Nejat Ağırnaslı died for what he believed in


Nejat Ağırnaslı (1984 – 2014) was killed last week defending the Kurdish city of Kobani from ISIS

I’ve thought of Nejat many times since I noticed, upon returning home one afternoon in August, that his books were gone. I’d sent him an sms from the ferry (as he and I were both wont to do) “warning” him that I was coming and, when I hadn’t heard back, assumed that he was either sleeping or without credit, probably the latter since he would wake up to answer an sms: he was a good communicator.

Once I heard our neighbor yelling, and when I looked out the window I saw that she was yelling at Nejat. He was just standing there taking it from her, nodding. When he walked into our place I asked him how he could stand to let her yell at him like that. “She doesn’t have anything else to do,” he told me. “Let her yell.” He knew which battles were worth fighting.

I could tell right away that he wasn’t home, that he hadn’t been in a while. All of the curtains were drawn as if for the whole season.  And now I feel as though I am piecing together a mystery I could have tried harder to solve. He told me, for example, that he was going to have at least twenty people stay here the night I left for the States, I never even asked him about it. I remember thinking I could have at least told him someone could have my bed.

Red Angry Birds sweatshirt, sweatpants, coffee, slippers, daily translations which bored him. Talking to him on the ferry and walking up the steep hill together, which he pointed out to me actually dips down and gets easier in a couple spots; I hadn’t noticed them before. Hanging up his clothes and folding them which he felt bad about but which I didn’t mind doing at all.

His father had been a chef, he’d once told me with pride at the table, as we ate the wonderful breakfast he’d made.

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