Honoring: a work in progress

Tuesday 21/10/14 — with Raki, yarzeit candle, Hector
Wednesday 22/10/14 — with Abdellatif Laâbi*


O my friend

sleep well

you need it

because you worked hard

like an honourable man

Before you left

you left your office in order

neatly arranged

You switched off the lights

and on stepping out

you looked at the sky

which was almost painfully blue

You gracefully smoothed your moustache

and said to yourself :

only cowards

think that death is the end

Sleep well my friend

Sleep the sleep of the righteous

Rest well

even from your dreams

Let us shoulder the burden a little



Thursday 23/10/14 — with WHITE LILIES, amazing pine cone


Nejat Ağırnaslı: one more thing

When you lived with me on the island, could you see ahead to this moment in which they would raise you up?  Could you imagine how you would shine above, for them?

Photo: Ricardo Ginés
Photo: Ricardo Ginés

I thought we weren’t supposed to want to not be part of this world with its sunshine and its shadows. How did you change that so conclusively, so decisively? How did you make it seem like something else?

And is yours the first or second father we have seen bowing before his son’s decision to leave him, because his story is similar to the one whose story I listened to beside my grandfather in the pew,

so when he looks for you here in the world, when he looks at a humanity which drove you from him, and is still able to speak with love, by his lead, the gratitude is all on us.

Another world: more on Nejat Ağırnaslı

In some of the pictures of Nejat I have seen in the media, there is a light in his face that I didn’t see when he was sitting at the table working through his translations, or when he was looking at the sea.  We lived together on an island, but he never went swimming.
Sometimes, when a cool breeze would blow in our window, he would say it wasn’t a very nice day, that the weather was really bad. Man, I got on him for wasting vegetables: I binned tiers of zucchini and peppers; couldn’t grasp how he could not eat the ones he’d purchased before buying new ones
and lastly, undoubtedly most memorably, I returned to our house one evening to find a halved kitten on our doorstep, the head half, it looked like it was sleeping, its mother crunching its bones.
He can’t know, I thought, and be home not doing anything about this. Zombied straight up the stairs to his room without removing my boots, I don’t want to know what my face must have looked like,
and he was there, propped up in his small bed, on his laptop, not registering what I was telling him about the kitten, sympathetically looking like he wished I’d go away, so I scooped it myself into the shoebox I had also used as its crib, and my neighbor said kolay gelsin.
At the time I thought what could be more important than removing half of a kitten from your doorstep, but I think I get it now, or at least I am starting to.
Do you know how brave you would have to be, do you know how much fucking courage it would take to fight ISIS?  To know your death was likely? To do it anyway? To plan it?
It isn’t worth getting in fights with the neighbors. Smoke a cigarette if you want to or not. It’s about more than the weather, or swimming, or the damn zucchini. It’s about more than even <gasp> than the kitten.
His close friends said that he would always think about how another world was possible. He was focused on, and died in, his fight for it. And I guess I, still in this one, just miss him.
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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.