Karin Karakaşlı




I have never been good with numbers. I am a woman of letters. However, accounting is not about numbers in spite of appearance; it is about life. I want to form short sentences and remember small details. You were a man who titled his column “Leapfrog”. Later, your comrade Ümit Kıvanç nicknamed you “Şapparig”, because of the sound you made while you were walking around in the office with your slippers and because you kept saying “ahparig” and then you changed the title of your column to “From Şapparig”. I mean, you were childish and cheerful. After years, during the trials, prosecutors used to read the criminal complaints against you out loud and they halted for a moment when it came to reading the name of your column, they were reading it like it was the name of an organization. Every time I heard it, I wanted to laugh. Think about it, if you had tried to explain it, they would have thought that you were mocking with them. How could they understand you anyway?


I spent ten years with you and another ten years have passed since I lost you. Such a strange feeling. I had the chance to experience a master-apprentice relationship. I appreciated it while you were alive, but now it feels like almost a tale. You shaped me and many other young people; you had raised us. You were exceptional for all of those who loved you; you transformed them. I had a fear. If anything happens to my parents, you would be with me like a plane tree on the one side and Baron Seropyan like a rock on the other side. Last year, I have lost Sarkis Seropyan, my rock. An era and space was closed for me.


You were writing your articles like you were battering the keyboard. We could not expect an enthusiastic person like you to write calmly. Those battering noises were reaching the peak, when you put three asterisks between the paragraphs. And those dashy asterisks made me laugh. Between those asterisks, you put the truth that seemed improbable. You put your whole heart, mind and sincerity. I keep remembering you say “I am making this up”, when you start some discussions. The way you encourage us to think and express. The way you put a childishly naive question forward in the middle of most intellectual conversations. The way you left all the kings naked with your dark humor.


Once you said, “Come, we will visit one of our elders. I have to see him before he dies.” I grabbed my bag with the excitement and hastiness of twenties. It was a hot summer day. The road to Elmadağ from Pangaltı was the center of life that day. We visited the researcher-author Kevork Pamukçiyan in Surp Agop Hospital. Through the doorway, I watched this man belonging to old times as he was combing his hair. He straightened himself up scarcely and offered us cologne and some chocolate, though he was aware that he was about to die. We talked about his health and plans, though we were aware that he was about to die. You bought us vanilla ice cream after we left the hospital just to change our mood. Ice cream meant life.


Whenever I remember that day with ice cream, a scene from Ferzan Özpetek's “A Perfect Day” swims before my eyes. The mother, who doesn't know that her ex-husband killed their two children, is wandering around in the streets of Rome at night. As the audience, we already know the disaster that she doesn't know and we are aware that the police is about to call to inform her about the incident. And she buys ice cream and starts to eat it. Ice cream means happiness. Then comes the death. That ice cream becomes the last moment of happiness. You start to remember it like it was a dream. It sinks into oblivion like the life itself.


No one should think that you had a lot of people, just by considering the way you filled the room you were in, the richness of your laughter and the persuasiveness and influence of your word. You shouldered lots of things just by yourself. Your loneliness was in your songs. You sang them with a broken voice and not poignantly.


During the days when people were shouting slogans in front of the office and posing threats against you and Armenians, you were pacing up and down. You shouldered the shame that no one claims and said, “I feel embarrassed because of the disturbance we caused to the shopkeepers around.” As the evening was approaching, you said, “Don't walk with me if you want.” Later, hundreds of thousands people walked behind you all day long; you were leading us in a casket. The time between those days is the brief history of Turkey.


Your love for your country had been tested many times. It was like a blind love. The way you tried to explain yourself by saying, “Let me tell it once again”; you were always gasping and drinking water. You started to gasp and drink water more and more. You embarked for creating the language of peace and you ended up being declared “an enemy of Turkish nation”. For them, it was almost impossible to mention you without saying, “Armenian journalist who is sentenced to 6 months of imprisonment on the charge of insulting and defaming Turkish nation”, even if they were just talking about the way you drink water. It was a lump that cannot be washed down.


I have seen it all. The police officers who took a photo with the murderer with their smiling faces, the ones who wore white beanies and shouted “We are all Ogün, we are all Turks”, the reports that were swept under the carpet, police conversations that painted the murder in glowing colors, the promotion of public officials and judiciary just to spite, shameful defences of ministries in ECHR and courts, their petitions of objection despite they were convicted to indemnity, the way everyone tried to pin “the murder of national consensus” on each other like it was a dodge-ball game, the fact that no Armenian church, foundation and institution felt the need to place an ad on the 10th anniversary, the ones I cannot know anymore, the articles starting with “my friend Hrant”, unearned benefits... I haven't forgiven...


This place is as you know. A place where it is possible to kill you. Recently, a video showing the physical and psychological torture that Special Operation Forces imposed on Kurdish children who were “evacuated” from Sur was released. I pictured how your eyes would be filled with sorrow and rage if you could see it. On the same night, HDP MP Garo Paylan was lynched, because he said “genocide” during his speech in the parliament. For years, they had been asking “Where is the document?” That famous document they had been searching for is that noble void in the parliamentary minute created by Paylan's deleted speech.

And what is more, that famous document they had been searching for was you; it “is” you. You, with your existence and absence.

The ones who have the guts to read it, please feel free to do it.