Warm ashes, Marseille-Istanbul

istanbul cendres warm ashes

March 8 2019, Istanbul.

A friend writes: “A fantasized March the 8th. The only ones to profit were the surrounding bars. After-party, they called it. What was there to celebrate? I didn’t feel like dancing tonight. Drinking, maybe.”


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 I looked at your images on my phone all evening. Story, stories, dashed off and forgotten the next day, like the march over there, tonight, that didn’t take off. It didn’t work over here either, you know. We would rather sit on the terraces as spring erupts rather than  clamor, again, under the booing from bunches of guys filling the courtyard. Still, you are smiling.  A friend writes: “We knocked down the barricades they had set up to block off the street.” I watched the news, read the articles, there was barely a word to account for all your stories: “violent repression of a women’s demonstration.” Key-words, a few lines. Writing to specifications. You are hurting. I would love to embrace you. I would love if we knocked down all the barricades together.

April 17, Istanbul.

I wrote: the ashes from Gezi are still warm.  I said “the ashes”, not the embers, make no mistake about it. Tonight Ekrem Imamoğlu received his mandate certificate and you are smiling. A friend tells me: “I had left, I didn’t think I would vote because I don’t believe in this disappointing political system anymore. I had left and then, at the last minute, I went back. I voted. He won. For the first time in four years, I…” She hesitates. “I have hope.” Tonight on Istiklal, there are no barricades. There is a fragrance of spring, springtime forgotten in some spot in the body, tinged with rebellion and desire.

Tonight, I embraced my friends and they spoke of hope, a tiny little hope they had stored away beside de rebellions and the desire. Together, we watched films that spoke of love, of women who love, of hope, of desire, of rebellions. We said we would do it all again. Tonight, on Istiklal, there were too many smiles for this to be coincidental.  Tonight, I hear singing in Kurdish and the police keep a low profile. Tonight, the ashes of Gezi are still warm.

May 1st 2019, Marseille.

Tonight, we watched some movies. They talked of how one arrives in Istanbul and gets lost in its tentacles, in its invisible remifications, how one loses footing at times in the overly vast waters of the Bosphorus and how one rises to the surface, in triumphant hope. They talked of the work done by the women no one sees, of exiles that throw a different color on ours, of bleeding hearts, of hands that stay clasped despite fear and rejection. They talked of our pride, our struggles, our wishes and our will to be, to become, to remain sisters, brothers, bristers? Despite the distances. Tonight, we watched movies and we wrote to those who couldn’t be with us. A little girl drew a sun for a jailed child. I glued photos of your faces on a friendly spot.  We embraced too many times to keep count. Tonight, a friend come from Istanbul to share these movies told me: “It’s the first time I get these feelings while showing movies.” We stayed together all evening, all night, not wanting it to stop. The next day as she was leaving, my friend said: “See you in Istanbul for the Pride. This year, we’ll be able to organize it.” She smiled.

May 6 2019

My friend wrote: “The government has just annuled the Istanbul election.” With a smiley, turned upside down. Your stories have turned danger-red and memory-green. Past. Present. You tell me you are sad. My friend is waiting for the date, she knows they will announce a date.  A date for the re-election. I tell her we will show some movies and, mabye, it will work again , that he won’t win, that they won’t win. The naive hope of magical thinking in future tense. She agrees anyway. But all of a sudden it’s as if the future were blocked once again, as if  hope, rebellions and  desire had been scared off.  We talk in the present, the timelapse of a disappointed story that never ends. You are disgusted. I would love to embrace you, to see you smile, to tear down barricades with you. I would love us to stir up the warm ashes to rekindle the wishes, the hope, the rebellions.

Your friend J.


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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