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2006 - What Should Have Been A Love Story But Was Not

by Trudy (1/6/2009)

2006 - What Should Have Been A Love Story But Was Not

This is the true story of a Dutch woman who fell hopelessly in love with a Kurdish man. After some weeks of chatting, mailing and sending sms, they both decide they will meet again in Istanbul, she from Holland, he arriving from near the Iranian border.


Friday July 28th 2006

            After a busy week at work as well full with questions to and about Cetin, I leave for Schiphol Amsterdam Airport. My questions to and about Cetin have been answered. I doubted if he really wanted to come. His many sweet sms and the several phone calls today relieve me. A man who doesn’t care about me (enough) will not go to so much trouble and efforts (e.g. taking a bus for more than 24 hours) to see me again?

            I arrive at Schiphol Amsterdam Airport much too early, nervous as I am. Waiting then, with lots of coffee, something to eat, lots of cigarettes and as a good start a thriller about Istanbul. According to the desk sign of the air company, I can check in from 21.00 hours and give them my luggage. At exactly nine o’clock, I am there, in the company of other ‘early birds’. The row of waiting people slowly gets longer but there is no activity at the desk to see. At 21.30, the desk opens. The announced time is a mistake, the woman behind the desk says.

            Meanwhile, I send a couple of sms to Cetin. The first disappointment is there: He says he cannot pick me up from the airport. He cannot find transportation. I have sent him the almost complete schedule of the Havas shuttle bus. It can’t be that difficult? For me, as an experienced public transport user, it is not, but to Cetin, who is a real car driver it maybe is. Well fine, I can handle it.

            I send some sms to my sister as well. She supports me, she knows I am nervous. Boarding is possible from 23.10, but it is not going as it should. At five to midnight a message says that there is ‘a little technical problem’ and therefore an extra delay of fifteen minutes. Yuk, a technical problem? At an airplane? I must not think too much about it.


Saturday July 29th 2006

            Finally, the plane leaves at 00.45, almost an hour late. At 04.40 Turkish time the airplane lands at Sabiha Göksen Airport. The customs are easy; my visa is still okay. The man from the air company, who is waiting for arriving passengers, says that my hotel will be the fourth. Another miscalculation; no quick arrival at my hotel, they drop me as the last person in Sirkeci. It is 06.45 now. I am very tired and happy at the same time. I give my passport to the desk clerk for checking in and go to room 404. I have to knock hard on the door before it opens. A sleepy Cetin opens the door and he pulls me almost inside.

            He takes me in his arms and holds me strongly. To my idea, we are standing there for minutes long, just holding each other. Except to say we both missed each other, we do not say a word. This feeling is enough. With our arms around each other, we fall asleep; I really need to sleep for a while.

            When we wake up, I give him my gifts. He is very happy with the silk money belt; he can use that very well in his work. The orange t-shirt with the text Netherlands player is not so nice for him. He does not understand it is just a word joke for me and that I do not see him as a player at all. The necklace with his name on it, which I wear, he likes. The very thin silver Turkish slippers earrings he thinks are ridiculous, who does use shoes as earrings? Time is getting by and breakfast is over in the hotel. We will have our breakfast elsewhere. A store of Simit Sarayi, a couple of blocks away, suits our wishes.

            He asks if I really want to know him better. “Yes, of course, I want to know you better,” I say. Then “I have something important to tell you,” is the answer. Four and a half year ago, the police caught him smuggling. He scares me and I show him that. “What kind of smuggling?” is my question, “no drugs I hope?” That will be the end for me. I do not want to deal with anything like that. In addition, because I know that in Eastern Turkey people smuggling happens often, I ask about that too. That would be a difficult case for me. Smuggling somebody over the border to help, even if you earn some money with it because of the risk you take, is something different than professional smugglers for whom a human isn’t anything more than a post parcel! No, it is about a large amount of cigarettes. He had to go to trial but thanks to the efforts of a good lawyer there was, until very recently, no verdict.

