Music to my ears

One of the characteristics of living in the capital is its proximity to the Green Line.

Having lived for some time in Paphos, I often identify Nicosia’s peculiarity by detecting the sounds of the mosques’ calls to prayer five times a day that ring out in the centre of the old town.

I was taken aback this week when, while sitting on the veranda of a third-floor apartment in Acropolis – a side of town on the outskirts of the centre – the sounds of a late-night sermon caught my ears.

Initially, I was perplexed by the experience. I had lived a couple of streets down some years ago and don’t recollect having noticed the power of the outdoor speakers mounted on these tall minarets.

I wondered what had changed. Perhaps technology had got better. Perhaps the night in question was particularly quiet. Perhaps the height I was standing at played a role in how the sound travels.

Or perhaps the volume was turned up a notch; turned up a notch at a time when talks about reuniting the two communities are ever-more prominent.

There could be an ideological understanding behind this; that of instigating normality through conveying the sounds each community is used to hearing on a daily basis, for their own well-being.

The song of the muezzin is without a doubt a symbol of the east.

Accepting our geographical location is then one part of the equation.

The other is the culture of the people living within it. Embracing its sounds is thus a primordial step towards acceptance.

Bringing music to my ears always makes things better, not by choice, but by default.

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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