Theodoros is in his 70s. He left Istanbul in 1964 and now lives in Athens. He graduated from the Zografyon Greek high school. Every year the school celebrates graduates from 50 years before. In November 2019, Theodoros and his friends and fellow graduates came from Athens to Istanbul to celebrate this event. After this, they visited the graveyards of the Zografyon teachers. Theodoros and many others talked about the importance of their schools. They have graduate associations in Athens where they meet regularly and follow events in their school. Someone said, ‘it’s like supporting a football club; we are fond of our schools.’ After attending the event and visiting the headmaster, I came across Theodoros and his friends in the school. They said they wanted to come back and say a ‘last goodbye’ to their school and the headmaster, who is held in deep respect by the community.
Theodoros also talked about his school years. At that time, his high school was only for boys. The Zapyon Greek High School, in the same neighbourhood, was for girls. All the other Greek high schools were segregated along gender lines too. However, due to the vast decline in the population of the Greeks in Istanbul, the schools introduced mixed-gender education. Theodoros talked about how they were not allowed to have any contact with the girls. However, he said, ‘we always found a way to communicate’:
At the time, we did not have emails or mobile phones. We wrote letters to each other, and someone would collect theirs and distribute ours to the girls at Zapyon. After the school, we would go to Fuat’s Club, opposite the Taksim İlk Yardım Hospital in Sıraselviler Street, or we would go to the cinema: there was the Yenimelek, the Saray, and the Emek cinema. There was also Şan, opposite the Divan Hotel and Lale in the Atlas Passage. One day I saw my wife walking down from Zapyon. I sent her a message through my friend who was in love with, and dating, my wife’s friend…