I woke up on our second to last day in İdil feeling excited for Bayram celebrations and confident that we would have a good day, free from the sound of guns and bombs.
I got up and dressed the children in their Bayram outfits and put my own Bayram outfit on. It wasn’t an easy task getting ready, weaving between the luggage to find that missing eyebrow pencil or that stray hijab pin. Practically unpacking some of the haphazardly overloaded cases to find the perfect headscarf, but everything had to be perfect.
I eventually joined my husband and children outside. My heart simultaneously rose and sunk as I saw the happy faces of those that I wouldn’t be seeing for a long time.
The faces I had gotten used to seeing every day, the people I knew I could always turn to for help. We walked behind the house and across the dry fields to my sister in law’s house, where we would be having our lunch. As we entered her garden, I saw her sitting at the end of her long garden.
My eyes drank in the sights as I tried to commit it all to memory, the large leafy flowers looking like they belong to an exotic jungle rather than a garden in South East Turkey, the rows of organic green beans, tomatoes and aubergines, the balcony where we had sat for many an evening and I had had some of the best and worst evenings of my life and last but not least my husband’s sister crouching next to a huge pot of simmering lamb, cooked on an open fire.
I felt my insides twist with uncertainty as I saw my husband hold his 7 month old great nephew. How could we leave all that we knew? Those that we love? Would they be safe after we had gone and how would my husband cope knowing that his family are in daily danger? He had a smile on his face, but it didn’t quite reach his eyes. I knew that whatever sadness I was feeling he must be feeling it so much more deeply.
After we had eaten a meal big enough to feed ten people, we decided to make a move to my husband’s cousin’s house, also home to one of the few friends I had made whilst in İdil.
We arrived to more open arms and did the customary kiss on each cheek and wished each other a happy bayram. My best friend was also there and we went into the kitchen for our usual chat whilst we prepared salad and bread ahead of the evening meal.
There were moments when I had to swallow the lump in my throat as I thought about how much I would miss these people, such key figures in my life for the past three years. I saw them almost daily and now I wouldn’t see them for maybe a year, maybe more.
Of course in this day and age with technology it is easier to keep in touch but it just isn’t the same.
As we all crowded round the barbecue outside and the children played happily in the vast garden, the now familiar heartache returned. My heart remained heavy throughout the meal and the çay afterwards.
Thus my reluctance to leave when my husband had finished his second glass of tea. My friend and I put up a protest saying it was still early, but he was having none of it. Unwillingly I gathered my belongings and said my goodbyes.
We reached our house and began to sort out more things for packing and giving away. We had been doing this for around 5 minutes when the rapid, all too familiar sound of gunshots came.
As I gathered my children close to me and sat on the floor with my back against the chest of drawers, the heaviness in my heart disappeared as I knew without a doubt we were doing the only thing we could to ensure the safety of our daughters.