as carefree as a bumble bee
i climb up the branches like one of the boys
we don’t have any of this in the city, you see
here, in Sinop, i know that i can be me, just me!
my new-found friends show me how to collect
those delicious looking dark red edibles
it is fun! So much fun! But i still hesitate
because i can’t forget how a tiny little bee
had given me a whale-size lump on my cheek
back home in Ankara, you see
from inside a paper bag, wrapped sneakily
disguised as seeded grapes,
as dark red as can be
the most favorite fruit of my sweet Baba
i learned how to put the Mulberries together
i learned all that in a short time and just fine
but i want to, no i just have to
make absolutely sure
that these cloth bags know how to protect . . .
Unaware about the terrible ongoings in the world, I led a very happy (and apparently, a sheltered) childhood in Turkey, truly in love with learning throughout my early schooling and the songs we got to sing all through elementary school. And: my family and I never had to worry about whether we would survive the next day amid power games of war mongers. In this poem, my child-self wants to hold on to those innocence- and peace-filled times through a back then most popular Turkish children’s song while my mother- and grandmother- adult-self is in agony over today’s gruelingly violent murders of children. Those helpless little darlings of my old neighboring country being merely one case.
“orda bir köy var uzakta o köy bizim köyümüzdür gezmesek de tozmasak da o köy bizim köyümüzdür”
there is there is a village a village far over there far over there that village is ours that village is ours
we may not saunter about there we may not sss… (What did he say? Sibel? Murat?) about there but that village is ours but that village is ours
Hocam, I…I…bbbbeg your pardon, please.
What is it, Hülya?
tra la lala la la
tra la lala la la
tra la lala la la la la laaa
Sibel couldn’t part faster
with my corner of our bench
her eye-glassed question marks ablaze anew
she insisted to settle her stare on my right shoulder
and poor dear gold-hearted Murat
he had almost fallen off – again
of what was left for him to safely perch on
he was just too big of a boy anyway
to seize and conquer one single bench
tra la lala la la
tra la lala la la
wasn’t there a tra la la refrain
we all sounded best at
in our mommy-ironed black and white
has even the freshest of the stale leaves
i always tucked in between my memory sheets
dried out already completely
“orda bir yol var uzakta o yol bizim yolumuzdur dönmesek de varmasak da o yol bizim yolumuzdur”
there is there is a road a road far over there far over there that road is ours that road is ours
we may not return from there we may not return from there we may not ever get there we may not ever get there but that road is ours but that road is ours
tra la lala la la
tra la lala…
you sweetly sung poem
only for us children
tra la lala la la
tra la la…
Sayın Ahmet Kutsi Tecer
this one is one of yours
one of the most-liked
most- and best-remembered
wasn’t there a tra la lala la la in there
tra la lala la la
salaam Soureyya salaam Moustaffa
salaam Hameed salaam Fatima salaam Laila
could you really see us from your village
did you hear our beloved song then
did any of you sing it together
had you heard it before
tra la lala…
yes i have a child a daughter
and she has a boy and a girl
how about you
tra la la…
oh i only said
how about you
a boy and two girls
do they also learn how to sing in school
. . .
words of old lore then
began to haunt my privileged self
though i knew this Halep was a semi-disguise
it was all about the same torn-up place nevertheless
“Halep ordaysa” if Aleppo is there “Arşın da burda” here too is Arşın
. . .
with the silence of corpses
my no longer-intact heart
screamed on top of its lungs
Since 2003, unending chains of political turmoil have been gaining on speed and intensity in Turkey, my country of birth. The voters and non-voters alike have been rather accepting of the gradually growing brutal violations of their basic human rights. When the head aggressor banned the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day this year, however, reactions from countless people throughout the country rose as a united voice of determined resistance.
Children’s Day is an official holiday that was celebrated yesterday, just like it has been every year since April 23, 1920, “the first gathering of the Grand National Assembly [‘]the Turkish Parliament[‘] (timeanddate.com).” The latest attempt by Turkey’s merciless dictator to erase from history Mustafa Kemal ATATÜRK, a world leader and the founder of the Turkish Republic – alongside the fruition of his reforms, was met with complete disregard of any authority with which the modern-day iron fist had been privileging himself. Celebrations of and by children yesterday have apparently taken on a life of their own, resembling the innocence of Turkey’s much happier past as numerous newspapers and social media reports document amid news on the most recent Erdoğan Corruption: Government-linked Foundation Caught Up in Turkish Child Sex Scandal. In starkest contrast, ATATÜRK has always been claimed to have prioritized the well-being of children in Turkey to whom he reportedly dedicated the Turkish Republic.
