“Sister, I Love You But . . .”
I remember the setting as if I am there today. My grandfather’s home in Istanbul, that is. For many years, he lived in one of the many picturesque old multi-story houses. To my eyes as a little girl then, the decorative iron gate seemed gigantic. A flagstone walkway surrounded by a garden of a large variety of flowers led to the entry door. Entering the grounds alone was magical. Unless my parents made an effort to take us to neighborhoods with private homes, such sight was not at all common in Ankara where we lived. Flats in tall apartment buildings were most popular in Turkey’s capital. My Mom always compensated the lack of nature by filling our home with plants and fresh flowers. Still, her father’s place mesmerized us all.
Grandpa also had a fenced-off vegetable garden, which stood in the back on a large piece of land. He had had a swing set installed for my brother and me so that we could have fun whenever we visited him and his wife. That delightful entertainment piece sat very close to the low-lying stone walls way in the back. Together with the many sets of big trees, the walls were separating Grandpa’s home from those of the neighbors. The house had several balconies. One was situated on the second floor right outside the kitchen and offered a clear view of the swing set. My brother and I loved spending our time there, while Mom and Grandpa’s wife prepared a delicious meal for us to enjoy on that balcony.
It was almost breakfast time one day. The adults were making the preparations. My brother and I asked Mom if we could go to the backyard. Before she could finish saying, “Yes, just be careful”, we were out the door. Off to the swing set we went. We took turns pushing. During the last round of our fun activity, I was on the swing. All of a sudden, a dog appeared along the stone wall. At first, he kept its distance, but was barking at us nonstop. In a soft voice, my brother said, “Hülya, don’t be scared. I am here. He can’t do anything to you. I am not going to push you anymore, because we should race home once you get down.” I remember being terrified. I shut my eyes so tightly that I felt a little dizzy. I don’t know anymore how many minutes it took for the swing to lose its speed. I heard my brother’s voice again. This time, it was coming from a distance. He was shouting, “Mom and Grandpa are on their way to get you. The dog ran toward the trees. Hülya, I love you but I have to make a go for it!”
When I finally opened my eyes – still sitting on the swing, Mom and Grandpa were right beside me. No sight of that dog. No sight of my brother, either. To this date, I don’t know how he did it (and forgot to ask him every time I had a chance to find out that morning’s details). But he somehow had managed to climb up the stone wall to safety – waving at us all, beaming shyly.