The Little Virgin Whore

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The story of a Zaza girl who rises from nothingness to greatness…

Excited and anxious Seren is about to graduate from college and finally face real life, which did not treat her right in the past. She returns home since she cannot get a job in Smyrna after her graduation due to financial recession in the country. Her father throws Seren out of his house on the day she arrives. She leaves his house with little money and follows the footsteps of her rebellious hopes.

They take her to 75 years old Uncle Alp, whom she met in a nursing home while training as a psychiatric nurse. She knocks on his door in search of a father she has never had. Uncle Alp decides to end 40 years of his loneliness and accommodates her in his old abandoned flat in Karsiyaka. However much he tries to approach Seren in a fatherly manner, he falls in love with her. Men in neighborhood want to take advantage of Seren’s vulnerability while stigmatizing her as a whore for living in Uncle Alp’s house. One night the grocery guy Mohammed breaks into Seren’s flat and attempts to rape her. Will Seren take revenge when Muhammed becomes her patient only a few months later?

The Little Virgin Whore is the story of a Zaza Girl, who rises from nothingness to greatness.

Chapter One

“Hey!

Can you see the stars in the sea?” asked Seren
excitedly, standing on the balcony of the Smyrna Pier staring at the Aegean Sea
with admiration in her eyes. It was the type of June day that stirred all the
passion of the universe with its big white clouds in the blue sky, the
sun-kissed sea reflecting stars in her eyes.

“That’s called light refraction!” replied
Emel, growing tired of Seren’s overactive imagination already.

“I know, but that is so dry! I want to see…
and I see them as stars!” replied Seren, surprised at how she managed to remain
friends with Emel for all four years of college. “I guess I had to!” she said
to the bright and yellow stars that were falling from the Sun onto the sea.

“Sometimes I wonder why you ever chose to
study science and math instead of art… I mean, how the hell did you manage?”
Emel asked while Seren took a picture of the countless shining stars.

“Guess what? People in the art class looked so
lazy and self-satisfied and I didn’t want to be like them! I wanted to help
people!” Seren said as she put a lock of her long, light brown hair behind her
ear.

“Oh, come on girls. I waited for this movie
for ages; I don’t want to miss it.” Ezgi standing on the pier’s second floor by
the entrance of the shopping mall.

“Stop panicking, we won’t miss it! Come and
see the stars!” Seren suggested, knowing how easily Ezgi would panic after
living her whole life with an oppressive, self-righteous, leftist Kurdish
father.

Emel walked towards Ezgi; they smiled at each
other in a friendly, playful way.

“She is such a dreamer,” Ezgi whispered to
Emel.

“You’re such a dreamer, aren’t you Seren?”
Emel asked with a smile.

“And you two must be impatient children of the
80s,” Seren replied as she walked up to them.

They headed into the shopping mall to see a
movie for the last time before graduation, which meant both freedom and
separation. The movie had been forbidden for years in the country. It was
released in France where the director, Yilmaz Guney, was exiled. It was about
people in Turkey, their rights, and how those rights were taken away from them.
It was also about how it was accomplished by the invasion of their minds.

The very same people were not allowed to see
the movie. All the values in it were mocked for years and reduced to nothing,
until every single mind—everyone under the same sky that painted the Aegean Sea
bright blue at sunrise—thought the same way. They were not yet able to see,
define, or articulate it, but they knew deep inside that humans mattered least
under this sky.

Three friends left the cinema with saddened
hearts; none of them could say a word. They began walking through the small
shopping mall inside the pier, looking at books and CDs while trying to digest
the movie together. They finally began talking in a girly, secretive tone.

“Did you realize—” said Seren.

“Well, in this case we can never arrive at
realization of any truth, can we?” Ezgi, filled with frustration, interrupted
her again.

“True, our lives have been built on and filled
with distorted truths… in other words, lies,” Seren said, feeling betrayed.

“Forget that! The prescription for our lives
was written and given to our parents before we were even an idea in their
minds!” Ezgi said, feeling estranged from her own life.

