the little bride, part two

If I were selfish enough, I’d have him marry me right away. I could make my father proud, but what would I get from it? If I married him now and got pregnant at 16, how would I explain to my friends?

Just a month ago I’d seen a marriage where the bride’s thirteen. It had been broadcast as part of a series exploring culture around the country. And the day after the episode was broadcast, I’d been awakened by the sound of a crowd outside the house. I’d got up, my vision still blurry, and had looked at the window to see women marching on the streets, carrying signs that most said: “Shame on you, Murat Doğan!” (Hafsa Doğan Ateş 1, the child bride mentioned earlier, is the daughter of Murat Doğan. The hashtag #savehafsadoğan and #direnhafsa had also made an appearance on the signs.)

I stopped my bike and parked it in front of a block of flats. I passed the entrance and entered a narrow aisle of doors. I glanced through the reddish-brown cherry wood doors, looking for a gold sign with “Arif Tosun” written on it. Not on the first floor. So I took the stairs to the second floor. As I walked my way to the end of the aisle, I spotted a gold sign. It hung on a door. But I put down my rucksack and dragged my way with it to the third floor after seeing the name on the sign.

Hüseyin Kara. Not the one I was looking for.

In the middle of the aisle, as I looked to the right, I saw another gold sign, this time stuck on the door. It had “Arif Tosun” written on it. So I knocked the door.

“Aliye, what are you doing here?”

“It’s a long story, Aunty. Maybe I should tell you about it inside.”

Everything was in place when I came. It felt weird, seeing a living space already tidied up by eight in the morning. I put my backpack on the couch as if this place were home.

“So tell me, what happened?” she asked while washing the dishes.

“My father, again. He wants me to get married.”

“Oh dear me, that’s just…I really can’t even bear to imagine what’ll happen next! Then you must be here to…oh, I see.”

“See what?” I almost jolted from the seat in excitement.

“You’re coming here to hide from him, right?”

I was surprised she hadn’t smashed any plate or glass or anything like that – Father told me she was one of the clumsiest people he’d ever known, apart from my sister.

And even from a considerable distance I could hear her mumble, “Oh dear me, I’ve got a bloody refugee in this wrecked flat…”

“Well, if you won’t welcome me, Aunty, I can stay somewhere else, you know. Maybe I’ll hide in a hotel. Maybe I’ll run away back to my mother’s place in Kars. Maybe…”

“Don’t. You can stay here. Meanwhile, I’ll take care of that heck of a father you have there. Really, Ahmet, you troublemaking cunt…” she went on rambling to herself, her hand almost reaching a rolling pin. If she’d grabbed it, I guessed she would swing it around as if he’d been right in front of her and she would hit him.

It’s no secret that neither my mother and my father were from Istanbul. My father’s the son of a fisherman who hailed from Trabzon. And it had seemed that one of the fisherman’s children, the first one – who I know as Aunty Latife and who happened to be the only daughter he had – inherited both his sailor mouth and toughness (imagine sailing through a storm). And so minutes after I got in, Aunty L already swore at her brother, unleashing even the most shocking cuss word in between while pretending to hit him.

“Alright then, sorry for the bad start, Aliye dear, but don’t worry, you can stay here. As long as you don’t get in trouble with anyone – especially Esra.”

Not getting in trouble with Esra Tosun? Seems ninety percent impossible to me.

One of my greatest fear was living with someone who has two frequently alternating personalities. No, not a mood swing. There’s usually a trigger for the underlying personality which you need to learn, and some of these kinds of people can switch personalities even by a subtle reference of said trigger. Others have subtler, less specific triggers.

Aunty Latife’s trigger was my father.

“He had it easy as fuck,” she once remarked. “Boys don’t get bossed around in the house. Even my three little brothers. And that’s how they learnt that women are just as lowly as slaves.”

  1. That’s how she had been mentioned on the TV show – she was officially still Hafsa Doğan, but folks doing the show acknowledged the marriage. What a shame. 

the little bride, part one

“Who is that?” he barked at the door.

“It’s me.”

“Did you bring your son?”

“Of course. That’s what we came here for, right? Now can you please open the door, Ahmet?”

