“Seher”: The Story Written by the Turkish Opposition Politician Selahattin Demirtaş
“Seher" is a short story written by the opposition politician, the member of the Democratic Party of the Peoples of Turkey, the member of the Parliament, by ethnicity Zaza (Iranian people) Selahattin Demirtaş. Demirtaş is one of the active fighters for the creation of democratic Turkey, for the equality of rights and freedoms.
In November 2016, Demirtaş was arrested on suspicion of having links with the Kurdistan Workers' Party. In February 2017, Demirtaş was found guilty of “insulting the Turkish nation” and sentenced to five months of prison, but this did not prevent him from adopting his candidacy for the presidency on May 13 of this year.
It is noteworthy that the administration of the Diyarbakır prison, in which Demirtaş served his sentence, banned his book with stories due to the fact that it allegedly harbors “encrypted messages”.
Seher put sisters to bed, drew a henna pattern or their hands, put on her hands old socks and then Pinar and Kader went to sleep. Seher also went to bed with the sisters. They were so glad, that couldn’t sleep as they knew they would have a festive morning the next day. Pinar couldn’t stop thinking of her new dress. Never before she had had her own dresses, as she had to wear Kader’s old clothes. New shoes were bought for Kader, that’s why they both were in a festive mood. Giggling, they were whispering under the blanket until midnight. They didn’t even care what the older sister would think. The younger sisters knew that the sister couldn’t be angry with them for a long time, as she loves them very much. In the end, they hugged each other and fell asleep.
Seher was worried about something else. The other day she agreed to meet with a guy named Khairi with whom they were working in the same studio. When Seher was leaving the studio, Khairi offered her to meet with him. For a long time they were looking at each other with cautious glances and the workers there were gossiping all the time. Such things can never be hidden from strangers’ eyes. Seher was thinking that the time of her marriage was passing. She was twenty two years old and was afraid that she would never get married. Her peers got married at the age of eighteen and already had children. There were guys who had offered her to marry several times, but she refused. She was only passionate about Khairi. Tall, with wavy hair and full lips – he could be considered beautiful. It was already eight years that they had been working together. Khairi began working in the studio earlier than Seher, immediately after serving in the army.
In the morning, everybody woke up with a feeling of sweet anxiety. Seher’s father – Gani, went to the mosque for the salah. Pinar and Kader ran to the bathroom to wash away the dried henna. That festive morning they were happy and cheerful. Seher washed her drawing then helped the sisters. Their tender hands turned red like garnet. Seher kissed sisters’ small hands. Mother Sultan was in the kitchen. By the arrival of the men from the mosque, the breakfast should be on the table. Seher also went to the kitchen to help her mother, while the little naughty ladies ran into their room to get dressed for the holiday. All the beds were taken to one room to free the second for the holiday table. The family never got together at the same table, except for such festive breakfasts. The men, returning from the mosque, congratulated everyone on the holiday. Everyone, except for Mother, kissed the hand of the father of the family. The father hugged and kissed Pinar and Kader. After that, the children kissed the mother’s hand, who hugged them and kissed. Seher hugged and kissed the youngest brother, Engin. The latter was especially dear to her. Seher pulled some money out of her wallet and congratulated her brother on the holiday. Engin didn’t want to take the money, but then took. In the end, the whole family set about breakfast, enjoying a pleasant conversation.
Before dinner, the family visited several neighbors after which the men left the house. Three hours were left by the meeting of Seher and Khairi, but she hadn’t told mother anything yet. Mother was very attached to the children, but Seher had a special place in her heart. She was not only her daughter: she was the friend of hers, the friend who wouldn’t let her down, the friend whom she could trust. After several notices, she nevertheless allowed Seher to leave the house, asked her nothing, but knew her eldest daughter perfectly to guess everything.
They met in a café in front of the court building. When she entered inside, Khairi was sitting alone. He stood up and shook Seher’s hand.
- Happy holiday, - he said.
- Happy holiday, too, - she answered with a trembling voice.
This was the first time the girl had met with a boy. She didn’t know how the meeting would pass. She knew nothing. For many years, Seher’s life was limited to job and home. After a while, she calmed down a bit. While Seher’s heart continued beating hard, they were talking about not important things. Then she relaxed and they talked a little about their past and their families.
