“It’s my home. I don’t know. Wouldn’t you stay?”

In Istanbul, I took a taxi as I was headed to my meeting from the airport. It wasn’t that hot, despite it being early July, and I was thankful for it.

I finally got into my cab. My driver’s name was Humit. He made a point of showing me his taxi license, with his photo. He didn’t speak a lot of English, and I certainly didn’t speak Turkish, but we found out somehow that we both spoke French, so that worked.

Humit looked like a Santa Cruz surfer boy, with dark blond hair that fell in waves, but he was studying to be a lawyer. His demeanor was serious, he spoke softly, and he had a way of looking at you amidst the chaotic traffic that made you feel that he was really trying to pay attention and understand, all the while never giving any indication that he wasn’t paying complete attention to the roads. I asked him where he was from in Turkey, and he answered simply, “I’m a Kurd.” Then he gave me a long look. It’s a look I’ve become accustomed to, when people expect a judgment call, or your attitude and behavior towards them to change, even though I wasn’t Turkish.***

“Tell me about it,” I said.

Humit seemed relieved. “It is very difficult here,” he explained. “During some of the fighting, they killed my cousins. I wanted to kill everyone then. I was so angry. My mother lost her leg.”

“When was that?”

“Ten years ago. I remember them every day. And of course, my mother suffers every day.”

“And you’re studying here to be a lawyer?”

“It’s a little different here,” he explained. “I left to study in France: That’s why I speak French—I went to France to get most of my studying done. But I come back here in Instanbul, for the exams.”

“Why do you want to stay in Istanbul?”

“I will stay, learn their rules and fight for our right to be independent. We will be independent one day. We deserve it.”

“But…so many have died. Nothing seems to be improving.”

“It’s my home,” he shrugged. “I don’t know. Wouldn’t you stay?”

***There is a long complicated history in Turkey which involves a lot of conflict and disagreements between the Kurds and the Turks.


About the artist

Loraine Yow is a self-taught illustrator hiding in Portland, Oregon with her outlaw cat. Her home on the web can be found at www.lolo-ology.com