Link to Part 1 bit.ly/32wTeYE
This story was adapted and made into the series Dogdugun Ev Kaderindir. Many of us that are watching this series are curious about what happened in the book and the real story…
The translation of this story is brought to you by Gale Diebold and translated by Sena Ikizoglu.
CAMDAKI KIZ – THE STORY OF ZEYNEP & MEHDI
(Translation from the book by Dr. Gulseren Budayiciouglu)
Tonight, my work at Madalyon (Medallion) finished early. Most of the time I feel tired because my work finishes very late and I can’t arrange the documents of the clients. Many documents have piled up before me now. I couldn’t write down the information I wanted to write on some of them. On one hand I’m writing on the papers that lack information, on the other hand I’m drinking my coffee. There’s a lot of snow out there. That’s why some of the clients couldn’t come to the clinic. It was a little hard for us to come here this morning because it has been snowing nonstop since yesterday. This looks like the snow from my childhood.
It reminds me of the days that my sister Yukselen and I used to go to the school wading in knee-deep snow hand-in-hand. With our red hats on our heads which was knitted by our mom or our wool shawls that was gifted by Mustafa, scarves on our necks and school bags on our backs. How heavy those bags used to be. What did we used to put in them? Every night our mom used to tell us to prepare our bags. But we used to feel lazy about it every time and leave it to the next morning. Now I think about it, the school was at most 10 minutes away from our home with walking but we could never finish walking that path less than half an hour. Especially on snowy days, we used to talk alongside walking, get interested in everything around us, sometimes play snowball. In those times, snowmen were used to be built in the gardens of every house when it snowed. Snowmen which their noses are made of carrots, eyes of coils, mouths of orange peel. Even old hats were used to be put on their heads and buttons on their front which was made of coil or tiny carrot slices. Also when an old scarf was put on their necks, we couldn’t get enough of watching them.
In those times, each house in Ankara used to have a garden and each garden used to have trees. Those trees were unable to carry the weight of white snow on their branches, the branches used to bend down to the ground. Yukselen and I had owned the business of saving the trees from the snow that they couldn’t carry. We used to stand under the tree and shake it together. Then the snow used to fall on our heads so this time we used to become the snowmen. We used to be covered in snow, even our eyelashes, we used to laugh about it… How much we used to laugh those days. While I was coming to Madalyon this morning, I looked for some snowmen but I couldn’t see even one around.
The pine trees in front of the clinic can’t carry the snow on them, they have become hunchbacked but no one is shaking them. The snowplows of the city hall are keep going up the boulevard then going back down again. Every time they pass through here I can hear the roar of the engines of those enormous vehicles. People are tiptoeing and acting very carefully on the sidewalk. The traffic congestion has reduced. Only a few people could be courageous to hit the road with their cars when there’s that much snow. Some of our clients who had appointments are unable to come. The telephones are ringing constantly. And I’m, with the cup of the coffee in my hand, enjoying my time by looking at the tiny snowflakes lighted under the street lamps, the white roofs of the houses that can be seen from afar and the smoking chimneys of those roofs. It is always beautiful to watch the snow that’s falling down outside from our warm rooms.
I wake up from the daydream with Tuna’s voice.
“Miss Zeynep has come. She is a bit late but she could hardly make it here. Shall we invite her if you are ready?”
“She had come approximately 3 months ago. I think she’s a lawyer.”
“Oh, okay, I just remembered. I thought that no one would come after this hour. Alright, you can invite her.”
Zeynep comes into the room swinging. This time she is dressed more daintily. The hijab worn more carefully. The topcoat is very elegant too.
There’s a serious and sorrowful expression on her face. I see a smile escaping from her eyes when she raises her gaze at me. The last time, even when she had severe depression, I had seen light in her eyes. I guess this is the spark of intelligence.
A natural smile spreads across her face when I stretch out my hand and say “Welcome”, she sits on the sofa before me, swinging again. Every time she moves her arm, the beaded bracelet on her wrist jingles. The last time she was here, the bracelet wasn’t there. Apparently she has just worn it. So the depression must have regressed.
Before she starts speaking she bows down her head like a child who expects to be forgiven. She has a submissive stand.
“How have you been doing since I last saw you? You look better.”
“Yes, I am taking my pills regularly. I really could reap the benefit of them but…”
“ Oh, don’t ask… I learned that a person can be so stupid sometimes. Nobody does something worse than what you do to yourself. Only I know and God knows how I’ve been suffering for 3 years. I don’t know what happened to me but my tongue is tied. My mind left me. I turned into a kitten. I went wherever they pulled me to. It drives me insane every time I think about it.”
