Tag Archives: family

After The War Part 3: A Rustling

Still life with fruit (with scorpion and frog) by Walter Crane This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.
Still life with fruit (with scorpion and frog)
by Walter Crane
This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.

Based on the prompt on Today’s Author: “When the wind blew a certain way, it brought a scent that reminded him of his grandmother’s house.”

When the wind blew a certain way, it brought a scent that reminded her of her grandmother’s house. She had to stay on task but being back in this village so many years later, she could not help turn head. If she walked a little upwind, she was sure she would find the old houses in gardens with their tiny stalls lined up on dusty streets along the railroad.

The first time she spent the night at her grandmother’s house, she was woken up by the train passing by, shaking the whole house like a cradle. She was surprised to see her father still fast asleep.

While staring up at the ceiling, watching the shadow of the train pass by right through her room, she thought about her father’s childhood. He had mentioned a few times how he would run around bare foot, back in the days when he could not pronounce his “r”s. She imagined her own authoritative dad, had she known the word, she would have used charismatic, asking his “mothav” for “bvead” with “buttev” and “sugav”. She giggled.

Her silent laughter froze in mid-air. She sensed motion, the sound of rustling at the window by her bed, a presence. Her heart started thumping, filling the room louder than the train that had just passed. If only her father would wake up. He would know how to deal with it. He would take care of the “presence”.

Instead he inhaled loudly with a touch of snotty snore sitting on his nostrils. The rustling stopped. A second later, she heard it again, too close for her to lie still in her bed. It was touching her, brushing against her hair. She got up screaming. Her father woke up with an instinct to protect his offspring, turned the lights on and grabbed his daughter in a matter of seconds, throwing a threatening glare at the enemy.

In her father’s arms, she shut her eyes, trembling. When her father did not move, she opened her eyes to face the enemy… on the floor. Staring back at them, too afraid to move, except for its chin swelling regularly, was a frog. All this commotion, fear and anxiety was only for… a frog.

Her father let her go. Cranky that his sleep had been interrupted, he told her frogs were all over the place in this town. She could not be so jumpy, away from the protective high concrete walls of the big city. This was one of the safest places they could be, so she better go back to sleep.

After the speech, he caught the frog and set it free through the same window it had gotten in.

A soft touch on her shoulder brought her back to the present. It was time for lunch. She washed the soil off her hands and followed the rest of the volunteers into the food tent.

For lunch, they were serving a root dish she had only eaten at her grandmother’s house before. It was a dish specific to this area, a meal that required tradition in the execution.

Years ago, for dinner, her grandmother had cooked the root that only the locals knew where to find, how to cut and how to cook. The smell of the dish was still lingering in all the rooms long after they had sat in the common room, sharing fruits and eating the corn her grandmother had popped in her special pan.

When she went to bed, the root smell had mixed with popcorn, comforting her to sleep. She opened her eyes only slightly now when the train passed, and let it rock her to sleep with its regular “tuddum, tuddum” lullaby on the rails.

She still found rustling by the window somewhat distressing, but had gotten used to the animals she could not easily find in the city. If it was not a frog, it was a dog; if not, a cat, a sheep or once, even the neighbor’s donkey that had made its way out of the stall.

So when there was some rustling by the window, she did not make much of it. She closed her eyes and let her body waft into slumber in the arms of root and corn…

A hand suddenly grabbed her shoulder. For a split second she took it for her father’s but it was much harsher, and a lot less loving.

“Get down on the floor!” Her father woke up with fear in his eyes, staring beggingly at the man holding his daughter.

She heard thumping and her father painfully screaming, begging for his daughter to be left free while she was locked in an empty room.

Soon, her grandparents’ voices joined the choir of painful begging in between blunt thumps and fierce orders.

She hid under the bed. She expected her father to chase those men away any second, to open the door and hold her, to make everything right, turn everything back to the way they were a few hours ago, eating fruits and popcorn with her grandparents in a root smelling house, where the greatest disturbance was animals gone astray.

This was the last time she saw her father, her grandparents and the house itself. The same night, various other houses were attacked with most people either dragged away into anonymity or killed on the spot.