When speaking, Seher opened up and trusted him, as if she had spent many years with him and that was Khairi’s merit. He just fascinated her. Perhaps, he already had a similar experience. Perhaps, he had already met with other girls. He is a man after all. Telling something Seher, Khairi was looking only at her. He tilted his head slightly forward, and Seher had the opportunity to examine his face.
Two hours later they left the café and said goodbye. Perhaps, Seher fell in love. She walked to the house and couldn’t think about anything and anybody other than Khairi. She felt that her cheeks were turning red when she was thinking about him. This forbidden and secret date made her fear at the thought that she was already near the house. Seher couldn’t even tell mother about the meeting. When she came home, the men hadn’t returned yet. Mother didn’t ask her anything. One day, the daughter herself will tell her everything.
Pinar and Kader spread the beds early and instantly fell asleep. Seher also went to bed, but instead of sleeping she dreamed of Khairi for hours. She thought about how she would be a bride, about her wedding, about how all of her things would appear in Khairi’s house. Her cheeks were burning from the constraints. She did not even notice how she fell asleep.
The next morning, the whole family was again at breakfast. Seher was so worried the family could find out something, that was hiding her face from everybody. There were two sitting on the sofa who didn’t’ look at each other. It was father Gani and brother Hadi. Yesterday, they accidentally crossed in one of Adana’s brothels, however pretended not to know each other. At breakfast, they were avoiding each other and didn’t even say a word.
When Seher came to work after the holiday, her heart was beating all the time – Khairi was there. They could not take their eyes off each other the whole day and in the dining room they sat at the same table. Looking at other men, she felt incredibly happy, as the most beautiful and the most genial man was Khairi and his heart had chosen her. She wanted the tale not to end.
After work, the two of them left the studio. Seher wanted to say goodbye, but Khairi suggested:
- My friends will arrive by car and if you want we will take you home.
- Don’t bother.
- What are you talking about. We are going in the same direction, anyway.
- Okay, but stop at the beginning of the street, - agreed Seher.
When they got in the car, Khairi introduced her to his friends. With the man, who was driving the car, everyone spoke in a whisper. Khairi behaved differently in the car: he didn’t speak to the driver and didn’t show the way. It was already dark when they passed the highway. Seher noticed:
- You went wrong. I live in the Shakyrpaşa area.
- Don’t worry. We will just walk a little, breathe fresh air and then will take you home.
- Well, but let’s not be late, they are waiting for me at home, - Seher said excitedly.
After some time, the car drove into the forest path. Seher’s heart was beating hard. Plunging into the forest, the car stopped.
- Come on, the air is wonderful in the forest, - said Khairi and took Seher’s hand.
- No, I don’t want to leave the car. I must go home right now, - Seher timidly asked.
- Why did you get into the car then, if you are not going to leave, damn it! – suddenly shouted Khairi.
Seher didn’t understand who was crying, Khairi or someone else. It couldn’t be Khairi’s voice. She couldn’t believe. The others left the car and came up to her. One hugged her waist, the other one was stroking her hair. With the aid of Khairi, they pushed her to the ground, holding her legs and arms. She wanted to scream, but seemed to lose her voice. The whole world froze, everything froze… only Khairi was moving.
When Seher woke up, she found herself lying on the side of the road, and at first thought she was sleeping. She tried to wake up, but failed. “It seems, I was hit by a car, - she thought. - The nightmare I saw is impossible. When the car hit me, I lost consciousness and saw that nightmare”. Seher was so trying to convince herself. She realized that she was in an industrial area, stood up and went in the direction where the noise of cars was coming from. When she went to the avenue, she realized where she was. She quickened the pace and tried not to think about anything.
Mother opened the door and screamed:
- What has happened to you, baby?
Seher could say nothing, she lost her voice. The men were not at home yet. They had gone to the agricultural bench to sell vegetables since morning and would return late in the evening. Mother took Seher to the bathroom. Pinar and Kader were scared and were looking at their sister. Mother, taking off her clothes, saw blood, bruises and could not hold back tears. Her tears were mixed with hot water. Sultan washed, combed her daughter and washed again. Seher finally recovered and the first sound she made in a few hours of silence was a heart-rending cry. Mother hugged her and they cried, hugging, crying about what had happened and what would happen .
