Tag Archives: memories

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11079659_10153219946689711_2308223597785260993_nCandayım, Mahmut Oğuz Ergün, Dr. Med. (5.7.1931-3.28.2015)

what telling stories did you embroider
in the tapestry of our family tree

your Life-support system was unplugged too hastily…

© hülya n. yılmaz, 3.30.2015

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…a note to self: if not wise, seek advice…(Week Seventeen)


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…with full respect to the world-renowned author from whom I am quoting today: what is one to conclude when the “stillness” ‘within’ transforms into “a sanctuary to which” memories, adamant in their dedication to hurt yet refusing to be un-lived, “retreat at any time”…

“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time.” ~ Hermann Hesse

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…a note to self: if not wise, seek advice…(Week Six)


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…suffering -considered mental unlike pain that is physical- is a result of the act of “clinging”, I had once read outside of Bodhidharma, an act of ‘resisting’ in the sense of our ability or lack of readiness ‘to flow with life’…I, for one, am yet to experience a ‘transformation’ of “everything” as I haven’t stopped “clinging” – for the fear that I may forget those most momentous memories, sad and happy alike…that I will have to to face head-on all over again the loss of the loved ones to death and to life…as if to cease to live…

“Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything.” ~ Bodhidharma

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“İstanbul’u Dinliyorum” ~ “I Am Listening to İstanbul”

Is there a place that has once landed in the depth of your being? Do your feelings and thoughts take you there once in a while or often? Lately, it has happened to me. Again. With the yearning having risen from casual conversations with close friends. Of all the possible regions that had long ago taken a piece of my heart, it was the city many find to be impossible to describe. In my case, there is no interest whatsoever to make even an attempt to say anything about this phenomenon other than having a well-known poem speak it all.

Like the poet I am respectfully bowing before, I, too, am listening to İstanbul today but to İstanbul of my heavily aged memories. And I do so in the hope that this world city will reconnect me to my mother’s grave – long lost in its physicality…

The Turkish original by Orhan Veli Kanık


İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı
Önce hafiften bir rüzgar esiyor;
Yavaş yavaş sallanıyor
Yapraklar, ağaçlarda;
Uzaklarda, çok uzaklarda,
Sucuların hiç durmayan çıngırakları
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Kuşlar geçiyor, derken;
Yükseklerden, sürü sürü, çığlık çığlık.
Ağlar çekiliyor dalyanlarda;
Bir kadının suya değiyor ayakları;
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Serin serin Kapalıçarşı
Cıvıl cıvıl Mahmutpaşa
Güvercin dolu avlular
Çekiç sesleri geliyor doklardan
Güzelim bahar rüzgarında ter kokuları;
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Başımda eski alemlerin sarhoşluğu
Loş kayıkhaneleriyle bir yalı;
Dinmiş lodosların uğultusu içinde
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Bir yosma geçiyor kaldırımdan;
Küfürler, şarkılar, türküler, laf atmalar.
Birşey düşüyor elinden yere;
Bir gül olmalı;
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Bir kuş çırpınıyor eteklerinde;
Alnın sıcak mı, değil mi, biliyorum;
Dudakların ıslak mı, değil mi, biliyorum;
Beyaz bir ay doğuyor fıstıkların arkasından
Kalbinin vuruşundan anlıyorum;
İstanbul’u dinliyorum.

Own English Translation, December 20, 2014 (unedited, unrevised)


I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed

In a gentle touch, first a wind breezes;

Leaves sway on trees

Without a hurry;

Far, very far away,

There are the never-stopping bells of the water-carriers

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

Birds are passing by, then;

From high above, in flocks, in screams.

The nets are being pulled in the kiddles;

A woman’s feet touch the water;

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

It is crisp inside the Covered Bazaar

Mahmutpaşa, so very chirpy

Its courtyard is filled with pigeons

The beats of hammers are rising from the docks

In the glorious spring wind, the smell of sweat;

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

I am intoxicated by the celebrations of the past

A waterside mansion with its dimmed boathouses;

Within the murmur of the died out southwesters

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

A coquette passes by the sidewalk;

Profanity, chants, songs, wolf whistles.