            According to Cetin, there is a term of limitation after five years if the judge does not give a definitive verdict. That term of five years would be over at February 2007, but they did not make it until that time. He is convicted to two years, two months and five days. However, because of elections coming up in Turkey in about nine months, he hopes for some kind of amnesty. That happens more often, he tells me. It would mean that with a punishment of seven months it should be over. Though, a very long time and a terrible thing to get and to look at. His detention in Dogubayazit prison must start in the week of August 20th, very soon. He says his head is full of it. I can understand that. He has given his office a different name and when he is in prison, his business partners (his brother and his friend) can continue.

            Maybe selfish, but I tell him I am afraid of loosing him because of this. In prison, you cannot email or chat by MSN, a private mobile phone is not always possible so calling and sending sms might be out of the question. Writing letters will be the only thing left. I know he does not like to write long texts, so I think that might be a problem. I make a joke; “You will be able to improve your English”. That is the reason, he told me before, that he does not like to write. Luckily, he has to laugh. Seven months of no contact or very little contact, I think a relationship will die. If I would write him letters but do not get any answer back, then it will be over. That I tell him. I say I want to try; even the more than two years, but that it depends on him if I will keep up. “Wow!”, is his reaction, “if you want to wait that long for me, you really must love me”. Thinking back, I wonder if he misunderstood my reaction about ‘us’. Does he think that I only think of him in terms of a relationship between him and me, only want to see him for his body? That I cannot understand how much pressure and tension this will give him?

            He tells me that if I would send him an email, his parents can take that with them on Monday. Monday is visiting day in the prison. “Aha,” I say, “so I have to be on a Monday in Dogubayazit”. He shakes his head, no. Only relatives in the first degree can visit, his parents, his brothers, his children, but not his cousins for example. A nasty voice inside my head says “and how about your ex-wife”?

            I ask him to be honest with me. If it is over some day, he will not just stop contact. Cetin gets angry a bit. Why would it be over? Why do I think things like that?

            He tells me that he will have to go to the local prison. I ask how many men there will be in one cell. “About 15,” he says. “Fifteen men in one cell together, without women and for months?”, I ask, “then sometimes horrible things do happen”? “We all know each other because we are from the same town, so I am not so concerned about horrible things with 15 men together in the same cell”, he explains. He is making jokes about it. Acting as if it is not a big deal but I see in his eyes and I notice through his behaviour that it is fake. He is afraid.

            Then suddenly he says, “You are not allowed to speak about this with anyone, not with your family, not with your friends”. Strange maybe, but I feel uncomfortable with that remark. Why doing as if it is a secret? If I would wait, it would not be easy for me too. Can’t I share my feelings with the people around me, the ones I love? He knows that I really have good contact with my sister, can’t I tell her? Maybe I am too suspicious, but this question of not saying anything gives me the idea of a partly fantasised story. During the day and in the following days he tells me more. The facts are every time the same, my suspicion goes away again. I promise him not to tell anyone. Is he afraid my friends and family will look awkward at him because of his imprisonment, might he meet them some day? Well, they are not that childish, they are used to many things.

            He tells me that there are possibilities to buy prisoners out, but the amount the government asks is too high. The Turkish government wants 11 lira per day. In his case, it would be almost 9000 lira. Besides that, he has to go to prison for at least a month. Complete “buying yourself out” is not possible. I tell him that I want to help him with everything I can, but that this is not possible. He laughs and says he understands. Another possibility is to hide until the term of limitation is over. In a big city like Istanbul, nobody can find you. “I don’t think that is a good idea”, I say, “You can get into bigger trouble with justice”. He shrugs, he does not think so. He says that working in a Turkish cell is not compulsory, no labour like in a Dutch cell. There might be the possibility of working in the library; it depends of the position of a prisoner. He thinks that is okay, he likes reading and there are English books. Newcomers often have to be servants to the leader of the cell, bringing him tea and stuff like that. He says it is all fine to him, as long he has something to do. It appears that he came together with his brother to Istanbul. His brother is a kind of guarantee for him, his family did not believe that he was meeting me and afraid he wanted to get out of the country to avoid his prison time. Only when his brother saw him checking in into the hotel it was okay. His brother then went back to Dogubayazit.

