Foreign Lands

It was mid-60s, the years where mother and father had all the attention on themselves. We were in an Anatolian district. In beautiful Afşin. Beyond Maraş, behind the mountain range… My mother was only twenty-five. Father was twenty-eight. A judge at the beginning of his career. As a family, we were on the path to serve our country.

Our house was facing the street. The kitchen was at the rear front. In front of us, snowy mountains. At the window… My mother was cooking, while she was crying. A folk song on foreign lands was on her lips. My little heart was aching.

When someone says “foreign lands”, I recall that moment. My mother, her tears, a cold winter morning, folk songs on foreign lands, and the desperation of a child who was feeling the same as his mother in his small hearth, with his full attention on his mother, as he was pretending to be playing with his toys…

Years passed by, but I still remember it vividly.

After years, at the beginning of the 2000s, we were listening to the troubles faced by the Bulgarian immigrants with an esteemed professor of mine, Günsel Koptagel-İlal. The professor asks “Do you miss the places you came from?”. Almost all of them do, without an exception. In their dreams, they all see the places they used to live in… They had to run away from all that torment. Yet they cannot forget about their homelands.

I look at the German Turks at the office, they have problems, they live that pain in their hearts. They work. They work…

Homesickness feels different when you are abroad. Everyone over there knows it very well. It was 1990. I was in America. Far away in foreign lands, I was looking for a spot in the scientific arena, I was virtually fighting for it. It was another lonely day. An old American couple invited me over. They served me dried beans, rice and pickles. Delighted, I didn’t know what to say. Beyond that, they also invited a friend of theirs, who lived in Adana and speaks Turkish, just to let us chat. This was the peak of empathy, love and respect.

So, a hot bowl of soup is the way to the heart of the immigrants in their taste. The state of mind of an immigrant lasted for generations. If I were to say “this is what researches show”, you would immediately jump in and say it would be enough to have a two-minute conversation with those go to and come from the other side of the water. You will see that they cannot hide the tears in their eyes.

But one must immigrate if needed. Yet, apparently, the main goal of being a human is to dress the wounds.