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Lost love in Eminönü

by Zimmygirl (12/31/2009)

Lost Love in Eminönü


It was a cold day in December of Turkey. The sky was somewhat clear, but the crisp clean air had no mercy on my dark skin. After sitting for 20 minutes at a tea chop and smoking 2 cigarettes, I decided to head down to Eminönü and discover it all by myself. Taking public transport was somewhat nerve wrecking for me, the tension in the bus creeped in my bones as my cheecks blushed red of embarrassment of not being able to tell the bus driver where I am heading in proper turkish.

"Efendim, Eminönü gidicaðim tamam mi?" All eyes were fixed on me and the cluster of people tighted my own air to breathe.

Eventually a polite gentleman offered his chair for me to sit down, I delightfully accepted. While he was standing, I observed him from the corner of my eyes, and realised he was wondering how did I do my hair. Eventually he gripped the courage to ask me. I told him, "sadece saclarim yani..."braiding" anladin mi?" He just nodded shyfully, also embarrassed about his little knowledge of English. However, I managed to ask him a few questions, and eventually he spilled his entire life like a cup waiting for someone to knock it over. Waiting for someone to care to ask about who he is.

In my bus trip I realised that faces are faces, it is always the story behind those faces that gives them meaning and purpose in this world.

As the bus came into a halt, my thoughts also came into a halt, so much that I almost missed my bus stop. The gentleman reminded me that this is my stop to get off. I said thanks "Teþekkür ederim"

Standing in the middle of "nowhere" I decided to just walk, the sun was shining but the air blew the sunraise away. The bazaar at Eminönü sold just about everything, from tea cups to clothes to even beautiful toys for children. I managed to make my mind up and buy a tea set and also a table cloth for my mother back in Africa.

As I walked on the otherside of Eminönü I saw the trump train and decided to take one. Why not? It was a day of exploring everything by myself. I bought a ticket (coin) and got onto one. I realised that it will take me to Sultan Ahmet, the Blue mosque and Aya Sofia. It was not even 6 minutes and we were there. At Sultan Ahmet, it was flourishing of tourist and I also discovered most of the shopkeepers could speak decent English. How delighted I was, however, they refused to speak English to me, in the hopes that I will learn Turkish faster. Many of them asked me the same question and called me the same things

"Arabia Kiz", "Esmer, Esmer", "Kara kiz", "Abla nasilsin", Ablacim".  Most of the time I kept pointing at my watch to say I don´t have much time to sit and chat.

However, the ever persistant ones, made me sit down and have a cup of tea. At the end of all, I did not shop in Sultan Ahmet area, I enjoyed cups and cups and cups of tea and hearing all the beautiful stories everyone told me about their families. One particular gentleman, was so eager and so suprised about my Turkish, even though I thought it was bad Turkish, he went to the store room to bring his family photo album to show me his entire family from Trabzon.

I could only say "Trabzon insanlari , hamsi balýk çok seviyorlar deðil mi"  He burst into stars of laughter and quickly called his children to come and see me.

Eventually the shop was crowded of family and neighbour shop owners, who also wanted to see what the buzz was all about.

He had two elder sons, who looked like they were well into their 20-25 years of age. The one´s name was "Hakan" and the others name was "Serkhan".  They were so shy, if the earth could open up for them to jump in of shyness they would. And rightfully so they were shy, because their father was telling me I can pick one to marry. He ofcourse ran through their entire profile, the one is an engineer and the other is a teacher. :) I just laughed and smiled and smiled more, that was all I could do. At the end of it all, I left with two carpets and heart so warm that it could light up the dark of the night. I was so delighted to experience the love of Turkish people.

The sun was setting early, and I decided to walk down further in hopes to catch a taxi to take me straight to my host family´s home or drop me off at the centre of Mecidiyeköy.

However, the taxis were not to be seen, I then proceeded to walk further down, past the big national park heading down to ceramic and carpet shops.

Along the way, the owners all stood at the doors of their shops, hoping to get the last customer to buy  before they close down. I could only imagine the painful endurance of the dry winter season that brought in little money to be made.

I passed one carpet shop and the boy was shouting "Abla, carpets var, abla please come in" . I looked at him quickly and said "Saðol, istemiyorum, para yok". While walking and telling this boy that I don´t have money or the time to shop I did not look infront of me. What I was about to see infront of me was the face I would fall inlove with. A face so strong and endearing that everything in my body was like hot lava that just melted every peace of fear, shyness or even sadness away.

However, as I turned quickly infront of me, I got such a shock. He stood there, in my way, my mouth went as dry as a desert and the cold air hit the corners of my mouth.

"Sorry lady, you don´t have to buy, but please do come into our shop and let me serve you tea. Atleast let me give you some kind of hospitality." He said

I didn´t know what was left or right, back or front or even realising what just struck me

"I really don´t have cash to buy anything, I am so sorry. " that is all I could say in that instant

"You don´t have to buy anything, but it would be nice if you can sign our guestbook. Where are you from?"

