In two days i had made an awful lot of new acquaintances. So, after stopping at the police station to report the stolen camera, i set off to say goodbye.
First stop was the corner between bakery and schoolyard where the futbol fellows loitered. It took a bit of mapwork in that maze of concrete alleys, but at the second school i tried i found them. Oktay (and the four fellows who'd taken me to the stable) shook my hand like an old friend, perhaps surprised i had returned. Curiously, before i could tell him to say "selam" to Yakup, Serdar, and the others, he had to excuse himself for a moment to answer some questions for a police officer. (Hmm. I had been mildly suspicious of these new friends before, as we sat drinking coca-cola by the walls and they told me how cheap the local marijuana was. Now, just twenty minutes after i filed my report - and didn't implicate or describe them except to say i had met some local boys, played futbol, and been let into the old stables by someone they knew - there was a policeman asking questions. Coincidence?)
From there i hunted down Ercan, the quiet, serious, generous teen who helped me search for the missing camera. At last i found him near the fortress, walking with his best friend Ahmet. They asked if i was hungry - and next thing i knew i was inside one of those humble old-city abodes. Inside the courtyard we passed women and girls hidden by their scarves. Up a set of stairs and through the small home, we emerged into a garden. Atop the utility room roof, irises, hollyhocks, roses, and mulberry trees lent some shade and greenery. Soon joined by his little brother and several curious friends, Ahmet and i ate cacik and bulgur, and the younger boys brought tea. One of them gave me his necklace, and Ahmet offered me a Koran written in Turkish.
Ercan, mindful of the bus departure time, hurried us along, and set off walking with me. He bought ice cream bars; asked local men about where to catch my bus, and with little time to make the New Terminal on the northwestern outskirts of town, he rode there with me. As we parted, i knew among the host of facebook contacts in this city i had made one genuine friend. Seni özleceğim - I'm going to miss you, i told him, and as the bus pulled away he waited and waved until i could see him no more.
4 weeks ago