From reading Rachelle’s Uzun’s work, it is clear that she is very in touch with Turkish culture and the vibrancy of Istanbul. Her piece Tailor Shop is a snapshot of a moment in time when the clash of old and new world cultures must be confronted and the delicacy of helping an older family member confront a world they don’t understand and don’t necessarily even want to.
“You need a bigger place.”
“No, I do not.
“But Mum, this place is too small. You can have a bigger place and have some girls to help you. You now can have some help.”
“I always worked on my own. And I shall continue to work on my own.” Selim sighed loudly and turned around to look out of the shop window.
Surrounded with buildings that dated back 100 years or more, the shop was located on a narrow, old street in Taksim. The roads were still cobblestones and the pavement was so narrow that it was impossible for two people to walk side by side. It was a nice neighborhood. It was the neighborhood he had grown up in. Now it was time to move.
“Mum look! You’re getting old and it’s getting harder for you to walk up and down the hill. We can get you a bigger shop on Baghdat Street. You’ll have more customers and it’s easier to get to.”
“Not only do you want me to move out of here but you also want me to move to the other side of Istanbul. I said no. Your father got me this shop and I will not leave it.”
His mum and dad had always told him the story of the shop. They were newly married and were walking down the steep street. She had seen the ‘For Sale’ sign from the opposite pavement and ran to the shop window. She had fallen in love with this little place on the back streets of Taksim with all the history around it. The people who lived around the shop were Turks and the Turkish Greeks who had been living in Turkey for centuries. Muslims and Orthodox Christians living all together in harmony and friendship that dates back for hundreds of years.
Selim could still remember his father’s words. He used to say ‘Son you should’ve seen her. She looked like a little girl who had walked in a candy shop. She turned around and looked at me with sparkling eyes and at that moment it was impossible to say no to her’. His father and mother were madly in love until the day he had passed away. It was too devastating for his mother and ever since she had become more attached to her shop. She spent most of her time in there.
“Selim can you pass me those scissors next to you on the table please?”
He reached out for the scissors. They were an old pair and quite heavy. They weren’t very convenient to work with but they were the scissors that his father had bought for his mother when she had started working in the shop. They had her initials engraved in the right outer side of the scissors. S. K.
“Mum you know you have to move. We spoke about this before. They are going to knock the whole building down. They are throwing you out. I’m sorry but we need to go.”
She didn’t seem like she was bothered by his words. She was ignoring everything that he was telling her. They were both silent for a while. The only noise in the room was the old sewing machine and the scissors every now and then. She was doing something with a skirt and it seemed like there was nothing else that mattered other than finishing it.
“Thirty years I have spent in this old shop, son. Thirty years. It’s full of memories, good and bad. You can’t expect me to just get up and leave everything behind just like that. Your father got me this shop. You grew up here, on this street. This is where we lived, where we have all our friends. How can you tell me to leave? I will stay in this shop till the day they throw me out and until that day I am going to keep on working here.”
She went back to the skirt she was sewing with a hint of a smile. He knew there was nothing more he could say or do. So he got up and went over to his mum. He leaned down and gave her a small kiss on the cheek and walked out of the shop. This was her home.
Rachelle’s story also inspires the reader to want to visit the places she writes about. She causes us to want to experience the food, the architecture and stimulating ancient streets of a city older than most countries in the world.
Thanks for stopping by this week, don’t forget that we’re still taking submissions from people outside of the Kingston sphere of influence.