You never know what to expect when you travel across the borders, even though you have taken this itinerary several times before and your ticket has a finalized schedule and itinerary, still you have to be prepared for the unexpected.
Our morning started in Budapest with burst of laughs, while Kevin, our Hungarian friend, who usually drives us fro and back from the airport tells us that we are passengers with the right attitude. You do not sleep or stay indifferent he says, while making a cold or sleepy face. You are alive, he continues, while we answer: We told you we are Albanians, and Albanians are loud. In a moment our friend invites him to visit Albania. And in another moment while recalling different slang in Albanian we come across this popular saying: Just ask because if you ask, you can even find Istanbul.
Well, we did not need to ask to end up in Istanbul and not Tirana, due to a delay of our flight from Budapest to Vienna. After an unsuccessful conversation with the represent of the airflight company about the rights of care, we accepted to take the first flight that would take us home before midnight.
This is how we ended up in Istanbul. Even though I was somehow disappointed that we could not profit fully from the right of care, I was happy that we were flying with Turkish Airline, because to my opinion they are the best. I like them not just because their planes have space but also because they treat you as kings as we would say in Albania. They are like us, or we are like them. They treat you with great hot and tasty meals, comparing to the cold sandwich or a simple salty or sweet snack. It is said that the road to happiness goes through your stomach and I believe that Turks knows how to practice that secret that makes a huge difference in the care for your clients.
The company agent in Vienna tells us to hurry up as the departing gate is on the other side of the airport. So we head to Gate D 29 and when we arrive you can sense a change of atmosphere. It seems as you have crossed from Europe to Asia. You cross with women who wear a burka or are covered from head to toe totally in black. If I had put on trousers I thought, as I find myself uncomfortable with my skirt up to the knee, which in the context of that part of the airport seem not to fit very well. We go again through another security and control check point and from there to a totally isolated room! A sad reality of the effects of terrorism. Our world has changed now. We do not feel anymore equal while traveling to or from this part of the world. There is more control now. As if the safety and control point was not enough, a beautiful dog comes to each passenger checking for something. Such a beautiful dog that remind me my own dog at home, and in a moment I have this desire to pet him on the head, but I know that he is a police dog, trained to a special task.
The airplane rises from the ground and I check the films menu on the screen in front of my seat. I choose a Turkish film with subtitles in English. Kuzu! The title of the film is Kuzu. Kuzu as I will find out later means a little lamb. The story is not just sad, it is like something which is very difficult to swallow up. It chokes you. It reminds me what the famous Albanian poet and writer, Migeni, said: Misery is a difficult morsel to swallow
Events are rolling in a mountain village in Turkey, in a very poor family- a young husband and wife who share their lives and bed but not their hearts. There is no romantic love between them, they were given to marriage to each other, but they do not have feelings toward each other. The words they exchange have to do all with how to run their family and provide for their two little kids: a son and a daughter. The daughter is like a little demon as some people would say. She is very sharp, and brave, but also trouble maker. She is used with the harshness of her culture toward women. She goes to work with her mother in the morning and in the evening returns home walking several feet after her father. In a moment when his feet sleeps in the snow she runs to help him, but he stands up, and without turning his head or thanking his daughter for reaching to help her, he stretches his arm to push her as if he wants to tell her that real men do not need a hand, they can deal with challenges by themselves and that a woman’s place is always several feet behind them, even when they fail they need to keep their distance because they don’t need their help. The story is horrendous and in a moment even becomes cannibal as it hints that the mother in desperate to hold a feast for the circumcision of her son, she sacrifices and cooks her own son, whom she calls all the time Kuzu or little lamb.
The film broke my heart as I was thinking about that world without love, where the expression of compassion and empathy is considered as weakness, where the relationship husband wife is so rigid and only a kind of business relationship, where the wife is the servant that takes care of the home and kids, but the prostitute in that night club in the city fulfills his sexual needs and takes even that little wage he makes which was the case in the film. A world where a daughter is raised with the bitterness and revolt of being a woman and not a man, that she has to work hard while her brother is favored just because he was born a man, she does not have a right to be fondle like her brother who is even called a little lamb. I thought about this world, which was displayed by my own eyes at the airport, airplane as I saw those covered women from head to toe, who kept their eyes on the ground while holding tight their babies. And I forgot about terrorism, I forgot about the pain they have caused, for the lost lives. I forgot because every day in this other world lives are wasted and lost in the absence of love, while women are oppressed and undermined, and the only motiv to care for them is not love but a good name before the neighbors and relatives. It impressed me deeply, emotions that you feel only when you are overwhelmed by empathy while you try for a moment to understand their world, to walk into their shoes, to try to understand what it means to live in a rigid world or marriage where expression of love is considered weakness and being tough is a value and praised. That’s why I understand their eksod and why they want to escape from that world which they themselves have built with the system of values and faith that they have constituted themselves. Thus I believe that their deliverance does not come just by the geographical move.The geographical move will release them from the burden of “honor and shame”, they will feel more released from what their village, neighborhood, family say about them but they will never be able to escape from the prison of their hearts which does not allow them to live life to the fullest by loving without fear, to live in a system based on freedom rather than fear. There is no fear in love, says the Bible, as perfect love drives out fear. And where there is no fear, there is freedom.
I believe that I will never listen to the news in the same way. Because instead of the revolt against evil I will pray, I will pray not just for the families who lost their loved ones, but I will pray about those who destroyed peace and stole lives, I will pray about their world that God will penetrate into their hearts and minds to touch and transform them through the power of His love.