“How do you know that what we saw in the movie
was the truth?” Emel asked. “Why would they ever allow it if it was truthful?”

“Well, if it wasn’t true, the director would
never have been exiled to France… I mean… he died there… imagine that,” Ezgi
answered.

Seren paused for two beats before speaking.
“And because he died and because all the other countries loved his work except
for his own, they had to allow it in the end.”

Looking at Ezgi, Emel asked, “Do you mean
whatever France approves is the absolute truth?”

“Not exactly, but if you consider human
freedom, freedom of thought and expression, human rights in France, a country’s
achievements in philosophy, art, and science, then you can see that France is
closer to the truth,” Seren answered passionately. “And don’t forget that we
had borrowed secularism from France, too… I mean, Ataturk did,” she added.

“Ataturk! The only leader on earth! Luckily,
he did. Otherwise, we would be covered with a headscarf by now!” Emel replied
with an invincible pride.

Ezgi—a Kurdish Marxist—looked at Emel with
pity and then at Seren with curiosity. She hardly stopped herself from
interrupting the conversation, but she was also curious about Seren’s unspoken
response. Seren neither believed in religion nor was she involved in any
political ideology. She was not fond of any leaders, either. In fact, she felt
oppressed when she was taught to worship Ataturk at school.

“Is this what you understand from secularism?”
Ezgi asked immaturely, imitating her father who was a proud mathematics
teacher. He was always in teaching mode, even in the public toilets.

“That’s what affects my life, I don’t care
about the rest… I mean I cannot… and maybe I should not,” Emel replied, combing
her short red hair with her long thin fingers.

“That’s because everything is easy to exercise
upon women, including secularism!” Seren replied with a freshly fired up anger
filling her small but pretty body all the way up to her green eyes.

“And since we cannot do anything about it and
since there is no any other leader like Ataturk to show how secularism should
take effect in our lives… there just isn’t!” said Emel as she tried to feel,
sound, and look superior to her friends through her strong love of Ataturk. She
did not know how pathetic and small she looked to her friends.

“God! You are obsessed with Ataturk! Isn’t
there anyone on this part of the earth who can think and find the best way of
living and leading apart from him?” Seren asked with frustration.

“No, didn’t you know that thinking is secretly
forbidden on this part of the earth?” Ezgi exploded very Marxistly.

“Do you somehow dislike Ataturk?” Emel asked,
her words coated with silent accusations. She had the strength of a majority’s
approval in the back of her mind.

“How dare we?” asked Seren, showing a soft
sarcasm in the corner of her eyes.

“Come on girls, walk! It feels like we are
stuck here!” Ezgi exclaimed, pushing her friends away from the colourful CD
shelf.

“OKAY! OKAY! Stop pushing!” Emel yelled and
walked toward the book section.

Seren smiled but Ezgi remained quiet.

“And let me tell you one more
thing—worshipping a leader in the way you do supresses your great leadership
potential; it doesn’t even satisfy your inferiority complex, but it grows
before you even realise… it doesn’t make you great at all!” Seren said
thoughtfully.

“Stop lecturing me, I know I don’t have an
inferiority complex,” said Emel, becoming annoyed.

“Do I love Karl Marx because of my inferiority
complex?” Ezgi asked herself.

“Who do you like to satisfy your inferiority
complex with?” Emel asked.

“No one, I just want to be myself and do great
things in my own way!” Seren didn’t think that sounded too believable.

The bond of their friendship weakened within a
few minutes of silence despite the four years they had spent together at
college.

Their longings, frustrations, desires to have
a more dignified life in their homeland—that needed to be better democratised
and transparent—filled the silence.

“Anyway, that was not what I was initially
going to ask if you two hadn’t interrupted me,” Seren said. “What I was going
to say was that since our beliefs govern our lives, and since the worst
violation of human—and particularly women’s—rights occur in Muslim countries,
don’t you think something must be fundamentally wrong with Islam?” She looked
at her friends; they seemed to be thinking about their answers.

“I am not a strict believer of Islam,” Emel
replied

At the same moment, Egzi interjected, “You are
not allowed to ask such questions according to Islam, do you know that?”

