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If I have yet to accept the numer­ous requests for reportages and inter­views from jour­nal­ists and aca­d­e­mics wish­ing to speak to – as they call me – “Kedis­tan’s most appre­ci­at­ed author”, it is because I do not wish to reveal my iden­ti­ty.

You must under­stand that I have no desire to find police­men at my door, some fine morn­ing… Even if in a long life filled with any num­ber of adven­tures, prison is almost the only expe­ri­ence lack­ing in my inven­to­ry, and even if it does not fright­en me all that much, basic pre­cau­tions are not use­less. There are peo­ple thrown in prison for one tenth of what I express, you know…

So please for­give me for curs­ing and pub­lish­ing under an alias, on a web­site where all the oth­er con­trib­u­tors write under their true iden­ti­ty, with­out masks, assum­ing both their risks and their respon­si­bil­i­ties.

But I do exist and am not the shad­ow of myself.

And I speak from where I am, at the lev­el of who I am, of what I see and of what I expe­ri­ence. Your columns are much appre­ci­at­ed, I am told, because my expres­sion delin­eates a cer­tain geog­ra­phy, a gen­er­a­tion and spe­cif­ic thoughts: a voice, a fem­i­nist one more­over, the voice of pop­u­lar and human com­mon sense”, or at least what is left of it… I think, I exist, and I speak with the voice of all oth­er bit­ter yet benev­o­lent old ones. I am a tough bird too, you know? Let it be known that nei­ther wag­ging tongues nor sus­pi­cion fright­en me, nor will they kill me. Where­as a virus… against that, I do pro­tect myself.

Fol­low­ing this pre­lude, let’s get back to the point.

On the day before yes­ter­day, some­one rang at my door. I opened and found myself in front of a young police­man wear­ing a mask and gloves. “So they’ve come to get me”, was my first thought for a frac­tion of a sec­ond, but it was quick­ly dis­pelled; “for an arrest or a raid, they would have shown up in a horde of robo­cops and would have bat­tered down the door rather than ring­ing the door­bell,” I told myself.

He had a nice face with boun­cy cheeks, a bit like that of a long-for­got­ten nephew, and he stood on my door­mat, at the prop­er coro­n­avi­ral and civic “social dis­tance”… I lis­tened to what he had to say, but I could­n’t help from men­tal­ly imag­in­ing in oth­er con­texts this uni­formed young man, address­ing me in a way both famil­iar and polite: in inter­ven­tions with the stench of of tear gas. Imme­di­ate­ly, this brought back to mind the hate filled expres­sions that I had seen on images of police vio­lence being poured out by the media.

In short, “Aunt, the State offers you this gift”, he said, hold­ing out with the tip of his fin­gers a plas­tic pouch stamped with the Pres­i­den­tial logo. I took it, thanked him and closed the door.

coronavirus turquie

After a sudsy lath­er­ing, I looked at the con­tent of this so-called “free hygien­ic kit”. It con­tained five masks, a bot­tle of cologne water and a very thick envel­op.

The masks were wel­come. Even if we are not allowed to go out­side, us old peo­ple, my med­ica­tion is almost run­ning out, and I’ll have to go out­side at some point to vis­it the phar­ma­cy a few doors from where I live… The cologne water has a scent I can’t real­ly describe, like whiffs of a return from Mec­ca. It is far from the tra­di­tion­al lemo­ny scent, the one poured on the hands of trav­ellers on the bus­es. Oh well, it’s bet­ter than bleach, the only dis­in­fec­tant left in the house. “Good, it had been promised, it took a month, but it got here”, I told myself.

Then I became angry when I saw all these “dec­o­ra­tions” attached to the Reis. “Help or a com­mu­ni­ca­tion cam­paign?” one won­ders. Not real­ly, one does­n’t won­der in the least…That’s when I found myself talk­ing to myself out loud, like a dement­ed old fool. This often hap­pens to me, in front the TV when I sit for a look at the news… In short, I heard myself mut­ter­ing: “Will you look at this, here you are pro­mot­ing your­self! Pro­mot­ing your self, with my mon­ey!“

Oh yes, the let­ter! At first, I had no inten­tion of read­ing it, I put it on the table. But the thick envel­op intrigued me. Final­ly, I opened it. This let­ter signed by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, addressed to the cit­i­zens, there­fore to me too, says in a heavy and pompous style that “as a coun­try, we are engaged in a nation­al strug­gle against the coro­n­avirus that has trans­formed into a glob­al pan­dem­ic”, and that “the State has tak­en all nec­es­sary mea­sures, mobi­lized all of its resources against this epi­dem­ic threat­en­ing the health of the Nation”. In his let­ter, the Reis explains at great length, how Turkey for 18 years, mean­ing under “his” exer­cise, “has become one of the best pre­pared coun­tries in the world against the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic, thanks to the changes and progress in all areas of pub­lic ser­vice.” I went on read­ing, “Today, there exists a Turkey that has estab­lished the most pow­er­ful health secu­ri­ty sys­tem and has built the most mod­ern hos­pi­tals. A coun­try the world takes as an exam­ple.” Yes well, he means hos­pi­tals where I dare not set foot both out of fear of spend­ing all of my mea­ger pen­sion and of get­ting angry at these doc­tors who out of tired­ness or dis­in­ter­est, write pre­scrip­tions with­out exam­in­ing me, with­out even lift­ing their eyes to my face and who, to top it off, speak to me in an over­ly famil­iar way…

