Sunday, 12 June 2016

Choice Words




Turkish neighbours are usually very friendly, at least until they fall out with each other and swear vengeance, but even then they usually communicate by insult. Silence rarely reigns. When we started building our house in 1991, our nearest neighbour lived on the corner of the lane, a good 400 metres away and well out of sight from where we had chosen to build our house.  She was an old woman, wrinkled and weather beaten and long widowed, who would sit on her step and watch the world go by. I would greet her every time I passed on foot  and occasionally wave from the car and she would totally ignore me every single time.  I have continued to wish her good morning and good evening in the intervening two and a half decades but she has never once replied. I realIse that I may have looked strange to her,  a tallish blond  with funny foreign ways and a pampered pooch in the days when dogs had to work for their supper, and we had decided to build a house on what she obviously considered her side of the village, (her house being the only one on the left side of the road until we came along) but my neighbour, who is now next door but three, never let on to anyone why we had been sent to Coventry before we even moved in.  This evening, I walked past with the dog lead in one hand and a black bin bag in the other - the municipality has given us a rubbish collection service now and the bin is next to her house. My neighbour was on her step again, looking exactly the same as she did the first time I passed,  I smiled as usual and wished her good evening and shock, I got a good evening back!  I almost did a comical double take but she was still talking. "Is your husband dead?" she asked, "when did he die?"  No, he's at home, I replied. He's watching the football .   "I heard he died" she insisted. "No, no" I countered, lost for anything to add to this exchange and carried on to the bin.  As I passed her on the return, she wished me a good evening and I threw back "Are these the words I've waited 25 f***ing years for?  Of course that was only what was on my mind, my  lips just mouthed "Same to you". 
I've lived here long enough to know that tact is not a common Turkish characteristic. Did she finally decide that we had had something in common after all this time and communication could begin? As conversations go, I don't think it was worth waiting 25 years for. 

14 comments:

  1. This is funny and sad at the same time. It is sad that you have lived next to her this long and for whatever reason she missed the opportunity to have a friendship with someone nice like you Annie.

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    1. The rest of the village are very friendly so I don't feel short changed.

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  2. B to B, Well, we all know how Turks are - well, some might say nosey, but to put a nice spin on it, they're very, very curious, which might explain her sudden loquaciousness.

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    1. I'm sure we've done much more to be curious about in the passing quarter century - she wasn't interested then.

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  3. I am imagining that your very old, even more wrinkled now, neighbour, must resemble your avatar! At first I thought she was possibly deaf, but no, I don't know what to make of her comment but admire your restrained reply.

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    1. The Avatar is a painting my husband did of the batty old lady who was the only person living in Stratonikeia 20 years ago.

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  4. . . it's nothing Annie - you and hubby are, sorry, were yabanci. Now she has decided that you have been around long enough to qualify as a local. I'm sure you know that, to country folk, all outsiders are yabanci! Be content in your having arrived at last.

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  5. That's some opening gambit! Not sure I've ever heard you say the F word Annie but would understand if you had said it out aloud!

    Gareth is in France at the moment and was at the Turkey V Croatia match - said the atmosphere was great.

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  6. They do say the best things are worth waiting for but 25 years does seem a tad long but, hey, you got there in the end!

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