“Yes, I know I have become kaafir just now,
haven’t I?” Seren said with a sarcastic smile. Ezgi smiled, too.

“But I mean… look how backward, how ignorant,
how barbaric they are despite their incredible amount of oil and all the other
natural sources. Surely that is not what Allah wants to see, or wants them to
be!” Seren said with a note of pain.

Seren turned to Emel and said, “Doesn’t your
ID card state that you are Muslim? Did anyone ask you to choose your religion?
It was written there before you saw your mum, don’t you listen to Imam even
before you open your eyes every morning?” Seren asked, sounding like a rapper.

“Yes, I do,” Emel practically whispered and
looked down.

“Not only that, you listen to him without
understanding because he chants in another language,” added Ezgi and they
laughed again.

“Language, yes language!” Seren murmured to
herself.

“How do seventy-five million people believe in
something that they don’t even understand?” Emel asked.

“Maybe, maybe—”

“Maybe it is not what they believe, but it is
their understanding of it that is what’s wrong…” Seren was thinking out loud
again. She was contemplative, quiet and lost in her own thoughts. She
remembered what George Orwell once said, “If thoughts corrupt language,
language can corrupt thoughts.”

She began connecting the dots: If my thoughts
are not corrupt, then it must the language I speak corrupting my… no… no, no…
once the language is corrupted, no thought can remain pure… yes, that must be
it, Seren thought.

They walked in silence for a few minutes
between colourful shelves.

“That brings us back to the point the dead
director made in his movie…” Ezgi thought out loud alongside Seren.

Emel asked, “So that means we are all… Are we?
… Are we really all trapped?”

“Trapped in language!” Seren exclaimed
quietly, looking at Ezgi like she was having an epiphany. They all looked
around to make sure they were not being heard or monitored.

“Fuck Big Brother!” Ezgi whispered with a
smile. “Trapped in politics!” She looked at Emel.

“Trapped in religion!” Emel whispered to Ezgi
and Seren.

“Trapped in the flock!” they shouted
cautiously. Their laughter did not free them from the pain of the truth that
the dead director had just showed to them. He made them ache to their marrow.

Ezgi began walking like a soldier as she said,
“Trapped! Trapped! Trapped!” She stopped at the end of the long and narrow path
between shelves.

Seren followed her, walking like a soldier
herself. “Right! Trapped! Left! Trapped!” She high-fived Ezgi. They looked back
to see what Emel was doing.

She was looking at the key rings on the shelf,
holding one with a little human skeleton. She showed it to them with a big
smile. “Hey, look!” She showed it to them, holding it in the air, and they all
laughed again.

Emel bought the key ring. They began to walk
out of the mall. They stood on the second level of the pier by the stairs and
looked out at the sea. Everyone took a deep breath. They needed some time to
digest the truths they had been experiencing; they weren’t able to define their
feelings due to the deliberate confusion infused into their minds through a
constant barrage of propaganda, which they thought was education. On top of all
that, they voluntarily paid for that crap. They paid to buy such values that
were designed to enslave them. Now, they were all naked on the top of the pier;
the movie had undressed them. They felt cold. The Aegean Sea no longer looked
bright.

“Do you know when I was in high school, my
best friend’s uncle laughed when I said I wanted to go to college!” Emel said.

“Why?” Seren asked.

“I don’t know, he said that after all those
daily sleeping pills you had through the end of high school, you will get the
biggest one in college!”

“Maybe—” Ezgi said.

Emel quickly interrupted. “Maybe—”

“Maybe he meant what this director meant?”
Seren interrupted.

“Yes, maybe, but I didn’t understand it back
then… and he also said… what did he say? Yes, he said that it will take me
twenty years to free myself from those pills’ effects,” Emel said, still
feeling a little confused.

“Oh, my God! What does that mean?” Seren asked
excitedly.

“Twenty more years asleep?” Ezgi looked at
Seren with fear. They remained silent while the depth of the sea reflected in
their eyes.

“Hey! See the stars!” exclaimed Seren,
touching Ezgi’s shoulder and pointing them out to her.

