A father walks with his son’s bones stuffed inside a white sack among the wuthering, verbosity and grandstanding. A father struggles to walk. A father wanting to walk away.
Fathers lose themselves in the deepest and most devastating loneliness of silence.
They understand that the only consolation for their wrinkled foreheads and desperate faces is a pile of bones.
A mother sits on the divan in her home. She has just received a box of bones in the mail. There was a time when she would run to console her child when he scraped his knee. Now, she sits on a divan with a box of his bones.
Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers stand by bags of bones, labelled “unclaimed” and sealed with wax, buried beneath a concrete pavement in plastic tubs.
People walk on the pavement. Men walk away hurriedly from the pain and suffering of those who dab at their tears with the ends of their white headscarves.
People get lost in the growing distance between those who give sideways glances and look away, and those who gather staring at the pavement.
A man in uniform once asked “What has this state ever done to you?” as he walked around, treading on the backs of Kurdish construction workers, his voice backed by the strength of the establishment.
“What has this state ever done to you?”
Once there was a 12-year-old boy, his name was Uğur Kaymaz. He was killed by 13 bullets in the Kurdish-majority province of Mardin (Mêrdîn). His colourful handmade sweater was riddled with bullet holes. The great men of the state said he had been in “clashes with the state”. Some police officers were removed from duty, only to be reinstated later.
The Kaymaz family was represented by prominent human rights lawyer Tahir Elçi, who demanded a fair trial for the boy’s death. Elçi was shot and killed in November 2015, in what appeared to be clashes between armed men and the police. The murder was never solved.
Ceylan Önkol was killed when a mortar shell exploded as she took some animals out to graze in the Diyarbakır (Amed) countryside. She was 12 when she was blown to pieces and her mother cried, “Ceylankê parçe parçe” – “Little Ceylan is in pieces” in her native Zazaki.
Jets flew over Roboskî in December 2011. Days before New Year they dropped bombs on 34 poverty-stricken villagers, 19 of whom were children. Mothers picked up the pieces of their children, trying to identify trousers and shoes to accurately separate the bodies for burial.
“Don’t call them civilians, they were smugglers,” shouted one of the high-ups. A journalist wrote about “donkeys and horses copulating to make mules”, in a derogatory reference to the mules used to haul tax-free cigarettes and basic goods across the border.
Men in combat boots shouted, “What has the state ever done to you?” as Kurds carried small coffins to burial.
The Kurd’s bones, voice, language, whatever the Kurd has that belongs to them, becomes a source of tyranny for them. You start to wonder why we speak, what we’re recounting to whom, and how those people interpret our words.
Your words stagnate inside you, your eyes lock on an empty distance, and a language rises around you, always coming up with fresh “but”s to explain away the tyranny anew.
We navigate our way through sentences derived from the “perpetuity” of the state. People continue to walk on the pavement, speaking big words in chorus, hidden amidst discourse on imperialism and secularism.
Meanwhile, the bones of the Kurds remain beneath the pavement, as their mothers wipe at their tears with the ends of their white headscarves.