My father opened the door to reveal a very dear friend of his, along with his son. I had no idea why they were here. I watched them from above, right in front of my room. I saw and heard them talking about something, interspersed by the sound of the metal tray with two tulip shaped teacups put on the table, which might have sounded quieter if it weren’t for my sister’s clumsiness. And so came the reprimanding sound of Father: “Emine, you sloppy girl! You could’ve broken the cups!”

And so she shuffled her way to the kitchen – where a woman should be, according to him.

As I listened to them, I caught the words marriage, my daughter and my son – the latter being uttered by the friend every once in a while in the conversation. My daughter also popped into the talk pretty often, more often than my son. And your daughter was also there too, coming from Mr Hasan, who – as I observed – had a glint of worriness in his eyes.

“Aliye, come down here!”

It all felt so strange. I just walked downstairs. I’d seen little brides, both in real life and on TV. Okay, maybe the last ones were fictional. But what difference does it make? Nothing. Other than the fact that the TV versions tended to be exaggerations of the real ones. The climax, the stakes, the escape, the falling action… Some girls (un)reluctantly agree to marry and drop out of school, while others loudly declare to their family their opposition and escaped from their houses.

Three pairs of eyes stared at me, each with a different expression. Father’s were full of hope and pride, almost saying, “Finally, I can let go of this one,” and wishing that I’d be obedient and marry the young man. Mr Hasan’s eyes instead showed worriness and doubt: “I don’t think she’s ready yet, Ahmet. Why not wait till she’s 18?” And as for the young man – Mr Hasan’s son – his eyes signalled a sign of surprise: “So this is that Aliye? She’s so young.”

“Aliye, this is Mr Hasan. You probably already know him. And this one,” Father pointed to the young man, “is his son, Necmettin.”

“Nice to meet you.” And I just replied the same, with a smile. It wasn’t a forced one, to our surprise. I was ready for him, but I wasn’t ready for this.

“As you know, we have decided to get you two married. We have discussed this carefully, and I hope there will be no objections. No ‘but’s. And. . .”

“Excuse me, sir,” Necmettin interrupted, “I thought we were given a choice. Is it an arranged or forced marriage?”

“Both are the same. And. . .”

“Sorry, sir, but if it’s forced, I will not even ask for her hand. I want to ask for her consent first.”

Her consent does not mean anything, Necmettin! She’s a girl!” I stayed silent as the situation heated up. And so Mr Hasan, who had been silent, reacted back, “I thought you’re different now, Ahmet. Don’t you remember about your wife?”

“That’s what she got from disobeying me, and what she’ll get if she disobeys me!”

“Have you even thought about how you always degrade women? You always tell them to shut up as if they have no power over you!”

“Of course they don’t!”

With no way to change Father’s belief, Mr Hasan surrendered and let him win the argument. I’d wanted to speak up too, to support Mr Hasan, but I’d been afraid that things would get worse and Father would decide to marry me to Necmettin sooner. And so a brief silence followed.

“Alright then, should we start?”

When I eavesdropped the conversation earlier upstairs, I noticed that Necmettin had already asked my father’s permission. I knew what was coming next.

“Aliye, will you be mine?”

“Well. . . I know everyone wants me to. And I know – even from just a few glimpses from the past when I was ten and you were seventeen – that you will take care of me well. But I’m still so young, I don’t know if I should. I. . . I need time to think.” I ran upstairs into my room.

I took my rucksack from the corner of the room and cleaned the dust. I opened the closet, only to find some clothes fall down from their stacks. Trousers, T-shirts, dresses, skirts. . . I threw a random set of clothes into the rucksack. I did not bother to wrap them tidily, much less put them into a suitcase; all I wanted to do was get out of here. The remaining space was only used to fit a small towel, leaving a (still) large space. I grabbed my shoulder bag, which was only occupied by a wallet filled with the remainder of the monthly allowance, leaving the perfect space to put my travel kit in. I carried both bags downstairs to the kitchen and left them next to the back door.

“Where are you going?” my sister asked me, quickly getting up from one of the chairs.

“Out of here.”

“But what about. . .”

“I won’t go far. If you’re looking for me, I’ll be at Aunty Latife’s. Just don’t tell Father. He’ll be furious.”

“You know, if I were you, I’d marry Necmettin and get out of here.”

“But I won’t and can’t be listed as married. I’m still fifteen, remember?”