Ezgi was not responsive; she did not even
smile.

“Why do you believe everything so easily?”
Emel asked after a minute of silence. She was trying to recover her feelings
about Ataturk. She had felt painfully attacked by Seren a few minutes ago.

Seren and Ezgi looked at each other and then
at Emel, feeling fooled.

“What if I told you I have never met such a
man?” asked Emel once again.

“Well, that is not the point, the point is
whatever your imaginary friend said sounds right.” Seren spoke passive
aggressively.

“But he was a dysfunctional man who spent his
best years in prison. Is that what you want?” Emel asked dryly, but mildly
angry.

“No!” Ezgi said. She was once caught while
protesting tuition fees and had to spend two nights in jail as a 17 year old
Marxist girl. She remembered how a police man rubbed her vagina with a baton
and asked, “Do you want it?” She stared out to sea. “No!” she said once again.

“No!” Seren said and looked down with
frustration of not arriving at any better conclusion.

Silence ruled the time again.

“But don’t you think he himself was the best
proof that those sleeping pills did not work?” Ezgi was still trying to feel
better about all that she heard.

“Yes, but only after twenty years of his
conscious effort to wake up!” said Seren with empathy and worry.

“Are we not also the proof?” Emel asked
quietly.

“Yes, that’s because we are all traumatized
insomniacs!” Seren said with a painful smile.

Ezgi smiled back.

“I am not!” Emel countered.

Seren had a great question to temper her
superiority, but she did not want to personalize their sweet discussion and
turn it into a bitter argument. She looked at her knowing that whether Emel
accepted or not, they were in the same boat. She fought herself to remain
silent but she no longer could.

“Then sweet dreams!” she murmured.

Ezgi remained quiet. Surely, I am not going to
discuss Marxism with this snob who was blind to her own reality, she thought.
She looked at Seren who had sympathy for socialism but refused to be blinded by
it. Why would she block her view with the shadow of such a man like Marx who
was a worse father than her own? After all, knowing yourself was the best
knowledge, she had learned from Rumi. She looked out to the sea, took a deep
breath, and felt every molecule of oxygen she inhaled. The smell of the sea
mesmerised them all once more.

Despite all that, Smyrna was great, Seren
thought to herself. The sea looked infinitely big and sublime, but
simultaneously scary. No, they were not loved or protected by their government,
but they had the Aegean Sea. They felt embraced by it, they felt blessed every
time they looked at it, they felt the power of gigantic waves in the very core
of their hearts. Above all, they were young.

“I just want to be in the sea, let it take me
as far as possible, dance with the waves…” said Seren, surrendered to her
strong desire to be elsewhere without knowing where.

“Can you swim?” Emel asked, deadpan.

“Yes, I need to learn how to swim first, don’t
I?” replied Seren.

Emel replied, “I know how to swim!” She looked
the other way.

“Don’t you have a burning desire to jump into
the sea and dance with the waves?” Seren asked.

“Oh, not now, it is cold after sunset,” Emel
replied. Seren and Ezgi looked at her.

Why did she always have to be so logical and
so dry, they wondered.

“You might be too old when it’s no longer
cold!” Ezgi said.

“You sound like a poet now, huh?” Seren said
with a sincere smile.

“Oh, yes, there is a poet somewhere in me but
it always comes out during exam times. I write verses instead of studying for
exams,” Ezgi replied. “How mad is that?”

“Oh, girls… we need to go, it is getting
late!” Emel said as she began walking down the stairs very fast. She was the
oldest at 26. She had initially wanted to become a doctor, but all her
applications to medical school over three consecutive years had failed to get
her admitted. Hence, she ended up in a nursing school.

Fortune tellers encircled them as soon as they
stepped down onto the pavement.

“Hey, beauties, come on let me tell you your
future, you don’t need to pay for it!” shouted the fat woman with big eyes.
They were all gypsies and their dark skins were dried up by the wind of Aegean
Sea.

They all laughed, including the fortune
tellers. They began walking fast, fortune tellers following them.

