The biggest soldier

The biggest soldier

The silence of the night was broken all of a sudden. A convoy of some two dozen honking cars with lights on was parading through the street. The convoy came to an abrupt stop as if road was blocked by something. The darkness of the night was pierced by the lights of the car, but still it was difficult for the residents of the street glued to the windows to understand what was going on the otherwise utterly silent street.

Perhaps 50 or more youngsters, boys and girls, poured out of the cars. Were they drunk? Apparently… But perhaps they were just in a celebratory mood and appeared to be drunk to others from a distance.
They were waving Turkish flags in their hands while shouting some inaudible slogans.

“Wedding season hasn’t yet started… It’s not June yet!” I joked as I saw the opposite neighbor appear at the window waving a Turkish flag and shouting something as well. Moments later, I heard a young girl saying, “I do not know how to do it, but I feel like doing a ‘zılgıt’ [ululation]… I just feel like it.”

One after the other almost all neighbors joined the joy of the crowd on the street from their balconies while the screams of the crowd became audible: “The biggest soldier is our soldier!”

I had seen crowds at the intercity bus terminal and at the airport seeing off youngsters joining the military for the compulsory conscription with such ceremonies, but it was the first time I had witnessed such an event on my street, in the middle of the night and with boys and girls in such enthusiasm.

The “Mehmet” going to the military service must have been a much-loved boy.

Next morning, the rain and wind of the night were replaced with a bright sun, filling everyone with the hope and energy of life. Our biggest soldier “Mehmet,” I thought, must already be at the military garrison by now and had probably already started counting down the time until his release.

There were some two dozen emails waiting to be answered. Going through the e-newspapers, I realized that the prime minister was absolutely committed to not allowing prosecutors question the head of the intelligence. The Syrian cease-fire had apparently entered into force, but there was widespread skepticism about whether it would hold.

I put on a news channel… Oh la la… Yet another “security operation” was underway and police were raiding several dozen homes in Istanbul and Ankara, this time apparently in connection with a probe into the 1997 “post-modern coup” or the “Feb. 28 process” which forced Necmettin Erbakan, the first-ever Islamist prime minister of the country, to step down. The strong deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Cevik Bir, who joined an Islamist conglomerate after retirement, was reported to have been among the detained.

Life is full of surprises. A youngster was seen off in the night in Ankara’s remaining social democratic stronghold, Çankaya, with a street demonstration full of nationalist excitement. In the morning, scores of people, including retired and active generals, are “netted” in Istanbul and Ankara operations and detained on charges of trying to topple the government.

Anyhow, our “Mehmet” is still the biggest soldier.