I’m a mother. Just like teacher Ayshe*. Like the mothers trying to bring up their babies in prison. I am a mother in exile. Every day, I try to tell tales of hope to my child regarding the future, to help him forget his father’s absence, being in a foreign land, and his loneliness. The pain is fresh, and our hearts are wounded. But I am still a mother trying to stand on her feet for her child. I am one of those mothers whom you mercilessly criticise and call them terrorists. One of those mothers whom you judge, without thinking why a mother would take her child with her on a cold winter day and sets out on a journey into the unknown.

…..

One morning we heard a knock on the door. My son could not go to sleep without holding my hand. I opened the door by slowly letting his hand go. They were three policemen. They entered our house and turned everything upside down. What were they looking for? Guns, or drugs? They couldn’t find anything. But they were intent on taking me. They didn’t know why. I left my little one just like that and went with the policemen in a car to the police station.

No one would say why we were there, and if we ask, they were reprimanding us. There were only two of us as women. They put us in custody with 35 men. Our ward was separate. After three days spent hungry and thirsty, they put us on a bus saying they are transporting us to another city.

On my mind, the scent of my baby. It was unbearable. They allowed me to see my son only once. He was very ill. I was so weak…we humans can withstand so much, but it’s so hard to be separate from one’s child. To miss someone gained a different meaning for me when I was in custody. Neither being handcuffed behind the back, nor blood gathering in our arms, nor sleeping on cold cement on a winter night, nor hunger could hurt me. My mind and my heart were only thinking of my son. One day, a brother who was touched by my wailing said from the next ward, do not be sad, one day these children will be such magnanimous souls that God will reward this to you as a blessing for the difficulties you withstood. After this, I began to console myself with this thought. After 15 days, I learned my crime. An old friend of mine had given my name to the authorities, saying that I used to go to religious circles (sohbets).

It’s so hard to know what is a crime and what is not in this country… The judge released me with a signature.

To get together with my baby, to be able to smell his scent…we have so much to be thankful… My son had started to stammer. He wouldn’t leave me even for a moment.

I lost my job. It was very hard to part with my beloved students. Everyone stopped greeting me. I was all alone. No one would give me a job. It was hard for me to be a burden to my parents. We couldn’t even go to hospital. In short, they turned our home country into a prison for us.

That’s why we left at night by leaving behind everything. We only wanted to live. We wanted to live without the fear of them taking away our child any moment. We wanted to bring up our child in an atmosphere where he wouldn’t be looked down on or ostracized. Is this asking for too much?

This is a translation of a story of a purged teacher, originally written as a blog post in Turkish.

* Teacher Ayshe is a reference to the case of Ayse Soyler Abdurrezzak, who was a purged teacher, and drowned with her family on 13 February 2018 while crossing the river between Turkey and Greece border.

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