Back to the let­ter. It lines up fig­ures in a “giant health army” of 165 000 doc­tors, 205 000 nurs­es, thus of a total of 490 000 med­ical staff with a sup­port­ing cast of 360 000. One must­n’t dream of find­ing here a sin­gle word about the destruc­tions of the health sys­tem through pri­va­ti­za­tions, dimin­ish­ing bud­gets, as is the case in oth­er rich coun­tries under lib­er­al regimes, even the wealthy ones. “Turkey, an exem­plary mod­el for every coun­try in the word,” yes. Fol­low my gaze and look at side­walk inter­views. In almost all of them you will find a few tooth­less par­tic­i­pants…

The Reis also empha­sized that “the cit­i­zens’ most impor­tant duty is that of respon­si­bil­i­ty” and explains: “we pay the clos­est atten­tion to high risk pop­u­la­tions, as our faith also com­mands us to do”, and reit­er­ates “I beseech you to stay in your homes, not to go out­side as long as the threat of the pan­dem­ic has not dis­ap­peared.” He says: “This is the most effi­cient method for us to pro­tect you.” Undoubt­ed­ly, unless you are forced to go to work in order to earn your dai­ly bread to sur­vive, if you are not one of the hun­dreds of thou­sands of work­ers who are all active in close con­tact with one anoth­er in fac­to­ries, work­shops, sweat­ing on con­struc­tion sites, even if cas­es of the virus have been report­ed among them. For exam­ple, the work­ers of Sarkuysan and Kro­man Çelik, exempt­ed from con­fine­ment mea­sures by spe­cial autho­riza­tion of the Kocaeli Pre­fec­ture, despite protests from the unions. And this is but one exam­ple among so many oth­ers…

Let’s con­tin­ue…

The Pres­i­dent tells his sub­jects “that no iso­lat­ed cit­i­zen among those at risk will be aban­doned.” Then, he pro­vides phone num­bers of ser­vices under the respon­si­bil­i­ty of pre­fec­tures and gov­ern­ships. I would nonethe­less like to men­tion again, as I had already described, that find­ing myself with no liq­uidi­ties at home, and thus unable to pay even for the jug of drink­ing water the sales­man was kind enough to con­tin­ue drop­ping off at my door, I attempt­ed to con­tact these num­bers for assis­tance. I told you how I was tak­en for a ride from one phone num­ber to anoth­er to final­ly end up at social ser­vices where the phone was nev­er answered. Let’s move on…

The Reis con­tin­ues his long prose, “In par­al­lel with all these mea­sures, fol­low­ing the Sci­ence Coun­cil’s pro­pos­al we are offer­ing you this gift of masks and of cologne water. Stay calm, no virus, no pan­dem­ic is stronger than Turkey”. That’s true, us Turks are made of iron. Such blessed lucky ones, we are! He hails “the heirs of a civ­i­liza­tion whose watch­word is ‘keep­ing the human alive so that the State may live’, thus the most impor­tant duty for us is the health of our cit­i­zens.” I don’t know to which civ­i­liza­tion he is allud­ing. Ottoman? Kemal­ist? Oth­er? At any rate, I admit that this is the first time I hear this watch­word, so nation­al­is­tic and also con­temp­tu­ous for “the pop­u­lace”. Here I am affirm­ing that I exist, and this would be for the sake of the State’s sur­vival?

“I do not doubt”, he con­tin­ues in his let­ter “that we will emerge from this peri­od of dif­fi­cul­ties as we have always done from all hard­ships, with our union and togeth­er­ness rein­forced.” The let­ter clos­es on pious wish­es like the end of a prayer. You might think it is Trump speak­ing with his preach­ers: “With these thoughts and feel­ings, I send you my affec­tion and my respect, and implore God so that you may live in good health.“

Thank you. Now God knows what He has to do.

You guessed it, I threw the let­ter in the garbage.

The pho­to in the head­ing: In case you are won­der­ing, that is not me on the pho­to, of course, but one used as an illus­tra­tion on a num­ber of arti­cles on the web.


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges —
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Ten­dress­es, coups de gueule et révolte ! Bil­lets d’humeur…