Derman published Reunion Stories book with 14 stories. Handcraft group that run is by Derman contributed to the book.
Year 1987… We were a family of four children in Istanbul. We owned a clothing manufacturers. We earned this workshop with all our hard work. We first started with sewing stitches in a tiny room, and then moved into a slightly larger workshop. We were happy, we loved each other, and we were raising our four children with love. We wished all our children to have a good education, be in good health and grow up in prosperity…
My husband came home one evening and said he wanted to go abroad…
He met a person named Osman … this man lived in London. “London is very nice, you come here too, you are a talented man, I can easily find you a job there and you can earn more money“, he said. He persuaded my husband to go with him. I didn’t forget that name for many years. ‘Osman!’ The reason for our separation…
He didn’t listen to me, “I’ll go take a look first, and then will take you lot there too, it’s going to be much better for our family”, he said. A few months later we found that he was only entitled to a 6 month tourist visa and his departure was confirmed. And one morning he left… the night before he went away we cried until the sunrise. It was very hard to let go. We loved each other. It was the most difficult moment of my life .. But after…
After he left the first bit of news I received about my husband was that he had met his friend, Osman. Years later I found out that he regretted his move to London from the moment he stepped in the country and wanted to come back home but it was too late...He went through lot of trouble, worked illegally, and gained his indefinite to leave in the UK long years after his arrival.
My husband prepared all the paperwork with a lawyer and applied for a visa enabling us to come to London. When the invitations reached us my oldest son was in high school, and he did not want to go. I didn’t want to leave my children alone and go by myself, so I stayed…
“MY HUSBAND DIDN’T KNOW I WAS IN LONDON”
Things were much more difficult afterwards, the tears in my eyes never stopped. I raised my children all on my own, without anyone’s help. I managed to put a hot meal on the dinner table every day, all alone by doing tailoring and repairing fishing nets until the sunrise…
We were separated from each other for twenty-two years; he was unable to come to Turkey. He wrote many letters to me about his regrets. It was difficult to show any understanding to him or his reasoning especially during all the difficulties and challenges that we were going through without him. How could a father stay away from his family all these years? At the end of the twenty-two years he stopped writing letters … the last five years we did not hear any news from him. I waited, without knowing whether he was alive or dead.
Being alone mother with four children was not easy. The neighbours and people in the community were too nosey. “Divorce him, you’re young woman, you will find someone else, your husband probably found someone else out there too” , they said. My older children were enquiring about their father’s absence, “Why did you send our father away?”, they said. I went through lot of trouble, I cried for myself. One of those days my youngest boy saw me crying and said “Don’t cry mother, I’ll be your husband, father of our family”.
I did not receive any help from my husband’s brothers while he was away. During Eid I used to visit my mother-in-law, who did not show any interest or concern about where their son was. I used to think, if another person went through the trouble that I had, they will lose their mind…But I pulled myself together. I thought of my children.
I thought a lot about what my neighbours had said and decided to go to the Consulate and asked them for some advice to show me a way out of this. I was told that an invitation was needed from someone in the UK in order to get the Visa. At that time my son had a friend in London so we asked for his help. He knew a Japanese family who helped me a lot and supplied all the required documents to me.
I got a refusal at my first attempt to get a visa, but did not give up. I promised myself that I will try every possible way so I appealed against the decision. They gave me a form to fill in that was very complex and difficult. My aunt had a son-in-law who helped me to fill out the form. I explained everything in the form very well. I explained to them my concerns regarding my husband’s life in London. The application was very complicated, so I attached a separate letter that I wrote where I explained all the events in the smallest detail with the relevant dates.
Eight months later I received a letter in the post. It was from abroad, saying I won the case. I was given a six-month visa! I finally got the visa but this time I felt paralyzed, what would I do from now on? How would I do it? There were so many unanswered questions in my mind which worried me. Two months had gone past since I got my Visa and I still couldn’t take a single step. I didn’t tell anything to anyone…
In the end, I made up my mind and called up a lady who I knew lived in London. Her daughter picked up the phone and I found out that her mother was in Turkey for a visit. She gave me her phone number so I called and spoke to her, she told me she was going back in fifteen days and asked me to come along with her. I was so excited; there were still tickets available on her flight. I wasn’t expecting it but I bought my ticket immediately and came to London. My first night in London, I was a guest in her house…
TWENTY-TWO YEARS LATER
The next day in the afternoon, this lady’s son took me to the coffee shop that my husband goes to. My husband didn’t know I was in London, but my friend’s son did some research into where we could find him.
I waited outside in a dark alley… He came out and started to walk towards the street where I was waiting for him. He looked exhausted, very neglected. It was getting dark and we barely recognised each other… He was shocked when he realised it was me that was standing in front of him staring into his eyes. He began to cry. I was so angry, but did not say much. He took me to his house that night and we argued nonstop for four days… We stayed together for four months in London and I convinced him to come with me to Turkey. He was feeling ashamed because of what he had done “How can I look into children in the face? My ten year old boy is now thirty- three years old and my eighteen- month-old son, twenty-two years old now.. Four grown up lads …”, he said. He cried a lot … but he still came along with me.
I felt angry and resentful towards my husband, but I had no choice but to forgive him. I felt sorry for him at time; I knew he wasn’t a bad person. He was lost within a flow that was unfamiliar to him; he desperately struggled for many years and was eventually defeated. Failing to achieve what he wanted, he didn’t have the strength to face his failures and felt ashamed to come back. Prior to our return I phoned and spoke to the children and asked them not to mistreat their father. It took a while for them to get use to their fathers return… He wasn’t there for them when they needed their father. His whole family was at the airport ready for our arrival. His brothers, sisters, my sisters-in-law. It was like a feast.
I reunited my children with their father twenty-two years later. Three weeks later, he returned to London. Upon his return to London, he applied for the family reunion visa. The application was refused at first; it meant I had to wait again. I found a lawyer and appealed the decision and gave it to the court. My statement to the court was found very reasonable and we won the case! Later I found out that the people at the court were a little surprised and amazed at how we managed to reunite and be a family again twenty-two years later.
Twenty-two years later, after the reunion is another story … a story of Hackney.
The book prepared for publishing by
Stories typed by Meral Halkacı
Editor: Selma Altun
English translation: Yeter Gözübüyük
Proofreading: Dr. Angela Byrne (English)
Ziya Adnan (Turkish)
Page design/Cover page/Photos: Zafer Kurşun