Türkçe Nupel | Français | English

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Germany, so far away from the shared courtyard in which they lived. A yellow lantern-like gleam shined from the window of an apartment. This was moment when everyone’s breath stopped. “Stop! Don’t do that, stop!” said Eren…Eren was Emre’s little brother, Emre then standing in front of him with a pistol in his hand. They had been like the two halves of an apple. Could Emre kill Eren?

Again he said “No, don’t do that…” Eren’s eyes, lost. Eren’s eyes with a look as bottomless as that of a desolate well…

Then, time belonged to the voice of a bird tearing through the night. Eren, disfigured, lay in his blood on the ground. Nothing was left of his last look, of his deep astonishment. Eren, a young man of 16. Eren, Emre’s other half. Emre had bloodied the snow-covered roads of Germany, he had killed his brother who would never see springtime again…Germany is far away, Germany is as painful as a mother’s cry…

“I killed him”, Emre said to the voice on the phone. “I killed him”. Eren was dead. Cain and Abel’s confrontation had returned…

*

A beaten earth house on two storeys with its face turned toward the sun, you climb the stairs up to the terrace covered in mosaic where there  a gentle bustling occurs in the shade of the vines of black grapes Preparations for İsmail’s marriage. Drums will be beaten for three days and three nights, all the villagers will dance the Halay, young men and women will weave dreams of love for the future, will pray the god to be granted such happiness and promises as to Şirin and İsmail. In order to honor the Three, the Five, the Seven 1a sufficient number of animals will be slaughtered so that none from the village will be forgotten, drum and zurna 2 to the fore, children following behind, invitations and red apples will be distributed to everyone…

İsmail’s love story had reached all the way to distant lands, all he had said was “It will be Şirin or the black earth”. Seydali, his father, had presented himself three times at Şirin’s door and the two families could not stand against this love. In the end, Şirin was engaged to İsmail. Şirin, a town girl. Şirin, Ismael’s school friend.

Seven sheep were slaughtered, seven kettles set up. In this village which, at harvest time is a land of abundance, everyone received their share. Şirin was such a beauty, like a fresh sip of water. As if the god had set aside every other occupation in order to sit down and embroider Şirin. Was İsmail any less dashing than she? İsmail was as handsome as Joseph in the well…

Seydali was a respected man in the village where he had been good to everyone. He owned a large earthen house. He was the father of five children, four boys and one girl. He married off two sons before it was İsmail’s turn. The rooms all opened out on a large courtyard connected to a vast kitchen and all the souls in the household met around a big table set low on the ground. Every penny earned was turned over to the father and mother. Every child   born there, grew up in this courtyard, blended into the family, they were very close, if one of them struck his foot on a stone, the other felt the pain. They sowed and harvested as a family, together they produced everything found under this large roof and ate at the table of brotherhood, intermingled. Seydali’s home was peaceful. He valued the women, glorified them, even. In this affectionate climate his companion was everyone’s lodestone, she showed the way, the direction…

With Şirin, the mood in this house became even more pleasant. Şirin adopted the tradition rooted in the household. As for İsmail, he was the happiest man in the world. Happy to such an extent he would have flown off, had he had wings. All winter, they kept to their room. He could not keep himself from talking with Şirin, from taking her in his arms, kissing every strand of hair, one by one, taking in their fragrance. In this courtyard, all were blessed as if the two of them had harvested all of life’s energies…

With springtime, their happines increased, now their love included three people, Şirin was pregnant, a new life would be added to the courtyard. Were not İsmail and Şirin the god’s favorite servants? Sacrifices galore were to be offered on the altars! Might everyone, including the ants on the ground, share in this joy. In this courtyard on which all the doors open, another one would be added, a new person in this fraternal world that welded the children together, bound them the one to the other. It would be beautiful, so beautiful…

All was moving as ordained by Nature. How love always managed to overcome everything so magnificently. Yet, something was wrong. Şirin’s pregnancy was not progressing normally. Starting with the third months, she started doubling over in unbearable pain. Moans, and sometimes screams, replaced her laugh Outside, renewal was at work, the crocus were in bloom, springtime filled the air with its finest aromas. But of what good were they? Şirin no longer left the bed, like a candle, she was melting away daily.  In the courtyard an air of mourning took over, dark clouds gathered, as heavy as death, a foggy desolate time descended…

“This is not a good omen” they said. Seydali and his wife worried. Finally, İsmail took Şirin in his arms, like a bird, and carried her to the doctor. And that is where İsmail’s river of life started running backwards. On that day the chain of catastrophes began, the worst ones that could happen to anyone. On that day, Life revealed its disgrace.

Something in inside Şirin’s uterus was growing faster than the fetus, and it was incurable. A tumor! Born in her womb, like ivy, it had invaded Şirin’s delicate body. “She will die” said Şirin’s doctors. “Why don’t you take her home so that she can die in her bed, at least…”

How benevolent spring was toward the earth, how generous with the water, the apricot trees were in bloom, insects, birds, animals were building their nests. How busy living beings were, how the sun embraced everything in its warm and yellow arms. Only Şirin and İsmail were excluded from its embrace, only they were not reinvigorated by this yellow warmth. Only those two could not be happy during that spring. Happiness had abandoned them. The sinister news fell in the middle of the courtyard, like a stroke of lightning, it burned the hearts, mortified everything. Şirin was going to die!