“At least you’ll live somewhere better than this hell of a house. You know, you can be religiously married and yet legally unmarried at the same time.”

“I don’t want to be the cause of his arrest!”

My sister then gave up on her attempt to keep me here and hugged me. She said, “I know it’s difficult. I promise I won’t tell him.” After she released me, I took my bags, went out the door and rode my bike away.

Seni Seviyorum

My friends told me that the shortcut I went through to get home was haunted. And I didn’t believe them. Why? I didn’t, and still don’t, believe in myths. They told me the spirit of a girl roamed on the narrow road, and that the girl had died in the cold of winter.

Or so I’ve been told.

Back from school, I went through the narrow shortcut. Then I saw something. No, someone. It looked like a girl with that long black hair. She sounded like a ghost. Is the myth real?

I tiptoed and approached her, touching her. She’s real! I thought. When she turned around and looked at me, I ran away. ‘Don’t run away!’ the girl shouted. I came back to her.

‘It’s okay, don’t be scared,’ she said. I became less scared and walked to her. Still curious, I asked, ‘Are you real?’

‘Well of course I am, why wouldn’t I be real?’

I walked closer to her. ‘Come on, sit here next to me,’ she said. I just accepted that and sat next to her. I braved myself and asked her the scary question.

‘Who are you?’

‘I-I’m Merve.’

‘Well, Merve, why are you here?’

‘I…don’t…have…a home,’ she mumbled.

I could hear her saying the words. No home? All I could imagine was a girl who’s free to do whatever she wanted, but had to struggle at the same time. So unfair, this life. I looked at my watch and seeing that it was already late, I walked away.

‘Wait!’ she shouted. I turned my head around, and she said to me, ‘Thanks for not running away from me…’

‘It’s Ayşe.’

I gave her a smile and left.

It’d been a year since I met Merve, and every time I come home, I always spared some time with her. But not today.

On my way home, through the shortcut, I felt lonelier than ever. And this day I realised that the only way you know that you truly love someone is when you let them go. And she wasn’t there for the next days. Days, weeks, months passed. Maybe she’d gone away or just wandering around.

And eventually, years passed. Those years were hard, the years where I had to move on from thinking about Merve. And now that I’m free from the burdens of student life, the only burden is missing her.

Today, I’m not really free, though. I promised my sister that I’d come to see her – family affairs. And so now I’m waiting for the train to Istanbul. Then, in the crowd of strangers, I can see a familiar face. Too familiar, to be honest. Can it be? I see her squeezing through the crowd, trying to get to me. And when she is close enough, when she is standing just right in front of me, she said, ‘Ayşe, is it you?’

And I happen to ask this question at the same time: ‘Merve, is it you?’

‘Where have you been?’ I ask.

‘I just came back from Istanbul. I see you’re going there.’

‘Well, yes. Let me guess. Goodbye?’

‘All right then. Goodbye.’

Thistles and Roses, part one

Emma Mackay was thinking. Thinking about the answer to the questions on the examination papers, the results she would get, every thought anyone could think of at once.

Time went on. By the time the bell rang, she had done all the questions on the papers. Then, the teacher, Miss Lakehill, stood up and walked around the classroom, collecting the papers from the students. Emma reluctantly gave the papers to Miss Lakehill, still worried about the results she was going to get.

‘One, two, three, one, two, three…’

Inside the dance class, the new dance teacher, Kelly Abbott, was teaching her first class. This was her very first time teaching, as she danced to entertain others in the past.

After the first class (and first teaching experience), it was break time. Kelly walked to the teacher’s room, looking overwhelmingly exhausted. Who knew teaching could be this hard!

‘Don’t underestimate this job. Even though your previous job was very hard, this one’s just as hard,’ another teacher, Skye MacLeod, told Kelly. ‘I didn’t underestimate, it’s just…I thought children are easy work,’ Kelly replied.

Kelly went to the dance-costume store, with the hopes that the special edition “Thistles & Thorns” shoes were still available.

‘What can I do for you?’

‘Is the special edition shoes still available?’

‘I think so, but I’ll check first.’

Then she was back with the shoes. They were silver-coloured, with a thistle print on the left shoe and a rose print on the right shoe.

‘This is the last pair. I hope this is the right size.’