“Come on girls! Don’t run away from us!” said
the one with green eyes.

Seren, Ezgi, and Emel began walking faster,
they were almost running.

“You can run away from us but you cannot run
away from life!” said the oldest one among them.

They ran along the beach looking back to see
whether the fortune tellers were still following them. The fortune tellers soon
stopped and found other young girls to make predictions about; they told the
girls what everyone longed to hear, but they were not sincere.

“Stop! Stop!” Emel exclaimed, barely
breathing.

They stopped by a big tree. They looked at
each other, the sea, and the fortune tellers.

“Did you hear what she said?” Seren asked.

“Who?” Emel replied.

“The old fortune teller!” Seren said.

“Oh, don’t take them seriously!” said Emel in
her usual soulless tone.

“Let’s go back to dormitory by ferry,” Emel
suggested. To Seren, she seemed and sounded shallower than the ripples in the
sea at that moment.

Seren exclaimed, “But it was meaningful for a
fortune teller to say that, even quite philosophical!”

“Oh, do you think they know what they’re
talking about? They must have memorised some big impressive words to attract
people!” Emel said, looking at Seren for a moment. “People like yourself!” She
reiterated this to trivialise the fortune tellers and Seren’s tendency to value
such people.

“Maybe, maybe not!” Seren said, looking back
at them and their impoverished but still joyful existence by the enormously
abundant and energetic Aegean Sea.

“We should spend a night in the dormitory
before the graduation!” Ezgi said. “But I need to go home now!” she added with
her eyes, which were clouded by fear and worry.

“Yes, we should do that before the graduation!
Catch your father’s best moment, get permission, and come over one night!” said
Emel with a smile.

“Believe me you have not missed much. In fact,
you might even feel lucky after staying with us one night!” Seren said, trying
to make her feel better about staying with her family. Seren knew how
oppressive Ezgi’s father was and that one night was always going to be a dream
in Ezgi’s mind. It was never going to happen.

Yes, living with her family was comfortable,
but Ezgi missed the freedom that cost Seren and Emel so much pain and struggle.
But that was what made them grow and it was obvious that Ezgi was less mature
than the girls who stayed in the dormitory during their college years. Her
father was just another copy of Saddam Hussein apart from being leftist. He was
a high school teacher and had this illusion that he knew more than anyone else
on earth.

Her extremely submissive mother was a nurse.
Ezgi must have taken her as a role model, however much she denied when people
asked her. She never liked her mother as much as she liked her father. That had
more to do with the power structure in their family. Ezgi, who defined herself
as a Marxist at the age of seventeen, was going to discover proper family
values later.

“I am just curious,” Ezgi said to Seren
childishly. “Hey, before I go, does anyone know where the ceremony is going to
take place?”

“Oh, it will be in Ataturk Art Centre in
Konak,” Emel answered. She was the quietest one, but seemed to have all the
answers that were told by the most accepted narrative of their time.

“That’s where we had our concert, isn’t that?”
Ezgi asked Seren, sounding very excited again.

“Yes!” Seren said. She touched Ezgi’s
shoulder. She could not believe it was almost the end of four years. Not only
that, real life was there staring at their faces and they had no clue about how
to handle it. They kept philosophising about life for four years. Worst of all,
their secret denial was going to come to the surface and they would neither
have an excuse nor a dead philosopher’s yellow pages for refuge. They had known
that they were in the wrong place on the first week of school but they had
feared to go back. How much longer were they going to be able to deny? Were
they going to confess it or was life going to tell them to be true to
themselves? No one else but to themselves…

“Hey, take care and I will see you on Monday!”
Seren said as she hugged Ezgi.

“You, too!” Ezgi hugged her back.

“See you on Monday, girl!” Emel said with a
soft smile.

