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Nobody likes Dappir… On her head, she wears a big fez surrounded by a keffieh embroidered with small pearls…

She is short, wears a sarwel with forty patches with a belt she wears in summer and in wintertime, it is faded by the sun and of an indefinite color. This faded belt, the fez on her head, the two snatches of hair dyed with henna, and her necklace of blue beads are  her sine qua non accessories…

One wonders if age is the reason for her irises to be the color of yellow honey. Not a single tooth left in her mouth. Her nose is large, and below it on the right, a black mole the size of a large chickpea, and on her chin, a halo of beard made up of long, straggly white hairs.

When my auntie came visiting, she would settle by the fire with my mother and get excited over the fact that Dappir would arrive, systematically. She would bawl her out, make rags out of her to keep her from opening her mouth. Dappir couldn’t care less. She meddled in every conversation as if to prove her presence, she would impose herself loudly.

As soon as Dappir saw four or five women talking together, she would move in as if nothing mattered, shuffling ahead resting on her cane and barge into the conversation, throwing words into the air, intervening, debating, tearing herself up in order to be accepted into every assembly…

Dappir was jealous. She envied the whole world because she hand’t a single friend or confidante. She would settle silently near doors, window, she would listen, gather up secrets and then, she would sell them. She would offer them up to whomever wanted them, thus sometimes provoking the greatest arguments and sulking sessions.

And still Dappir had no place of her own nor any popularity…

Nobody liked Dappir, nobody… You see lions gathered around a prey and who won’t give even a single bite to intruders, or a wolf circling a henhouse, gaunt and famished, and who is constantly pushed back, sent away, that is how Dappir was. Even if she brought the best, the happiest of news to the women gathered near a wall, at the fountain, no one ever took her seriously… No one counted her among human beings, the living.

She is old, Dappir, with wrinkles on her ancient face that look like canals dug into trails on those rocky earthen paths. Her hands are large, so veined that they look like tormented branches. Her hands are like appendages drooping down from her shoulders, cracked glasses ready to fall and shatter on the ground. Dappir constantly looks at her hands, observing them for a long time, as if discovering them…As if she lost herself in an ocean, took refuge on a deserted island, she looks, she looks, she looks. Her hands don’t match up with her body… Then, she spits in her two palms, leans on her cane, takes stumbling steps and forces her way into a crowd of women..

One hand on her cane, the other swinging, swinging in the void as if about to break off. Dappir is a bit like a madwoman, she laughs for no reason, starts weeping all of a sudden. Her hands are Dappir’s concern, a pair of hands she would glady rip off and throw to the famished wolves. She’s going on her ninety years, but the age of her hands, the suffering in those hands are heavier than the weight of years.

Dappir’s hands could almost talk: “Hey, those who have no fear of god, come here, cut off these hands, throw them to the dogs, the wolves, the jackals, toss them off to the ants on the ground…throw us away, rid us of this suffering…” they say.

Dappir has three daughters-in-law… Three small houses with earthen roofs. All three leaning one against the others, built side by side, but they sulk, their doors open in three different directions… Houses with doors giving out on the East, the West and the North.

Dappir shelters at her eldest son’s. He is dead of tuberculosis and her eldest daughter-in-law is family. Dappir brought her over so she would tend to her in her old age. She has grandchildren all over the neighborhood, every one sulks after everyone else, and the only thing they share are the borders of the three houses. Dappir sleeps on a mattress behind the door…

Nobody likes Dappir nobody… What is truly Dappir’s name, nobody knows either…“Dappir this, Dappir that, what are you waiting for Dappir, die, go six feet under the black earth Dappir, may you not rest in peace in your casket Dappir”

Dappir is never falls ill, all her fellow creatures have passed on, but she resists against the curses from her daughters-in-law, like a boulder. She does not want to leave without settling accounts with her hands. First, she must wash them in a river charged with taking and carrying away the stain on her hands, and burying in deep in the deepest of oceans.

