Our Parisian Friend,
It was September when you arrived Ankara and we finally met. For a few days, you (and we) found a chance to visit some places in Turkey. Although it was raining, we could feel the amazing atmosphere in Cappadocia, visited Anatolian Museum, had dinner in Kayseri, rested about 2 hours in Ihlara valley, etc. You must remember that when we were at a restaurant (in both Ankara and Kayseri), the waiters brought you different foods to taste after they heard that you were a Parisian woman. I think you loved many (if not all) of them and kept notes about your experiences for yourself.
You drank Raki, for the first time in your life.
You listened to Zeki Muren and we tried to translate his songs to you and you liked them.
You did love “cig kofte” (raw meat). That was very surprising for me. I always thought that “cig kofte” was delicious for only Anatolian people.
And of course, “baklava” and “Turkish delight”… they were your favorites.
We talked little about politics but much more about religion and ethnicity.
You always pointed out that all people should tolerate different worldviews and you were angry about racists in France who claimed that there was no place in France for refugees, Muslims, etc. I hope and I’m sure that you are still at the very same position. You love people, I don’t think anything could change this.
When more than 100 people were murdered in Ankara, in 10th of October, you felt the pain as we felt. You said your heart was with us.
Now, the same militants, those who are without any sign of humanity, carried out an attack to your country, your city, your way of life. I can guess how tense is the situation right now. It was shocking and horrible; more than 100 people had been killed without any reason.
I don’t want to tell you anything about revenge.
I don’t want to tell you anything about justice, either.
I cannot tell you when these madness comes to an end.
I cannot tell you when people get along with each other.
I don’t have answers.
Yes, I am afraid to be at war against darkness; and yes I am really afraid to stand still against it.
I am sure that darkness will never win. If it could, then everything including itself will be nonexistent. That’s why we have to win and we will.
Courage is needed in the darkest times of our life.
And courage, my friend, does not mean not to afraid of anything, courage is acting for the truth regardless of your fear.
No, our hearts are not just with you.
We all are a big heart!
Dogan Kokdemir, Ankara
One thought on “A Letter to Our Parisian Friend”
Dear Dogan, dear friends I met in Ankara.
I feel quite honoured for receiving such a beautiful and powerful letter. Thank you.
Of course, I remember vividly my time amongst you, how Zuhal and you, as well as your friends, collegues and everybody I met and was introduced to made me feel welcome and was willing to share and have me discover what they love and are proud of about their country. The sights, the food (and you know how I loved the food), the drinks, the warmth.
But most of all, it is your courage that made a lasting impression. How you have the strength to live your life true to your convictions, never afraid to speak your mind, denouncing ignorance and obscurantism of those around you that threaten you.
I admired that.
And it inspires me today.
You point out how those attacks were directed towards my way of life. How right you are! I was not 200 metres from the first reported incident, having a drink after work with my collegues.
How a normal friday night can turn into horror in no time! I won’t describe the fear, the confusion, the cries and distress we witnessed that night.
Despite the events of last january in Paris and some other isolated incidents, I had always felt safe and assured of the stability of our way of life in France. How naîve this seems today.
As everybody here and all over the world, I share the pain and suffering of those close to the victims.
But I refuse to live in anger and fear. As cliché as it might sound, that is for me the only way to not let the terrorists win.
The very next day I was at a terrasse with a friend drinking wine. Of course, the atmosphere in the streets was heavy and sad, everybody talked about the pain and apprehension they had for the future, but I felt comforted to be amongst people who shared my feelings of grief but also of determination.
Now, you can feel the tension everywhere. The police is on edge. I saw a policeman raise his gun at a motorcycle who failed to stop fast enough at his command, another one striking a street vendor before being stopped by his collegue. A false alert due to a lamp expoding in a shop caused a panick movement in the streets. These knid of things are to be expected, of course, but they also pain me.
I have no power against those who wish us submitted or dead. I can only raise my voice against violence, injustice, fear, and live my life, free.
I love Paris. I love France. I love the life I live here, the freedom, the spirit, the history and I believe that those sentiments I share with most are stronger than hatred and destruction.
I hope that when you come to Paris, I will be able to share with you the beauty of our culture, as you were able to convey yours to me.
Your friend from Paris,