Escapism is what I seek today, a day after the bombardment of overwhelming occurrences having been made public yet once again but with their most severe impact at this time. I knew I had to avoid thinking about the utterly disturbing crime of organized pedophilia; to concentrate instead on the hope-raising sights of happy and carefree children – everywhere in the world, left in peace by adults to embrace their yesterday, their today and their tomorrow. A piece of paper I had torn long time ago from a desk calendar then came to my immediate rescue – a quote from Rachel Carson:
A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over the christening of all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.
To the permanence of “that clear-eyed vision” in the hearts of children throughout the world and to the loyalty of their life-long companion: “a sense of wonder”!
At times, we believe what we want to believe, don’t we? Similarly, we refuse to believe what others may claim? Such as an attribute given to a well-known poet? Just like I do, with Nazım (I don’t even want to refer to him with his full name – it feels so very alien and impersonal…), the world-renowned Turkish exile poet. I never believed he was a traitor, as claimed by some officials of Turkey in the past (there was a retraction of such claims after Nazım’s death), nor a womanizer (but a lover of love, one woman at a time). When this most influential writer died (on exile, craving to be in his country of birth), I was a mere eight year-old. My passionate engagement with his poetry and other writings have everything to do with the development and intensification of my own interest. Not because of schooling on his persona and work, or parental introduction (on the contrary: I believe my father was also under the negative influence of one of Turkey’s population segment; my mother always remained neutral – she wouldn’t comment at all, I suspected she, too, liked him outside the norm…). The more I actively read Nazım’s written word, the more drawn I became to everything he stood for. Let’s call him my very first crush, okay? Incredibly handsome, a stellar composer of poetry, the center of attention of the entire country – for this or that reason, immensely influential nationally as well as abroad: a timeless love, to admit. For today, I have for us two examples from his poetry – not at all the most frequently cited ones, by the way. Both works address his love for which he was known to have possessed an extraordinary passion: one, to a woman (“Ben senden önce ölmek isterim”, “I want to die before you”); the other (“Sen”, “You”), to Turkey, his country of birth – one among his numerous poems of homesickness. It is not any time of anniversary for Nazım. I am reminiscing him simply because during most of my awake times, he is in my heart and mind. For, at this stage in my life, I finally am aware more of his value for and contributions to world literature – a subject matter of my special interest as far as my professional undertaking. I hope you will enjoy this short journey in to a glorious past of the Turkish civilization of contemporary times – an aspect of the country that today is fading away fast and under the harshest possible forces.
Ben senden önce ölmek isterim. Gidenin arkasından gelen gideni bulacak mı zannediyorsun? Ben zannetmiyorum bunu. İyisi mi, beni yaktırırsın, odanda ocağın üstüne korsun içinde bir kavanozun. Kavanoz camdan olsun, şeffaf, beyaz camdan olsun ki içinde beni görebilesin… Fedakârlığımı anlıyorsun : vazgeçtim toprak olmaktan, vazgeçtim çiçek olmaktan senin yanında kalabilmek için. Ve toz oluyorum yaşıyorum yanında senin. Sonra, sen de ölünce kavanozuma gelirsin. Ve orda beraber yaşarız külümün içinde külün, ta ki bir savruk gelin yahut vefasız bir torun bizi ordan atana kadar… Ama biz o zamana kadar o kadar karışacağız ki birbirimize, atıldığımız çöplükte bile zerrelerimiz yan yana düşecek. Toprağa beraber dalacağız. Ve bir gün yabani bir çiçek bu toprak parçasından nemlenip filizlenirse sapında muhakkak iki çiçek açacak : biri sen biri de ben. Ben daha ölümü düşünmüyorum. Ben daha bir çocuk doğuracağım. Hayat taşıyor içimden. Kaynıyor kanım. Yaşayacağım, ama çok, pek çok, ama sen de beraber. Ama ölüm de korkutmuyor beni. Yalnız pek sevimsiz buluyorum bizim cenaze şeklini. Ben ölünceye kadar da bu düzelir herhalde. Hapisten çıkmak ihtimalin var mı bu günlerde? İçimden bir şey : belki diyor.
