persona_non_grata: (tree)
2024-03-08 04:56 pm
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For my sister, on the anniversary of her death.

Dearest Adile,

I am writing this letter to you because a year ago today, something terrible happened to you and you died.

You were shot by a guard on the Turkish side. He'd been working the ferry for years. Because you didn't travel by car, you had to deal with him. They say the ferrymen are different from the men on the bridge. No one knows why. Maybe because the people who come by ferry are so much poorer. (Most of them are. But of course there are the tourists, who insist on seeing the Bosphorus.) I think it's just the water. Something about crossing the water so often. Didn't our grandmother say something about making the crossing too often? Something about tempting fate. I don't remember, any longer. You always loved our grandmother so much, and I could barely stand her. You were such a romantic, and so was she. I suppose that was the thing I hated about both of you. And then it got you killed.

Why Ekrem, Adile? Why him? What was so special about him? Was it just that he paid you some attention? Was your self-esteem really that low?

He was using the Silhouette system, the guard. That's why he shot you. At least, that's what he said at the hearing. He said he input your information in to the profiler, and it told him what to do. Silhouette is an impartial judge, or so they say. I'm not so sure. I think that computer hates Muslim women. A stupid thing to say about a computer, maybe, but profiling is what it does. I think it saw a Muslim woman with a Greek man and it decided to hate you. I think it recognized your face from press releases about our family, saw our wealth, and decided to punish you.

Do you know that the Turkish government helped finance the Silhouette project? It was one of our reparations following the split with Greece. We had to give them something to help with security, because they were so pitiful at doing it themselves. It featured state-of-the-art affect and intent detection, facial recognition, total information awareness. It probably read this fucking blog. It's probably figuring out who I am, right now. To date, your death is one of five attributed in part to the system.

You died because a flying robot took a split-second look at you and didn't like you. You died because you were a good girl and insisted on wearing the hijab.

Do you know what the developers called Silhouette, once they started localizing it for Greece? Erinyes. The Furies. Vengeance. They wanted to punish us. For not being Christian. For being wealthy. They saw your hijab and your good jewelry and the way you had "seduced" a Greek boy, a good lapsed Orthodox boy, and they decided to punish you. Who's to say a computer can't be programmed with culture? It's only as good as its engineer, isn't it?

None of this is helping you. I know that. And none of this helps our family. I still haven't shown this blog to our parents. I think they blamed Ekrem even more than I do. I understand how much you felt for him, even if I don't really understand why. To me he was nothing special. Do you know that he ran away from your body as you bled out? You were still alive when he bolted. They tased him. I wish he'd had a heart attack and died on the spot.

I wish you were here with me, right now.

persona_non_grata: (future)
2023-03-07 04:24 pm
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Ekrem's father is in trouble.

My sisters say they won't say anything to my parents so long as I update regularly. "You never tell us anything about what's going on with you!" they say. Of course, I would do so if I could get a word in edgewise.

Well, this is what's going on: Ekrem's father is very ill. He needs help. Ekrem intends to go visit him, but he's worried that because his student visa is close to expiring, he won't be allowed to return to Turkey.

"My past is in Greece," he told me, last night. "My future is in Turkey."

I was a little shy, so I asked him if he meant his job at the film forum. I know he enjoys it, but it's not exactly a promising career opportunity. Besides, his schooling will end this spring. He'll graduate and be finished and his life will really start. He'll have to worry about a visa, or about changing citizenship.

"Adile," he said, "you are in Turkey."
persona_non_grata: (criminal)
2023-03-05 11:05 pm
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Sister Flirtatious found out about Ekrem and this blog, today. I feel stupid for not locking it up sooner. And now I suppose there's no point.

She asked if Ekrem was Muslim. In truth, I've never asked. With his Greek father, it seemed doubtful. Maybe I never asked simply because I always knew the answer, deep down. Or maybe I never asked just because I've never cared. I feel like I could search this whole city, both sides of it, and never find another person like Ekrem. I love his knowledge of the way this city used to be, and his dreams for what it could be. I love his voice as it blends with the sound of wet cobblestones, describing those memories and dreams. I love how his eyes light up. I love how he stands close to me on the streetcar, and doesn't let anyone else near, but just takes gentle hold of my elbow when the tram jostles in the slightest way.

