In the Middle – Turkey: Forgetting (Part 1)

By Seyit Ali Dastan

He was walking down the asphalt-paved street to our home. I was waiting on the side, following his slow steps with my eyes. Just like any other summer day, he wore a blue T-shirt. He seemed so carefree and calm that I envied him for a second. We had celebrated his 65th birthday six months ago. But as he got closer to me, he seemed younger than I recalled. This was the first change that I noticed. My impression was that his facial expression had become smoother. He recognized me only when he was quite close. When he saw me, he became very pleasant; we hugged each other as if we were two friends. He was my father Mehmet and had recently had a brain hemorrhage that had wiped out some of his memory.

I went to see my father two weeks after what had happened to him – because my mother didn’t let me know initially. Only after he was discharged from the hospital and started a new life did my mother call and explain the situation. She said that there was nothing to do at the time – it was all medical staff. The doctor said my father would recover but needed some help. “You should talk to the doctor,” she said.

We scheduled a visit the day I arrived at my parents’ home in Kayseri, a major city in central Turkey. But that evening I tried to understand how extensive the problem was by sort of interrogating him.

“Dad, do you know what happened to you?” I asked.

“Not really, your mother says that there is bleeding in my brain. This caused me to disremember some things,” he replied.

I viewed the answer positively because, if at least he knew he would be able to remember things, that would help him regain his memory. I then asked about some events from our family’s past.

“Do you remember my sister’s wedding?”

“I know she is married, but I don’t exactly know for how long.”

“Do you remember her husband’s or my wife’s name?”

“No,” he said, “But I could recognize them if I saw them on the street.”

The interrogation continued all evening. I realized that he had largely forgotten what had happened in the last 4-5 years. He had almost completely forgotten politics, which he had really liked to follow. The sad events, like my uncles’ death two years ago, had also been lost. He thought that my uncle was alive. Having comprehended the extent of the damage, I asked:

“Do you know where I am working now?”

“You are working in Ankara as a government official.”

The answer led to a moment of silence in the room. I was not sure what to say. Then my mother intervened: “Mehmet! Seyit lost his job after the coup two years ago. The government issued decrees and removed more than a hundred thousand people from their jobs.”

I was not sure whether to say this to my father so directly and tried to stop my mother. But she continued:

“Don’t worry son; your father has also forgotten how to be sad. He doesn’t care about it.”

Indeed, my father did not seem affected by this information. I recalled how he had been glum and anxious when he first heard that I had been ousted after years of service. Now he was completely indifferent.

We continued talking about what I was doing and how I was earning a living. At the end of the night, when I went to bed, I realized that my father had really forgotten what it means to be sad. This was the most upsetting part because if you cannot be sad, that means it is not possible to be happy either. Forgetting cannot be or should not be the cure for anything, I thought.

We woke up early the following day and went to the clinic where the initial procedures had been performed. My father and I visited the doctor who knew his story. The doctor said:

“Mehmet Hocam will get better in time.” – I understood that he knew my father was a teacher, and called him Hocam accordingly. – “The bleeding stroke was in the memory part of his brain. As the bleeding stops, he will recover. But we can’t guarantee the extent of his recovery. When they brought him to the hospital, he couldn’t even remember his wife’s name. As I see now, he has improved greatly in just two weeks.”

“Is there anything we can do to help with this process,” I asked.

“The recovery depends on mental activity. I suggest you encourage him to use his brain. He can solve some puzzles and visit some places you already know. Just try to stimulate his memory by reminding him of past events and venues. But don’t push him and don’t try to teach the past to him.”

(Part 2 to follow on January 18…)

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asyran

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More by Seyit Ali Dastan

Uncertain Waters – Short story

Polarization and the Epidemic of Extremity – Short story

Living in the Pendulum between Turkey and Syria – Short story

More on Turkey

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Turkey and other countries

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

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