Thursday 22 April 2010

Nilüfer Hasırcı 1924-2010

Early on Monday morning, my father called with the news that my grandmother had passed away. Though she'd been bedridden for a few years now, somehow you can't prepare yourself for that call.

Her character was a rare cocktail. So kind and gentle, she was loved by all who knew her. Never one for idle gossip or bad-mouthing. Yet confront her and she had the tongue of a brick layer. This colourful language is how you've come to know her as 'rude nan'.But no matter how angry, her overwhelming positive attitude meant she was never far from bursting into contagious laughter.

As every grandparent gives a pet name to their grandchild, she would call me 'grandma's little lamb, peanut or Turkish delight" but I'd hear her say that to my brother too. There was, however, one pet name that was exclusively mine: "tasak yanak" or "bollock cheeks".

Though hard to imagine when I remember her lying so frail in her bed, this woman had seen hardship that required the strength of a lion to overcome. The wife of a senior minister in the ruling party during one of Turkey's most turbulent political eras, she had experienced wealth and privileges. To a coup that saw the Prime Minister executed and my grandfather imprisoned, she was left with nothing but 4 children to raise single-handed.

How will I remember her? I'll remember her cooking through the day to host vast family dinners on the balcony. I'll remember her laugh. I'll remember watching her from the back window of the taxi as she poured water from the balcony to wish us a safe journey back to the UK. I'll remember her wanting to kiss my neck and calling it 'kaymak' and then laughing when I'd say 'buyurun'. I'll remember how she would shed a tear at the utterance of my granddad's name years after his death. But more than anything, I'll remember her positivity, sense of humour and enormous heart.

This is the hardest post I've ever had to write. It has to be perfect, but it's an impossible task.

She was the reason I came to Turkey. I wanted to get to know my remaining grandparent while I had the chance. I am happy to know that I did what I set out to do. I sat with her for hours on the balcony. We talked. We watched the ships. She knew I loved her. And I said my goodbye.

Babaannecigim, seni cok seviyorum. Ozlecem ben seni. Gelecem birazdan ama simdilik rahat uyu hayatim.