(This is a reprint of a newsletter I wrote after my grandmother passed away in 2019).
Thank you so much for your beautiful tribute to your grandmother. She was quite clearly an exceptional as well as a wonderful woman. If you don't mind my saying so, on the strength of this newsletter and your other writings, I think you come across as an exceptional and wonderful person, too!
This is such a beautiful story that jolted my detached psyche back to life. I imagine we all go numb at times and are most likely not even aware until we read or see something palpable. Thanks for sharing your story (I missed it before) and I will forever remember the golden bracelets and the hugs your grandmother received from your professor.
I have come to believe that we can all be kind and loving if we cry once a day. Thank you for another day of joy, Zeynep. You are a sweet blessing.
I was crying reading this because it resonated with my own life. So many in the West believe women in nonwestern cultures don’t have feminist beliefs. Both my grandmothers who were from India and lived traditional lives themselves wanted something different for their female children and grandchildren (and achieved it). As we see the rollback of womens rights in the US I hope there can be more alliance with women around the world who are trying to stand up for their rights against patriarchal systems.
Now that I have read your grandmother’s story my life is changed as it twines into the bundle of stories that carry my through my world. Sheila Heti in her book Pure Colour says something like this: the duty of the living is to save the dead because only the living can do that. I find your story performs that heartbreaking duty while reminding us to keep alive our happiest memories as your grandmother did and to call your loved old ones as you do and as have you have done in this story. This is how you, and your grandmother have changed me I think - by strengthening that bright green line of stitching that is remembering and connecting.
Dear Zeynep, we all know that the founding generation of Turkish Republic were special. Or they thought they were special, which made all the difference for the things we regret to see failing now. May her soul rest in peace.
Thank you for reposting. I was grateful to reread it (and tear up once again about the story of your dissertation committee congratulating your grandma instead of you.) What a beautiful story. Please consider posting it once a year in honor of your grandma—it’s a timeless story worth being read again and again. I will share it w/my girls who’re now 17 & 18.
Anneannen için yazdıklarını gözlerim dolarak okudum …benzer hikayelere sahip nice Türk kadınının anısına ve sevgili anneannene selam olsun, onlar bizim fenerimiz oldu hep…iyi ki vardılar ve bizlere ilham oldular…Cumhuriyetin muhteşem insanları iyi ki vardılar…Hikayeni okur okumaz şu anda yurtdışında hem okumakta hem de üniversitede çalışarak kendini keşfetmekte olan yeğenim Elif’le paylaştım ona da ışık olması için…Sevgili Anneanneni diğer tüm Cumhuriyet Kadınlarıyla birlikte her sene özlemle, gururla ve saygıyla anmak üzere şimdilik hoşçakal…sevgiler…Meltem Sezer
May her soul Rest In Peace! Caniniz sag olsun.
Everything you write is interesting be it technical or personal. Whatever it is—you got it! Thanks for reposting this. I look forward to you future observations.
Thanks so much for reprinting your story. I missed it the first time. It is important both as a tribute to a person who must have been wonderful, but it is more than that. I have lived in Istanbul for almost 40 years, but the one thing I have noticed is that no one ever tells their stories unless they are somehow self-glorifying. An erstwhile sister-in-law told me when I first moved here that the only thing you need to know about living in Turkey is not to tell anyone anything. Of course many people tell me their stories because I remain (even after 40 years) a foreigner and unlikely to transfer any non-glorifying story into the 'social network' that is Turkish society. So thanks for your courage and I hope this inspires other people to stop worrying about what people will think all the time and realize that really, no one cares and it only eats you alive to keep it in. Thanks again.
Thank you for reposting this story. My neice is currently getting her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and credits my mother (her grandmother) for taking care of her while her parents worked, and indulging all of her quirks, curiosities, and challenges. My mother does not get around well, but we all call, post/send pictures… she is much loved and this reminded me what a treasure she is.
This was so beautiful to read and I had tears rolling down my cheeks, sitting there in a shared lunchroom. Thank you.
Thanks for a wonderful post and important reminder. I have always thought of Africa (where I grew up) when considering the importance of educating girls, but of course its vital everywhere.
Thank you for sharing your beautiful memories. Your Grandmother was truly a hero in your life and countless others. You are both blessed to have shared in each others' lives. I had tears in my eyes while reading.
Your essay moves me deeply. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.