18 Şubat 1945 Piraye Nâzım Hikmet
My translations of both poems – in the hope that I do some justice to their magnificence:
I want to die before you (“Ben senden önce ölmek isterim”)
February 18, 1945 – To Piraye [It is also argued that this rare find was a poem Piraye wrote to Nazım, instead of Nazım to Piraye.]
I want to die before you
Do you think the one who comes after will find the one who is gone?
I don’t think so.
You’d better have me cremated,
you can place me atop the wood burner in your room inside a jar.
Let the jar be of glass,
transparent, white glass
so that you can see me inside…
You understand my sacrifice:
I give up becoming a piece of the soil,
I give up becoming a flower
just to be next to you.
And I turn to dust
living next to you.
Then, when you also die
you can join me in my jar.
And there, we will live together
your ashes, within my ashes,
until a careless daughter-in-law
or a disloyal grandchild
throws us out of there…
But we will intertwine in each other
until then, so that.
once thrown in to the garbage,
even there, our particles will fall next to one another.
We will dive in to the soil together.
And one day, if a wild flower
should find water and bloom out of this piece of soil
on its stem, two flowers will open:
I don’t think of death yet.
I will give birth to one more child.
Life explodes out of me.
My blood boils.
I will live, and much, very much,
but you, also.
death doesn’t scare me, either.
I just find our burial style too distasteful.
I assume that will correct itself until I die.
Is there a chance you will be let free [of imprisonment] these days?
Something inside me says: maybe.
You are my slavery and freedom,
my burning flesh – as it were a naked summer night,
you are my home.
You, green ripples in her hazel eyes,
you, big, beautiful and victorious
and my longing, the more unattainable whenever neared…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As always, I wish you all a wonderful Sunday and an equally wonderful week! I very much look forward to your visit next time.
For the month of November – my most favorite autumn time, I will make a virtual visit with an artist or a writer (or both, as is the case today) of my country of birth. Why Turkey? Why now? Well, I have reached and fast passing the autumn of my life and have begun to feel an increasing nostalgia toward the world corner where I first joined the living. November is marked for us in the U.S. as the month of thanksgiving. It is my way of giving thanks to my birthing place in this manner. And I just would love it, if you were to join me on that travel for a little longer…on Wednesdays…and only for a month…
The video above vocalizes a reading of “Yalnızlık Paylaşılmaz,” one of the many poems on loneliness by Turkey’s widely reputed poet, Özdemir Asaf – Halit Özdemir Arun, with his real name (1923-1981):
Yalnızlık, yaşamda bir an,
Hep yeniden başlayan…
Ya da kocaman bir yalan,
Bir düşünde, beni sana ayıran
Paylaşılsa yanlızlık olmaz.
Loneliness, an instant in life,
Always occurring anew…
An enigma from the outside.
Or, a colossal deceit,
One that chases the more it is chased…
Cannot be shared.
Saving me for you in one of your dreams
Loneliness cannot be shared
If it could, it would not transpire.
(My own translation, as of 10.29.2013)
Özdemir Asaf – with his best-known name, is considered a prominent landmark when contemporary Turkish literature is considered, not only for his poetic work in his native tongue but also for his translations from French poets and writers in journals and anthologies since 1940.
Yıldız Moran Arun (1932-1995), the poet’s wife was Turkey’s first professionally trained female photographer. An article inKadınlar Gökkuşağı claims that – while on one single day, 25 of her photographs were purchased in Cambridge; Moran’s photographic art was overlooked in her country of birth, Turkey, despite its popular appeal. Her accounts on how she met her husband count as some of the most critical representations of Özdemir Asaf in his true light.
The poem below constitutes one of the poet’s perhaps most passionate verses on loneliness, with my English translation following immediately:
Sen herşeyi süpürebilirsin; sonbaharı süpüremezsin
yalnızsa sürekli bir sonbaharı süpürür hep..
Yanar sobasında yalnız’ın üşüyen bakışları.
Lambasında karınlığa dönük bir ışık titrer sönük-sönük.
Penceresi dışına kapanmıştır kapısı içine örtük.
