Portrait of a Turkish Family by Orga Irfan

Portrait of a Turkish Family by Orga Irfan

Author:Orga, Irfan [Orga, Irfan]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781780600208
Publisher: Eland Publishing
Published: 2011-10-17T22:00:00+00:00

The next time my mother came home from the Depôt it was earlier than usual and we wondered what had brought her at this hour. She said she was home for three days and my grandmother ladled the everlasting cabbage soup into her bowl silently, intimating perhaps that one more mouth to feed could make little difference to the food. My mother said she had received a letter from the Depôt commander, telling her that, if she wished, her children could be cared for at the school recently established in Kadiköy for the protection of children who had lost their fathers during the war. The idea appalled and frightened me and the more my mother elaborated the theme, the more frightened did I become. It appeared from her conversation that she had made up her mind to send Mehmet and me to this school, and I felt as if everything of the old life was ending and that my mother no longer wanted us with her.

My grandmother seemed relieved by the decision, saying she would keep Muazzez with her, and I ran to my mother, crying: ‘No, anne, no! Don’t leave us, don’t send us away.’

And Mehmet took up the cry but there was no softening in my mother’s eyes as she looked at us.

My grandmother snapped irritably, as if all life was not ending for us: ‘Stop crying, both of you! There is nothing to cry for. You will enjoy being at school and you will get plenty of good food to eat.’

‘I don’t want good food,’ I sobbed, longing for some relaxation of my mother’s hard, disinterested mood, some softening of expression that would let me run to her to be comforted.

But there was none. Only separation and school for us, no love for there was nobody to give it to us. I wonder, did my mother make her decision with tears and misgivings or with relief that at last a place was found to house us, so that she need no longer feel responsibility for us? These are questions to which only she knew the answer, and she did not tell us these things. But it is not an idle thing to say that the heart and mind and spirit of a child can be broken, and the events of that melancholy day governed the whole of my future life. Love can die as easily in the childish heart, if more bitterly, as in the adult. Where the senses scream and beat helplessly against the ruthlessness of a decision, whether lightly made or not, and are forced to fall back, unrecognised, unheard, then love dies too, although a child would not call it that. Perhaps it is only fully realised afterwards, when the child himself becomes adult and feels an old enmity, looking back to that withered day.

So Mehmet and I went to bed that night knowing that rebellion was useless, that we were only children and would not be listened to, even if we had had the words to explain our agony of mind.


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