Hallow’s eve eve here and counting… not as if that will be noticed much here. Yesterday was Cumhuriyet Bayramı, the celebration of the birth of the republic. It’s probably the biggest thing that ever happened. Did you miss it?
If you were here you would have been out of school and work, and perhaps you would have walked down the beautifully sunny streets of Istanbul. Perhaps you would have bought a revolutionary communist magazine from high school students,( in their uniforms on their day off?), who might ask you if you were a racist as your country’s (or someone else’s) attack helicopters flew overhead in formation.
Perhaps you’d wiggle your hips on a stage in the park as canned nationalist remixes blared. Did you know the words or did it even matter? Perhaps a cute Turk would offer you an amazing deal on a new cell service as you shimmed along but instead your eyes would drift pass her and the whole mess of waving moons and stars and distortion and “Golden Lady” would start playing in your head.
What did “Golden Lady” mean to anyone there but you? When it played for you you tended to take a little kerchief from your bag and fiddle with it. It’s as if it didn’t matter where you were or who you were talking to.
Ataturk would glare at you sternly from every printable surface as you blissed out in your private moment.
Try as you might, you just didn’t really care about him. You’ve not been giving nationalism enough of a chance maybe. He looks serious, like he really BELIEVES in something. But as any good Turk will tell you these days, he certainly didn’t believe in religion. He didn’t believe in backward ways nor Ottoman overindulgence nor superstitious rediculousness. He believed in democracy and freedom and all that is good and righteous. He believed in the republic.
The problem is you don’t deserve the republic. You with your private blissful moments and far off loves. You are against us. To you, a believer in obtuse intangibilities and corrupted self-indulgence, all this nationalistic fervor only offers the tantalizing possibility of belonging. You deserve your own private darkness, your own holiday that celebrates wicked mysteries and dangerous imaginations and the thin veil that hides a much much different reality. You may as well have you own private holiday….
no sooner said than done. clock’s just struck 12. happy birthday me.
p.s. My buddy Tony’s baby, Evelyn Margaret Umlauf, was born on Cumhuriyet Bayramı. Congratulations!