We love you, Atatürk

We love you, Atatürk

We were at a place in Pera, old Istanbul, on Oct. 29. It was a nice coincidence that the event we were there for overlapped with the anniversary of the declaration of the Republic of Turkey.  

At one point during the night, the 10th Year March started playing. Everyone hugged each other with enthusiasm. We sang together, chanting the march in loud voices.  

I felt a very strange thing that evening. The group I was with was made up of Atatürkists. We all grew up with a love of Atatürk. That is how we were brought up. We were always grateful to him. But we did not fetishize him like a maniac. 

Atatürk is Atatürk. He founded this country. If I am who I am today, it is because of him.  

If I am a woman today who can think freely, it is because of him. I will not even debate this.

Once upon a time, we who thought like this were always the majority. But on that night, in that small place in Pera, I recognized that we have become a minority. Maybe it has been like this for a long time, but it dawned on me that evening.  

How many people are left in this country who cannot measure the love they feel for Atatürk, who say “thanks to him I am the person I am today” and who still have their eyes water when the 10th Year March is played? 

Half the population of this country still feels that way, right? But on that night I felt like a member of a secret cult. It was as if we were saluting each other with secret codes, as if we should not raise our voices too much. 

It is as if Atatürk is trying to be ignored in this country. In this country, now, it has become a marginal act to celebrate national holidays such as the Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day on May 19 or the Republic Day on Oct. 29.

It is painful and ridiculous, but this is the case. It has become trendy to badmouth the Lausanne Treaty and to claim that it was actually not Atatürk who saved this country; as if it was Atatürk who boarded a British military ship and ran away from this country; as if it was Atatürk who handed over the country to the British…

Well, so be it. We will not give in. We will not fold. 

We will not give up commemorating him. We will feel grateful to him at every opportunity. 

On Nov. 10, the 78th anniversary of his death, we again commemorated Atatürk. We will describe his life to the young generations in the best way we can.

We love you, Atatürk. 

Life will go on 

My family lives an “exaggerated globalist” life. 

Ömer is currently in Singapore for a business meeting. My daughter Alya is on a school excursion until the end of the week. My stepdaughter is in the U.S. in training. Part of our family is in Istanbul, others are in Adana. I am currently in Mumbai. 

But with a WhatsApp group, we are all back together again in a second. 

When I was small, I lived in Adana, went to school in Tarsus and played volleyball. Going to a match in nearby Mersin felt like traveling abroad. If there was a school trip to Eskişehir, or İzmir, it was like some kind of dream. 

The world became smaller as we grew up. My daughter Alya now intends to go to Nepal from her school in India for swimming competitions.

On the morning of Nov. 9, Alya wrote in panic to our WhatsApp group: “Daddy, Donald Trump has won.

What’s going to happen?” Her father answered: “Nothing will happen, dear. Life will go on as normal.”  

Yes, there are very bad things happening around the world. But it is not possible for us get involved in all of them. If we go into mourning about such things we all become unhappy.  

My suggestion is that in these chaotic days we should hug our loved ones and try to think about the good things in our lives. We should try to do our jobs better, try to be happy in our own small worlds.