Zehra's Story

Q. Think back to an experience you had that is an example of your life in Cyprus during the 1974 War. What is the experience, what happened?
People cannot know what will happen even just one hour later. The experience that I will tell you now is a very good example of this sentence.

Q. Before starting to tell your story, would you please tell the condition of that day. What was the condition of people, what were their and your feelings on that particular date?
For 11 years, we lived in very bad conditions. I don't mean that we had no money. Rather, we were not in comfort. Greek Cypriots started actions to reach their goal -- ENOSIS. Whenever we read newspapers, we saw that some Turkish Cypriots were killed. Sometimes they killed one person, sometimes they killed all people of a village. Of course, under this situation, the condition was very bad. Living with the feeling of death was incredible.

Q. Ok. What is your experience?
On the 20th of July, I washed dirty clothes and went out to the garden to hang up the clothes on a rope. While I was hanging up them, I heard some sounds of guns. Then, I saw the bullets.

Q. What did you feel?
I remember my fear quite well. My heart rate increased suddenly. I thought that Greek Cypriots had come to our village. Of course, I ran to get my child and a bag to put some clothes in. I was 20 years old. I mean I was nearly a child. So, I went to my neighbor with my child and a bag. My husband was in the army on that date and I was alone. My neighbor's house was in a safer place and many people came to that house. There were approximately 20-25 people in that little house. Everyone was in fear and they were in panic. After a while, we learned that the reason for the war was that Turkish troops came to Cyprus and Greek Cypriots were resisting against Turkey.

Q. What did you think when you heard that?
Of course, I became very happy. Although it was a war, I was happy. This is because I was sure that Turkey would save our lives. Anyway, in order to save ourselves from the bullets, we put ourselves under the beds. We spent the night in that house. The next day, we heard that the war had temporarily stopped. Then, we began to walk to the British base. We passed very bad roads, streams, etc. I had slippers on my feet and they got damaged very quickly. So, I had no more shoes. Fortunately someone else gave me other shoes and I could keep walking. Finally, we reached the base. People there gave us water, meals and tents. Seeing this kind of behavior was good. Then, we used our tents and we never came back to our homes. We lived in the tents for 5 months.

Q. How were your feelings when you realized that you would not go back to your home?
It is obvious that if you leave your home against your will, you will be very upset. So, I was really very sad. We organized everything for our life in my village and my home was finished just 3 months before we moved to tents. So, it was a very bad feeling. We had our jobs in our village and we also had to leave our jobs there. We had to reorganize our whole life from the starting point. In short, I can say that I never want to live this kind of experience again.

Thank you for telling me one of your experiences.

Occupation: Housewife.
Age: 43.
Sex: Female.
Nationality: TRNC.
Where now lives (country and city/town/village): Lefkosa.
Where lived during the events described during the interview: Evdim, a village in Limassol.
Occupation (or life's work) of the main income earner in household when growing up: Father grew grapes.
Education: Graduated from secondary school.

This interview was conducted by Firat
April 1996

For the previous page. "1974: The War."