Sometimes, time moves so quickly… So many things can be lived within one month. As if Şirin had been a guest come on a visit from the town for a brief stay, and was leaving again, so quickly did the time pass.

Night had collapsed on the courtyard, the solitude of death was everywhere. Şirin no longer moaned. Her screams no longer rendered the walls of the courtyard. İsmail, a bit of cotton wool in his hand, squeezed drops of water on Şirin’s mouth, he bathed her body in salty tears. In that night blacker than soot, all living beings on earth and in the sky were silent, all had hidden in a corner of the breast of night. İsmail did not want anyone in their room. He said “every passing minute is mine, all the time is for me…” What could the courtyard do about it? One does not contradict suffering, nor love. Then… A cry fell on Seydali’s big courtyard, rendering the night. İsmail’s cry carried over the walls, woke up the whole village. “Oyyy, Şirin is dead!”

Şirin, the unlucky one, Şirin with the evil fate, died. İsmail embraced her cold body, cried until morning. A bride of six months with a three-month old baby in her belly and a tumor bigger than the head of a child, were buried in the village’s modest cemetery. “May the black earth be good to her” said the courtyard inhabitants. “The black earth”

Worse than a dead man, like a ghost, İsmail no longer left his room, no longer spoke to anyone. He turned his back on the world, said he would kill himself, that he no longer wished to live. Sullen everywhere, close-lipped…Was İsmail still alive or was he a walking dead? He now followed a small trail in the village all the time, it led him to Şirin’s tomb… Same thing, for four seasons… No one can contain suffering. “Let him live through his pain”, they said, “leave him alone to live it though.”

maison cour femme paysanne

Türkan Şoray 1960. From the film “Köyde Bir Kız Sevdim” (I loved a girl in the village).

Months and months later, İsmail went into town for the first time. He put a nail into the whitewashed wall and hung a blowup of a photo of Şirin who looked like a fairy on it. From that moment onward this photo would hang on the wall no matter where İsmail went, throughout his whole life, this lifeless photo would be his only confidante. A dead friend, a lost life… She would be the witness of each pain, this, İsmail’s sacred image, she would look down on everything from the wall where she stood, a paper life, unmoving.

Harvest season returned… The peasants were washing the wheat in the fountain, İsmail’s family was doing the same thing at that same spot. Preparing for winter by boiling cereal, kettles filled to the brim. His mother and Şirin’s sisters had come from town. İsmail was on his way back from the cemetery. He had strewn Şirin’s tomb with roses. Right there, near the fountain where the wheat was being washed, a pair of large eyes filled with warmth and affection like Şirin’s, with brown hair, stretching like a tall and slim branch, as charming as she had been. Şengül, still a child only yesterday, was now tall, in full bloom…

Immediately, right there at the fountain, he wanted to take hold of those white hands washing the wheat, and kiss them. İsmail burned for Şengül as if he had found Şirin again. He reconnected with hopeful dreams. He thought “the gold pieces that hung around Şirin’s neck, the dresses that covered her slim body, the ring on her finger, the shoes on her feet, everything she owned would fit her, myself included…”

İsmail took the road into town as one goes to the well to draw water. This daily attentiveness, this incredible affection drew Şengül to its rim.

One winter day, news came to the courtyard, “İsmail has kidnapped Şengül!…”

Like in the retelling of an ancient story, drum and zurna played once again, this time for İsmail and Şengül. İsmail had found his wings agains, again he was flying, the open skies were for him, so were all the rivers, the endless green valleys, nature, laughter, fine days, all for İsmail, so happy was he…

Seydali’s courtyard, full of children. The rooms of four daughters-in-law giving out on the courtyard. This is where Şengül bore her first fruit. She gave birth to a little girl. She was given the name Şirin…

The family was a large one, with minimal revenues and many expenses. Many bundled their life under one arm and threw themselves on the roads to Europe.

At first, İsmail was not keen for far-away places. He did not want to leave his beloved. Alas, he was the only one who had studied, the only one who could save the family, bring fertility back to the courtyard.

“Oh my beautiful country, does it suit you to make the songbirds fly away, to cut their wings, to destroy their nests?”3 

A day came when İsmail also sang “oh my nest”, and he spread his wings toward Germany…

Taking with him, carefully wrapped in newspaper, Şirin’s photo…

Next part…

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Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges

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Suna Arev
Autrice
Née en 1972 à Uzuntarla (Elazığ).Dans une famille de huits enfants, elle est immergée dès son plus jeune âge, parmi les travailleurs agricoles à la tâche. Tel un miroir qui date de son enfance, la période du coup d’Etat militaire du 12 septembre 1980 a formé sa vie politique. Diplômée de l’École professionnelle de commerce d’Elazığ, elle a vécu, en grandeur nature les comportements fascistes et racistes dans sa ville. Mère de quatre enfants, depuis 1997, elle habite en Allemagne, pour des raisons politiques.
Suna Arev was born in 1972 in the village of Uzuntarla, Elazığ district. From a family of eight children she became one of the agricultural workers at an early age. The military coup d’état of September 12 1980 served as a mirror in shaping her political outlook. After obtaining a diploma from the Elazığ Professional Business School, she experienced the full force of fascist and racist behaviours in her town. She has lived in Germany since 1997, for political reasons. She is the mother of four children.