Monday, December 19, 2011

Burasi Esenyurt: One of the million stories of a small town in Istanbul

“Whatever comes to your mind, can be found in Esenyurt,” our taxi driver told us when talking about how the area we were heading towards has been steeped in crime and illegal activities for decades. “All they have to do is put up a wall between old Esenyurt and the newly absorbed former Beylikduzu districts where the crime hasn’t seeped in yet.”

There was nothing for us to worry about though; we were going to the government run “War against Tuberculosis” clinic, the only place close to us that gives the PPD skin test. It was going to take us 15 minutes in and out. Also next to the Dispensary was the city’s health department. After getting the tests administered to the two poor nerve wracked kids, Wizard, I and the kids headed out to wait for our korsan taxi at the gate. That’s when we heard loud shouts coming from behind us. As I turned around to look at the source, I saw a crying mother and her crying baby held facing out and almost slipping from the mother’s arms. She quickly reached a curb and set the child roughly down in the bushes. She then pushed the baby girl away further while screaming “I can’t take care of you, go away, leave me.” She then threw the blanket over the baby and still crying went to sit a few yards away on a low wall.

Resisting Wizard’s pleadings to stay out of it, I rushed over to sooth the mom and then ran down to pick up the startled child from the ground. Sitting next to the wailing woman the story quickly became clear: She was a single mom and had come here to ask for assistance raising her daughter but was told to bring back the father’s information. “They say they know the father. Tell them to write down his name and address for me because even I don’t know who or where he is!” she cried. She continued to push me and her daughter away saying she wants to kill the child because she certainly can’t raise her alone.

I hung on to the wailing one year old tightly. I waited for her mother to come back to her senses. It took a good long 15 minutes for her to finally wipe her tears after she’d vented her feelings. Kriz geçerdi, my husband said. It was a depressive anxiety attack. As she took the child back from me, I felt like resisting. I wanted to hold on to the baby for fear that the woman will hurt her or throw her away. I let her go and watched them cross the road to the other side and sit down again on the curb where the woman continued to hug and kiss her daughter.

“If she doesn’t abandon her child today, she’ll do it tomorrow,” said a voice behind me. An older man behind us had uttered these ominous words making my heart sink even lower. “Burasi Esenyurt işte,” he said. This is Esenyurt.

When the taxi driver had said the same thing only half an hour ago, a million things had crossed my mind. Unmentionable acts yet I couldn’t see myself being fazed by any of them. I thought I had seen it all, that I was already jaded enough to be effected by any atrocity anymore. Yet I had forgotten one that never failed to touch me; abandoned babies. Any time I came across a story of a baby found in NYC trash cans, or wandering in streets, I wondered what kind of a woman could do such a thing. Here was a woman I’d wondered about. I have no one in this world, she had cried when I asked her if she has any other family to take care of the child. How badly had I misjudged those women? Just one more of those times when I need to remind myself, you cannot understand someone else’s circumstances until you are in the same hot water.

To this day, I find myself wondering about this woman and from my heart wish that she finds the strength to raise her child alone. She reminds me that no matter in how much troubles my life has recently been, no matter how far I feel from my family, my mom, my sister…I am by far a ridiculously lucky woman for having my loving husband to suffer along with me.

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