The UN buffer zone in Nicosia, Cyprus. Shutterstock
Just over two decades ago, Sophia and Mehmet met at a North London party. She, originally from Deryneia in the southern part of Cyprus, had just arrived to study at Middlesex University. He, born in Gazimağusa in Northern Cyprus, had joined his uncle’s family in London a little earlier. They almost immediately fell in love with each other. Soon after I met them in June 1997, Sophia told me that falling in love with each other seemed an almost impossible feat. After all, a shared life back in Cyprus would have been fraught with challenges.
At the time, Sophia and Mehmet didn’t realise that back in Cyprus, the distance between the houses they grew up in was just over a mile – that they had on countless occasions watched the very same sunrise while looking for crabs at the same beach, divided only by a fence of barbed wire.