Yalnız bin yıl yaşar kendini bir an’da.
Yalnız’ın nesi var nesi yoksa tümü birdenbire’dir.
Yalnız bir ordudur kendi çölünde..
Sonsuz savaşlarında hep yener kendi ordusunu.
Yalnız’ın sakladığı bir şey vardır;
Boyuna yerini değiştirir boyuna onu arar… Biri bulsa diye.
Yalnız hem bilgesi hem delisidir kendi dünyasının.
Ayrıca; hem efendisi hem kölesidir kendisinin.
Tadını çıkaramaz görece’siz dünyasında hiçbirisinin.
Yalnız sürekli dinleyendir söylenmemiş bir sözü.
Sözünde durması yalnız’ın yalancılığıdır kendisine..
Hep yüzüne vurur utancı. O yüzden gözlerini kaçırır gözlerinden.
Yalnız’ın odasında ikinci bir yalnızlıktır ayna.
Yalnız hep uyanır ikinci uykusuna.
Yalnız kendi ben’inin sen’idir.
Bir sözde saklanmış bir yalanı bir gözde okuduğundan
bakmaz kendi gözlerine bile.
Her susadığında o kendi çölündedir.
Kendi öyküsünü ne anlatabilen ne de dinleyebilen.
Kendi türküsünü ne yazabilen ne söyleyebilen.
Bir zamanlar güldüğünü anımsar da…
Yoğurur hüzün’ün çamurunu avuçlarında.
Yalnız aranan tek görgü tanığıdır
yargılanmasında kendi davasının..
Her duruşması ertelenir kavgasının.
Yalnız hem kaptanı hem de tek
yolcusudur batmakta olan gemisinin..
Onun için ne sonuncu ayrılabilir gemisinden ne de ilkin.
Yalnız’ın adı okunduğunda okulda ya da yaşamda..
Kimse “burda” deyemez.. Ama yok da..
Uykunun duvarında başladı..
Önceleri bir toz gölgesi sanki; sonra bir yumak yün gibi.
Ama şimdi iyice görüyor örümceğin ağını gün gibi.
I hope you enjoyed this autumn Wednesday with me during my virtual visit to an artist and a writer of Turkey. I very much look forward to another November Wednesday but first, to Sunday when we will meet here again. May you have a wonderful of everything in the meantime.
If you were anything like I am, you would start craving for food as soon as you see it in a movie. Such as in the book-based “Under the Tuscan Sun” (one of my all-time favorite films). The “Oda a San Lorenzo” scene here says it all, doesn’t it?
During my life in Turkey and a few years after I settled in the States, I was convinced that only Turkish people knew how to enjoy good food – regardless of the occasion, festive or not. Good company over prolonged meal times, much talk and laughter as main ingredients. The Haiku below – on my son-in-law’s profession (a chef in Turkish cuisine) – may give you an idea about what I mean:
flour, water, salt, hands,
diligence, speed, energy,
hot plate: his food art
My world vision was not at all overly limited for me to assume such an ethno-centric attitude. Thanks to my father’s research projects my family and I had explored German culture long before Germany began to have issues with its 1961 invitation of Turks as its workforce. Still, I started living here feeling sorry for every non-Turk for being unaware of the long-lasting pleasures of food – when shared with someone. Oh, did I realize (though not early enough) how wrong I was! This summer, then, I found out that good food can feel like the sight of a world wonder when consuming it even with strangers. (No, I am not talking about the spaghetti-eating chickens, mind you…)
If you read my post from a short while ago, “Finton’s Landing: A Writer’s Dream”you would know my joy dance-kind of words about having discovered this spectacular B&B (and no, the dear owners don’t happen to be my clients on whose behalf I am writing this piece – wait…I have no clients… Joke aside; I can only hope that my amateurish picture-taking skills do at least some justice to what an oasis they have over there). On top of it all, their other house guests – three lovely couples, turned out to be some of the most delightful people I have ever met. Picture now, if you would please, Frances Meyes in the film scene above. But first take her away – we have never gotten to see the delectable cooking and baking skills of our modest and graceful chef. Then make her companions’ table of lunch feast about festive breakfast settings and tastes for every one of those three days. And don’t forget to add to your imagination’s eye “my” deliciously talkative, charming, humor-filled, utmost friendly, ever so lovely group of co-breakfast-enjoyers (no need to call the syntax or semantics police; I promise not to use this non-word again…).