“Such things happen in life Zeynep. Don’t be so mad at yourself.”
“Don’t be mad, ha? That day, when I went to home after leaving from here, I locked myself in my room as usual, then I lamented. I knocked my head against the wall, regretting what I’ve done. I’m neither a child nor an illiterate person. I graduated from those schools, I bet no one has ever read as many books as I have. Thanks to Miss Nermin, she used to buy whatever I want. She also is interested in reading but it has all gone to waste. It doesn’t matter if you read or not if it has no benefits for you.”
By listening to her words, it seems like she has come to her senses. Now she also is astounded by the decision that she abruptly made 3 years ago .We humans, make even our most vital decisions according to our feelings rather than logic most of the time. Zeynep did the same too, even when there was another man in her life whom she loved very much.
One might ask “Isn’t that a feeling too?” but most of the time bad feelings are dominant over good ones. Generally anger, hatred, hate wins, not love. Especially the sense of guilt, it’s maybe the one feeling that affects our decisions the most.
“Won’t you tell me about those days a little?”
“I don’t even want to remember those days. It’s like it wasn’t me who experienced them. I’m like a robot. I was doing things the way they told me. I was feeling helpless. I was obliged to do. They were my family. I owed them. Doing the opposite would be ungratefulness. Most importantly, if my mother didn’t give her blessings, there would be no rest for me in this world or the afterlife either.”
“What had you felt about Mehdi? His name was Mehdi, right?”
“Yes, Mehdi… Nothing! I was doing what I had to do. I even said ‘My family is quite right’ when I saw Mehdi. ‘He is a nice guy, has a nice job.’ That’s all.”
“What about Faruk?”
“Believe it or not, I didn’t even think about him once. I forbade having a thought of him to myself. Thinking about him felt like a crime, a sin to me. I already had betrayed my family by being friends with him. I was giving up the betrayal and doing the right thing after than that. As I said, I was doing everything in auto-pilot mode.”
“What were you feeling about your husband?”
“Only you can understand me. If I were to tell someone else, they wouldn’t understand. Neither that day, nor later, I didn’t love him or hate him. He was the one who I had to marry, that’s all. While I was with him, I wasn’t happy or unhappy. My feelings never intruded. Faruk called many times before I got married. I didn’t even answer his calls. I just wrote a message. I wrote ‘ I am getting married, move on with your life too. Apparently, it wasn’t our kismet.’ Then I never heard from him. He must have been so sad. Afterward, I heard that he spoke with Miss Nermin, that he cried a lot. Above all, I was doing those things when Faruk was in military service. Now I know that I betrayed Faruk the worst. I wasn’t thinking this way those days. My mother, father and sister were very happy. My father kept saying “my doctor son-in-law”. Later I found out that Mehdi gave his vineyards and fields in the village to them.”
“Somehow. The truth is that my mom and my dad had sold me to Mehdi in exchange for a yard and some fields. Right after we got married, my mother and my father moved to the village. We had a desolate house there. They reconstructed it and you know, the yards, gardens, fields… Now they are living there and they are contented with their lives. I heard that my father is not drinking as much as before anymore. My sister got a divorce, she took her children and moved in with them. I thought that my family would be angry if my sister intended to divorce but again, I was wrong. I found out that in fact my family wanted her to get a divorce. Now my sister has become the maid of that house, her daughter an assistant maid. Her son has grown up so he deals with the stuff that is required outside. My mother is just sitting in a corner, my father in a cafe all day… If you ask about money, they have quite an income from the vineyards, fields and I’ve been sending them some money too.”
One can’t believe these things. Zeynep should not look for enemies externally. The family is worse than an enemy. Were things that really planned?
“You see how they wasted my life for their benefits, right? I don’t know if I was a fool or if they were very clever. I’m angry at myself too for being innocent. Believe me, even at a very young age, I could hardly swallow while I was eating at Miss Nermin’s. . Tears used to well in my eyes while I was thinking “I wonder… what my family is eating right now?” I used to keep the pocket money that I was given before going to school and give it to my mother. Even while I was giving it, my mom used to ask “Is that all, nothing more?” My mother used to take every piece of food in the house if Miss Nermin wasn’t at home and warn me saying “If Miss Nermin asks, you’ll say I ate it.’” Detergents, soap, flour, lentil, and these sort of things were carried little by little to our house in my mom’s bag. I used to be her partner in crime. Even though Miss Nermin figured out, she would never hold it against me. If my mom every so often intended to scold me next to her, Miss Nermin used to get angry and warn my mom saying “She is like a daughter for us now, speak more carefully.” When I started to live in that house, my family kind of turned into an enemy of mine. Eventually they got what they wanted.”