            We go into town and drink tea. We walk towards the harbour. A waterbus is waiting for passengers. Cetin buys us two tickets – yes, until now he pays everything, even though the amounts are small, I feel good; it means I am not treated as a “western milking-cow”. The boat has not enough passengers so they wait for more than one hour.

            Opposite of us there are some Turkish couples, some girls with a headscarf. They are flirty to their boyfriends, touching them. I am not concerned anymore, if it is ok for them to do that in public, then I can do it too. Cetin does not turn away when I take his hand and caress him or put my arm around his shoulder. Even a short kiss on his cheek is allowed. It takes some time but then he puts his arm around me. He takes my hand and put it between his legs (no naughty thoughts please!) which he crosses. Cosy, nice, together on the boat. Finally, the boat leaves. We go along the northern bank first from Dolmabahçe Palace into the Asian direction, then after a lot of bridges we turn and go along the southern bank back to where we came from. All together, the tour takes more than an hour. Cetin gives explanation at some buildings we see, nice, such a private guide...

            Back in town, we go to a D&P Perfumum shop. It is fake, I know, but my purchases in February I like and I want to refill my stock. A bottle of L’eau d’Issey and a bottle Feminin by D&G are mine now. The favourite scent of Cetin, Angel by Thierry Mugler, is sold out, unfortunately.

            Time for a late lunch (or an early dinner). Beyoglu is the area we walk through for a while. We both do not want to climb so we take the underground. It is just one stop but oh so comfortable. In a small street, we find a lokanta. It takes some time because Cetin is very choosey. No restaurant we pass by is okay, for different reasons. I do not mind that much but I let him go, though I hope he will pick one soon because I need the bathroom!

            While we are eating, I ask him if he sticks to Ramazan. I know he is not a Muslim, but according to social pressure, I can imagine he will do the same. No, he says, I do not stick to Ramazan. Do people invite you for Bayram, I ask? Yes, they do, only a few people know that I do not take part. He thinks it is special that I, being a non-religious Dutch, know so much about Islam, even the date of next Ramazan. He is more often surprised that I remember little things from my holiday in June like the name of the Kurdish village we have been to. Does he not understand that I am interested in him and therefore remember all those things? He is to me a lot more than just a short holiday love. I do not say I think of the future far away but for now, I want to continue with him. After dinner, we go back to the hotel and freshen up.

            I would like to go to a café with nice music where it is possible to dance. Cetin does not know such a place but he calls a friend in Istanbul. That friend gives him the name of ‘Legend’, which should be a good place. He says he has never danced before, only Kurdish dancing. With a grin, he asks if I want to dance slowly. Yes, I say, but disco as well. We go by taxi to Taksim. It is still early so we drink a beer (me one, Cetin some more) at the nearby British Pub. In the taxi, I place my hand without thinking on the seat next to me. Cetin smiles and reminds me of June, in the minibus. He takes my hand and strokes it. What a nice memory this is.

            We talk about many things until the conversation takes a strange and unpleasant turn. Cetin says he only will remarry when he wants more children. Only because of children marrying is necessary, a child should get his name. Sex he can have with everyone. I am shocked, what does he mean by that? Is he sleeping with other women? I ask if he slept with other women but I do not get a direct answer. What would be my reaction if he says he kissed someone, he asks. I say I would be very disappointed. “And if I had sex?”, he asks. I say, “It would be over for me, I am waiting for you too?” He smiles sarcastic, between kissing and having sex there is no difference for him. That I do not have somebody else, he does not believe. I say him I am the faithful type. He shrugs, I am a woman, and they cannot be trusted. In the past he has been cheated several times by women, he now always keeps some distance, a percentage of questions and some suspicion in his head. I ask him what I should do or say to make him trust me. He says he does not trust anyone completely. Nothing in the world, whatever anybody does or says, can make him trust someone completely. It sounds bitter to my ears.

