EITHER YOU GO TO SCHOOL OR I WILL KILL YOU!!!
Who were our fathers?
Our fathers were strict. Our fathers were hard to fathom. Our fathers rarely said, I love you. Our fathers always punish us either physically, normal, or verbally, rare. Verbal punishment was far worse in my case and my brother. Other boys knew better the use of the belt and the slap and punch and at times the kick.
In spite of all the above the intentions were fatherly but without words. They always tried for us to have something to eat, something to wear and be under a roof. Further than that there was one maxim for all fathers and mothers, regardless of wealth and social standing in the village.
Education was the one primary thing all the people of the village considered the success or failure in life. It was expensive to go to secondary school, yes fees were obligatory then, but they always managed to find a way to pay the enormous sum of ten-fifteen pounds to attend a secondary school. Add to that transportation of a few shillings a week and the burden of education was virtually unbearable for most. Yet, if my memory serves me right out of the twelve boys in my year eight were sent to secondary school in Nicosia. You might be wondering, what is this all about but please be patient.
Fathers in those days played a pivotal role in who we ended up to be as opposed to what they do today and the trend is getting worse and worse. Our generation of now, the modern generation, procreate the species but in then, they abscond and leave their off-springs behind to helpless mothers, to society to look after as if money and food is all that children and young people need.
Mid September 1959
George is a good boy but he likes engineering on our bicycles. He fixes the wheels, the chains, patches the tires and we are all happy. He is good at school but not the best academically as many of us were. His father is a farmer with a few pieces of land but one who knows of the world and appreciates education. I think he lived abroad for a few years but I am not sure. George is in the same class as myself but a year older because he missed/lost a year somewhere during his primary school education.
Early morning in September. First day to secondary school and George refuses to go to school. He has a mind of his own as I remember him running away from the teacher and the young teacher ran after him in vain. I am on my way to the bus and George is telling his father:
I am not going to school, I don’t want to go to school.
Father argues with the boy and then grabs him by the ear.
George is squirming to get away but the ear is held fast and George is pulled to the bus kicking and shouting, ou ou, ou! He screams and shouts but the ear in hurting and he is pulled all the way to the bus. He is dragged inside the bus and father sits next to him on the bus. You will go to school or I will kill you, the normally peaceful father shouted at him. He did not seem to joke.
Thus, George sat on the bus with his father next to him and we all went to school for the first day. I don’t know what happened on that day with George but I do know what happened the following day and the day after that. His father dragged George to the bus in the same manner for three days. By the fourth day the naughty boy accepted that he had to obey and go to school and that was that. As a parenthesis here, George graduated well with good grades and got a very respectable job with a big firm in Cyprus.
There are many reasons why I am writing this story and why fathers in those days were for real. I see too many kids with no fathers today, I know too many one parent families and I know that there is something very important missing. Father normally. Upbringing is not just feeding and providing. Fatherhood is what that father of George did. He changed his life for ever and that is a fact that I know and I think it made me proud of that father and my own father, who will play the same role later in my life.
I cherish those moments, I cherish that father – son relationship that shaped the future of most of us and I never forget the wisdom in the saying of Alexander the Great,
“TO MY FATHER I OWE THE LIVING, TO MY TEACHER THE GOOD LIVING”