Now with my luck, she'll probably send him a link to this.
persona_non_grata: (city)
2023-03-01 04:40 pm
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Of course, this turned out to be true:

I just wish they would stop talking about us as though we were part of Europe. I hate it when the mayor does that, too. It was another mayor who wanted to split the city, and with Greece going the way it was, of course everyone agreed. (Except for Greece. And anyone who had family here. And, and, and.) But they talk about this place like it can be two places at once.

Maybe, once, it was like that. No longer.

Ekrem and I stood on the bridge today looking at the customs station, talking about. On our side, it's mostly robots. Over there, they have humans. More errors, he says. Not because the humans are stupid, but because they're paranoid. The robots don't bring emotions into the situation, so people respond more nicely. Or something. I was just stuck on the idea of a human being feeling me up, checking me for drugs or whatever it is people bring over.

I told Ekrem as much, and he said:

"Is being touched such a bad thing?"

I was too shy to answer.

persona_non_grata: (future)
2023-02-27 09:21 pm
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The Bicycle Thief, part 2

I just came home.

This is the first time I've ever been home late. Well, aside from that time I got a nosebleed in field hockey and had to visit the hospital and Mom got mad until she wasn't, any longer. But this is different.

Ekrem is different.

Ekrem didn't always live here. He was born on the Greek side. His father is Greek, but his mother is Turkish, and their own family separation happened years before the city divorced itself. He came here to live, only because it meant getting his own room. Now that the border is so much more difficult, he only sees his father once every few months, and only for a few hours at a time. There are body calls, of course, but neither Ekrem nor his father can afford a projector. So they have to do video, if they want to see each other. I think I'll try to sneak him in here, so his dad can call him.

I don't know why I feel like I have to keep him a secret from everyone, but I do. Perhaps because he's Greek -- I don't think my parents would like that, very much. But also, it's just nice having a secret. In this house, it always seems like we know every single thing about one another. It's impossible to keep anything private. And I'd like to have something that's just mine.

Ekrem seems to understand this. I went by myself to the screening of the movie he gave me passes to, and he saw me outside the doors dabbing at my face with my veil. He offered me a handkerchief. A real one, with real cologne on it. So old-fashioned! He said it was to honor his grandfather, who always carried them for his grandmother, who had terrible hay fever. For some reason, this made me cry even harder. You watch one movie about the evils of humanity, and suddenly any little story about kindness sets you off.

When he offered me that little square of silk, he said: "Don't worry. I won't tell."
persona_non_grata: (Default)
2023-02-24 01:49 pm
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persona_non_grata: (red flowers)
2023-02-23 05:23 pm
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Memorial for the migrant

I went to the migrant's funeral, today. I heard about it on the feeds and lied to my mother about where I was going. She thought I was shopping, and insisting on doing it alone (because I always insist on shopping alone).

It was down near the water. I think it confused all the tourists, who kept on taking our pictures. (I should probably look for myself on somebody's feed, just in case. The hijab covers my hair, but not my face. If my father does a facial search for me, he'll know I was lying.) We tossed flowers into the water and stood quietly for a while. We have the man's name, but I won't type it here because I don't want this journal coming up in Google. (Silly, I know. I should just make this whole thing private, right? Especially with my sisters around. But I just can't bring myself to do it, for some reason.)

A university student read from The Odyssey. In classical Greek. I didn't know they even taught that kind of thing any longer. Just as he was leaving, I worked up the courage to ask him, and he said that no, they didn't, but he went to a private school growing up and elected a classics track toward his major. He has parts of Homer memorized.

His name is Ekrem, and he works at the film forum. He had passes to The Bicycle Thief, and invited me. I don't even remember accepting the tickets, just waving goodbye as he walked away. I don't know what this even means. Two tickets? Does he expect me to bring someone? (Did I mention my sisters? Probably. I'm always talking about them instead of myself, when I'm talking to strangers. It's so stupid that I don't even remember what I said!)

Either way, I suppose I should find out what this movie is about...

persona_non_grata: (city)
2023-02-19 01:14 pm
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I saw a dead body, today.