“See you my friend!” Ezgi did not use the word
‘comrade’ in Emel’s presence nor did she use it with anyone else when she was
around. Emel was a typical blind follower of Ataturk. She would refuse to
recognize any other leader or thinker. Whenever she prepared any paper, she
always quoted him. That was not her fault; that’s what every tutor at the
college did. Hardly any of them could see the world through their own
lenses—hardly anyone under the red and white flag. Luckily, nursing was more of
a technical subject; it did not require anyone to think deeply about anything.
Otherwise, Emel would have never been Ezgi’s friend. Seren would have ignored
them both and would lead solitary student life. Ezgi would have been getting
old in jail.

Ezgi hugged Emel but not in the same way she
hugged Seren. That amazed Seren but hurt her at the same time. She was amazed
to see how people’s thoughts were uniting them. She was hurt to see how the
very same thoughts were also secretly separating them. They walked away and
waved at each other.

It was another red Friday evening of a
youngest June in year 2000 in Smyrna. Seren and Emel walked back to the pier,
but they did not talk much. The fortune tellers must have gone to the other
side of the beach; they were not around.

“I need to go to Alsancak; I have forgotten
all about that” Seren said.

“Oh, of course. How could you miss that?” Emel
said sarcastically.

“You would not miss it if you had the same
opportunities, I am sure,” Seren replied resentfully.

“Take a break from them; it’s not good for
you, especially if your mother’s uncle is so religious!” Emel explained with
unexpected empathy.

“He is religious and he is not; we are not
seemingly religious but we are, it is all too complicated,” Seren said, looking
tired of talking about such subject yet remaining in the same deadlock.

“Never mind, I can’t keep you if you want to
go!” replied Emel.

“I will see you on Monday!” Seren said and ran
to catch the ferry to her Uncle’s place after hugging Emel.

“See you!” Emel replied with no emotion. The
apathy on her face always frustrated Seren. She never knew what Emel really
felt and thought, especially with her flat tone of voice. During four long
years, Seren had never seen her angry or euphorically happy no matter if she
had a boyfriend or when she broke up with one. No, she was not Buddhist. How
could anyone dare believe in anything other than Islam under this sky?

Seren left her in the crowd. She looked back
and waved at her. Emel waved back. She felt bad about what she did, but she had
to go.

First, this uncle of her mother was an old,
brain washed Muslim who thought that he had purified himself by being in Mecca
twice. Despite that and being in a mosque five times a day, he was unable to
see people with compassionate eyes and accept them with their flaws. He could
easily slander her for fooling around with boys if she did not spend every
weekend in his house.

Secondly, it was better than staying in the
dormitory—spending so much money, ending up listening to break-up stories from
other girls.

Thirdly, Seren had to persuade her uncle to
accommodate her for at least one or two more months after her graduation.

She looked at the sky while sitting on the
ferry. People threw bread for seagulls; the birds screamed and caught the
pieces. Some fought, some sang, some flew away from the flock; some were too
young to be on their own—too small—but they all sought, sought, sought…

Seren felt like she was on the edge of a knife
again. She had not yet figured out why she felt that way. In fact, she had
never questioned it. It was the most dominating feeling she’d had, ever since
she knew herself. She even thought that it was every woman’s experience at her
age. She could get restless when she did not feel that way. But this time it
was different, she felt like she was walking on the tip of a sharp edged knife.
It was scary but it made her feel much more alive on the other hand.

“You must die in order to live!” her father
said when Seren was only seven. She always remembered that every time she was
in trouble without knowing that the first and the biggest trouble of her life
was having a father like him.

“No, no. Despite his misogynistic thoughts and
feelings he had some kind of sympathy for me, he did secretly like me.” She
tried to persuade herself about Uncle Aziz’s potential to allow her to stay in
his house for a month or two after the graduation. “I cannot go back home, I do
not want to,” she said again and again while passing by the zoo in Smyrna’s
International Fair.

She stopped by and watched the monkeys in
their cage, they looked lively as they kept jumping up and down. Big ones,
little ones, they all jumped and made happy noises.

“Were they really happy?” she asked while
watching their eyes.

 

“How could they be if they were not where they
wanted to be? How could they be if they were not free? Were they a family?
Freedom and family? Freedom or family? Freedom and family?” she asked until she
took her last step to Uncle Aziz’s house and knocked the door.

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Ka Sefika

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