When Seher dried out, her mother put on her pajamas, put her to bed and covered her with a blanket. And she sat for a long time beside her, stroking her hair and reading prayers. Pinar and Kader hid in a corner and were watching. Seher soon fell asleep, but the expression of her face was tired. Mother cautiously left the room with her younger sisters, closing the door silently. A little later they knocked hard on the door. Those were men. Neighbors spread news that they had seen Seher in blood and had heard her screaming. Therefore, the men returned home earlier than they used to.
- What has happened to Seher, - asked father Gani.
- She is fine now, asleep, - answered mother.
- What has happened?
- What happened, happened, - said mother Sultan.
Father and Hadi got up abruptly, only Engin didn’t understand what had happened. Gani ordered Hadi to call all male relatives.
- Let’s them come right now.
Sultan was pleading.
- Let no one come now.
- All this will not end well, - told the father and added. - There is no other way out than to die.
Sultan Mother closed the way for her husband.
- My daughter is sinless, don’t touch her, - she pleaded, but this had no effect on her father.
In some time the male relatives arrived. All the men closed in the room and were arguing for a while. Mother Sultan did not step away from Seher, was sitting quietly beside her bed, kissing her hair and crying. After some time, the men silently left the house. Hadi entered the room.
- Mom, leave the room.
- I will not, son. I will not leave my daughter. Take me with her, - mother asked.
- Don’t stand between us. It does not concern you. This is a matter of honor, our honor, - said Hadi.
- Well, to hell your honor! - shouted Sultan. - My daughter is innocent, stay away from my daughter!
Seher almost woke up, opened her eyes and met her brother's gaze. They were filled with tears, but the expression of his face remained cruel. Seher understood everything, got out of bed and slowly went to the bathroom to dress. After that, she asked her brother for permission to say goodbye to Mother. Seher hugged mother tightly: both could not speak because of the incessant sobbing. Pinar and Kader were afraid and were crying too. Seher hugged them many times and kissed them.
- Do not forget your older sister, ok? - she asked.
The sisters realized that something bad had happened and did not want to let their older sister go. But father shouted.
- Go out, it's time!
Mother hid her daughter behind her back.
- First kill me! - she said calmly.
Husband slapped her face to the ground.
- Do not interfere!
Sultan, not rising from the ground, clasped her husband's legs, begged him, but he was adamant. Without looking at Seher, he silently pointed out the door to her. Seher, bowing her head, dutifully withdrew. On the street, they all got into the car waiting for them. Neighbors, opening the curtains, were silently watching how Seher was taken away. Nobody met them on the way. Seher sat with Engin in the backseat. Engin wanted to hug his sister, but the fear of his father prevented him from doing so.
They stopped outside the city near some wasteland. Seher first got out of the car and waited for others. Her beautiful, clear face was lit by moonlight. They went. It was so quiet there, only Adana’s frozen land crunched from their footsteps. My father stopped and everyone stopped behind him. The father pulled a pistol from behind his back and handed it to Engin. Seher lost her exposure for the first time.
- Father, may I be your victim, do not force Engin to do this, he is still a child, he will not survive the prison! - begged Seher.
Father, trying to hold back tears, said firmly.
- Take it, son, and be done with it.
Engin took the gun from his father’s hands: his hand trembled.
- Get on your knees! - Hadi ordered his sister, trying to be tough and hide feelings.
- Father, let me kiss your hand, - said Seher in a weary voice.
Father extended her hand. With his second hand he tried to wipe his eyes.
- I bless you, my daughter, - he could hardly speak.
Then she hugged Brother Hadi, asked for his blessings, but he stood motionless. The last she hugged Engin. The latter also hugged her tightly, lowering the gun.
Seher knelt, Engin picked up the pistol, loaded it, his hands were trembling.
- I will be your victim. Don't be afraid of anything and no one, and in jail take care of your health, - Seher said.
Engin, closing his eyes, shouted "Seher, sister" and fired. From the sound of the shot, crows flew into the air from distant poplars. Seher fell, and her hot blood flowed over the frozen land of Chukurov (district in the province of Adana,)
Three men in the night forest stole all the dreams of Seher.
And then three more men took the life of Seher in the middle of the night in the wasteland.