The Turks and Kurds who objected to Yaşar Kemal’s Nobel Prize nomination

The Turks and Kurds who objected to Yaşar Kemal’s Nobel Prize nomination

It was the first time I heard ever such a thing. I was appalled. The person talking about it was Ahmet Güneştekin, someone I know very well; someone whose word I trust; someone who Yaşar Kemal called his “son.” I would not have believed it otherwise. 

Güneştekin was explaining this on Balçiçek İlter’s TV program on Habertürk. When Yaşar Kemal was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature, a group of Kurds and Turks visited an influential member of the Nobel Prize Committee to ask them not to give the prize to Yaşar Kemal. They said he is “a man of the Turkish state. He made an agreement with the state.” 

Well, is the source of this information reliable? 

Güneştekin heard about it personally from the Nobel Prize Committee member. “Upon these words, we decided not to give him the prize,” they said. 

Güneştekin did not give the names of those who visited the Committee, but he did say, “There were very famous people among them. I assume they regret today what they did.” 

I called Güneştekin and asked him if he had ever told Yaşar Kemal who was in this group. “No, I didn’t tell him. If he had heard these names he would have had a stroke,” he said.  

These kinds of things do not stay secret for long. One day, we will learn who the informers were. What I’m curious about is whether some of them were at Kemal’s funeral the other day. If they were, what were they feeling? 

Only a loving woman... 

Life can sometimes show us nobleness to immense extent. Yaşar Kemal was buried beside his first wife Tilda. His second wife, Ayşe Semiha Baban, was among the first people to throw earth, as is traditional, onto his grave. 

Involuntarily, even though you want to escape it, the devilish question comes to your mind: How could a woman bury her beloved man right alongside another woman? 

Güneştekin knows Seniha Baban very well and he explained the situation, again on Balçiçek İlter’s program. “Only a loving woman could have done this,” he said. 

We all know Ayşe, her tranquility, her nobleness. She was a mirror of great love.
Kemal was a lucky man. God granted exceptional women to him; great woman who were also dignified. 

Yaşar Kemal’s home 

One side of Kemal’s living room was full of books. It held samples of his books printed in other languages, covering a huge wall. He has been translated into so many languages; he is a world-caliber writer. 
My wife Tansu and I went to visit Ayşe at their home in Vaniköy, Istanbul. As always, Güneştekin was there too. 

At first glance it is a typical middle class Turkish home. Upon entering the living room, there is a blue armchair near the window that we know from photographs. “Blue was the color he loved the most,” Güneştekin said. The color of freedom…

There was a small divan and armchairs facing each other. On the wall behind there is a typical library of a Turkish home. 

On the left is a sculpture of him made by a young sculptor. As I said, it is a typical middle class Turkish home!

I went out onto the balcony, where there was a beautiful Bosphorus view. 

On my right, one of the toys he loved the most in his life was attached to the balcony railing - a colorful wind rose… 

“It was his most beloved toy,” Ayşe said in her usual tranquil and soothing.

He would take the wind rose everywhere he went, she said. 

And there were marbles; the kind of colorful marbles that turn every child’s life into a kaleidoscope. They were in a bowl on the table at the end of the room. Ayşe gave one of them to Tansu. 

This is the mighty Yaşar Kemal’s home. He was one of us. His home could be any of our homes.
Güneştekin told me what Kemal had whispered while he was burying his first wife Tilda: “We, dear, became nice people. We became good people.” 

The last sentence pierced me, I started to cry. “Becoming good people…”

How we have missed this word among all the cruelty, these betrayals, this evil, this sea of rage and vengeance… 

I think the crowd in his funeral was a stampede created in our souls by this longing…