By Ahmet Abdulaziz……
There are some people who come into our lives, and we do not even feel their presence in our lives. Unless they leave. Only then we feel their absence and realise that they were a part of our lives. Ali Özyamacı (popularly known as Uncle Ali), was such a well known person of Lefkoşa (Nicosia). He was a poor old blind man, who throughout his whole life had never accepted his blindness as a hurdle to work.
He became blind in his childhood, and since then until his last sickness a few weeks back, he struggled hard and continued to earn his living by selling fruits and other vegetables. He was blind, he never saw the Lefkoşa city through his eyes (where he spent more than 70 years of his life), but he did know the streets of the old city well. Everyday he used to come from his small one-roomed house to the main market of Lefkoşa (called Bandabulya), to buy fruits and other eatables from the wholesalers, and sell them to the customers until evening.
He was a perfect retailer, who had learned the art of trading under very difficult circumstances. He never accepted financial help from anyone, because he always believed in working to earn a living. He did not look for financial help from others. He did not have any shop or fixed place to sell his goods, but for most part of the day he used to sit on a small chair on the left side of the main gate of the market. He knew everything. He followed the changing prices, and acted accordingly.
Though blind, he could recognise the currency notes just by touching them. It is indeed interesting to think that he dealt with British currency notes, Cyprus currency notes and Turkish currency notes, and had done trading with all sorts of people for more than 70 years, without seeing the currency notes.
Everyone who had made a visit, even once, to the Bandabulya (main market) had seen him. He was very witty and outspoken, who loved to make jokes and laugh. He was very professional when dealing with his customers or sellers.
During the last days of his life, a local newspaper started a campaign for him, and collected donations to get his old house repaired. He got sick a few weeks ago and was admitted to the local hospital, where he breathed his last on 25th March 2018.
He was an unforgettable character of our society, who unfortunately is no more with us.
Ali Özyamacı (Uncle Ali) : photos courtesy of HALKIN SESI newspaper