My photographs of the inn unfortunately lack fully all the colors of our joined anticipation for and enjoyment of the aromas that every time gained a life right before our eyes at the breakfast table. We were having too much of a good time to think about taking pictures of ourselves devouring our food of large variety of color, shape and palate-pleasing texture. Perhaps a Haiku poem I wrote quite a while ago is better capable of expressing what my people-less pictures couldn’t:
leftover meal with old friends
laughter for dessert
Oh no, no, none of us had any wine in the morning! (Evening times, though, were a different story.) While I didn’t compose the verses based on my experience with my new friends, in retrospect the word “old” expresses a different kind of anticipation on my behalf; namely, to become old friends with these harmonious couples.
What on earth does the content of my text have anything to do with its title, right? My answer is simple enough: during each and every one of our breakfast celebrations and pre-dinner wine cocktails on the patio (two nights at least, also post-dinner…), we all visited an anecdote the leading brilliantly hilarious new friend told us on the first day when we all met each other the first time. Yes, about spaghetti-eating chickens “of Kentucky”. A beautiful woman with a smiling voice and most generous soul (I can’t believe I had the nerve to burden her with a confession of a serious dilemma in my life) was our storyteller. For fear I may recite her details incorrectly, I will only tell you how Kentucky was involved in this remarkable announcement (I, for one, have never seen any chicken eating spaghetti…) – through this sweet lady’s 8-year old niece. Apparently, she and her family have actually witnessed (theirs or a neighbor’s) chickens gobbling on old spaghetti one day. Can you now hear “my” group laughing over and over about a potential aspect of their human food consumption? We had a ball when everyone – while enjoying our chef’s aesthetic presentations and exceptional food assortments – contributed to our laughter buffet with the name of an Italian spaghetti sauce selection for those lucky poultry representatives…
Do you, dear reader, have a story of your own – one that has left you with a wonderful taste of and for life? Or can you relate to what I admit here to have done: being convinced that only one or the other cultural group knows how to enjoy food with company as a life experience? Please share. I’d absolutely love to hear from you!
What can penguins, pots and pans, jazz, folk music, police, Allah, a woman in red, gas grenades, nail polish, Noam Chomsky, children, alcohol consumption, family values, Turkish Airlines, red lipstick, possibly have in common?
If you are as puzzled now as I had been on May 30, 2013, then we are in good company for each other, when it comes to my attempt today to help us all understand and make sense of what has been happening in Turkey since.
It all began in Gezi Parkı, in Taksim, İstanbul with a hard core female terrorist. Please, heed particular attention to her white bag over her right shoulder and her left hand. You, too, will be convinced as to what type of destructive acts a ‘Woman in red’ is capable of:
The country’s unarmed, unprepared police force has, thus, suffered first in this heavily armed woman’s hands, as we all saw in the news coverage above; then, they were attacked by other terrorists:
Turkey’s current prime minister knew of the peaceful march initiated by his unarmed citizens to raise awareness for their rights to Gezi Parkı in Istanbul’s Taksim quarters, their public space since the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923. Standing by his public alone, he did all in his power to help raise awareness and nation-and worldwide support for their actions. The significance of the park – other than its ancient old trees, benches, strolling paths offering the only natural haven in the middle of one of the world’s largest cities, was, after all, apparent to everyone who had basic knowledge about modern Turkey’s historical and cultural past. He, too, didn’t want any drastic steps erasing the city’s post-Ottoman Empire landscape. He, too, knew bulldozing this park would be unforgiveable. Therefore, the night of the first day of the protests by thousands of his people across the country, he ordered CNN-Turk – the nation’s primary source of information, to contribute to the spreading of the word with a penguin documentary . At the risk of becoming a source for mockery inland and abroad.
