality.
-What you are saying is absolutely right. People usually obey out of fear or do not obey out of reaction. Rarely does morality towards society determine their behavior and decisions. And yet if we would like to be a happy society we should have empathy and sensitivity for the well-being of those around us.
-You are opening big issues, Mr. Neophytou. The general view is that the morality around us is eroded and evil and corruption prevail. I do not disagree in general terms. But for the world to be preserved and to have survived as a species to this day, it means that even in the slightest, good defeats evil. Otherwise, we would have disappeared.
-You are right about that. Regardless of whether we are bombarded with bad news every day, there is a lot of positives going on in this world and we would do well to focus on them as well. You as a journalist could contribute to this.
-This is my goal in writing a book about the workers of peace. I always remember and have in mind a documentary I have watched about the creation of the universe. It said that after the big bang, energy began to be converted into particles of matter and antimatter. The particles of matter as soon as they meet the antimatter particles are neutralized. And although approximately the same number was created by both kinds of particles, for the world to exist today, it means that in a huge number of antimatter particles, there was one more particle of matter. And thanks to this one extra particle of matter, we two exist and sit here and chat about them.
-You impress me Zena, with the associations and correlation you make with everything around you.
-But the world is a whole. It does not consist of scattered units. That is why if we destroy the nature around us we will also destroy ourselves. Those of us who can, should shout this out. No matter how little we sound, it will be enough to defeat the negative energy that wants to destroy life.
-It really is a blessing to have met you. Never in my life have I made a more interesting trip. I didn’t even understand how so many hours have passed.
-A few days ago, we were discussing with Alexis whether the people and events we encounter in our lives are the result of luck or are fatal. We could not reach to a conclusion. We may never know, but it is enough to make the best use of them. In our case, anyway, I think we have done our best.
-You are right. From our discussions on this journey, I emerge more profitable and more optimistic about the future of the world and our planet.
-I, too, Mr. Neophytou, have broadened my knowledge. You have given another dimension to the world around me and its relationship to the myths of our ancestors. We should delve into these stories!
-You won’t have a hard time doing it. I’m sure!
At that time the captain of the aircraft announced their arrival in Melbourne. Zena looked out the window and saw the outskirts of her city, with its uniform detached houses and lush gardens. Where the airport was located, outside the city center, there were no skyscrapers and apartment buildings. She felt a thrill in her heart. She was returning home. She would meet Alexis and tell him about her pregnancy.
-I left, another person, she thought, and I came back wiser and stronger. It was a blessed journey that changed my life. I met with my ancestors and learned from them. I have a lot of work ahead of me to do. And no matter what happens, I will fight. For happiness and for a better world. As much as I can. Like Zenovia.
The plane began the descent for landing. This journey was over. Another one begins.