A simple guide for
Iranian tourists in Cyprus
Part two (last) of a short story by Ramin Ahmadi from the Fall 1996 (Vol. 40, No. 1) issue of "The Literary Review" -- an international journal of contemporary writing published by Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. Click here for Part I.
Bigger restaurants serve their dinner in private gardens. They all have small bands and performers to do the traditional Greek dance. They are not so different from each other but go to Klimas. (You guessed it! Klimas too is located on Yermasuya Street.) When you get out of Highland Cafe, stay on the same side of the street and go a couple of blocks to your left passing the down slope of the street. Next to the tourist information center is a narrow terrace with the Klimas Restaurant sitting at the end. The waiter will bring you a tray of red flowers, herb and olives and until they serve your kabob and wine, the band will teach you the Greek dance. Your dinner conversation will blend in with several other tongues. On your right, the Irish are singing. Behind you the British are speaking loudly. On the left, usually the Finns. Cypriot hosts respond to all in Greek.
You ask her to leave the island with you. The land that no longer considers her native. You tell her that she is not like the natives, plain and provincial. That she will not be happy nursing men and babies. The old women of the village say the west has corrupted her. Men say she is difficult and cold-hearted. Why not leave? She will tell you, "Before I fond my freedom in the west I wrote my history in your land. Strong horses bought my chariot to your land. A triumphant warrior was welcoming me, kneeling at my feet, drunk and lost, crying like children, demanding my consent. He set the palace on fire but I stood here like a cold statue denying him my love. Maddened and desperate, he tore my clothes and slept with me on the ashes of his fire. Since then I have slept with many children on the ashes. In west and east children all demand my smile, each in their own way. Our pleasure on the bed of the ashes is nothing but a lie."
If you have to travel between the cities use the private cabs. The service cabs, which are shared among several riders simultaneously, are cheaper. But spend a bit here. Otherwise, throughout your entire trip between Larnaca and Limasol you will be seated next to a Lebanese widow. Her gray hair showing from under her scarf. With large tearful eyes she will tell you that she has lost her entire family in the war. She is going to Limasol hoping to find a job. What will become of her, if she fails to find work. She has not a clue. She will tell you of her once beautiful house. It was not an elegant place of course, but they called it home. She cooked for her husband every day, cleaned, and once a week invited the children and the grandchildren over. All her four children she had delivered in the same house. Her first grandchild was born in her own two hands. His very first cry had filled the house. But that refuge is but a fistful of ashes today. You look at her and through her pupils hundreds of people pour out one by one. All refugees of war. The cab is now too small and suffocating. Children grab you, crying, asking if you know the whereabouts of their parents. You reach to stroke their hair and they vanish. The cab transforms into four brick walls and you find yourself riding in a mobile coffin. And you can see your tombstone reading: Here lies an unknown tourist. A group of tourists from all over the world will gather around you to mourn your loss and you, surrounded by Irish, British, Finns and Swedes will mourn your own loss. No, I recommend you take the private cab. Much more tolerable.
The Corean theater outlined by green hills laying on a vast flat land caresses the cheeks of the purple Mediterranean waters. From your hotel, buses bring the tourists here everyday to show the remains of a theater stage more than a thousand years old. Here years ago, thousands of beautiful dancers performed on a half circle stage. You go with her. Because she never smiles. And in her bitter eyes, she calls you to herself. When you get out of the bus, go around the first hill and enter the stage from the black. Maybe like all those dancers who entered the stage before you. Then you will be alone with her and nature. Standing on the stage you are both the actor and the audience. She will dance for you and in the fast movement of her thighs, the rings on her anklet shake. Just the way the anklets of a thousand other dancers have in the past. Her long and wavy black hair fall over her face and her eyes from under them inflame you. You walk toward her standing on the stage facing her. She will stop dancing, responding to your smile with bitter eyes and you will pull her delicate shoulders towards you. In her eyes the sea and the beach dance and she surrenders and so do you. You join the children and the triumphant warriors and pull her black shirt down over her delicate shoulders, tearing it off and searching for comfort for your unspoken fears.
If you follow all of my recommendations you will have a memorable trip. I suggest you do the Corean theater tour during one of the last days of your stay. Although this exciting memory will pale before all the other events, you will never forget her face. You will remember her a pale thin woman with long cheekbones and black wavy hair, never a smile. If you are an Iranian woman like me, with black hair and a pair of curious eyes, you will remember the details of her dance on the historical stage of the past when she is a prisoner of presence.
When you hold her in your arms the Irish, British, Finns and Swedes all gather around you. They will watch you without a trace of curiosity or surprise (as if they had expected it). Your lips in the shadow of deep blue water engage in a kiss and your anxious interrupted sentences are repeated instantly out loud in several languages by the observing crowd. And your love will reflect in a polyphonic whisper in this historical theater of Greece. Only then the Aphrodite with content will put the white clouds over you. A few moments later, under a hard rain, a group of bewildered people staring at each other will remain still.
End of part II (last). Click here for Part I
* The Literary Review
* Fairleigh Dickinson University
* THE IRANIAN Literature section
About the author
Ramin Ahmadi is a doctor of medicine who lives and practices in Connecticut. He has published his poems and short stories in Persian journals and is in the process of publishing a book of poems and a collection of short stories. He has edited and published a collection of contemporary Iranian poems from the 1980s. (Back to top)
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