The protesting citizens just didn’t and wouldn’t appreciate his good intentions, or what he meant by his reference to them as çapulcu and “terrorist”, and their actions, “tencere tava, hep aynı hava” (“pots and pans, the same tune as always”). First, a few among them but then in growing numbers, were so unthankful that they composed folk music using pots, pans and other everyday items, now known as Tencere Tava Havası:
Then, students from Bosphorus University, one of the oldest and most prominent higher education institutions in Turkey, had the nerve to form a jazz ensemble, following in the footsteps of their pots-and-pans-musical counterparts:
Why did at least the half of his public end up with unrest that has been going on as I am writing? Despite the killings, being subjected to indiscriminate, horrific injuries, the debilitating blows to the face to take the eyes out, and other horrendous crimes against their rights to live as a human? After all, it is not that the Turkish prime minister has been tyrannizing the thinking, analyzing, alert population among his public with his multiplying, human rights-disregarding decrees of random conception, like his call for three children.
Why not abide by his iron fist that falls onto everyone’s bedroom scene and bring into his world for his sake a minimum of three children?
And what about this obsession of the same population with alcohol consumption? After all, drinking even a mere cup of wine –however occasional or frequent that may be, equates alcoholism.
Oh, then there is red lipstick! And, nail polish! Every woman not only in Turkey but in the rest of the world would be much better of living without the red and the polish.
~ ~ ~
Let me, at this point, lend these events the somber tone they deserve in any re-narration. And mine won’t be an exception. (Not that I can think even for a minute you having taken me seriously throughout my preceding notes of dark humor.)
Amnesty International calls for prompt action against the use of “brutal police repression” and for ‘investigation’ of “abuses” in the “İstanbul protest”. A Reuters article, then, sums up how Turkey’s prime minister invokes Allah, demands protests end immediately.While routinely ordering his police to conduct their violent attacks on his own unarmed and peaceful public, in full knowledge of the ensuing consequences of senseless human suffering, he “invokes Allah”.
What has Allah to do with brutality against fellow human beings? Defenseless, at that? In a May 29, 2013 interview about the murder of a British soldier, Imam Ajmal Masroor (an imam is the head of a Muslim community) answers the question as clearly as can be: Nothing.
Though unrelated to the violence-inclined Allah invoking Turkish leader – Imam Masroor asserts in angry disbelief repeatedly how killings don’t belong in the Kuranic teachings (Kuran as the Holy Book of Muslims):
For the time being, it is the people of Turkey who need our fact-based knowledge about what is taking place in their part of the world. Tomorrow, it will most certainly be in a different segment of our planet. For greed, lust in and abuse of power, violation of human rights, brutality, the killing of the innocent does not solely a Turkish agenda make. In heart-felt empathy for but unfortunately geographically distant collaboration with those who presently suffer or may be subjected to suffering within their own country’s borders at another point in time, I end my words with a call to the world byNoam Chomsky in support of the Gezi Parkı Resistance:
Two days ago, some countries acknowledged, some others rejected once more the United Nations International Women’s Day (IWD). Cultural entities around the world coincided their fertile grounds for violence against women with the supposed celebrationof their female populations. South Africa and India became two of the most adored objects of the media, Celebrating International Women’s Day due to “recent cases of violence against women” on their soil.
In the honor of IWD, seven injustices women around the world meet became newsworthy yet once again. Among them, China, India and Afghanistan attained considerable attention. Sex-selective abortion and infanticide brought China and India to the news, while Afghanistan, this time, competed in the list due to its lack of education rights for its females. Lesser crimes against women in relatively wide-spread coverage included no rights to drive in Saudi Arabia, far fewer rights in divorce in Egypt, restricted land ownership in Lesotho, media coverage discrepancies in Latin America and gender pay gap in the United States.
With a substantial leap from concerns over equal pay for both sexes, selected world media leaders took us to a brief tour in one of the exclusive districts of Istanbul, in quest of a public gallery constructed in commemoration of IWD following the increase in “honor killings” of women in Turkey. The displays consist of newspaper clips of stories of women murdered by the men of their families, i.e. husbands, divorced husbands, fathers, father-in-laws, brothers, brother-in-laws, uncles, etc. A large banner reading “There is no excuse for violence against a woman” functions as the onset of the news program, Beyoğlu’nda ‘Kadına şiddetin bahanesi yoktur’ sergisi.
At the risk of being ridiculed – in view of the above-mentioned violence’s scope, I claim that even one hand constitutes a brutal act when used to slap someone regardless of that strike’s force. So is using pepper spray on unarmed, non-violent, nonthreatening, defenseless people, as the following video, Kadınlar gününde kadına biber gazı documents. The clip makes history on Turkish lands since the founding of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – on International Women’s Day, nonetheless. For, the Islamist Erdoğan administration uses police to stop women in Hatay, Turkey with pepper spray from voicing their demands for anti-violence against women in a peaceful walk.
