Haci Amca is currently here on a visit. The word ‘Haci’ is not really his name; it’s a mark of respect. A Turk will use it for someone old and wise and it normally denotes someone that has made that all important journey to Mecca….The Hac (Hajj).
He can be found sitting outside our office most days, drinking tea and watching the world go by and I do wonder what he thinks of ‘the world’ that is Altinkum? This man from the South East who has spent a lifetime in a society built on decency and modesty in all things.
This of course means I have to dress ‘appropriately’ now just to drop into the office and in temperatures like we have now, this is no easy task. A task at which I failed miserably when he first came and I didn’t expect him to be at the office.
I remember my first ever visit to his house in Sanliurfa a few years ago. We slipped off our shoes at the doorstep and were greeted by his wife at the door. I stepped over the threshold first, walked along the passage and saw an open door to my right with people sitting around. Too late, I did not note they were all men. Too late I automatically went to walk in as I felt the grip of Murat’s hand on my arm to steer me away. Oooops!
When I am in the South East, I don a headscarf. I do this for 2 reasons: 1. A mark of respect for this traditional family I married into and 2. I like to wander around without being stared at too much.
And here we are in Altinkum and the girl Haci Amca is used to seeing in the South East is nowhere to be found. In her place is a woman with far too much hair, exposing acres of flesh in a strapless, knee length dress and flip flops.
Give him his due, he did not look disapprovingly at me, albeit, a little sadly.
I drop into the office most days and most days, in between the all-important male cay drinking sessions that take place at the table outside, he will come and sit by me. He doesn’t say anything, just sits by my desk. I ask Murat why and he tells me that Haci Amca just loves me too much and because we can’t converse very well (he speaks mainly Kurdish), it’s his way of letting me know. Bless him
I watch him sometimes from the safety of the office as he sits outside; cay in one hand, prayer beads in the other. His eyes, showing the signs of cataracts as they slowly cover in a milky film of white in a face that is an open book of stories; a tale within each wrinkle. These are tales I would dearly love to hear.
Perhaps one day, someone will translate for us and this wordy ‘Yabanci Gelin’ will relay the tales of Haci Amca to you.