Letter to my Turkish friend

A winter evening comes to an end, warm and grey. My eyes heavy with sleep, I see your name appear on the screen. Happy, eager to read your message, I am immediately baffled by its subject. The word URGENT appears in capital letters. For a few years, we have arranged our meetings on the phone. A few words feverishly typed and sent out as an SMS to set a day, a specific moment, without our even having to decide on a place, since it is at the Select that time stops for us, for an afternoon, for an evening… So much so that I could easily leave the batch of my students’ papers beside my chair and you could forget all about that other appointment you had made. For hours are too short for us to say everything we want to tell each other, about the world, life, the East, the West, women, writing. And here I am, thinking you are telling me tonight about your next visit to Paris, that we are about to pick up that conversation we reluctantly interrupted just over a month ago. That time you did not have Lapsang Souchong. Just café au lait and the afternoon had gone by quickly, so quickly… I have to read your message twice, as I am so upset by what you have written to me. We had talked about the Armenians, and my thoughts had been with them, with you, with such force, when they announced the assassination of Hrant Dink. I knew how you would feel. I also knew that you would not keep silent. And the thick, icy spiral coils inside me as I read your message, as I suddenly grasp what is weighing upon you. A few words of humanity, a few words, both sad and beautiful, to say that we are all standing side by side and all of a sudden, you are under threat too… So I will repeat it after you, I will type it out on the screen of my computer: “We are all Hrant, we are all Armenians.” And I know that others will repeat it after you, after me. I know that all together we will walk on, carrying the echo of these words between cries and murmurs, whatever may come. We will not drop the olive branch slipped in our beaks and our wings will be joined in one immense flight of doves.

Cécile Oumhani

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