By Hermes Solomon
MY WIFE is visiting Manchuria in northeast China, not far from the Siberian border. We have been in daily contact via an internet telephone connection costing 0.007cents per minute.
The world is suddenly very much smaller and distance no longer makes the heart fonder – she’s even telling me where to shop, what to cook and how to cook it!
Her father died eight years ago and only now have her family performed the Buddhist ritual of transferring the urn from the crematorium ‘storeroom’ to a marble grave at a mountain foothill cemetery at a cost of 60,000 Yuan (around 7,500 euros).
Financial times have changed in China, but in Cyprus ashes are still out of the question, never mind burying the urn.
My wife is no more a practising Buddhist than I Greek Orthodox. But her mother, Dai is, having survived the inhuman Japanese occupation of Manchuria (1931 to 1945) and Mao’s Little Red Book Cultural Revolution (1966 to 1976). A new version is due for release ahead of the 120th anniversary of Mao’s birth.
AKEL have undoubtedly ordered a copy to embellish their bookshelves.
Dai gave birth to seven children, three sired by her first husband and a further four by No2, raising all seven, plus another two belonging to No 2, during appallingly harsh economic conditions which prevailed in China until the early 1990s (and in Cyprus from now until 2030 at least).
Dai was herself born into an ‘aristocratic family’, her landowner mother gambling away the family fortune playing Mah-jong combined with a love of opium at a time when daughters had their feet bandaged tightly and submitted to arranged marriages, and the masses to the iniquities of corrupt ‘local’ dynasties redolent of our own.
Diminutive and always lovely, Dai is now 83 years of age, actively matriarchal and convinced that enduring a life of considerable hardship is the reason she still abounds with energy and inventiveness – even if in very much shorter bursts.
It is believed that nobody comes to grips with ‘the realities of life’ until they have suffered a great emotional or material loss. Dai lost her first husband at the age of 32 and her mother a few weeks later.
She was obliged to sacrifice her factory job to care for her children, ergo a ‘survival remarriage’ was obligatory and almost immediate.
One of my Cypriot grandmothers’ life followed a not dissimilar path to Dai’s during the first half of the 20th century, although widespread poverty in Cyprus evaporated shortly after the island’s independence only to return some 53 years later.
It took fifty years for Mao’s form of communism to bring wealth to China and just five years for Demetris & Co to bankrupt Cyprus. Opposition to Chairman Mao was not permitted in China, whereas here, all political parties, the Church and ‘certain’ entrepreneurs conspired to ‘loot and plunder’ the island, their avarice ignited the day after the signing of that infamous 1960 Zurich Agreement?
Quotations from Mao’s Little Red Book (finally closing on 33 topics and 427 quotations) are ingrained in the minds of registered party members, one of my wife’s many brothers-in-law benefitting from the use of a state owned Chevy – certainly a form of bribery or ‘recompense’ for his loyalty to ‘the party’.
Is government bribery and corruption a worldwide phenomenon?
President Xi Jinping vows to cleanse ‘the party’ as does President Anastassiades ‘the republic’. Will either succeed? It’s doubtful.
Quotations from Demetris Christofias begin with the ‘vitrin’ and end with Lionel Messi, a comedy of errors from a man who would be king and became the country’s court jester/Rigoletto – la maledizione (the curse).
It is incumbent upon the Attorney-general to indict Christofias & Co for their contempt of all investigations/arrests – and his part played in the
Mari disaster and innumerable scandals – along with those equally responsible for the disintegration of our economy.
Returning Cyprus to growth and credibility is gonna’ be a hell of a Long March!
Until this present government clears the decks of the ‘dross’, Cyprus has no chance of economic recovery. Investors from Qatar and now Kuwait will stay away and trust will never return to an island where a man’s word sufficed in the past to be replaced by lies, damned lies and manipulated statistics extorted from a submissive/complicit civil service, which has been over-burdened this past twenty years by far too many conflicting laws, making their task of offering a viable public service impossible.
And who introduces these ill researched laws if not the House of Reps? Just look at the fiasco of collecting IPT…absolute chaos!
Replace the word Indian with Cypriot in a paragraph taken from an article (‘India’s wealthy must open their gates and fight chaos’) published on Bloomberg.com October 3 and you have the real Cyprus problem: “The culprits for this mess seem obvious: greedy politicians, corrupt bureaucrats and the greasy oligarchs who flatter and fund them.
Many middle-class Indians blame democracy itself, which gives the vote to the unwashed and easily bought masses. Increasingly, though, I wonder if the problem isn’t us: educated, relatively wealthy, urban Indians. If we don’t conquer the chaos, chaos will conquer India!” wrote Ravi Venkatesan.
We must rebuild judicial integrity into the republic and not permit perpetual political subversion/chaos to reign supreme.
Give a child his life on a plate and he will do nothing for Cyprus but grow obese. Our elite, judiciary and union leaders are by no means ‘skinny buggers’!
It is up to the ‘middle class’ to effect radical change. Enduring a life of considerable hardship for long enough will eventually become reason enough!