My auntie would come on cold winter nights. My mother’s older sister, my aunt, a hard worker, would rush through a ton of work to show up at my mother’s. Who else did she know, in the first place? Almost all the women in this village were widows. In the tiny houses with earthen roofs, the children slept on mattresses spread out on the floor. The mothers loaded the hearth with wood to warm the houses. The fire in the hearth, the wood burned down into cinders…

Of what secrets is the fire a witness? This is how, on a winter night when they thought that we children were deep in sleep, under the hearth and the fire’s testimony, my auntie told Dappir’s story. She told it in detail, while dripping tar oil on white cloth. Who knows how many time this hearth, this fire listened to this suffering? How many times did it interfere with sleep?…

She told the tale, told it while poking at the fire with a stick: “don’t let her into your house, don’t let her in. The shame of humans, of women, look at her, she does not die, even the earth does not want her…”

After that day, we too were unable to like Dappir and fled from her.

Then we grew up… grew up a lot and then, we also understood Dappir, we took pity on her.

Dappir’s Story

Not all suffering makes you grow, sometimes it drives you  to madness.

A mountain village, far, far away. I would say ten, you might say fifteen hearths, houses made of baked earthen bricks… All the inhabitants are from the same tribe and raising cattle is their sole means of subsistence. In wintertime, the snow is as high as a man, the roads are blocked. God only knows how many animal die until springtime, and children also… Dappir is the deaconess of the village, the first woman to whom you go for advice..

While still young her husband fell off a cliff, and the river carried his body away… Dappir followed his tracks for days along the river until she found him, I can’t say how many villages further, caught in a tree trunk. She loaded him on her back and brought him back to her village on the edge of the mountain, buried him on his land. Dappir was young at the time, and sturdy. Dappir lives through massacres, Dappir was subjected to famine, Dappir alone, initiated herself to the secret of embracing one’s self, like a snake. She lost her mother, her father, brothers and sister, but always stayed as soldi as the wood from a mulberry tree, strong and unbeatable.

Only one of her brothers remained alive, she raised him as a mother would. Dappir did not fear the night nor the day, she was familiar with the laws of wild nature, she faced them as best she could. Which plant to heal which pain, which cloud brings rain, which other brings the storm, she knew all this. In those days, Dappir was a wise, respected person…

Not all suffering makes you grow, sometimes it drives you to madness. Such an misfortune fell on Dappir’s head and drove her mad… It turned her into a stranger to her own hands.


No school in the village, no electricity, even the road into the town took hours. One fine day, the muhtar 1 received a piece of news. A teacher would come to the village, civilization would arrive in the village… At long last, this poor mountain village would know “contemporary civilization”!

“Çarşamba is under water, I loved a girl but another took her from me” says a song from the Black Sea region. Unfortunately, not all love is innocent and sincere like that in the songs…

The teacher is from Samsun 2, he is known as the “blond teacher”. He will come as part of “mandatory service” in order to teach the “wild mountaineers” for one year.

Sent off with songs of lamentation, he will remain for a year in this country of miscreants where none of the four books from heaven ever landed. The order comes from the government and when such an order lands, a neck is thinner than a hair…

Just think of it, a teacher will arrive in the village so, such preparations, such haste! The muhtar has reserved a house, the paint has been redone, his stove installed, wood gathered for the winter, and a double-thick woollen mattress provided… Everything is as ready as can be. The muhtar will go into town to fetch the teacher, will settle him on his mule and bring to the village, where civilization will reach the village!

The teacher is blond, very blond, he does not look like the local dark-skinned fellows of the area. He is also very polite. But he is afraid, very much afraid, go figure with what preconceived ideas he was raised…

In short, the blond teacher is installed in his house. And in flows the butter, the honey, the freshly baked bread, still warm… That’s peasant for you, they will break themselves in bits to please a stranger.

The school is a one-room house, the children aged from seven to fourteen, all together in the class, will learn to read and write. The teacher, slowly becoming accustomed to this warm environment, chats with the villagers. They say the teacher knows everything very well, that being the case, the State speaks the truth.

“Ali throws the ball, Ayse catches the ball”3and the blond teacher slowly teaches the children their ABC.

But the teacher has a problem and talks to the muhtar about it from time to time. What is it? The lack of women.

In fact, the teacher is married and has two children,  but among the local women, wouldn’t there be one suitable for him?

To be continued…

Translation from French by Renée Lucie Bourges

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Suna Arev
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.