By Heidi Trautmann
As title he chose a line from a Lewis Carroll verse. A title for his childhood memories in Cyprus. Taner Baybars’ memories who was born in Cyprus in 1936 and moved to England in 1955. A Turkish Cypriot poet and writer, and also painter.
He died in early 2010 and I wrote down his brother’s words on my website and also his curriculum vitae.
Taner Baybars left his home country early as a young man but he never forgot his home village. On his deathbed his brother promised to scatter his ashes in the sea just close to Vassilia or Karsiaka.
It is not so long ago that I found a book of his in the Moufflon Bookstore in Nicosia South as a Moufflon publication 2005, a reprint with minor revisions of the first publication in 1970. I read it knowing that some of the places Taner Baybars is writing about are just some stone throws away from our house, Karsiaka/Vassilia and Lapithos/Lapta. Images of Taner’s first eleven years as the son of a teacher. Teachers were moved on to other villages every couple of years, so the boy had many homes in those years, but his heart obviously remained in Vassilia. He describes the images with the innocence of a child, the pictures that have remained in his heart, the years he was held in the love of his parents, his first steps with the experiences one needs to become a knowledgeable man. We learn about the small things of village life, the smell of home made bread:
…I was not tall enough to see what was on the table. I smelled it. I was hungry. I jumped. An old woman from Aliler, the hilly side of the village, came down to knead the dough and bake our bread for the week. The bread was yellow and it tasted of earth….
Or we learn about things lost long ago, for example the water mill in Lapithos:
…Up towards the village proper where cafés perched under plane trees, there was a water mill. Lorries stood outside all white with newly milled flour, white and the sound of the cascading water as the mill revolved. ….
The images of rituals of Sunday lunches and siesta in the cozy half light of a house in Nicosia, the respect of family members but also the sweet memories of a small boy to be allowed to go the Hamam with the women, being cuddled and spoilt by them, spending hours in the humid warmth with all the stories that were told. All gone now.
…but brought to life again with his book “Plucked in a Far-off Land” ISBN 9963-642-18-7.