“What does your family say about divorce?”
“My mom titters. She says, “Where does she think she is going when she has kids. It’s not that easy.” My sister has kids too but they didn’t say such a thing for her. So they talk however it suits their story.”
“What about Mehdi?”
“If I was to let him to handle the situation, he would bring trouble. But I have a lot of pictures of her and him together. At first, he tried to take pictures saying ‘I will do this, do that, I will take my child’ but he went silent when I sent him the pictures. Even though I forget sometimes, I am a lawyer… Watch me act when I feel saner. Whenever he tries to say something else, when he tries to be defiant, I swear I’ll screw up his life in this world. I’m awake now. I’ve had enough of what they have done to me…”
Yes, she is finally awake. Thoroughly awake. Seemingly the depression has regressed. Her self-confidence is back. Depression tears one apart. Let’s see what she is going to do now then!
“What are you thinking about doing, Zeynep?”
“Miss Gulseren, I am feeling like I have just woken up from a long sleep. Now I need to build a new life myself. I started the process of divorce. You know, I am staying at Miss Nermin’s with my daughter and they are happy that I have returned anyway. They treat my daughter as if she’s their real grandchild. I will continue living with them for a while. In the meantime, I’m sure I will find a job in a law office. I am a very hardworking person. I know I will do my best in the place I work. I mean, I will resume living my life. I want to erase the past 3 years from my mind as if it didn’t happen at all. However, sometimes I feel confused. I am afraid that I might make the same mistakes since it was me who has did those things back then. Also, Miss Nermin had warned me a lot. She said ‘My girl, don’t do it, you may regret it later, be wise.’ But what she said went in one ear and out the other. Will I be the same again? The thing is I have a daughter now. Any wrong decision I make will spoil her life too.”
What a relevant question. Actually, the answer to this question should be “Yes, you would do the same things again,” but it’s better if I don’t demoralize her. Zeynep is actually an intelligent woman. Maybe she will understand what I mean.
“Zeynep, this is a relevant question. Not only you but we all do it. Our minds have a way of making us experience our childhood pains again. You haven’t been raised in a home where positive emotions prevail. There were always fight, fear, worry, despair, unhappiness, anything one can imagine.“
“You expressed just perfectly. It was just like that. Being the daughter of a drunk man and not only that, also being very poor was not easy. Moreover, my mom used to go out to do other people’s housework at the break of dawn. As kids we were trouble for them. I mean we were unnecessary people. They had to deal with us while they could barely find food to eat. But why did you give birth if you were unable to take care of your children? If you gave birth, then why didn’t you embrace them? It seemed that my mom used to protect us against our dad but I can’t recall a day that she kissed us or showed her affection. When we walked somewhere, I always wanted to take her hand.
She used to shake her’s and let go of my hand. So she didn’t even want to touch me. Only when she required something from Miss Nermin she used to remember that I was her daughter and say ‘Oh my daughter, tell them to handle this situation.’ Then she used to forget about me again and sometimes she looked at me as if I was an enemy who was in a struggle with her. If Miss Nermin was out of sight, she used to drag me to a corner and complain about her problems saying “Do you know what happened last night?” And I, as a little child, used to feel upset about those problems. When Miss Nermin discovered that fact, she paid strict attention to not to leave us alone.”
The kids who grow up in a home where fights prevail, especially girls, are not like a daughter to their moms but rather like a friend who listens to their problems. These mothers always expect help and support from their children since they see their children – who witness the injustice that is done by their husbands, as a friend. I think Zeynep’s mother felt lonely and left without support in that house even though she was previously pleased by the fact that her daughter was living in a very pleasant environment. This transformed into loveless, unmerciful feelings, even hostility over time.
“My poor brother, he died because of them. It seemed that my mother tried to protect him but these things don’t happen with words… She knew how he suffered. I should have said ‘He was your son. I can’t imagine what you might do to me if you close your eyes to a loved one’s death!’ It never crossed by mind. As to my father, I would not dare even ask him. He used to break a sweat working at construction sites and yet he didn’t share the money with us but spent it in bar rooms. I will never forget this, I was in second grade. My teacher had wanted us to bring drawing books. I was asking for money from my mom and she was saying ‘Ask your father’ then I was asking my father and he said ‘You don’t have to draw.’ My teacher was pressuring me on the other side… One day, I heard that we had to pay the water bill. The money had been left on the bill. I saw it. I secretly took some of the money. I took it but my legs were trembling with the fear of what they might do to me when I get back home. I bought chewing gum in the evening when I was on my way home. I went home chewing it. I was thinking ‘I’m going to be beaten up anyway, at least I taste something sweet.’ That night, I was been beaten up by both my father and my mother alternatively. The gum in my mouth stuck into my throat, I almost died. What difference it would make if I did, they would just say ‘One less person to feed’ then forget it.”
