A Letter from Ayse Bugra to her Husband

From the Free Osman Kavala Website:

Prof. Ayşe Buğra wrote a letter to her husband Osman Kavala who is now in prison. The letter by Buğra was published in the newspaper Cumhuriyet on December 31, 2017. Below is the translation of the original text:

Dear Osman,

For the first time in 30 years, it looks as if we won’t be spending the New Year’s night together. Today is December 29, and I still say, “it looks as if”, because I find this so strange. Nowadays, everything in our lives is strange. One of the things, among others, that I could not grasp about this custody situation is that I cannot write to you. I had to accept speaking through a phone behind a glass, but I couldn’t accept writing a letter to you that I knew would not be returned. For this reason, I liked this idea of writing to you through Cumhuriyet; I don’t know how to thank the newspaper.

There you started reading the classics again. But you know what, quite a few people I talked to in the last few days told me they were doing the same. Both inside and outside, there seems to be an atmosphere that gives people the desire to read the classics again. As you know, I frequently re-read things that I had read during my childhood and could not comprehend. The last one was “Point Counter Point”, and I hope we will be free again before you get the chance to read it again. Aside from the classics, lately I have thought the most of Barnes’ “Noise of Time”, which I read the last summer. I don’t know whether it is translated into Turkish, but I think it could be translated as “Zamanın Uğultusu”. It tells the story of a person who tries to keep doing what he knows well as he knows it without leaving his homeland. Now while I am writing this, that folk song I love so much also comes to my mind: The sounds of the wilderness strike my head / Thoughts of my coy love block my path. The life of Shostakovich, the protagonist of Barnes’ novel, is a tragic one. But to some extent it is similar to the life of Montaigne, whose “Essays” you are reading now in there. Montaigne also lived in quite difficult times, as he tried to prevent Catholics and Protestants from killing each other and failed. In the end, the lives of both is a story of the same endeavor: to be as themselves and to live as themselves. Nevertheless, “Essays” that Montaigne wrote isolated in a tower is not like the “Noise of Time”, it is rather a heartwarming book; on my account, I am pleased that you have read the “Essays” over there.

The noises of the times are bad, but in the middle of those noises, there are also voices of clever, good, honest, courageous people. I try to hear only the latter voices and attempt to plug my ears to everything else. The voices that say, “He is always in my mind”, “I always think of him”, “is there anything I can do?”, “would you like something?”, “may I send a book?”, “if I write a letter would he receive it?”. There are many who want to write a letter, and there are also some who say “I wrote it though I know I cannot send it”. Some begin with a shy voice, asking “do I bother you”; some ask with a serious voice “is there a new development”; and others impatiently ask “when is he coming out?”. Especially on Thursdays, the day I come to see you each week, my phone starts ringing before noon and doesn’t stop till evening. “How is Osman Bey?”, “is Osman’s health well?”, “is his morale strong?”. I would like to store all these beautiful voices in a music box with angelic paintings and make you listen to them when you come out. That’s why I like the website for you. I think to myself, maybe you’ll take a look at it once you come out and will hear the voices I heard while reading it.

There are many who see the bad. Thanks to you, I have seen much goodness and beauty. Thank you for that and for everything. Now it is also strange to wish you “a happy new year”. But of course, I have hopes for us; when it comes to our hopes for Turkey and the world, they always remain the same. Let’s get good news this year; let there be no horrible news in the newspapers; let people not suffer so much, and let there be not so much sorrow; let reason, common sense, and humanity reach everybody… That’s it, what else is there to say?

Ayşe Buğra, 29 December 2017