Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Not even my name"

In my true search for an identity in this ever increasing multicultural society, I tend to read many books.  I am a true fan of self discovery, and I am a great believer in the human mind.  It intrigues me, it inspires me and it leads me.

My parent's stories are quite different, but also quite similar and sometimes even quite connected.  My father's past is hidden within the depths of Pontus.  His parent's were lucky enough to have escaped the mass genocide of whole races within Turkey in the early 1900's.  My mother's story is again one of anguish.  Born in Cyprus, she has survived the dissolution of her country - her home, again by the Turks.

In my quest to find me, as I said, I look for signs of my family's history in books, on the web, but mostly in other people's eyes.  I enjoy meeting people who have stories to tell, and lessons to give which can connect me to me.  Life is sometimes about connecting the dots, or piecing together a puzzle, and I am always surprised by the amount of times the pieces of my puzzle seem to fit perfectly, although at first glance you feel that they will not connect at all.

On a hot day, much like today, a new friend and I were discussing my parent's backgrounds, and she suggested I read a book called "Not even my name".  Without hesitation, I ordered a copy of the book, and waited for days for it to come.  Now, when it arrived, I was so eager to read it, but having so much work at this time of year and the phone's ringing constantly, I put it aside and decided to wait for a good time. Then the strangest thing happened.  The telephone lines went dead - no phones, no internet, no fax.  After my initial rage - the hospitality business needs its communication - I realised that I had free time.  For at least 24 hours, I was able to spend some time reading.  So I started to read late in the evening.  The book was mesmerising.  Thea Halo describes and narrates her mother's, Sano's,  life - the life of a Greek Christian born and living in Pontus ( the area of turkey along the Black Sea).  Her mother's journey involves losing her family, losing her home and losing her identity but also finding a new home, a new identity and creating her own family.  The more I read, the more I could not put the book down.  For the few hours I dedicated to Sano's journey, my imagination became my leader, as my mind filled with pictures of how my grandmother must have also lived through the same terrifiying and sad situations, the same grief, the same loss and the same new beginnings.  Living in the UK, we were never taught about this part of the first World War.  We never heard about the torment and suffering that was forced upon the Christians then.  Reading the book, you will gain insight into why we were never taught these things.

Thea Halo has helped me to find myself more.  I am sure she has also helped hundreds of other people, in hundreds of other parts of the world.  There are people around the world who do not know their roots, some because they were never told, some because their parents or grandparents just wanted to forget and some because there was no-one left to tell them about their past.  Thank you Thea for your enlightenment and for filling in a small part of my past.

 Not Even My Name Website