So she was that undervalued! It is so hard for this girl to have a sense of self-worth later on, even if you crown her and make her a queen. Why would someone value someone who doesn’t value oneself? Oh, it’s a real pity for these children, a real pity…
“If you ask me about my sister, I told you about her last time, her torture was deeper than mine. She is the oldest child of the home after all. She was born into this world as a maid. Since she was born, she was dizzy trying to do all the work. She has been a mother to me anyway. She used to come back from school and take care of me as if she was an adult. She used to go into the kitchen, try to cook as much as she could then clean the house. I didn’t see her going out to play, jump or laugh like her peers even for one day. You might wonder if what she did was appreciated, but no. No one would say ‘thank you,’ everyone expected her to serve. She ran away to that guy to save her own life. But what happened when she ran to him? Then she became a maid in that house. Her mother-in-law on one side, brother-in-law on the other, everybody expected her to serve them. Just when she was about to be at ease, they made her separate from her husband. So it seems she lived her life in auto-pilot mode like me.”
“What was her husband like?”
“He was jobless, at loose ends. He had opened a package store. Now he has a little shop. He earns his living from there. My sister’s mother-in-law died two years ago, her brother-in-law got married. Actually, just when their living was on line this divorce situation developed.”
“Back then she suffered a lot because of her husband. She bared everything since in those days she had nowhere else to go. Now she appears to avenge the past but it’s unclear who takes revenge from whom. She wouldn’t have broken-up if my family didn’t tell her to come. Why don’t you say ‘come’ on time if you were going to say it at the end of the day? So she wouldn’t have to suffer that much… Her husband is not like he was before either. He has a job, beating her up is over. I told her over and over again but she didn’t listen to me. As I said, my family’s intentions were apparently different. They dragged the girl to their side. Now I understand her better too. If someone is determined to do something, advice has no use. Haven’t I done the same thing?”
Yes, she has. Her sister has also become the victim of her past, of what she had been in the past.
Zeynep now is awake to all of it, she knows it but she has to make a new and a very important choice whether to break-up or not with her husband. I wonder, will she be able to make the right decision for herself? It is best if she doesn’t do it in a rush.
“Zeynep, are you determined to end your marriage?”
“ There’s nothing more to think about, Miss Gulseren. If I continue with this marriage, I’ll be ruined.”
“That’s an important decision too. Besides, you have a child. Did you consider it well enough? These kinds of important choices shouldn’t be rushed.”
“Of course, I thought about it a lot. I told myself ‘What are you doing? Be wise at least this time. You have a child, you are separating her from her father, do you have the right to do this?’ I asked myself many times. Mehdi can neither be a good father nor a good husband. He also suffered much in life much like me. He has a path he drew himself too. A regular family life is not for Mehdi. He wants different things from life. Before anything else, I guess he also has numerous problems. He is an alcoholic, no different than my father. He brings no pennies home. His excuse is that he has debts. What debts? Can your debts come to an end if you keep drinking in bar rooms and roam around with girls? Did you spend a penny for your home, your wife, your child? Besides, he doesn’t know how to build a relationship. We have been married for 3 years but he didn’t even talk to me properly. He is inarticulate. Whatever he experiences, he keeps it inside his head. The thing we call marriage is simply where two people share a life. He has work to do and doesn’t come home or he doesn’t say a word to me when he is at home. Look, I’m not saying ‘he didn’t’, I’m saying ‘he couldn’t.’ You can’t tell if he is happy or upset. I mean, he is no different than my father… I feel so lonely.
One of the reasons for unhappiness is being without a relationship. If you want to gain an enemy, just don’t form a relationship with that person. Mehdi is that type of person…
“When I heard that he cheated on me, I felt like a knife was stabbed in my heart. If you ask me if I loved my husband, no. I didn’t love him since the beginning. It seemed like he was the one who loved me. He dreamed of me for years, he was in love, he loves me so much, he told me these kinds of things a lot in the beginning. And I believed in these fairy-tales like a fool.”
“Maybe he really loved you?”
