Pain in the back…

Pain in the back…

Cyprus is no longer as hot as it was in the summer months. Temperatures no longer soar to around 50 degrees Celsius. Yet, though it is the middle of September, the island is still hot - around 24 degrees at night and in the mid to upper 30s during the daytime.

After spending the morning in the Greek Cypriot quarter of the city drinking cup after cup of coffee with friends - as well as with those rather less friendly - I was tempted to spend some time in the northern Turkish Cypriot section with some old pals, discussing politics, naturally, as the ruling party is heading to a crucial convention.

Alas, I am not a fatalist at all, but sometimes life dictates its own designs on the plans of individuals. Hardly had I walked 50 meters from the hotel towards a cafe in the splendid Dereboyu section of Turkish Nicosia to meet with opposition Populist Democracy Party leader Mehmet Çakıcı, when I found myself on the hot asphalt with a bleeding elbow and the front tire of a young delivery boy’s motorbike right on my back…

Of course, all plans for the afternoon were cancelled, and I was rushed in an ambulance to the Nalbantoğlu State Hospital where for three hours no part of my body was exempted from radiographic examination. Thank God, there were no fractures anywhere on my body, but there was immense post-traumatic pain on my back. I have been having back problems for years anyhow, but I have never ever had such condensed pain.

Naturally, I was treated with painkillers and in the early afternoon I was discharged with some advice: “The pain will most probably increase later tonight, don’t panic. You have been prescribed painkiller pills and an antiseptic gel, which will help the bruises recover. Use them as explained in the prescription, you will soon be comfortable.”

They were probably joking. For doctors and health personnel it must be really exhausting to work in an emergency ward. From babies just a few months old to post-90 senior citizens, the ward was constantly full of patients. Some were treated and discharged in minutes, many others were forwarded to other departments after emergency treatment. With the structural damage of last year’s flood still visible even on the ceiling of the ground floor, the hospital was in an appalling condition. “It’s so crowded” I told the nurse treating me. She responded shyly: “The government allocates us this many funds, we provide this many services. We need more funds, but we are constantly told that we should make the best use of what we have and expect no increase…”

After a short rest, I woke up with my telephone ringing. It was Serdar Denktaş, leader of the opposition Democratic Party and son of Rauf Denktaş, the late founding president of the Turkish Cypriot state. “My brother, I have heard you suffered a small accident,” he said. “Are you OK?”

“Fine, fine. Just some pain in the back, that’s all,” I said. He asked whether I was able to join him and his friends at a late supper. It was a great evening of good food and political gossip. It was also an occasion to commemorate the late founding president with anecdotes about his deathbed jokes to visiting dignitaries.

Talking of the late Denktaş I remembered a Greek Cypriot friend, a veteran of politics on the other side of the buffer zone, telling me just after the demise of Denktaş that he believed the Cyprus problem had become totally insoluble because there were no longer personalities of high caliber either in the south or in the north.

The Cyprus problem is such a pain in the neck that unfortunately perhaps no painkiller may heel it.