The dominant culture

Is Turkey a Muslim country? I would describe it as a country in which the majority religion is Islam, just as England is a country in which the majority religion is Christianity. Of both, we could describe them as countries in which people of a particular religious denomination exist in significant numbers. Like England, Turkey is a country in which the dominant religion informs much of its cultural landscape and customs. The notion that these are religious countries, though, is questionable.

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Circular

In life, I have learnt that whatever wrong we do will come back on us. If we mock another for their appearance, in due course we will be given that appearance. If we accuse another of certain actions, one day we will end up doing all we accused them of. That’s why it’s best to restrain the tongue and the hands, lest we be the source of our own demise.

Just me

And then there was one. To his credit, after several days ignoring us, demonstrating his new-found independence and indicating that he had no more need for us, our lad did skip back to me as the others piled into the car. “I’ll miss you,” he said, throwing his arms around me. They’ll only be gone a couple of nights, inshallah, but their departure apparently still warranted an, “I love you.”

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Quiet please

Noise. I cannot abide it. I realise I was made a quiet man for a reason. The guests have the television on at full volume. Some opposition political commentary. Because the television is so loud, everyone is speaking even louder to make themselves heard. And here I am, trying to do maghrib, turning a bright crimson with exasperation. I will be the gracious host for as long as they stay, but then I will breathe a sigh of relief, seeking refuge in quiet once more.

The gang

The kids have their young cousins to stay for a few days, so now go roaming down the lanes showing the adults who’s boss. Their happy cries are audible far away. This is the freedom they dreamed of. The joys of the rural village life, hanging out and having fun.

What?

Our friends from Ealing call us, “We’re in Turkey too. Kalkan. Come over!”

Right. That’s only a twenty-hour road trip, a mere nine-hundred miles. We’re virtually next-door neighbours.

“Maybe we’ll drop round when we get home,” we suggest. A twenty-five mile drive instead.

Brave

Always fascinating that in my wife’s extended family, it’s the women who find faith, while the men actively and vehemently oppose it. I suppose they must have greater strength and fortitude than their brothers. Such strength can never be underestimated in a family like theirs.

Reset

Though it pains me, once more I must press reset on a nascent project in the making. Once more I must interrogate my own intentions and, finding them wanting, must not just press pause, but go full obliteration. My lower self calls me back to these schemes over and over, each time convincing me anew that there is good in them. No, but ultimately I must take myself to account and continue to do battle with my wayward self. Daily does this battle rage on.

Dreams

Here I am sitting, just reflecting on dreams I once had, and how it all came to be. Maybe I forgot those dreams, setting them aside for many years, but everything was nevertheless set in motion. Despite myself, I was granted a companion who shared those ambitions and would help me realise all I once yearned for. Dreams don’t come to fruition overnight; often you have to wait years, but one day all that you once desired you will hold in your hands. These the lessons of life.

Farmer boy

These weeks, our kids are enjoying the life I dreamed of when I was young, with no shame at all. Daily, they go racing up the lane to our neighbours to actively participate in the rural life here. They are learning new responsibilities. A couple of weeks ago, they’d be seen following our neighbour around as she walked her milk cows for their evening graze. Now they have been assigned a cow, looking after it themselves. In just days, we’ve seen our little farmer boy grow in confidence and maturity. Oh, how we will miss this place.

In good faith

I think without my faith, I would have struggled to deal with the emotional impact of my diagnosis. By faith, though, I don’t mean the faith community to which I belong — if anything, that is mostly unhelpful, for Muslims carry with them a lot of prejudice and cultural baggage which often makes them insensitive to the effects of a condition such as this. By faith I mean my relationship with my Creator, and the practical toolkit the faith provides in dealing with loss and hardship.

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Sunday

The day began with our lad begging me to take him to town. But then our neighbour appeared, and they both spent the day helping her instead, starting with making hay, through to clearing beneath the hazel trees, and finally looking after the cows, rewarded along the way with garden produce. Me: I had the pleasure of cleaning the old furniture next door. Sunday’s no day of rest over here.