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.”

English | Français

 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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