Have a dose of what life is really like living here – from my single-handed destruction of the Turkish language, random arguments with random relatives about everything from apples to vaginas to learning the secrets to making the perfect içli köfte! Highs or lows this is my observations from the melting pot of crazy that is my life in Mersin.
I was extremely lucky as a child. I grew up in a home with a mum and a dad who loved me and with a brother that, well, let me just say that he loved me (or maybe liked me) sometimes. Then when I was 19 I got lucky again when I met my natural mum and dad. I have forged a good relationship with my natural mother and my natural brothers and sister not the same as with my adopted family but a good relationship nevertheless. Unfortunately I lost my adopted mother in 1995 and my dad a little while back. I still see my natural family as often as we can arrange it (well I did when I lived in Australia anyway) but my little family had become very tiny indeed.
One of our decisions to move to Turkey was to enable Daughter to have a relationship with her Turkish family and learn about her Turkish heritage. Not every child can grow up to have the best of both worlds but we intend to give Daughter everything that we can. So moving to Turkey it would be.
My luck continues in Turkey with family as well as I had a mother-in-law who I adored and a father-in-law who is a little batty but still a sweet old man.
My cup overflows so to speak.
Over the past couple of weeks my mother in law had had a cough. Nothing drastic but a niggling cough that over time slowly got worse. She had made numerous trips to the doctor and to the hospital but the cough was always there. She still cooked her delicious meals and she still called me down “J-j-j-a-a-a-n-n-n-e-e-e” every morning for cay. She still washed her husband’s clothes, made him dinner every evening and went to visit her friends in the village. But you could see she was not strong. Her smile was not as bright as it once was and her steps a little slower than they once were. Her eyes showed more sadness but her heart was still full of the love that she gave to her family and friends.
On New Years Day my sister-in-law again took Refika to the hospital one last time where she fell into a coma and soon after passed away. The sadness I feel right now is overwhelming me. The tears that flow are real and pained.
I will delve further into this on another occasion but right now the feelings are too raw to process clearly.
I am sitting on my balcony listening to the sounds of The Village. Below me the most prominent sound is that of my in law’s shouting at the top of their lungs. I wander downstairs to see what today’s issue could be only to find them sitting happily in the sunshine warming their old bones.
My mother in law, Refika calls me over, “Gel. Otur”. Come and sit. I sit by them and pour a glass of cay (which, to their constant horror, I put milk in). It is quite nice in the sun but you can feel that winter is not far away and it was bloody cold this morning when I took Hurley for a walk. I wonder if Refika invited me over to put an end to their squabble. No, it was definitely continuing with me right beside them. I watched them argue back and forth and although I am no expert in the Turkish language I quickly realise that the argument was about who ate the last yumurta (egg).
The Turk’s parents have been married for over 50 years. Happily? I just couldn’t say, they appear resigned to the fact that they are married to each other (I feel that way about The Turk most days as well). I look at my mother in law’s face. Deep wrinkles may line her face and cloudy eyes are tired but she still smiles despite her illnesses. Her scarred and callused hands tell me that she has worked very hard over her years and for probably little reward. Hursit on the other hand is looking jolly and starts talking animatedly (and loudly due to his deafness) to me despite the fact that I can understand little of what he is saying. Now retired his day is a repeat of the day before – a trip to the Jokey Club to place a bet on a horse, followed by long (an no doubt philosophical) debates with his friends and neighbours at the local tea house before returning home to his dinner which has been prepared by Refika before removing himself to watch either a horse race or the news on television. If his horse has won he will sing the night away İyi akşamlar which is no doubt his favourite song. Give him a few wine or rakı and you will hear that freaking song until dawn!
Watching Refika and Hurşit happily argue has made me realise that The Turk and I are exactly the same! Every conversation that we have is basically an argument (which is what happens when you mix a Turkish man with an Australian/Italian woman) and I am the first to say that I would divorce him in a heartbeat to anyone who will listen! Does this mean that The Turk married his mother?