They fished it out of the Bosphorus. He was Greek. A migrant. One of those search and rescue 'droids found him. The kind that's shaped like a porpoise. He just slipped out of the water, soundlessly, and suddenly everyone on the ferry started screaming. We all thought a child had fallen from the railing. But no -- a corpse.

We got home and ate my favourite lamb stew with eggplant and cheese, and I took a hot bath, but I still can't push the sight of him from my mind: bloated, blue, a fingernail missing. He had been chewed on by crabs.

If we have the 'droids, why aren't they saving people?
persona_non_grata: (leaves)
2023-02-18 11:14 am
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Stress at home.

My parents had a big fight, today. My mother took my sisters with her for tea, but I wanted to stay home with my father. He's alone in his office. In a while I'm going to offer to make him something to eat. Hopefully that will cheer him up.

The fight was about my father's business. It's gone downhill since the separation, I know, but I had no idea how bad it was until now. It looks like most of the workforce came from Greece because they were cheap, and now that the company has to hire Turks everything costs more. Also, my father apparently bought out some of the Greek executives at a rate he didn't discuss with my mother. Why he would discuss things like that with her, I have no idea. They never talk about money. He makes it, and she spends it. That's all.

I know I sound harsh, but that's the way things are. I don't think she has any right to complain now, when she's never really participated in any of the important conversations. I bet I know more about how the company runs than she does. I at least listen to my father when he manages to make it home, rather than always changing the subject to what the neighbours or my sisters are doing.

Everybody says I'm too quiet, but I'm just listening. There's nothing wrong with listening, is there?

...I can hear them downstairs. They've come back. I hear discussing of the Hermes store. I hate my mother's shallow variety of revenge.

persona_non_grata: (Default)
2023-02-14 03:30 pm
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Inevitably sad Valentine's entry

How many journals get started on Valentine's Day? I think it must be a lot. There must be lots of people like me out there, thinking about how happy everyone else is with their significant others. At least, that's what I tell myself. My sisters say the same thing. But they're all out with their boyfriends now, and I'm here at home alone. Even my parents are gone.

I live in one of the most romantic cities on Earth. Not Paris (though I love Paris; we went when I was nine and I adored it), but Istanbul. I live on the Turkish side. We got to keep the name -- Greece had to make up another one. Really, we just bought the name, because Greece couldn't afford to keep it. It's strange to think that you can copyright a city. It doesn't seem right. But they have patents on DNA, now, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

I'm sitting alone in my room with a cup of tea cooling at my elbow and a cat on my lap. I realize this makes me luckier than most people. When I think about how hard the people in Greece have it, I realize I shouldn't feel sorry for myself. But there's just something missing. Most of the time, I think it's a boy. All my sisters and all my friends seem so happy, with theirs. Even when their boyfriends are stupid, they seem basically pleased. It's like they all remembered to make the right turn in an old dungeon-grinder like we used to play as kids, so they picked up the treasure chest. And I just haven't gotten there yet, or (worse) missed the turn entirely.

So I guess it's not a boy I'm missing, it's whatever it takes to get one. You have to bait the hook, I guess, and I just don't know how. Or I wasn't born with the right bait. I'm the youngest, so you'd think I'd learn something from all the examples that preceded me. But they all seem to contradict each other -- my most obnoxious sister has the most devoted boyfriend, and my nicest sister is always trying to hold back tears. It makes no sense and I'm tired of it. They're both lucky to be with anyone at all -- Sister Obnoxiousness should stop taking hers for granted, and Sister Passivity should just go out and find someone better.

Not that I'm one to talk, I guess. All I have is a drooling cat and some cold tea and an empty house.
persona_non_grata: (calm)
2011-03-16 07:52 pm
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Going to Greece.

You can't stop me. I know you want to. I know you'll probably tell our parents. But I'm post-dating this to a few hours after I've already left. You see, I'm already gone.

He needs me. Ekrem. He needs me to help him make the crossing back. If we have to, we'll say that we're married.

You all have been in love so many times. Yet you still don't understand when it happens to your boring sister. So sorry to disappoint, but someone has finally noticed me and I intend to stick to him. I don't care what you have to say. I'm coming back and I'll deal with the fallout either way.