"From Cape Town, South Africa, yaa, Africa" I said trying to sort thoughts out.

I thought to myself, there is no ways someone could ever look  this beautiful. Maybe it was the twilight that was playing tricks on my vision....after all I do wear glasses.  I accepted  his tea offer and maybe in the shop I can see his face clearly. There was just no ways someone could be this beautiful.


He escorted me to the shop and the lights of the shop were so bright, bouncing off the different colour carpets, bags and cushions they had.

I saw the boy who was standing at the door earlier before, and he introduced himself as "Nazir". I told him it is a beautiful name, really different from all the Erkhans, Hakans, Serkhans..:) He just smiled and asked me if I wanted either cherry tea or apple tea. I opted for the cherry tea.  As he walked up the stair to go make the tea, I turned around to see this face that stopped me in the middle of the street. This face that was so beautiful in that twilight.

To my suprise, it was even more beautiful, his pitch black hair neatly cut and combed , his full lips like the half moon shape of the Turkish flag, his cheecks had dimples "gamze", and his nose....a pure Osman nose.

He asked me to take a seat, I did so very clumsily with all the gift bags and my bag falling on the floor.

He picked it all up nicely and packed it next to my chair.

Before asking anything else, he asked "what is that sparkle in your eye?, did you see something awsome that I did not see"

I said "well, you know, the cold air makes my eyes water so much, besides it is the bright light that is reflecting in my eyes"

I was astonished of the way he spoke english. Clear, clean and very confidently. I asked him how come he speaks so well. He shrugged his shoulders "I meet many foreign people in my business and I travel a lot too".

Nazir came back with my cherry tea, it was so hot and so delicious, I opened my throught wide enough and just drank the sweet-sour exotic taste of that tea.

They both just stood there and watched me.

"You were thursty?" Nazir chuckled and offered to make me another cup. Without delay I said yes.

"Your hair is fascinating, wow, how long did it take you to do it in those small plats" he asked.

"A few hours, in Africa it is done like everyday, no worries. Sorry, what is your name" I asked him

"You will laugh, but my name is Cuma" he said

"Cuma as in Friday. O yuzden, cumartesi nerde?" I asked  him with the expectation that he might not think it is a funny joke. Eventually he burts out laughing and told me it reminded him of his uncle who always asked him that question.

We talked about Islam for a long  time and why I converted before I came to Turkey. We talked about families, turkish food, African food, Africa, Turkey, Africa, Turkey Africa.

Eventually he stood up and said to me he would like to take me to dinner with his sister Ipek and her children.

I waved at Nazir goodbye.

We ended up at some neighbourhood, and a sweet lady opened up the apartment door and she was shocked for a second, but eventually understood that I was with her brother. The house was warm, but different. There was a strange flag hanging from there, and the older woman who I pressume was anneanne did not speak Turkish. I couldn´t make out what she was saying.

I quietly asked him "You are Kurdish right, that is the Kurdish flag and your grand mother speaks Kurdish"

He took a long pause, because he was not sure what to tell me

"Yes, she speaks Kurdish, and I can understand her, but I don´t speak it so well." he smiled nervouslly, not sure how my reaction was going to be.

"Wow, I am living the true Turkish experience, I met Kurdish people. Alhamdulillah." I said to him.

In that instance I felt familiarity.Something that made us the same. Our differences is what we had incommon.

His sister´s little boy Buðra was the cutest little human in the world. All he wanted to do was just to come sit with me and to ask me to "boya". So we "boya" together until the food was ready.  Eventually the door bell rang and more and more family members came in. After a while everyone was sitting on the sofas, asking questions and Cuma had to translate. And ofcourse the marriage questions popped up

"you must marry a good muslim man" they said

"yes, ofcourse" i said

"you cook well?" they asked

"well yes i think" i said

"beautiful," they said." because you must make your house into a home" they said

"ofcourse" i said.

"you love children" they asked

"they are miracles, inshallah Allah will bless me with 3" i said.

My face went from chocolate rose to chestnut pink in seconds. Cuma then told them to stop the questions, because they are making me nervous.

He sat next to me at the dinner table. And explained the foods to me.

we all said our "Bizmillah" and we ate. The grandmother asked me to have more and more bulgur or Turcu or kofte or salata" and ofcourse everyone looked at me every time my fork would make a delightful trip to my mouth. It was silence and everyone was digging into their foods. I decided to break the silence and I burst out with "yemekler cok guzel olmus. cok tesekkur ederim".

Everyone dropped their forks, shocked that I just said a sentence in Turkish.

"Afiyet Olsun kizim"  the sister´s husband shouted and everyone joined in.

