ALI – Giant tree of Turkish literature finally rests

Giant tree of Turkish literature finally restsThe great novelist of Turkish literature will no longer produce we will no longer read new versions of his accessible works or hear his great voice in public.My generation, familiar with YaIar Kemal, is grieving over the loss of one of its greatest assets.

We knew him first with andldquoInce Memed.andrdquo This great novelist who grew up on the edge of the Taurus Mountains depicted a great hero in this seminal novel.

I read, without interruption, this novel where he narrated the story of a young man who escaped with his lover The part where their pursuer told the details of the two loversand#39 reunion was rather impressive. I am sure this great master leaned back and smiled while writing these pages depicting the vibrant emotions of young people.

Smiling was YaIar Kemaland#39s best characteristic. He was the greatest novelist of Turkish literature thanks to his eloquent and embracive language.

He was not just a literary giant he also became part of the social and political life of Turkey. I met YaIar Kemal in a courtroom in Ankara The old Republican Peopleand#39s Party (CHP) building was redesigned as a State Security Court (DGM) after the party was dissolved following the 1980 military coup.

I was with a delegation of the European Parliament to attend an important hearing in the court. After the hearing, Kemal approached me — he was having difficulty walking down the street to KIzIlay.

He was strong and alive. And he did not appear to get any older despite his aanced age.

I am not very short, but he seemed quite taller than me. He was also brave.

Throughout his life, he remained part of the socialist movement. He shared the pain of the left-wingers and he was full of life.

His family settled in ukurova when he was three. He was born to Kurdish parents.

Like millions of other Kurds, they moved to ukurova a hundred years ago. And like many others, they were also andldquoTurkified.

andrdquo He was not a Kurdish nationalist — he was proud of being a resident of Adana He always said that the best moments in his life were the ones when he was welcomed in the streets of Adana He was attentive to the Kurdish issue not because he was a Kurd but because he was a leftist democrat. He embraced Kurds and loved Turkey.

And he was sensitive. A lawsuit was filed against him because of a piece he wrote for Der Spiegel on the Kurdish issue.

That article led to him being subjected to a campaign of persecution by neo-nationalists.I told him not to pay attention to those people.

He was no longer smiling. He said: andldquoIt is not that I pay attention to these pimps, but I was hurt by one of them He was having a rough time in Adana He came to me, so I gave him a job and supported him for years.

I thought at least he should not have done this for the sake of what I had done for himandrdquo In a grave decision for Turkish justice and politics, Kemal was sentenced to two years in prison for that Der Spiegel article. The judgment highlights the stateand#39s approach regarding the ongoing Kurdish issue and media freedomHe was closely following European politics and responded positively to invitations from Europe.

I used to visit his home on the edge of the Bosporus and have a cup of tea with him Every time I visited him, I thought he looked pretty strong and alive. He asked me to tell him what was happening in Europe.

The attention Franois Mitterrand paid pleased him not just as a novelist but as a human being as well. Mitterrand was a friend of his, but the politicians in Turkey did not understand himYaIar Kemal was the giant tree of Turkish literature.

You may explore the deep valleys of Turkish literature under his shadow. But you may also view him as a source of the pain, desire, love and passion of the people in Central Anatolia His works enriched our literature, our democracy, the Kurdish issue and our appreciation of the environment.

In recent years, he focused on the pain of the Greeks and the Turks.In an article he wrote for Italian daily La Repubblica, where he assessed the Gezi Park protests, Kemal stressed that the hatred generated against democracy and freedom of thought would be a great disaster for our generation.

Now I better understand his opposition to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in its initial years. He was wise.

That great novelist will no longer produce, but we will seek refuge under his large shadow for many years to come.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman