MP in Jerusalem, July 2014

I was born and raised in Cyprus but was weaned on stories of Palestine. My maternal grandfather, Papou Manolis, lived with us in Nicosia in a tiny bedroom with barely enough room for his single bed. As a little girl, I’d spend hours curled up on that bed, lapping up all his stories about their life in Jerusalem and in Al-Breij (which in Greek they called Brets), the big estate, named after the neighbouring village, which he leased from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate.

At family gatherings there were always more stories. We were a close family on my mother’s side, and we would get together frequently. Regardless of what was going on at the time in the world, in Cyprus and their lives, sooner or later, in every gathering, the conversations would converge on Palestine.

My appetite for those stories was insatiable. Still is. At some point I embarked on a more focused endeavour of  collecting them and digging deeper and farther – building a family tree, learning more about history, travelling to Jerusalem and beyond.  The advent of the internet (Google in particular!) has been a boon for my project.

My explorations, as will be the case with this blog, were never consistent nor chronologically or genealogically linear. They led me down different paths, some of them far away from Palestine, to the different countries where the diaspora of my family found themselves after the partition – Cyprus being of course chief amongst them – or to the places of origin of different family members. They have also caused me to cross paths with people I would not have otherwise met and who have contributed to various degrees to the stories but, more importantly, have also often enriched my life in other ways.

Family history is like a jigsaw puzzle, made up of so many diverse pieces sometimes it’s hard to see the big picture. And it’s a jigsaw with no defined perimeter (the easiest part to assemble, I’ve always found, in a jigsaw) and too many missing pieces. But, every now and then, some of the pieces click together and you get glimpses of something greater.

Ultimately, when this blog grows up it wants to be a book! For now, it’ll serve as my sandbox for cataloguing, recording, organising and sharing in the hope of enhancing the picture for myself, other family members and anyone else who might be interested.

I welcome comments and thoughts on my posts but please keep the tone civil at all times. Inevitably some posts will tend towards the political, as such is the nature of history, but you are kindly requested to refrain from intense political discussions. There are plenty of other forums for that.

I reserve the right to reject or delete parts or the entirety of any post.

Marina Parisinou
May 2015