Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan

Animals that came into my life!

Animals that came into my life! If you only knew how many animals came into my life, quietly, without talk… Gümüş (Silver) for example! A dog with long brown fur, whose bright and friendly eyes warmed my heart… Would my aunt remember her? I wonder. The dog in the garden who was guarding the house…

It was my aunt’s early years as a teacher, in the Gaffarlı village. I was 6 years old. The sweet animal I was playing with, rolling around on the ground… At some point I noticed that he was leaving the garden for a short while, around midday. One of these days I followed her. With her in front, me behind, we crossed hills, fields, valleys. She was constantly looking behind her to make sure I was safe. She was totally aware that I was following her. Finally we came to the entrance of a cave. She waited. I went to her. We were in the midday heat. In this deep and warm silence there were only the short low squeaks of the puppies. We stayed there for quite a while. We had such fun! Then again with Gümüş in front and me behind I remember returning to the village. Gümüş loved me. And I loved her. It was a pure love relationship. When I was a little younger, and school holidays ended and I had to leave my grandfather’s village, my close friend the neighbour’s son gave me a chick saying “here, it’s a present, as keepsake”. In fact, when I was even younger than that, the friendship – I could call it identification – with my mother’s uncle’s donkey, are unforgettable memories for me. Just consider, apparently I was saying “When I grow up I will become a donkey”… The village still talks about it… Dear mother, do you remember how I used to bring street dogs home and hide them from you under the sofa? And then there was the puppy which I brought into my father’s house and fed on the balcony believing nobody would notice. The puppy that was on the balcony next to your bedroom… the little thing that was barking till morning hours, of which my father said: “either me or it!”… In later years, at Fırat University there were animals in the scientific studies which we conducted with our revered tutors. These taught me what a deep satisfaction being a scientist gave… The sterile test mice who shared my loneliness in America, and whose intelligence I personally witnessed… With all this fondness it did of course not take long before I was bitten in the leg… But Benek was totally right… Who else could perform such an energetic close-up chase of it’s owner?… For days she did not, could not look at me, out of shame. Or maybe I thought so. Animal love is something wonderful… Tormenting animals in childhood used to be one of the diagnostic criteria in anti-social personality disorder… No need for many words. May God not deny anyone the love for animals! Only those who have experienced it know, it is hard to put into words. Mine was only an attempt at it… May you remain with love…

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