Something falls off of her hand;

It must be a rose:

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

A bird is fluttering on her skirts;

I know if you have fever or not;

I know if your lips are wet;

A white moon rises behind the pistachio nuts

I know it from the beat of your heart;

I am listening to İstanbul.

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To the One to Whom My Writing Mattered the Most

For how long did you feel that familiar pain inside whenever my birthday was nearing?  Were you always filled with mixed emotions of joy and sadness while you were preparing those love-filled celebrations for me?  Did you ever resent my unexpected presence in your womb for preventing you from your process of mourning?  You surely must have suppressed its extent for fear it would hurt me, your unborn yet.

It is that time of the year again.  In fact, I am writing this on the day my birth-month arrived.  And, once more, instead of any anticipation for anything good, I feel sadness taking over me.  With all its usual might.  I suspected it then, I suspect it now: I must have taken in your immense internal suffering over your mom’s dying, while transforming into a human form inside you –  the way it is claimed we register music and words from the outside at our pre-birth stage.  Whatever it is, I don’t look forward to my birthday.  I haven’t in a very long time.

But, I have some good news, ‎mom: I am writing!  Maybe not in the way you had always wanted me to write but, still, I am writing!  You see, mom, I am leaving something concrete for my daughter after all.  A hands-on memory you seemed to have wanted me to create for us, for myself and for my future offspring.  I am so sorry for not having understood back then probably the only reason behind your fierce desire for me to sit down and write down my memories.  I should have known how belittling you would have found the way you were forced to be remembered: With a chiseled generic note on concrete stone.  In a somewhat privileged very old family cemetery compound but still, in a place where visitors are at risk of stepping on someone else’s grave, already three decades ago.

I felt so guilty, mom, for having been away for so long.  I still do.  I always knew how lost I would be in that place.  Still.  Then, there came along a news blog post by Eric Pfeiffer: A man’s dog not leaving his owner’s grave for  years.  In my shame, inspiration for a Haiku came to me.  Back then; I had no idea about this poetic form the Japanese gifted us with.  I am very new at my experimentation with it but like the prescribed form very much.  Besides, every time I try to compose one, Tunç dayım enters my heart with his repeated passionate plea to you, and then, I smile: “Please, please, Hesiko, don’t let Hülya marry someone from here.  I’m telling you: the Japanese are such refined gentlemen.  With Hülya’s extreme emotional sensitivity, only a Japanese man can do her justice as her husband.”  Anyway, mom, here is that poem:

in mourning

my mother’s grave, lost

too many look alikes since then

yet, his dog finds his

Just like you become alive in my memories, I, too, will live on in my daughter’s.  With one distinction: I don’t want your granddaughter to have a lingering reminder of the physical loss of her mother.  So, long ago, I determined my post-death matters and my wish is official.  This subject is, of course, a difficult one.  With you, it was taboo.  My choice in this matter is still far from being a conversation piece with your granddaughter – whom you would have respected for everything she represents but also for her immensely versatile life-view and acceptance and understanding of any and all of my differences.  The earth-shattering shock I lived after you is an experience I don’t want my daughter to go through.  Therefore, along the way, I have been gathering real-life evidences to leave behind as to how one can find peace after the loss of a mother – a book, a film and words of wisdom from different world cultures.  My latest find, Megan’s Way, is a novel by Melissa Foster and it equals to what I define as “eerie”: It is as if the author had known many from those sorrowful specifics of our lives.  I remember how impressed you always were with the amount of my readings, and how well you thought I could sum up their contents.  I am not going to tell you more about my newest discovery, though.  Instead, I will wind down my letter to you, holding on to my fantasy powers to imagine you are here to listen to me.

I know from dad how sad you were at first to have born a daughter – having witnessed your mother’s loss of her battle against cancer before my birth.  I have surpassed that dooms-day-age, mom, when our losses to cancer happened for several generations.  Including you.

I was never given the chance to say goodbye to you, mom.  I wrote about it in a story.  This time, I am the one who chooses not to bid farewell.  In about two weeks, you will have welcomed me to your arms way back when with a “hello”.  Today, I only need that warm welcome from you to let it accompany me before, on and well after my birthday yet once again.


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