            He says I should not trust him too, I must not believe everything he tells me. I have to keep my questions too, he thinks. I am speechless; why not believe everything he says? That isn’t a good base for a relationship? I know I have and had my questions and doubts but I am, and was not, happy with that. I ask him if I should not believe him when he says he likes me and what about his story of this morning, is that not true either? He gets angry, why do I have to take everything so personal? I don’t understand it; we are talking about him and me, not about the average man and woman? He tells me he deliberately told me about his future; do I like to know him better? He wanted to see what my reaction to a message like this was. “A kind of test”, I ask. “No, not a test”. “And, did I react as you expected?” I do not get a clear answer, only the remark that my reaction is not important. I don’t understand anything again, not important? Why does he want to know my reaction? Moreover, why is he saying things like this? Is he testing me, does he want to hear my opinion? Afterwards, when I think back of these words, I think they are strange. In June, we had a fight because he was angry with me that I did not trust him. What was it this man wanted?

            I ask him why he came to Istanbul if he does not trust me. He says that until the moment of checking in he had the idea that there was a possibility I was not showing up. That I would send him a sms, that it is all a joke. I have to laugh, didn’t I think the same? I tell him that, it only makes his believing stronger. He says he came to Istanbul because he wants to see me again, he does not want to miss me. He does not want to loose me. He asks how much I have paid for this journey. “Is that important?,” I reply. “I just want to know”, he says. When I say the amount, he is shocked. “You said it was cheap, if I knew this I would not have come”, he replies. “Why not? You are worth it to me,” I say. My explanation that to Dutch standards it is cheap, he does not believe.

            He does not like me touching him in public, he feels uncomfortable when I do. He has the idea that everyone is looking at us. A bit strange, even if I do not tell him, because he is touching me too? I laugh and say that Istanbul is a big city where many things are allowed. We are not doing anything special? We are not French kissing in public, are we? He says Istanbul can think it is okay, but he does not, he will not change that, simple. Okay, it is all right, I will control myself. I think it is a bit in contrast with wanting to see me and not loosing me, but probably that is only my point of view.

            Several times men selling red roses pass by our table. Not that I want to have one, especially not in this heat in Istanbul. However, the negative gesture Cetin makes to the sellers is disturbing me. Am I nothing to him? No romantic gesture? Not even a very small gift? I know he hardly has any money, but I am crazy about earrings and you can buy them here for two lira. I even gave some signs by watching earrings with a lot of interest! Then he was waiting impatiently until I was finished. It is not about the gift or the amount; it is about the attention, the gesture. Apparently, Cetin is not the romantic type.

            No dancing tonight. We take a taxi back to the hotel. Arriving there he stands for a while looking out of the window, his back turned towards me. Smoking one cigarette after another. We both undress. He lies on his back, his hands folded under his head. He says he is going to sleep, he is tired. I am a bit disappointed; I love to hug a bit or even more. However, okay, one can be tired. He closes his eyes, is silent but not asleep yet. I can hear that by his breathing. I ask if I get a goodnight kiss. With a kind of sigh, I get a short and hard kiss on my lips. He falls backwards again and turns his back to me. Okay, if not, then not. Nevertheless, I do not like it.


Sunday July 30th 2006

            A quarter past nine I shake Cetin awake at his shoulder: Hey, sleepy head we have to have breakfast. It takes some time before he reacts. He is not feeling well he says, his whole body aches. I think it is because of all the beer he drunk last night but he says it is because of the climate here in Istanbul. In Dogubayazit, it is hot but dry; here it is hot and humid, because Istanbul is near the sea. He cannot stand it very well. I ask him if he wants a massage. Yes, that will be nice. I notice the massage oil I brought with me appears to be special for pregnant women. I did not pay attention to the bottle when I bought it. However, it is not soothing less on his skin. I give him a sport massage, nothing soft and tender. Just handle those muscles! I do not touch him in a way he could think of as being inviting, I avoid ‘special places’. After the massage, we lay next to each other. I stroke him over his arm and his shoulder. After a while, he reacts and we make love again. He says I am too sexy for him.

