Uncle Ahmet

He was so young that he did not even have a moustache yet. One day Atilla and I were walking together, he in front and I behind. We stopped at a path which was only wide enough for goats to pass. Atilla was a village kid. He knew all the paths. He stepped on the root of a pine tree and jumped to the other side. I could neither proceed nor turn back.

Time passed and fear got hold of me. I could not look down the steep slope into the depth, nor could I proceed, in short, I was trapped like a pitiful small animal, gripped by fear, resigned to my faith. I waited without knowing what I was waiting for. Atilla kept coming and going by stepping on the pine root. He understood and he felt sorry for me but was unable to do anything more.

There came a moment when I was covered in sweat and weak in the knees. I was crying. I shouted out. I screamed: No, no! But even I could not hear my voice! I was in total despair. I am not exaggerating when I say that it was as if I was waiting for death. Atilla who saw that there was no way out ran off after saying: “Wait, don’t move…” I don’t know how much time passed…I saw someone almost flying up the hard steep slope like an eagle, and I will never forget how his big, strong, calloused hands grabbed me by nape of the neck and with the same agility he turned round and ran down the slope with me.

The person who saved my life was uncle Ahmet. The paternal uncle of my mother… The poor master of the forest village. I had so many more childhood adventures in that village. Not everyone has what it takes to be an Uncle Ahmet!

Oh those unfortunate remarks that are being made, how Uncle Ahmet’s vote could not count the same as the vote of someone who graduated from three universities… How can it not? Are the Uncle Ahmets of this world not those who created, liberated this country? Those who in their old shoes rescued us from slope tops?

On the other hand, of course graduating from three universities is not something to be underrated. Are they not those people who save Uncles from depression, from cancer?

The issue is this: It is not an accomplishment to turn these two into enemies; the accomplishment is in their joining hands. No matter who it is, whether someone educated or someone who gathers the harvest on the field, the aim is to help those who are stranded. The highest rank goes to the one who does the most good…

As we all know, everything is ephemeral. The main thing is that we feel the warmth, the beauty of those who do good and to think of each other as fellow travellers… To regard ourselves as mountaineers connected to the same safety rope and with courage to jump on time like onto the root of the pine tree and proceed on the path of humanity. To know that life which is called immense ends with just that little…

My final words will be to those who hold some people superior to others… Those who regard some people as like-minded and close to themselves. But – I think I will keep silent as the story above tells the essence of it…

In the meantime I would like to commemorate Uncle Ahmet with love and respect… For him literate people were important but national and moral values came first. He eventually used to sense those people who turned things into a game, and he held nothing above God… And the strength of his reaction against those who played a game was unpredictable!

He too joined God’s mercy and grace but as you can see the good he did is passed on through eternity…

Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan