Nazmiye Hanım, a special lady, passes away
The real boss of Süleyman Demirel’s private life, the queen of Güniz Street No: 31, passed away silently, in full conformity with her life story. If she had not been suffering from Alzheimer’s for the past eight or nine years and fully conscious, would it have made any difference? She was an Anatolian woman, a lady, the most important silent other half of President Demirel from the day they married 65 years ago, in 1948. No, she would stay in the shadows; never indulging herself in affairs her husband was involved in.
It is a famous saying that there is a woman behind every successful man. Of course, that’s a male chauvinistic saying, but all throughout their 65 years of married life Nazmiye Hanım never ever abandoned her husband. As is said, in good and bad times, in illness and health, in fortune and misfortune, she was always with her husband.
How many of us remember today that photograph showing Demirel climbing the stairs of a small military propeller, carrying wooden luggage? Yes, Demirel (together with late Bülent Ecevit and some other veteran senior politicians like Deniz Baykal) was banished to internal exile at Hamzaköy in the western province of Çanakkale, after the Sept. 12, 1980 coup. In front of Demirel, Nazmiye Hanım was climbing the stairs in all dignity.
It was not an easy task to be with a man so loved – and hated perhaps – and so active. Of course, over 50 years of bureaucratic life and active party politics, crowned with seven years of exemplary presidency, was not an easy journey for Süleyman Demirel. However, remaining mostly out of photographs, on the sidelines, in the backstage, but firmly supporting her other half with all the power she had - that’s the life story of Nazmiye Hanım. She cannot be compared with the spouses of other leaders of her time, or those of current politicians.
She never ever grasped microphones and delivered political statements, but in private events at her Güniz kingdom she from time to time explained with great elegance that she was not active in public life not because she had no idea on issues of discussion, but rather because “the house is my affair, politics is Süleyman’s. There is no interference in each other’s affairs.”
She did not ask her husband to pressure media bosses to fire anyone. Anyhow, she very rarely appeared in the media, but when she did it was always on the side of her husband, in support of her husband. However, in those days when Güniz Street was the most well-known street in Turkey, let alone Ankara (as it housed either the prime minister, the main opposition leader, the ousted premier, or the president) how could anyone serving in front of Güniz Street No:31 forget her serving them tea and spring rolls that she had personally prepared?
It is difficult to comprehend how difficult life will now become for President Demirel, who has lost his other half, with whom he spent 65 years. For younger generations, who apparently prefer to have affairs limited to months, two people spending 65 years together in the eye of the media, and with almost no public flare-ups, must mean something. In this, the applause should go primarily to Nazmiye Hanım, who not only in good and prosperous times but always and more so at times of exile and political bans, stood firm with her husband.
My condolences to Süleyman Demirel. May Nazmiye Hanım rest in peace.