            Today again, we miss breakfast in the hotel. Cetin has seen a börek joint nearby and that is where we are going. Suddenly I am very nauseous; I do not like the börek. I feel dizzy. Later I will eat, at this moment I cannot keep anything inside me. We go to the park next to Topkapi Palace where we drink tea on a terrace next to the waterfront. Walking through the park, he sees two women with scarves sitting under a statue of Ataturk. He makes fun of them with a remark: ‘That will the man who prohibited those things feels as nice’. Cetin does not want to deal with a headscarf, which is clear to me. I feel light headed; I have the feeling that I am going to faint. It happens sometimes to me, however in a strange city I would not like it to happen again. Cetin is a bit upset when I tell him this. He thinks it is scary. I tell him that he must not do anything, not calling an ambulance; just let me lay on the ground. I will wake up soon. Luckily, nothing happens and after having toast I feel a bit better, even if my nausea is not gone. I make a joke and say that I am sure not being pregnant. Cetin´s reaction I do not like: ‘who is the father?’ He pretends I am sleeping with more men. That he thinks that of me I do not appreciate.

            He says he has only 15 liras left. He will try if he can get money from Dogubayazit by bank; else, he does not have money for a bus ticket. The money he took with him is also spent on me, I know. I ask if I can help him, I will not let him go without money. “If the bank doesn’t co-operate, yes please,” he says. I ask him how much. He answers 100 liras. I think it is much; a bus ticket to Trabzon will not cost much more than a bus ticket from Dogubayazit, which is 50 liras. In addition, some money for drinks and food on the road of course. Was he all the time expecting I would pay this for him? That is an unpleasant thought. However, I will not make difficulties for a handful of lira.

            Regularly he remains silent, staring at nothing, nowhere and according to me through me without seeing me. He calls several times with friends, in Kurdish. Surprisingly, he uses the phone of which he said he has no units to sms me, in spite of the fact that I send him 500 units only three weeks ago. I understand, I think, a few words and when he ends his call, I look at him with a question mark on my face. He says he told a friend he is here with his girlfriend. Yes, I say, I heard the word canim I think. He laughs, “That word you can use for anybody but I was talking about you as kiz arkadas”. That is another neutral word according to him.

            Maybe strange, but it hurts hearing him talk about me in such common words. I would like to hear him say that he is in love with me too. However, he never said anything more than ‘I like you’ and ‘I have feelings for you’, but he never said what kind of feelings. Does that mean he isn’t in love with me? Oh no, he used twice the word ‘askim’ in a sms and once the word ‘öptüm’, but I wonder if these words mean the same to him as they do to me. Alternatively, does it mean he just not uses those words so easily? He explains me the differences between the words askim, canim, kiz arkadas, erkek arkadas and sevgilim. His sms and what he said by MSN and phone is so different from his behaviour now. He was there for me, I had to start kissing him at the moment I came into the hotel room, and he was counting the days and could not wait to see me. What is true from those words and what has left of it? Not much, I am afraid. Why?

            He tells me that later a cousin of Melle will join us. We will go and have a drink with him. ”Oh,” I say, meanwhile thinking it is strange to meet someone in our weekend. We walk to the centre of Sultanahmet and wait there some time in the shadow of a tree and then next to the tram stop. “The cousin can arrive any moment now,” Cetin says. That any moment takes 45 minutes. I think, “Why don’t you make good arrangements? Call and say where to meet”. That is probably European thinking! Finally, Ersin arrives. We go to a small bar where we have nargileh and tea. Ersin does not speak English but he says he can understand some. Few times during one hour, I get a translation of the conversation that is mostly about mutual friends and working in tourism in Dogubayazit. Ersin worked there too as a mountain guide but left, after a fight with the owner of a local restaurant. He works now as an electrician in Istanbul. Is it a lack of interest, inattention or just culture that the two men keep talking together and leave me out of their conversation? Do they follow the rules of separation between sexes that mean that women do not participate? The heat makes me fall asleep, Cetin touches me and I am awake again. Both men have to laugh about it!

