Syrian refugee girl’s diary provokes privacy issues

Syrian refugee girl’s diary provokes privacy issues

Belgin Akaltan -
Syrian refugee girl’s diary provokes privacy issues When my mother found and read my diary when I was a teenager (When was that? The 1970s? About 40 years ago?), the next thing I wrote in my small secret cache was “I will kill my mother.” 

I wanted to scare her in case she ever found it and read it again… I didn’t know about the concepts of “violation” and “private life” in those days, but it was a violation of my private life. 

I was keeping that silly diary for myself because I kept forgetting things. (Some things never change, I guess.) What was I saying? Oh, yes, that diary was not meant for my mother to read. I was giving my parents a hard time at that time and I guess my mother went through my drawers as a last resort and found my little journal. 

How she was able to read my horrible handwriting, I really don’t know. Now that she has passed away, there is no way I can ask her for the details. Even if she were alive, she probably would not have remembered anyway. From all those scribbles of mine, she picked up a sentence like “… my ass was covered in bruises…” 

When she tried to question me on that, our roaring quarrel began. How she was able to pick that out from that jungle of jibber-jabber, how she read it and made sense of it, I will never know… We were shouting at each other and I told her somebody had brought cognac to school and that we all drank it. It was my first encounter with alcohol (except for permitted sips from my father’s beer). With a few gulps of the cognac, I lost my balance trying to sit down and hit the stone corner of the historic column in front of the main building of our school – that was the reason for the bruises. My mother was so relieved she was not even angry at my drinking. It was so very good that I was not fooling around with boys. (That I would do later…) 
I found my son’s journal years later – actually, I did not search for it. I was putting aside a bunch of notebooks and an ordinary-looking notebook turned out to be his journal. Before I could realize – What am I doing? I am trying to explain that I did not deliberately read his journal. I read only a sentence (that was enough) before I was able to realize it was a diary. 

He had written something like he felt very bad because “I lied to both my mother and my guitar instructor.” I closed it immediately. I read it by accident and although I was dying to find out what he had written, that was all. I guess he skipped a guitar lesson and he made up an excuse, etc. I felt bad that he lied to me. But, really that was his issue, not mine… I don’t think I ever told him. When he reads this, it will be for the first time. I believe my son and I have a better relationship than what I had with my mother. 

By the way, I know I have violated my mother’s and my son’s privacy by writing these things above, but I will make it up to them. (My mother has to wait for it though…) 

This all came to me when the diary of a Syrian refugee girl washed up on Turkey’s Aegean shore following the capsizing of another migrant boat bound for Europe. Taylan Yıldırım of Doğan News Agency (DHA) reported: “The soaked notebook, in which the girl writes about her loves, disappointments and ambitions, is another reminder that the migrant crisis amounts to much more than numbers and statistics. It was found on the beach soon after the bodies of 31 migrants washed ashore off İzmir’s Dikili coast on Jan. 5…. The diary, written in Arabic, describes how the young couple escaped from their war-torn country and arrived in Turkey. According to the diary, the girl’s lover, Besil, left her behind in the Aegean province of İzmir and ultimately managed to arrive to Germany.” 

We don’t know her name, we don’t know if she is dead or alive. We have peeked into her life, in a rather unauthorized fashion. 

We were not supposed to know about the unknown girl’s feelings and resentment toward Besil. But at the same time, this is a window into what Syrian refugees are experiencing… A rather sad glimpse into their undesired and forced journey, provoked by some small brains outside their borders who have snatched them from their lands and homes, ensured they lose their identities and dignity and forced them to risk life and limb, only to find…