‘T was a dark day

April 3, 2015

I woke up bleary, tired, my head hurting, my body aching. Argh… I don’t want to get up.. I don’t want to see this day… I thought, then said it out loud. The air in the room is stuffy, hot. I tossed, turned, slept a little more, woke up again. I feel uneasy. I feel like something heavy, very bad is in the air.

Finally kicking my own butt I get up. I thought: “lets have a shower it will make me feel better.” Water always seem to give me life.. But in the bathroom there is no water, and no lights. I head downstairs in the darkened hallway, no electricity. Talat is there, Orçun too. I learn that the power outage is actually affecting the whole country. All of Turkey in the dark. How can that possibly be??

“The whole country?!? how is that possible??”

“It’s Iran, Iran cut out the power. Turkey is not siding with them in the political chess game, the Saudis are attacking Yemen and Iran is with them, Turkey is not.”

“Uh?.. I didn’t know that.”

“…But I think it’s a scheme for money laundering. It gives “them” a lot of time to do whatever needs to be done.”

“Yeah… could be..”

The theories offered could all be plausible. I decide to go out in the world and get coffee and simit. Orçun is outside smoking a cigarette and I tell him about my gloomy feelings,

“Maybe it’s the end?”

“yeah maybe it’s the end of this world, that would be OK…”

“Yeah it would be, Thumbs up on the last day..” I headed to Istiklal with these words on my mind. First stop, simit shop: there are no simits, they could not bake them. I buy another 1 lira bread-like thing to start the day and continue to Galata. Everywhere the electricity generators’s sounds rise loud in the air along with their exhaust stinking the place up. This strange, uneasy feeling that all could end today, that something very bad is about to happen. keeps growing. I wonder if it is my imagination or if it is for real. I get to the cafe, there is no coffee to be had, they are waiting for mazout to fuel their generator. I go back, take a different route, all the businessmen along the street doing everything possible to stay open, generators everywhere, while many other shops are in the dark. I think that if this was to be it, if the power was cut out for good, that in about 36 hours I would be out of money, most places would run out of gas, there would be no generators and it would be a whole new world.

Back at the hostel, the quiet is calming, no music, no electrical hum from machines and lighting, just the distant grumbling of a neighbor’s generator. We sit in the semi-darkness. People are actually away from their phones and computers, reading books, talking together. I was going to check messages on the laptop but there is no internet so I hang out. More theories about this black out are put forth.

There is a joyous moment when we realize that the stove works with natural gas, so we can cook. “You want some coffee?” I ask Talat, he’s always good for another cup. I go downstairs in the kitchen, fumble in the dark, find the coffee, the machine, light up the gas stove, a nice blue glow in the dark.

We all sit together, talk, share cookies,the day goes on. We learn bits of news, keep surmising about the why and how of this power outage. Around 5 PM the power came back on. I went online to see the news, the official channels say they cannot explain this, that the outage occurred in 40 some regions of the 81 total regions of Turkey, that they don’t rule out a “terrorist act” no mention of Iran except that that one of the cities that didn’t lose power was Van whose energy is in fact supplied by Iran…

I think that I will now go take that shower, but the power goes out again. We are out of candles, the hostel is dark, Ufuk goes out to buy more candles. I meet with a friend a few hours later and I learn about the other events that took place today, a prosecutor in the case of Elvan Berkan, the boy who had been killed by police, hit by teargas canister in the head, while going to get bread for his family during the Gezi Park protests, had been abducted by a revolutionary group who was asking the authorities to release the name of Elvan’s killer.

“You know what happened?” He asks me, “the police came in and shot everyone in the prosecutor’s abduction case”. They were young people, in their 20’s, dead. We don’t know then what happened to the prosecutor yet, but learned later that was killed too, likely by police bullets. Then I learned that a historical building burned on the Asian side.

It’s around 2 AM now and I am walking back to the hostel. It all still feel bad, the energy on the street is edgy and unfriendly. A man selling oysters smashes a can of pop then kicks it in my direction. Groups of men walk close to me, I feel I must be careful I pull my hood over my head. Someone behind me says something, starts walking along with me. Thankfully Balyoz Sokak is right there and I turn the corner towards safety. Inside all is quiet. There is light, warmth, friends. Oh this country, Oh this world, Oh the way humans can be so violent towards each other. I wish for peace.