I met them on June 2nd, second day of Occupy Gezi resistance in Izmir. Both were high school students, living in the suburbs, children of middle class families, attending comparatively decent schools.
I met them on the street corner depicted in the picture. The city center was in limbo. Occupy Gezi (1) has started two days ago in Istanbul and people has shown their will not to give up on personal liberties. Izmir had joined in the previous day and met with harsh police brutality where they used teargas and brute force to disperse the people with no avail. Several barricades rose just around the corner where police continued their raids with little intervals.
The picture was shot on a small break between raids. They sat down arm in arm. They were in love.
It was a side street. It was dark. Only rays of light emanating from their faces. There were beams of fogged light just on the corner reminiscent of an earlier attack. Where dark means light and light might mean the darkness.
They whispered words to each other’s ears. Noise was abound. Slogans, screams, far away teargas pistol shots during those precious few moments of peace where we stood. And we did stood still.
Just like the darkness and the light over us, nothing was certain. Neither the future, nor the present. It was the spur of the moment. It was self-preservation and being a part of a greater organism at the same time. The organism had an enemy. An enemy that grew in our minds while it grew akin to a malignant tumor in society. It had engulfed too many dreams.
And we spoke.
A few days ago they had no hope they said. A few days ago, they were just ordinary kids squeezed in a system of exams, private lessons and abundance of a brute social pressure. They said, it’s no different now but at least they’ve got the streets. They’ve got a space to breathe in, a space to make their own.
No one seemed to object. From store owners who provided kids with Talcid water to heal their gas infected eyes, to the residents who threw everything they could find from their balconies to the police to prevent them pursue the kids, almost all respected their space. For once. Leaving the state and the police as the only exception.
They told me they feel free. They told me they have a new level of self-esteem.
And a stone lay just next to his feet. Both reminder of an instant past and a near future. Released there to make space for love. Released there to let go and go back to what was primal. Released there to be picked up immediately when deemed necessary: survival.
I met two kids on the second day of resistance in Izmir. May was warm in Izmir. June rather came in chilly. It rained to keep the teargas down on the ground, which filled the air in the city. It became cool to sooth the fire in people’s hearts. And the kids were no exception. The false light of teargas fogged street lamps only went so far to make me capture the possible futures, which were absolutely questionable in that moment. And the moments to come.
In that corner, I met those two kids I saw the drawing on the wall. I saw that light can turn into darkness only to shine aloof tomorrow. The figures themselves were relevant. They were the people. The people who will build a future from that night, from that day. And we are in no position to judge what they will make of it.
And they were in love with each other.
And in many more things.
“Possible futures forge love.. I let love to be sustained as far as both feel for it..” I let love to be sustained as far as we all feel for it…
(*)This essay would never be possible without the valuable contribution of Başak Güçyeter. With my indefinite gratitude.
(1) For more on Occupy Gezi resistance, follow the link.