Mother’s Day

Esra wants to take me to the local shop. I’m not sure why, but she insists and takes me by the hand. In the shop I want to buy her and her sister a notebook because they want to practice their writing all the time. But she doesn’t like it. She wants a gold coloured necklace. I refuse to buy it; I say I’m not sure if her mother would agree. We leave the shop, and then she whispers: ‘It was for Mother’s Day’. So we return to the shop and get the necklace.

I am spending some time in Gülyazi, the village in the district of Uludere where, at the end of December, 34 civilians were bombed by the Turkish army. I am staying with a family that lives in a group of four, five houses. I stay in a room in Esra’s mother’s house. The massacre made her a widow at age 28, and she is now alone with five children between five and ten years old. She explains her situation very simply: ‘Before it was bad, now it is worse’.

Her husband made a living from all sorts of day jobs: herding sheep and goats, working in construction, and sometimes he went right across the Iraqi border, some six kilometres from here, to smuggle sugar, diesel and tea. Now that he is no longer alive, she has no income. Like all the families of the victims, she refused the compensation the state offered them. The family helps out, but her sister-in-law also has no man to provide for her: he was sentenced to four years in prison for ‘aiding terrorists’ and has two more years to go.

The poverty is striking. The house has no running water – luckily the creek nearby offers crystal-clear drinking water. There are carpets and cushions, a television that I think doesn’t work, very basic food, there is nothing in the house that is not necessary. There are no beds, the kids just get a blanket when they get tired and lay down on the carpet or on a cushion. The main electricity plug is burned and out of use. Underneath the TV is a picture of Esra’s father – it’s covered with a cloth so they are not confronted with the loss all the time.

As I write this, the evening before Mother’s day, Esra is wrapping her present for her mother in a piece of white paper and writes a sweet message on it. But the present is not a necklace. Halfway on the way back home from the shop, Esra changed her mind. She ran back and returned with a set of vegetable peelers and a pair of socks. Practical thinking. I do so hope it will bring a smile to Esra’s mother’s sad face.

7 replies
  1. Candide
    Candide says:

    Frederike I am quite curious if you are going to touch to news :
    1. US Drone Intelligence support in Uludere bombing which is under discussion at the moment.
    2. Arif Sag’s scandalous questioning at Schipol airport :
    Which might feel in the category of 400 years of relations between Turkey and The Netherlands that you had wrote some articles about…
    Finally a Turkish article for you :
    I know how good your Turkish is so I guess it might be helping you to remember that there are many sides in the Kurdish issue. The style of article is a bit sentimental (which fits to Hurriyet) however I still find it valuable to see the drama is everywhere.
    So I really encourage you to go out of Diyarbakır and Istanbul to travel Turkey a bit. Then you may have better understanding about the issues. I am sure you will find many other places as poor as you depicted in this article and you will be surprised that people there will not be Kurdish. Then maybe you will have opportunity to see drama on the other side. I mean the families of soldiers or other civilians who was victim of the terror.
    Unless you are doing that I will see you as :
    1. An evangelist of Kurdish issue.
    2. A journalist who writes about Turkey by spending her all time in Istanbul and Diyarbakır
    3. A writer who shapes the truth based on her beliefs rather than facts. Therefore manipulates her readers !

    All we need and deserve is truth with a touch of sincerity !

  2. Fréderike Geerdink
    Fréderike Geerdink says:

    Candide, I’m sort of fed up with you telling me what to write about, okay? It was ME who put the Arif Sağ-case in the Dutch news, for your information! Stop telling me what to do, or start your own journalism business if you think you can do better. Bıktım, yeter artık.

  3. ilkcan
    ilkcan says:

    sorry i dont share the same feelings wıth you. you are telling the home only seems to our eyes. did you look at their bank accounts? do you know how much they earn from smugling. As candide i dont tell you what to do just search more. they dont feed their children and women. but they feed their bank accounts and metresses. you can smuggle in that area without the permision of PKK and without a money paid to PKK. Do you know how Dağlıca ambush is set up?? smugglers helped terörists. they still help. Our miniter of internal affairs is right about the issue. they dont carry kaleşnif but they have more lethal weapon with them. Money. it is dangerous then rifles. and smugglers give it to PKK. i am not interested in blankets in their house or mothers. my mother also has harsh times in west. nobody helping her. nobody asked her about how we are poor. everybody have to work. but not smuggle and help terörists. it is not a massacre. a right to defend borders. i am curious that if usa had the same problem how would thay act. in fact answer is simple. like in ıraq llike in afganistan. kill them all.

  4. Mesut
    Mesut says:

    Why do not you write in your article, that the Kurds were smugglers? That they were in an illegal border crossing which PKK used to come to kill Turkish citizens?

    Oh, I am so sorry, I forget for you a PKK child-murderer is more important than any Turkish citizen.

  5. Fréderike Geerdink
    Fréderike Geerdink says:

    Oh Mesut, always nice, a reader who didn’t make any effort to read any other writing on this site before commenting. Search ‘Uludere’ for all my writing about the bombing. This ‘Mother’s Day’ is a small, personal and human observation, part of much bigger reporting. In case you’re interested.


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