Jul 12, 2021
Challenges Inspiration Social Issues


The Greek policeman, whose face I thought I could never forget at that moment, but now only remember as a young looking man compared to the others, constantly said:

-If you don't let yourself go, this won't work, he said.

What was meant was the entry of our fingerprints into the system. He tried many times to get my fingerprints by holding my fingers, but strangely, it just couldn't work. At first, he began to softly suggest being relaxed, and after a while, he began to clench his teeth. I don't know if anyone else has had such a hard time getting fingerprints electronically. At least, if I remember correctly, I know that it has not happened to the people I was on the same journey with and stayed with in custody at that moment. I was overwhelmed by the ranting of the police and finally said how can I be relaxed. How could I be relaxed after a difficult journey with my family that felt so far from reality and as if someone else had experienced it, even after a day? After a life-or-death run that lasted for at least 3-4 hours, after we stuck to the muddy ground at the slightest sound, our bags, which we crammed the items we could take in and on our laps or in front of us with the children, towards an unknown target without even looking back, after a certain period of time, our burdens became heavy on us and made us breathless with fear. How did they expect me to relax after fleeing from my country? Maybe this was a routine procedure for the police, he could have entered the fingerprints of hundreds of people who had illegally entered Greece so far. Maybe he was sympathetic to these ticketless passengers at first, but he might not care much anymore, seeing the same dramas and listening to the same stories over and over again every day. But, it was our most difficult journey and  we dragged our children to an unknown place with us. It was such a journey that we weren't even sure the road had an end.



When we finally reached the destination we thought we would be safe, of course, we did not think that anyone would greet us with flowers in their hands, but we definitely expected more humane conditions. Based on the stories we heard before, we tried to reach a city center without being caught by the Greek police in order not to stay in detention or refugee camps. The fear of being caught by Turkish police, which would almost bring our hearts to a standstill, decreased and was replaced by different emotions. At the same time, we were experiencing the joy of not being caught by the security forces of our own country, not being the target of a bullet and crossing the river safely, at the same time we were worried about illegally entering the territory of a country that we did not know and that has been shown as the biggest enemy in history lessons since our childhood. While trying to flee from the Turkish side, we did not realize the coldness of the air as a result of adrenaline and running, but with the transition to the Greek side, the adrenaline decreased and we started to feel cold deeply. Unfortunately, we were noticed by the police or border guards while we were walking on the side of the road, and we found ourselves in custody, not now, but after some events that I will tell another day. Although I was sleepless for several days, I could not sleep that night, although all my companions slept after fatigue. How could I relax and end my body's tenseness after this insomnia, fatigue, difficulty, fear, excitement, remorse, and uncertainty?



In fact, the police didn't know that while trying to erase all my past, my fingerprints became so blurred that they were no longer readable, of course, how could he know? I didn't realize at that time either. I thought then that this would make a good article. How do women prepare for forced migration? My answer would probably be cleanliness, like many women from the same culture I come from. As we learned from our mothers in the culture I live in, when we leave the house, we should leave the house tidy and clean so that if something happens to us on the way and other people come to our house because of it, they will not blame us for being dirty. As funny as it may sound as I write it now, this is a teaching that permeates us. I was on a road, too, and I cleaned the house with strong detergents as much as I could, so as not to let people talk about me. If I lost my life on this road, people would argue whether our home was clean or not, rather than the cause of death. It also caused our fingerprints to disappear even more when we were covered in dirt and mud on our escape road. While I was immersed in these thoughts, my fingerprints were finally recognized by the system. While I was happy that the process was over, this time they dipped our hands and fingers into the ink and took our fingerprints on the paper. And the question I asked after this process was whether they would give us soap in order to clean our hands. After all that, what I thought about was cleaning again. I guess my mother would be proud of me. In my own example, I have witnessed how people sometimes follow the routines that they are used to in difficult times, even if it is ridiculous at that moment. And what I got was the powdered laundry detergent they poured on my palm. I guess they didn't see us as valuable enough to share their soap, or they believed that we should be grateful for what we were and  were not in a position to demand more. Yes, a bit of cleanliness could be considered a luxury for people in our situation. Unfortunately, what we do not consider to be a luxury for ourselves and which we see as a necessity, we may see as a luxury or an unnecessary detail for people who see us as a shelter and the only way of rescue. At this point, I think our true humanity emerges...

Written by: Emine

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