Cuma grabbed my hand from under the table and gave it a light squeeze, he wispered

"Iyi yaptin. Afiren sana, Afiren" he smiled softly.

The night was too sweet, too weird, too sensitive to desturb. I could not believe that I was with people that I did not know but the warmth made me feel more than I have ever felt.  I cried silently in my heart, because I saw the future I would like right infront of me.

Eventually Cuma opted to take me for a walk and call a cab for me to get home. We walked slowly, because the Aþure I ate for dessert was still lingering in my stomach.

"Patlican sen, stuffed" he cracked into a laugh.

"Hamile gibi ooogg  mashallah" i cracked up too.

He eventually took my hand and we walked for a long time without saying one word. Words could not grasp what the air, the moment was like. His perfect length body, sturdy and confident walking right next to me. Eventually he asked me, if I could meet him the next day for a dinner, just the two of us.

"At 6 o ´clock?" he asked

"Yes, I will let my host family know i won´t be there for dinner" I replied

When the cab came, eventually he grasped the courage to just grab my waste and hug me as tightly as he could. I couldn´t get air , but for the first time it was ok not be able to breathe.It was ok, to just be held as if it was the last.

What I did not know it would be the second last.


The next day, I was walking briskly to our spot that we saw each other last. I was so late, because of my lessons with my little brother took so long. I prayed that he is waiting for me and that he did not go.

Eventually in the middle of the rain I saw him waiting for me. His hair lightly wet, but beautfully his face was kissed by the rain.

I came with my ambrella and hold it over him

"I am so sorry, everything took so long to get done. I hope you´re not angry at me. I am not great with time." I rambled millions of excuses as I felt so bad that he was raining wet while waiting for me.

Out of breathe and just speaking no sense, he took the ambrella from me and planted a kiss on my lips. Still today I can´t remember whether it was on my lips or between my lips

With an ambrella in the one hand, and the rain having no mercy we kissed in the middle of the busy street of Eminönü. In that moment, the busy traffic noise was deafening silence, time stood still, I swear the rain might have even stopped. Everything just concentrated into our heartbeats. It was the warmest, most generous and delicate kiss.

"Iyi aksamlar canim"he looked at me , his hazel eyes piercing into mine with tiny rain droplets on his nose and his eye lashes. I wiped them away with my scarf and apologised again.

We made our way to a small restuarant just behind sultan ahmet, still today I can´t remember the name.

We were placed in a cosy spot in the corner.  The waiters were startled. They could not believe they saw love unfolding right infront of their eyes. He was peaceful in his manner, and asked for hot cups of cay

" I think she would like to cherry flavour..deðil mi?" he smiled favourily.

"Yes, thank  you very much" I smiled back.

He asked me about my days, teasing me about my teaching. We laughed , sighed and kissed. Eventually the evening was getting old and I had to make my way back home.

The rain stopped but the air was still tight and gripping my face like ice berg. I complained about the cold weather and he stopped

"What now?" I asked in a haste

He just grapped my cheecks with his warm hands and just held them and kissed me. He was kissing me as if he was dropping honey into my mouth. Like a bee around a flower trying to make honey.

"These were the two most meaningful days of my life, Zehra" he said so fragily. I was for a second afraid that he might go breakdown and cry. Instead I broke down and cried. I  realised that I will never see  him again. I realised that I have tasted what real emotions feel like, when ones breathe goes away, when the world stops and when anything else does not matter.

In the middle of Eminonu, I swear that Istanbul looked its most beautiful. It looked its most innocent, or did I see Istanbul through a lovers eyes.

As the yellow taxi came, I felt the warm air escape my body and I held on tightly to what I know was mine for a couple of hours. I held him so tightly that  I could feel every muscle in his being next to mine. Life was truelly  beautiful for that one moment.

"I know it is too early to tell you this, but I am afriad that i won´t get the chance to say it. ama "Seni seviyorum. Gozlerin, hepsini cok seviyorum" he said while his face was resting on my neck and ear.

And to my surpise "bende seni seviyorum..beni unutma, unutma.." I wept.

I wept for love, I wept for forbidden love, I wept for those that have been weaping for many years of love not finding the road to come home to them. I wept for those that had to leave the true love they knew for a moment behind. I wept for peaceful love, enduring love and most of all unconditioal love.


As I was sitting in the taxi on my way home, it was raining again, washing all the dirt from the streets. I was trapped between everything that love could ever trap me in. My heart was not broken, it was just sore. It was in pain. In tears at the back seet I saw the rain hitting the window of  the car and I asked quietly "why is it the one thing that makes us happiest the most is the one thing that breaks us the most. why does it pain so much. im sure he will marry eventually and be a father. Please God, be kind to my soul and make the pain go away" Like the rain, wash it all away so that the misfortunate ones can have a drop of love too.


That night Eminönü was so bright like a giant star. So beatiful it was that night.


The end



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