‘It doesn’t really fit on me, but I’m planning to keep these in the storage. I work in a dance school, so this would be useful and won’t go to waste.’

‘All right then, just take it. I won’t give you any price for the shoes.’

‘Thank you, thank you.’

‘You’re ever so welcome.’

So, Kelly took the shoes back home with her.

A spirit and three nights, part one

It’s New Year’s Eve, and you can tell how excited people are these days. That sort of excitement right after Christmas is over. I’m not that thrilled, though. I’ll just be staying home watching fireworks from my room. Not as fascinating as watching them outside, but close enough.

Someone’s knocking the door. Oh dear, why would anyone want to bother me at this time? I open the door, and I find my brother Rory standing there.

‘What is it?’ I ask.

‘There’s something strange going on in my room,’ he tells me, ‘something I don’t know.’

‘How did it happen?’

‘There was a strange light coming from the mirror. I don’t know what it is, but let’s go!’ He drags me to his room, and when we get there, nothing seems to be out of the ordinary. ‘But it was right here!’ he cried. ‘Don’t worry,’ I tell him, ‘that’s just your imagination. I once saw those things.’ And with that, I leave his room, and go back to sleep.

Everything is white. Is this the end of the world? Then a light shines right in front of me. As the light fades, a figure appeared – the spirit of a young girl, or maybe an angel. The only thing she says is: ‘stay strong.’ Then she disappears, out of my sight.


The only thing I remember waking up is that I saw an angel in my dreams. I get dressed and go downstairs to the dining room, only to find the table empty. This is strange, as I usually find breakfast on the table at this particular time of day. Then the sound of footsteps starts to make me nervous. And just when I start to think that there might be a mysterious creature, I hear a familiar sound:

‘Hey Shivers, what’re you doing so early in the morning?’

‘Nothing, Kieran. I just happen to be wide awake at this time.’

‘Alright then, I’ll go back upstairs…’

‘Wait a sec,’ I stop him, then I request, ‘can you wake Rory up, please? I want to talk to him.’

‘OK, I’ll wake him up for you. By the way, what do you need to talk about?’

‘About last night’s events. I saw an angel in my dreams, and she appeared from a light that’s similar to the one he saw,’ I explain to him.

When I look back, he’s not there anymore. How did he do that? While waiting, I open my diary. All I write is:

I saw an angel in my dream, and Rory saw a light from his mirror. Something strange is happening,

And when I finish, Kieran is already downstairs with Rory next to him. ‘There you go,’ he says.

‘Come here, Rory,’ I call, ‘what exactly did you see last night?’

‘A light from the mirror. Why?

‘Look,’ I explain, ‘I saw a spirit in my dream, appearing from a bright light like the one you see.’

‘And what does that mean?’

‘Maybe a coincidence, or maybe … a miracle.”

Maf’s Random Ramblings: Teenage randomness

You probably have heard about Maddalena and her boyfriend(?), her so-called popularity, and that she read MY DIARY! Well, she’s got freedom; she’s a teen, and will be leaving teen years behind, very soon.

I, however, am going to enter teen years, and there’s been a great deal of preparations, such as knowing why girls follow trends (no, that was just me being curious).

As far as I know, there are so many things to worry about as a teen: relationships (friendship/romantic, whichever), hangouts, school life, and so on. Some, like me, even have a place to keep secret private notes about teen randomness: a diary.

I really hate to tell you that I can’t tell you more, but I have to go, for some reason I can’t explain.

See you on my b-day!

Mafalda’s Random Ramblings: Why I don’t follow fashion

While waiting for my birthday, I want to share a few things about my opinions on pop culture, especially about girls, as I deserve to know a thing or two if I’m going to enter teen years.

So, about girls…do you watch fashion shows? Well, I don’t. Do you follow the latest trend in fashion? Well, I don’t. Girls and fashion seem to be an inseparable thing, but sometimes, there are girls who go too far in following the thing I’m talking about.

Their main reasons to follow this are:
1)They want to impress boys with the latest looks,
2)They only do that for the sake of being trendy.

But when they go sexy, that’s when boys become too weak to resist. And now here’s the question: looks do become a sex appeal, but is that (and a lot of money) enough to win one’s heart?

The answer is definitely no.