Disappearing acts

I was hoping to see the Turkish flag on the Pendadaktilos Mountains disappear under the snow just for a bit. But that didn’t happen.

What did happen was that my local grocer shut down overnight. It may be somewhat outdated to bring up the issue of dozens of shops closing down here and there across the island. I’m not that distressed about commercial entities closing down on high streets.

If I were to take it to the next extreme, I’m not even bothered by the fact that Cyprus Airways has closed down… Although I do think about the hundreds of people who are now out of a job.

The grocer I’m referring to offered more than merely a place to shop. I remember I had one day managed to go shopping without my purse, something I realised as my bags were nicely packed on the exit side of the counter.

The owner had teased me and immediately told me to come back when I could to pay him but to go ahead and take the groceries home.

On Sundays, he would secretly leave the back door open, and for those of us who were aware of this, we would leisurely have fresh produce when everything else around us was closed. I’ve lost count of how many times he saved me from missing that one item to perfect my culinary whims.

This, of course, was out of order, but at the back-end of our neighbourhood, we all treasured this luxury, and we all knew him personally.

His closure was abrupt and although he may know where we walked off to after we did our shopping, I have no idea where he has gone. And I never got the chance to thank him for his offerings over the years. Just like that, he disappeared.

Like so many other habits we seem to be shedding due to the financial downturn. Such a pity.

*** Published in the Cyprus Weekly Newspaper

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About Melissa Hekkers

I am freelance journalist and author, who has frequently been featured in mainstream news outlets and other publications in Cyprus. Recently, I've been focusing on developing my writing, promoting my own books and teaching creative writing to children and adults. My most recent publication (2020) - Amir's Blue Elephant- pushes the boundaries of creative non-fiction, and recreates the moments that marked me the most, whilst volunteering in refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece, and during her ongoing involvement with the refugee community in Cyprus. In 2018 I published My Capre Greco Mandala which is the third in a series, an interactive colouring book about the biodiversity of the Cape Greco peninsula in Cyprus. My Akamas Mandala, the second in the series, is a colouring book inspired by the variety of endemic plants found on the Akamas Peninsula. In 2016, I published My Nicosia Mandala, the first of the above series, an innovative, interactive colouring book about the historic fortifications of the old town of Nicosia. I also focuses on silenced communities in Cyprus: I writes about migrants and refugees, both as a reporter and a features writer; I profile them and teach them creative writing skills. In 2007, soon after graduating with a Communications degree, I published my first children’s book in both English and Greek entitled Crocodile, which won the Cyprus State Illustration Award. In 2012, I launched my second children’s book Flying across Red Skies (in English and Greek), using an experimental approach to literature, for which I was nominated for the Cyprus State Literary award. My third, similarly well-received children’s book was Pupa (Greek and English), published in 2014. In between the last two books, I published my first free-verse poetry book entitled Come-forth. In 2019 she was contributing author to the anthology Nicosia Beyond Barriers: Voices from a Divided City, published by Saqi Books, London