            When Ersin has left, Cetin wants to go to internet café Otantik. He needs to check his business mail because in two days there will be a group of tourists waiting for him in Trabzon. Being in that area, he cannot sms me. In almost all the area there is no connection with the provider, except for the summits, he says. I can send you a message when we reach a summit. I tell him I cannot imagine myself on such a tour, I would not like to do it. Cetin laughs, no, he cannot imagine me there either, referring to my fear of bridges and heights. Okay, I will go to the internet café too, check my own mail, and look at a forum I use.

            It is almost five o’clock and we walk across Galata Bridge to Beyoglu. No fish restaurants are good enough for Cetin. A few blocks further, next to the ferry to Kadiköy, we find something. Cetin eats chicken, I only take some fruit. In this hot weather, I am not very hungry. It is Sunday but many stores in Beyoglu are open. In one of the many music shops, I see what I want. I carry a list of artists and Cetin helps me choose eight CD’s to take with me to Holland. I ask if he wants a CD too but he does not like anything special. In a bookstore, I see a detective novel that I buy. Then he says something that irritates me: “Now you can buy me something.” Probably not meant as an order, but it feels like something I must do. He enters a perfume shop and asks for his favourite. This store has a sale now but when I see the price, I raise my eyebrows. No way, I am not going to pay 198 lira for a perfume. I do not know if he saw my expression or if he thinks too it is a ridiculous high price but we leave the shop. Cetin says he can buy this perfume in Dogubayazit for 50 lira. Well, he should do that. It may sound childish but I do not intend to buy things like this.

            Tonight again, the beer is good at the British Pub. I take a kebab with it because on an empty stomach I cannot drink. Cetin has to laugh because I eat less than half of it. I am not used to those large Turkish meals. I recall our conversation of yesterday, but he does not like that. I should not dig up the past. When I say that talking is important to me, he shrugs. Then he says something I find very painful. I am too pushy, he thinks. When I touch him and he does not respond immediately, I should stop and not continue. He feels like being forced to make love to me, as if it is compulsory. I always thought that you can and must some times make appetite. You don’t always feel the same at the same time as your partner? I do not force him; I just stroke him for a few minutes or give him a couple of kisses in his neck.

            In the alley we are in, I see many street cats. Suddenly I see a cute little kitten; the waiter of the British Pub is playing with it. I point Cetin to the little animal. He says he does not like cats, he likes dogs more. That is a pity, I react, I do like cats and I do not like dogs. I had a cat for 13 years. He makes a very strange remark when he says that he hopes that one day his dog will be able to eat my cat. Does he mean that one day he hopes to be together for some time? Because, I would not bring a cat on just a holiday. I say that I do not think that this will ever happen. You will not come to Holland, or maybe you will but then not to me. He suddenly smiles very sweet, winks and says ‘you’ll never know’. I say that I do not think I will ever to return to Dogubayazit, what is there to see or do for me? I have seen and done everything. “Being a tourist, you are right,” he admits, but again “you never know”. “Not this year”, he continues, “but later?” I tell him I will never see him as a mistake, he made me happy in June. However, I think it was a mistake to come to Istanbul now. He admits he should have got rid of all the problems in his life before seeing me again.

            The rest of the evening is mostly silent again. Several times, I try to start a conversation but when I get so little response, it stops. I feel like I am making up subjects, just breaking silence. On the way to the hotel Cetin buys us water and beer for in the room. Back in the hotel I think ‘I can do the same as you do’ and I lay on my belly. I say goodnight. Maybe childish, but I do not want to be rejected again. After more than one hour, I wake up. He is smoking and drinking beer while sitting on the bedside. I think he is drunk, I think I can hear him speaking thickly. He tells a vague story about the quality of the window, I do not understand anything of it. He is lying next to me but he does not touch me. I do not touch him as well, he may start. Finally, we both fall to sleep, he sooner than me, I can hear it by his snoring. During the night, he punches me twice, he is tossing in bed, and he is on my side of the bed as well. He almost kicks me out of it. Not easy but I can push him back to his own half. I take a blanket, it is chilly at night, and I put it on my side of the bed. Cetin does not want a blanket; he does not think it is so cold.


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