A greater part of the village was damaged first by the civil war and then by the bombings of origins too obscure and tangled to figure out.

She was dragged from one camp to another on trains and trucks until she was left at the porch of an old woman who took care of a small collection of orphans in her little home as if they were her own.

Now, a grown woman, she was back at this village of her childhood she could not recognize anymore, building a new town from scratch for the a little girl to live in safety with her family, in a house that would be smelling roots only her people could cook while the train scheduled to run again soon rocked their home in peace and only harmless animals slowly approached her window.

Word Count: 1030


First Ultrasound: A Landmark

Coliseum Theater New Orleans The building was damaged in Hurricane Katrina in August 2005; work was ongoing to restore it when it caught fire in February 2006 and was a total loss and the ruins demolished. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coliseum_Theater_New_Orleans_To_Have_and_Have_Not.jpg
Coliseum Theater New Orleans
The building was damaged in Hurricane Katrina in August 2005; work was ongoing to restore it when it caught fire in February 2006 and was a total loss and the ruins demolished.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

My pregnancy is advancing. 3 months already… I realized that pregnancy came with its surprises and I wondered, how come so many women got through the same thing but so little is told about some experiences throughout the whole process…

A few days ago turned out to be a landmark of surprises for me. I finally met my obstetrician, who seems very nice. I was expecting to be brushed off after a brief look at my blood tests… but I was actually asked if I wanted get an ultrasound done… Something I thought was unreachable here in Canada. As far as I can tell, most clinics do not have ultrasounds… And even if they do, it is hard to meet all the requirements to get to one, to feel the cool touch of one on the tummy…

So I thought the soonest I would be able to have the cold, transparent, semi liquid thing squished on my belly and be used as a skating ring for an ultrasound gadget would be in a month, at four months, that is…

Well, apparently, I was supposed to have gotten my ultrasound sooner… As told by my obstetrician, no other person I saw until I finally made it to her said anything about that! Come on, this is once in a lifetime (for me) experience and you guys are making me miss out on stuff…

Plus, I paid 130 dollars for it… The result: There really is a living thing in me!!! It was incredible… I shed a few tears, and could not believe, though it may sound cliché, that my hubby and I could have unprotected sex and produce a living being!

I never thought much about human’s or any other creature’s ability to procreate, but since that day at the obstetrician, this has changed for me… I cannot believe that the body whose only function was to move around, eat and shit until 3 months ago has now taken on a new mission, producing the right environment for a new living being to flourish…

Cheesy but still, it all gets one to wonder…

I was also astounded by how much that little thing of 5 cm, a tiny replica of the smallest baby, complete with a set of legs and arms and a huge round head (much like my husband’s) was moving! No one ever had told me that babies move no matter how small they are. I thought it would be sleeping and resting like a sea cucumber!

But no! It was so active that the doctor had difficulty making some measurements. Now I see why every parent to be, on seeing their kid on the ultrasound decide it will be a footballer…

Mine will be a dancer… despite the giant daddy head 😛

Hormonal resentment of the week: Of all the screenshots my dearest doctor (whom I will be seeing maybe 6 more times?) before labor only to be greeted by a completely strange person dressed in green to be by my side as one of the most valued parts of my body are being ripped apart…

After the War Part 2: She was a good mother

Madame Augustine Roulin With Baby by Van Gogh The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Madame Augustine Roulin With Baby
by Van Gogh
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

On a sunny day, on my way to the shop, I passed by the garden I admired for the lavish green it enclosed. On that day, amidst the leaves and trees, there were sorrowful faces. After so many years, the three orphans were once again gathered under the same roof. Yet this time the woman who had gathered them was in a wooden box they were carrying towards a pit in between the shrubs.

Years ago, the woman in the box had taken them in one by one and offered them a home. Now, after a long time, they were together, thanks to her.

Of the three orphans, especially the girl had left an impact on my memory. I remember clearly the day she was brought to the old woman’s house. Her large dark eyes were shining with fear on her tiny face where tears had made pathways through dried up blotches on her cheeks… on the cheeks that had known nothing but caresses until that day. She looked tired and small in worn out dusty clothes.

I probably remember her so well because of her mother.

