Dear, dear, dearest young man

Dear, dear, dearest young man

His beautiful face was always on the verge of smiling, they said. He would call his father “Godfather,” jokingly referring to the film. In his photos, whether he is barbecuing with his father, playing with his little sister, during a short vacation he had with his friends before school opened, jumping into the sea, there is always a smile right inside his eyes.

He was in love, they said. 

He liked playing basketball. He liked listening to the voice of Cem Adrian. He was following the jokes of comedian Ata Demirer. 

Ozancan Akkuş was 19 years old.

This lovely young man, from the eastern province of Gaziantep, first attended a boarding school in Ankara and then won a spot in the toughest to get into and the toughest to graduate from department at Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ), the department of electrical and electronics engineering, last year. 

Do you remember when you were 19 years old? Do you remember that joy of life, that unbreakable hope, that era of fun? 

The damned terror that struck on Oct. 10, 2015, in front of the main train station in Ankara took away Ozancan’s best friend, his life’s joy and hope. 

His friend, his best friend, his buddy from his hometown, Ali Deniz Uzatmaz, was killed in that suicide bomb attack that day. 

Ozancan shared a note on social media that day. He wrote: “Even the tears that are pouring from our eyes will not be able to clean the blood in your hands. This pure man will always be at your collar and will always remain in our hearts…”

Then he shared that famous quote from the film “The Green Mile:” “Things that happen in this world… It’s a wonder God allows it.”

I am quoting an entry written by a friend of Ozancan Akkuş, you may cry if you wish:

“I know Ozan from the years at Ankara Fen Lisesi [Ankara Science High School]. His family and my family knew each other. They lived in Gaziantep. Ozan was their only son. They worked hard, extremely hard so that Ozan could receive a good education. This boy first scored enough points to get into one of Turkey’s best high schools, coming from a small town in Anatolia. He was a boarding student all through high school. He survived the four years in a big city. Not everybody may know the hardships of being a boarding school student. It is not easy for a 14-year-old coming from the rural districts and be by himself in a big city. That young man succeeded; he made it. Then he scored as high points as to be able to enroll at [the] ODTÜ department of electrical and electronics engineering. He was returning from tutoring younger students, that was what he did to add a few extra [Turkish] Liras to ease his family’s efforts. The damned bomb found him. It took away the young man I grew up together with in the same classroom, sharing a desk…”  

The photo they had, Ozancan and Ali Deniz together, has been engraved in my mind and in my soul in such a way that I will not forget it as long as I live. 

I wonder what they were laughing at in the photo… They are so sweet, so innocent and so beautiful…

These two young men were torn from life by two different bombs that went off viciously, dishonestly and heinously, a couple of months apart from each other.  

I know this last dastardly attack in Ankara took 37 of our lives.

I know it has been thousands and tens of thousands of innocent victims over many years…

Our hearts break for all of them. It is impossible to console their loved ones and their friends. We can only accompany their prayers, share the pain in their hearts… 

I will never forget that photograph, Ozancan and Ali Deniz…

Dear Ozan, Dearest Ozancan… Salute…