One of our friends Ozzy married a lovely young English girl called Sophie last year after a whirlwind romance. I met her lovely family at the wedding which was held in a very small village just outside of Aydin. I had been to the village a couple of times and always enjoyed the hospitality of Ozzy’s parents who run a small holding, which has obviously been in the family for generations. The village where he grew up is a very small sleepy community where men sit outside the tea shops all day drinking çay.The little run-down village isn’t picture postcard pretty and is not a haven for tourists, being a little off the beaten path. It comprises of three main “streets”, a petrol station and two shops; so not exactly a buzzing metropolis.
Whilst I cannot fault this lovely traditional Turkish family, I was all too aware of the cramped and basic dwelling in which they lived, where family photos adorned the walls and the father religiously attended the mosque for daily prayers. They worked hard and enjoyed the fruits of the labour in terms of always having a full table and larder. No doubt things were a little leaner during the colder months and I knew that in an attempt to save electric during the winter; the family lived in one room and only ventured outside for work, to attend the mosque or to use the outside bathroom.I had treasured the friendship of both Ozzy and Sophie since I had arrived in Altinkum and we used to share laughter, tears, the supermarket shop, meals and day trips. In fact, it was their support that got me through the first few weeks in Tinky Town. I knew that their eventual plan was to relocate to the UK once Ozzy’s visa had been approved but the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly and Sophie, at just twenty-three, was beginning to struggle with life in Turkey. We knew also that Ozzy would need a minor operation from an earlier injury to his foot which would be quite costly. So we were staggered when they said in an attempt to save funds they would be moving in with Ozzy’s parents. Life for a young English girl in a tiny Turkish village was not going to be easy. Especially one that was so remote and primitive and worlds apart from the life she knew. Ozzy’s parents didn’t have a computer or a television and I wondered how Sophie would cope without access to the outside world. Particularly in a Turkish speaking household where only one other member spoke her native tongue.
Within the week they were packed and ready to go, having disposed of most of their belongings. The day that we drove them to the small-holding, was probably one of the unhappiest for me. The realisation that I would be losing two new friends quite so suddenly filled me with sadness. But I would soon come to learn that living in Tinky Town, “hellos” and “goodbyes” were all too common place.
We knew we would be able to make the drive there and back to Altinkum within a day, so were able to enjoy another home cooked meal with Ozzy’s parents before setting out for the return journey. I had dreaded the moment when I would take leave of my friend. I hoped she had the resilience and strength of spirit to see it through, but for just being willing to try, she had earned my admiration. My friendship would always be just a phone call away.
A week or so later, we heard that Sophie had returned home to England leaving Ozzy behind with his parents to continue with his medical treatment God willing, life will be kind to both of them and their separation a short one.