“Possible… Maybe he really loved me then but when we got married and a few months passed, everything had changed. Mehdi turned back to being his old self. He was using the house as if it was a hotel. He made me stay at home and he lived as he wished. He established rules for me on the very first day. Like, ‘You’ll veil your head, you’ll wear it like this.’ I didn’t object to these things. My mother wears a hijab too. There’s nothing wrong about it but he never respected me. How he could when he never witnessed respect towards women in the world he lived in… Not only him, I didn’t witness it either. ”
In fact, Zeynep has lived the longest part of her life in Miss Nermin’s house. She must have seen the ultimate respect there. Yet, one learns the language of life in the house where they grow up to the age of seven. It becomes the mother language of the person. Even though the rest can be learned, it doesn’t have quite an effect. It happened just like that for Zeynep.
“You have lived with Miss Nermin and have witnessed it for years. Why do you say you didn’t?
“Even though they embraced me I was always a guest in that house. Where I came from was different. I always knew this truth although others didn’t. The situation wouldn’t be this way if I could have applied the things I learned there to my marriage. Mehdi couldn’t have done these things for me. But I behaved like mother like daughter.”
“So when you behaved that way, Mehdi behaved as if he was your father, right?”
“Oh, oh, Miss Gulseren, all the things I have learned have gone to waste. I ruined myself. If only I can understand why I have done these, I can get relief. I am a talkative, friendly person. I acted the same towards Mehdi. I talked, explained whatever happened but never could get a reply in return. When I was asking ‘Why don’t you speak?” he would cut me off saying ‘I’m like this. I don’t talk much outside either.’ But the truth was different. His showing-off was for me. When we got married, love ran out. New affairs had their turn. And I was thinking ‘This is his temperament but he loves you.’ An indifferent husband at home… Then I give birth to my child afterward. I was going to work then back home. No friends, no relatives, no social life… Objecting to any of it did not cross my mind. I wasn’t even reproaching Mehdi. Also, I didn’t know how to please him when he got back home each day. I complied with fate, sitting in a corner… Oh, stupid me…”
“Don’t blame yourself too much, Zeynep. Humans are like this. They live their life according to the mother language they have learned at home. The things we learn later linger in our minds like ornaments. Whatever we learn from our mothers and fathers, whichever feeling has written our mother language, they always dominate.”
“Miss Gulseren, let’s exclude my mother and sister, they didn’t live the life I lived, they didn’t study, they couldn’t have had a vocation but what about me? Why can’t I think of saying ‘Hey, Mr. Mehdi, this is your child as much as my child, your home as much as my home, where are you? Why are you going and throwing all these responsibilities at me? Is there nothing that you can do?’ Why am I obediently accepting the system he established? Where is my mindset at?”
“You’re angry at yourself way too much.”
“It’s not enough, not even enough… That man cheats on me at first, then denies it, and when I show the pictures and confront him, he beats me up. So I’m the guilty one again. Afterward he asks ‘Are you relieved?’ ‘Yes, I’m relieved Mr. Mehdi, thanks to you I am relieved very much though! From now on, I will not allow any living man in this world beat me. You, Mehdi, you have a fling with someone and when I object, you beat me up. Oh, well done. I learned a lot thanks to you.’ But the shame is on me again. I let myself be used as a maid. I am the wife in that house. I couldn’t say ‘If these are your rules then these are mine.’ So he just continues to beat me up, curses, cheats on… “
She is furious on one hand but on the other she is telling the truth. If she could have done these things on time, everything would have been different.
“You listen to your conscience Zeynep but you have always used your conscience for others. Even for a single day, you didn’t think of considering yourself. This is exactly what I call ‘destiny motif.’ These are the consequences of the wounds you have received in your childhood. The more your mother looked at you frowning, the more you got angry on yourself as if you had sinned, you showed them mercy. But in fact, we are primarily responsible for ourselves. Sometimes we are very late since we learn it after a long while. It’s not late for you. It is easier to both live and to make right decisions if you can give up on blaming yourself and feeling like you owe your family. But now I see that you are angry at all of them including your husband.”
“How can’t I be? They ruined my life.”
“This feeling can wound you too, in another way. Whatever happened, happened. They told you to do something and you did.”
“I am actually angry at myself though.”
“If you spend your energy on being angry towards others, you’ll have nothing left, you get depressed just like that. Now what you have to do is to forgive your life. We all make mistakes. Leave them behind in the past. If you live with hatred, anger, life will not give you beautiful things. You will be blocking your way with it. Open your arms, embrace the world, then see what world gives you back in return.”
She gets up from her seat and hugs me tightly. There’s hope, excitement and joy in this hug. Now I trust her. I hope all the best for her.
While Zeynep is leaving the room, I stare from behind. This girl walks with a swagger. She turns to look at me and smiles a little. Now that smile, it feels good in my soul. It’s time to go to my room and gather the documents I scattered. There’s snow on the roads. It is going to be hard to get back home.
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