A short story by Elena Eracleous from Women Walk Home
I may not be the refugee you are looking for. I am a refugee in my own country, and I did not cross a border. What I experienced was the carnage of war. As a young, unqualified doctor, with the help of only a midwife, I found myself in charge of a front-line hospital. Amidst constant bombardment from sea and air with fires on the mountain beside us, dead and wounded, I was forced to stay at the hospital at the request of the midwife who was left alone by the other doctors. I stayed mainly because I was anxious for the men in my neighborhood, brothers and cousins, who went to get weapons to fight at the point of Turkish landing and were almost all killed, but I didn’t know it and was waiting to help them if they would come wounded.
We had barely escaped when days later the Turks came close to us, firing coming down from the mountain while we were waiting for them from the sea. We managed to save the wounded by sending them to Nicosia by nightfall. We went to other hospitals that were not occupied by the Turks and finally to Nicosia in the second round of the invasion there in the hospital where I already did my preregistration training before I went for my residency in pathology, and there I stayed because I lost everything. The preregistration training ended, and I was left penniless with no home, clothes, and food.
I spoke out against the junta and the coup of the Athens junta, and their people in Cyprus would not appoint me even as a general practitioner, which the hospitals needed since most of the doctors left Cyprus. My husband and I found an abandoned house somewhere without water or electricity, and we worked in the field there, planting vegetables.
I lost 15 kilos, and although I couldn’t have sex after all the raped girls I saw in the hospital, it was Christmas, and it was horribly cold. In my attempt to warm myself in my husband’s arms, I got pregnant. I was scared and asked God how I was going to raise this child. I had constant vomiting and fainting spells, and I thought it was going to be over, and I expected it because it was so hard to be a refugee, unfair, and so many of my family were dead.
Two grandmothers found out about me and took me into their home. After two months of constant care, I got up, and the Spring came, and I felt the tearing of my child. That was it! A heavenly blessing came that brought a wonderful joy within me, and I began a relentless struggle for survival.
I went through Lycanthropes and Cyclops like Odysseus, and I continued to fight, but I learnt to fight and stop hating because it was killing my soul. Most importantly, I learnt how wonderful it is to be constantly in a fight for your country, pushing and fixing degrading laws for women and setting up in the field of Radiology whatever new technology comes along to teach and write with difficulty, survive the injustices in this country, but carry on and hope to win in the end not for you but for the next generation