Years ago, her mother came to my shop with red puffy eyes. I had seen her around a few times but never had a chance to start a conversation. My shop had been a popular spot the townspeople liked to frequent. They were eager to spend their newly acquired wealth on goods they had never seen before.

Once the war broke out, my customers dwindled. So did the supplies delivered to my shop and I was left with considerable time to listen to stories.

On one such day, she entered my shop with swollen eyes. I asked her if she would like to sit down. She responded with tears and her story that had brought her there. She poured out the string of events one after another with the insatiability of those who are overwhelmed by an accumulation of experiences they cannot quite make out what to do with. She needed to hear them herself by speaking them out loud.

Thus, she began talking. She had moved from her family’s home where she had spent her whole life to our town a few months ago with her husband whom she had met only a month before their wedding. At her new dwelling, in between the alien surroundings, she had to learn to share everything, from her food to her bed, with a complete stranger. So to learn, she watched. She watched this man until all terrifying strangeness about him became a source of comfort. She observed him up to the point where a new life in a new town did not appear so daunting as long as he was present.

Then, a few days ago her husband had left to join the fight and she had lost the only person she knew in this town she had moved to for his sake.

From that day on, I became her confidante for the next three years. I was there when she received news from the front. I held her hand when she found out her home town had been hit by a deadly attack. I was by her side when she came to the realization that she would not be receiving any news from the front anymore. I reassured her as gunfire approached closer day by day.

I was also there when she found out she was going to be a mother. I witnessed her joy when despite everything, she told me about her dreams and hopes for the little bean growing in her.

At a moment when she had no one left, she was eager to embrace her child, to reformulate her existence and grow roots strong enough to hold them upright whatever may strike their little family. I knew, in spite of the war, the dirt, the destruction of everything good, she was ready for her child. Despite the ugliness of fast approaching blood thirst, she wanted to bring her baby up to be aware of others, thoughtful, sensitive and with belief in a safe future.

I knew she was ready to give everything for her little child. I knew it from the way she wrapped her little baby’s hands around her fingers. I knew it from the way she considered tomorrow, and from the way she thought about years to come. I knew it from the way she held her child when her house was destroyed in an air raid and from the way she was holding her little girl when the bullet hit her. I knew it from her dried blood on her daughter’s face when the little girl was rescued from under her lifeless body.

Now, looking at the young strong woman’s sad face in the garden, standing by the grave of another who brought her up to adulthood, I cannot help but think of that friend who felt strongest holding her little daughter.

Word Count: 824

So, where was I? And where am I now?

Female Trapeze Artists
Female acrobats on trapezes at circus. Hand-colored lithograph by the Copyright by the Calvert Litho. Co., Detroit, Michigan, ca. 1890.
From the Library of Congress
[PD] This picture is in the public domain.

I was away on vacation for a few weeks, back home in Turkey, visiting, hugging and talking to friends and family, remembering what it feels like to be loved…

No, I take that back. I do feel loved now, here in Montreal, so far away from Anatolia, but being back there gave me space to err… Spending evenings with parents helped me remember the feeling of having a safety net underneath my acrobatic jumps between jobs and housing quests. It reminded me they would be there for me no matter what I did, and they would not let me fall even when I missed a swing…

Seeing my friends, observing the sincere happiness in their faces to see me, knowing that they accept me with every attractive and weird aspect of my personality gave me confidence… They embraced me and invited me to days where social anxiety was a thing that only belonged to an outside world among strangers… It gave me confidence to make silly jokes and voice experimental ideas that had not yet fully formed but needed to be pulled and tugged at to find its final shape and place in my head.

Being back home gave me confidence to reassert who I really am, without having to censure thoughts or actions in accordance with who I am frequenting.

And now, after almost two years in Montreal and more than a year at a steady job, I feel a similar fort of friends building up, though still in its preliminary stages of construction in certain ways… I feel more freedom in my moves and fewer filters before words formulated in my head become words in others’ ears. I feel greater courage in taking bold steps as I slowly bond with a small but strong group of allies.