An image from a critically-claimed cinematic production, “Osama” enters the memory:
Wasn’t it mere water, after all, that the Talibani had used on women to dissolve their quest for work to survive in their man-less households? Before ordering their murders without trial on the slightest suspense of their “misbehavior”? On behalf of Islam?
Let us have a quick fact-check against the backlash of at least a few of the relevant teachings of the Kur’an regarding some of the hereby summarized crimes against women: Driving? There is – as to be expected – no mention of it. It, thus, has no connection to Islam when Saudi Arabia or elsewhere is concerned. Rights in divorce? Equal for both genders, with a clause to more heavily support the woman; especially, if she is expecting or already a parent. Right for education? Equal for both genders.
Celebrating women? What an impossible feat as long as distortions, misinterpretations, misconstructions, de-constructions, or reconstructions of religious texts reign over humanity when at least the three “main” world faiths are concerned!
His mother died when she was 48. His brother died, having been able to pass a mere 32 birthdays. His sister died also at the age of 48. He had to give his daughter to death when she was only 31. He had cancer before she was diagnosed with hers. Soon after she died, his body formed another type. A third struck him last week. Not metastasis of his first, or the second. A new one.
He is 82.
He practiced medicine right after his graduation from the medical university in Istanbul, Turkey. Having served for decades in Germany as the head physician in the hospital from where he retired years ago. He knows what must be done when, whenever medical interferences are concerned. He has led countless surgical procedures during his tenure. He has tended to post-surgery needs of his numerous patients of all ages and walks of life during his time.
The medical staff of the hospital where he has had two surgeries in short intervals, responded to his two calls for alarm after half an hour had passed. One was for dangerously low, the other for dangerously high blood pressure – both along with breathing difficulties. Half an hour of a wait! On the night of his surgery! Why not take longer to let the patient develop fatal post-surgery complications? He lived 82 years, after all, isn’t that enough?
Describing the ordeal she and her 55-year-old husband had because of his cancer and ensuing death, Cheryl Eckl makes a remarkable statement in her essay, Elder Grief: The Hidden Burden of Advanced Age. Why growing really old may be worse than dying young (Published on May 24, 2012 by Cheryl Eckl in A Beautiful Grief: “[…] what he was not suffering was the additional burden of advanced age.” Referring then to her mother’s declining health at a very advanced age, Eckl considers “that perhaps even worse than dying young is living to be very old, with little quality of life due to several serious ailments, but not being sick enough to leave this world.” Her mother, Eckl writes, knows several people “who would be very happy not to wake up tomorrow.”
On this blood-freezing sentiment, Eckl contemplates as in the following: “That is the cruelty being suffered in obscurity by millions of the elderly who are shut away in nursing homes and senior living centers across the United States. Bored, lonely, in pain, or so demented or sedated that they don’t know who they are, these are the forgotten mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunties, and uncles who deserve better attention than they are receiving.”
For the onset of her cancer and the metastasis of it, my mother was treated through surgical procedures in Turkey and in Germany. Three decades ago. My mother didn’t want to be advanced in age to the extent that she would no longer be able to live a life of quality. She got her wish.
My uncle’s “case” is happening in Germany. Today.
The United States, in other words, is not the only cultural entity where this “cruelty” goes on.
For people who are among those living beyond their expected age of death – whatever that may be, Eckl invites us to imagine how for them “the borders of daily experience narrow as distress grows and the ability to perform all but the simplest of tasks disappears.” What does Eckl suggest as a balm for a life having to consist of “a succession of doctor appointments and increasingly invasive and dehumanizing treatments”? Love and our presence in their lives.
He is 82. He has always been present in my life. And still is. In Eckl’s words, he has never deprived me of his “heartfelt presence” (Eckl) Or, of his love. Unconditional love. After my mom’s death, he told me he finds in me his mother – “Anamsın” and his sister (my mom) –“Bacımsın.” After his daughter’s death, he saw her in me – “Kızımsın.”
In him, I always found a fully involved father. I still do. I went through many ordeals. He was there for me during each one of them. I love him so.
Where is, though, my heartfelt presence when he needs it the most?
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