First Christian

I am walking around a village in the southeast of Turkey when I see some women baking bread in an outdoor oven. We start to chat a bit, the usual ‘where are you from, what are you doing here’ type of conversation. A few children look at me curiously and one of the girls, about eight years old, asks out of the blue: ‘Are you a Muslim?’ I answer that am I not, after which she wants to know whether I’m a Christian then. For the sake of conversation, I say: ‘Yes, I’m a Christian’. She immediately hides behind her mother, saying: ‘Korkuyorum!’, meaning: ‘I’m afraid!’. I ask her why she is afraid. She thinks for a moment and then says that it is probably because she has never seen a Christian before in her life. Her mother laughs and tells her daughter that ‘Christians live quite the same as Muslims’, and I tell her that now that she has seen her first Christian, there’s no need for her to be afraid anymore. We chat a bit more, I turn down the offer to take a fresh loaf of bread with me, and then I have to go because my bus is about to leave. Fifteen minutes later I am about to enter the bus, when I hear the girl shouting: ‘Wait, wait!’ She comes running up to me, and, with a big smile on her face, hands me a small bouquet of freshly picked flowers. I melt, thank her a lot, stroke her hair and get on the bus. She waves to me till the bus turns the corner.

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