Yet, one thing that cannot be subsidized is the safety net family offers. I have to accept this as the cost of immigrating away but it does not change the fact that I miss crowded family gatherings. Although we do not celebrate Easter holiday in Turkey, I wish I could be at my grandparents’ dinner table, waiting with cousins for our share of the chicken…

Happy Easter! Enjoy all the love you find!

Does she miss me?

A creative writing exercise I found on http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/writingexercises/ss/handsexercise_2.htm.

Her hands were somewhat withered. You could see the veins on them and her ring finger and pinkie did not extend fully. These two were always a little bent. They had a lot of work done. Healed a huge number of people when she was working as a nurse, touched hundreds of lives when she helped women give birth as their midwife, injected many with healing medicine and took blood from myriads of patients, raised three girls, three grandchildren, cooked thousands of meals, washed clothes with soap, detergent, bleach, planted trees, vegetables, caressed cats and dogs, touched only one man sensually, bathed her mother and offspring, sewed and knitted for her children and home, washed dishes in basins and rarely placed plates or dirty cups in dishwasher, did crossword puzzles, held onto a cane, clutched my hand. Then, they felt cold. Veins were barely visible. All the power they held was washed away.

I remember very well the way she held my hand when we went to another city. She had become less independent and her trips to the world outside her home had diminished. She would either be exhausted to complete the trip or faint and end up with a huge bruise on her body from the impact of her fall. So when we traveled inter-city to visit my cousin freshly turned dad everyone was worried. I wasn’t. Maybe because I was not quite aware of her condition and failed to see how weak she had gotten or maybe because I was confident in our strong grip of each other. During our stay at my cousin’s, once she had enjoyed holding her great grand daughter for the day and it was time for the baby’s nap, we went sightseeing through the city. We walked and walked. And every once in a while, we sat down to check a dress, to have tea, to try out a café famous for its desserts but never to rest. I remember how she held my hand. How we held each other. I found love and comfort, she found strength and confidence. That is probably why when we returned home and her Alzheimer’s worsened, she began talking about our journey over and over with the same words. Sometimes with a few embellishments borrowed from other memories. In the end, the journey we went on turned out to be a journey she could not forget, one of the last adventures she would ever find the strength to embark on. A journey that reminded me how I used to feel when she held me when I was just a toddler.

It was like being far from all civilization, all responsibilities, all guilt, all sadness, all gloom and desolation. Being there, one could forget about any worries they may have had before and any anxiety that may perturb their dreams. The ground under my bare feet could carry away all insecurity. The sun shined in me, not above me and the water could penetrate through me, cleansing my body and mind. This was the serenity I felt in her care. I wonder if I ever managed to give her such peaceful sentiments? I wonder if my grandmother misses me…

Coming to Canada (1): Leaving Home

It has been more than a year since I got here! I still remember the anxiety that kept boiling up in me for a year before I made the “flight of my life”. I had done several life changing flights where I thought there would be no going back and I had always gone back although to a life that was much different from before; people had moved on, new job opportunities were ahead and new dreams in my head.

However, before each journey, I was full of hope. The best part about embarking on complete life changing travels is the hope I feel before I know what I will encounter. Each time I know that things can go completely wrong as they did when I worked in the Arabian Peninsula for a year, but I cannot help the heightened joyous emotions.

At 4 am in the morning of the flight to Montreal, I woke up to my alarm clock and began a major run through my parents’ stairs screaming “energy blast!”

On that day, I had quit the job I loved at the college I adored a month before. I had emptied the apartment I was crazy about, the apartment I had wished to live in for years, the apartment I felt I belonged to. The apartment and neighborhood that gave me the sensation that I belonged somewhere in contrast to many of my peers who have had to change countries every few years following their parents’ business assignments in different parts of the world. That apartment had witnessed me at age 3 fall off a chair and break my arm, advance to my first teenage year, move to different countries and come back a few years older, and finally, move back in there as a grown woman only to be married a couple of years later and leave the country a year on. Emptying this apartment and moving on was hard and made me question my decision: I was finally settled down. I had a car, two cats, a good job, great friends, and family living nearby. Why leave now?

Because I had lived it and was ready to move on. In a matter of four years, my life was at a level that I found satisfactory but not quite… fulfilling.

Thus, I was screaming “energy blast!” at 4 am in the capital city of Turkey.