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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 24 Aug 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 24 AUGUST 2019 21 DIATRIBE nished sound arrests the upward propensity of the chant and grounds it, only to send it soaring into the sky once more. Her artful command of vocal colour and range, combined with her young, vibrant physical presence, underlies Rachmaninov's convictions as to eternity, placing her at the epicentre of the composer's complex use of harmony, textual variety and polyphony. THE WORK’S IMPORTANCE In an increasingly intolerant and totalitarian world, a performance of Rachmaninov's articulation of Orthodoxy's eternal truths is as timely in Melbourne as ever before. Banned in 1918 by the Soviet Regime, and its sixth movement appropriated most recently by Russian feminist protest punk rock group Pussy Riot as the basis for its protest song "Mother of God, Chase Putin Away," the All Night Vigil is an irrepressible voice of protest against all forms of insular dogmaticism and a most profound tone poem for the rapturous bliss of unity and the splendid elation of common humanity. After all, that is what the Protection of the Theotokos, confers. According to Sacred Tradition, the Theotokos appeared at the Blachernae Church in Constantinople in the tenth century. Early in the morning of 1 October, St Andrew the Blessed Fool for Christ witnessed the dome of the church opening and the Theotokos entering, moving in the air above him, glowing and surrounded by angels and saints. She knelt and prayed with tears for all faithful Christians in the world. The Theotokos asked Her Son to accept the prayers of all the people entreating Him and looking for Her protection. Once Her prayer was completed, She walked to the altar and continued to pray. Afterwards, She spread Her veil over all the people in the church as a protection and vanished. Long after the music had ended, I remained transfixed, looking up at the point Rachmaninov's musical mantle had inevitably led me to: a fresco of the Resurrected Christ hauling Adam and Eve from their graves. As the audience continued to clap, an old woman, veiled in a headscarf sitting next to me with a thick Slavic accent observed: "They just don't get it do they?" "What don't they get?" I asked, my eyes still glued to the fresco. "That this is not a performance of an obscure piece of music. It is existence, life itself." I turned to answer, and she was gone. Pontian Genocide was the systematic killing of Greeks carried out during World War I. ALYSSA VASILIKI NIKOLAKOPOULOS I watch them laughing. Playing together without a single care in the world… oh wait. Here we go. Maybe one care now that Stelios has stolen that dolly off Marina. Despite these little quarrels, I could not be happier for my grandchildren. They remind me so much of myself, yet at the same time, they are so different. I can see it clearly when I look into their eyes and see innocence and joy, which were not reflected in my young eyes. To this day, I still cannot forgive the atrocities that were inflicted upon us by the Ottomans. Marina strides up to me, face full of purpose and determination. "Γιαγιά! Κοίτα τι έκανα o Στέλιος! Πήρε το κούκλα μου!" she declared, her broken and grammatically incorrect sentences making me smile with affection. Instead of telling off my youngest grandchild, I call out to him and my three other grandchildren playing in the corner, to come over and sit with me. I close my aged and tired eyes, considering how much I should tell them. Although my sweet grandchildren are slightly older than I was at the time, they shouldn't have to listen and relive the trauma that I did. But they need to know and remember the victims of the An innocence lost “ I woke to the smell of fire and burnt flesh. Panicking, I saw the orange flames licking the building everywhere I looked. I couldn’t escape. I noticed a small opening in the wooden wall that only I could fit through. horrors that were the Pontian Genocide. I decide to tell them half of my story, saving the rest for when they are older. "Children, I have a story to tell you, and I need you to listen and remember that sometimes, it is not worth fighting over a dolly. When I was young, about five or six years old, the Pontian Genocide commenced…" *BLINK* Screams that will haunt me for the rest of my life fill my ears. From my crouched position, I am being shushed by my fellow villagers, even though I can't help the rumble that has escaped my famished stomach. Although there is nothing in my stomach, I feel it churn with the horror and disgust of witnessing our defenceless, Pontian friends being whipped. No one can stop it. Trust me, I know. I have seen what happens when we fight back. We are too few, and too powerless against the relentless, unforgiving enemy. I have seen men, women, children like me, dead, at the mercy of the Ottomans. One man, upon seeing his wife and child being whipped had stepped in to defend them, only to get held back to watch his family suffer a long drawn out death, then, be subjected to the same fate himself. I still shudder at the memory. *BLINK* I don't know how I am surviving. I shouldn't be alive when everyone else is not. My young age works to my advantage as people feel that they are obliged to take care of me. Nevertheless, I have seen what they do to their babies. Mothers, forced to hang their children with their own shoelaces so that they would not be heard. They have no option. Either they betray us, or we silence them. I am strong and have learned to stay quiet, but I wonder when it will be my turn. *BLINK* When will this stop? I have no childhood. I have been on the run. I have no family. They died in the latest attack. My parents and I, along with others on the run had hidden in a village where we thought we Neos Kosmos gives young people a voice Are you interested in writing? Neos Kosmos is offering students the opportunity to contribute to our newspaper. We welcome articles written in English but with a focus on issues of interest to the diaspora. Students of all year levels, from kindergarten right through to high school, are encouraged to share their stories. We also welcome photographs and videos for our site. Our main objective is to highlight issues of importance to young people regarding their heritage, and to engage with them and get them thinking. Send your articles (in English) to mary@neoskosmos. com.au were safe. We had become a little community, once again. We should have known better. But we will be wiser next time. Or at least I will. I can't speak for my parents anymore. I woke to the smell of fire and burnt flesh. Panicking, I saw the orange flames licking the building everywhere I looked. I couldn't escape. I noticed a small opening in the wooden wall that only I could fit through. I looked back, only to see my parents through a window, but there was no way to reach them. As our eyes met, flames engulfed them and that was our final farewell. *BLINK* Now at 14 years of age, I have spent more than half of my life alive, yet barely living. I feel hollow inside. I need to flee. The group of people that I am travelling with can only think of one option. The Ocean. I will attempt the impossible. I have heard stories from others who have watched those drown, attempting to flee, but I am not one of them. I have to believe it. I tell myself every day that I will make it. If only just to escapethe pain. Death would be preferable to rape by those vile creatures that I have learned to hate. I jump. I swim. I flee. I am one of the few who make it. I am a survivor. I will make sure that my story is known. *BLINK* I look down into my grandchildren's wide, innocent eyes. They are quietly sitting in front of my rocking chair. I feel a sense of pride as Stelios gently passes the dolly back to Marina. The crackling sound of the fire echoes in the room. The fire that was raging in the hearth at the start of my tale has died down. Only embers are left. They constantly remind me of times that once were. The lives that were lost. I will make sure THEY will never be forgotten. I take a deep breath as I finish telling the simplified version of my life story. One day they will know the whole truth. For now, they need to learn that there are more dire things in the world than a stolen dolly. So much more was stolen from us…the truth cannot be denied. Sadly, what took over a millennium to build, took only a decade to destroy. * Written by Alyssa Vasiliki Nikolakopoulos, 15, a year 9 student at Saint Raphael Greek School.
17 August 2019
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