"No Victor believes in Chance." - Friedriche Nietzsche
All I know is that this was meant to be. No, not the eclairs part, which I will get to soon. The part where Arabic Calligraphy lessons were a no go and instead I was meant to meet this Syrian family. The lady from the Turkish Cultural Center and I laughed about how the Syrian family would think I was nuts, showing up at their door, or they would think I was a spy of some sort. I told her I would come back tomorrow and tell her what happened. She wished me luck and off I went... Thats when I first came back to type you what I was about to go do: To seek out the Syrian family I had heard that moved in next door to the tour guide and see if they needed any help.
Handan, the 38 year old Turkish woman, gave me directions to the address the tour guide had given me. The tour guide said to me clearly that he had no idea if they needed help or not, but that they never spoke to him whenever he left the house. They seemed timid, sad, afraid, perhaps psychollogically damaged. The thought occurred to me that perhaps this family could have prayed for a miracle and that maybe we (all of us who contributed to this) were the answer to her prayer. I switched metro stations like it was my neighborhood and I had done this route a thousand times. Each time I got to the intersecting metro, the metro would pull up , the door would open for me, and a seat would be empty right by the door. The smoothness of the 1.5 hour journey by metro and walking felt good. Although if I tried rationalizing it in my head, it felt crazy and irrational.. WHat would this family think? Showing up at their door? My greatest fear was that they would think I was a spy and be afraid and not let me in or give me a chance to help them. This was my greatest fear of all.
After exiting the metro station, I walked into a pastry shop, and rows and rows of my favorite pastry on the planet greeted me. Mini eclairs. Sorry mom if you are reading this but I think you have met your match! I asked for directions to the street I needed since no streets were named and the man rushed me into the store next door who had a computer and they could mapquest it. It turned out to be in the same direction I happened to exit the metro station in. I bought some eclairs from the man. 3 for .50 cents and then bought some gum from the store next door. Also .50 cents.
I walked and walked and walked and walked. I passed by schools, car dealerships, street sweepers, a man drinking tea out of a fancy cup ( I love that), and walked some more. No streets were named so I happened to turn at a random street and asked the store there where the building was. He pointed across the street. There it was. Now all I needed to do was walk in. Some divine miracle would surely justify this trip I had taken, wouldn't it? I walked up the steps and the buzz through door opened as a lady exited. I walked in and went downstairs. None of the doors were numbered so I sat on the steps of the basement, waiting for some sort of sound or hint as to which door it might be. The guide told me he lived in door number 2 and they were either 1 or 3. Well If I only knew which door 2 was, it would give me some sort of footing. Just then, a young man walked down the steps and asked if I needed help. I looked at him and in broken Turkish told him I don't speak any Turkish. Then I slipped a few Arabi words in just to see if he was Syrian. He looked confused and said he speaks Arabic. Then he asked me where I was from.
"Im from Syria," I said.
"Me too," he said.
This young 22 year old looked 15. He looked stiff, timid, a bit cautious, and asked what I was doing there.
"I'm an artist visiting Turkey to learn Arabic Calligraphy and met your neighbor today and he said you just moved in. I really wanted to meet some Syrians living in Istanbul so I came over. I live in the USA normally."
"Okay come in," He gestured to the door.
I walked into a very basic living room. 2 beat up couches, no television, and no real belongings. Looked like someone opened the door and threw 2 couches, a table, and some kitchen stuff in and then slammed the door shut. The woman, a humble older lady, greeted me with the warmest smile when she found out I was Syrian. The father also greeted me but was a bit more cautious. The woman, brought me some water to drink and asked how I would like my coffee.
"A little bit of sugar" I said.
"We are from Aleppo. Where are you from?"
"I'm from Damascus. My family still lives there. Im very sad for i,." I don't know why but I started crying in front of them. "I miss Syria and wish I could go right now but I promised my mom and dad I wouldn't enter Syria."
She then proceeded to cry and the wall had been broken. "My son was in the army. They pulled him from college and he had already bad hearing problems. He was almost done with college when they pulled him in to fight. He didn't want to but if he didn't shoot on command, they would shoot him or us."
At which point the son chimed in.. "I shot people in Daraa. I couldnt handle it anymore, and after I lost my hearing and had infected ears from the sound of the war, I went to thee hospital and as soon as I got out, I was deaf and on hearing aids and I ran away across the border. My family followed and left everything behind. Besides there was no work there. We can't work here because we are Kurdish Syrians and the Turks don't like the Kurds. We pay $800 TUrkish Liras a month here and there is no work. Everything in Halab is destroyed, our home."
I asked what the father did back in Aleppo
"I worked as an mechanic, fixing things for people whenever I could"
I already knew from the guide what the rent was, so on my way over to their house, I withdrew $800 Turkish Liras, which is equivalent to $400 US. I took out the envelope my sister had mailed to me which had a letter from her friend for a refugee I met, and handed her the money and the card. I then told her I had medicine to take down South and what I was really there for.
She started crying and raised her hands into the air and said "Where did you come from? Did you fall out of the sky? From where did God send you?!"
I told her that the whole community cares for her. Americans care too. This money is not from me, but from people who care who told me if I see a refugee to give it to them. This has your name on it.
There is more to this story which I will begin a new entry for since this is getting long. Life is amazing. All I can say is that the happiness I felt today hovered me the rest of the day.
This is him. A kid should not have be forced to kill his own people or his family dies.
I wish him nothing but peace and a recovery from the army. He can't return to Syria or the government will kill him. He fled because he didn't want to kill people. His family had to flee with him. I have a feeling this is the beginning of the stories. Sorry for the super long post but it was necessary.