persona_non_grata: (tree)
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)
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."

*sigh*

Mar. 5th, 2023 11:05 pm
persona_non_grata: (criminal)
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)

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)
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: (red flowers)
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...

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persona_non_grata

March 2011

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