Terke, A place for those who left and who were left behind

by Emre Yağlı


There are more than a hundred thousand village in Turkey. Indeed, there are also lots of problems to be highlighted and thus, draw the attention of the government authorities considering these villages. The first post of eyagli.com/en is about a village, a setting created which involves who left and who are left behind.

It was August 2012, I have been in Terke village in Araç, Kastamonu with one of my friends who works as a primary care physician. There, I think, I made some comparisons between Terke and the other villages that I have been in. Although it is a comparison, I can say that I have noted some sharp similarities.

The people of Terke village fairly know who and where they are. However, it is only them who know that, not any outsider does. Thus, they are capable of following their shadows, as has been in the other villages of Turkey. There are an entity called as “government,” which has the big shadow, and they find a suitable shadow for them just under it. Sometimes, they come closer to that bigger shadow, with full of expectation, expectations from the government.

It has been said that there is a famous signboard on the roads which is strongly credited for Kastamonu region: “Stones may fall, bears may show up.” Similarly, there are lots of signboards standing for the warning: “There may be cows on the road.” Anyway, we were three. It was the cottons falling and flying around us when I put my first step on the ground. My friend Anıl, who is doctor in charge of that village considering the health issues, introduced my friend and me as journalists since we had our cameras with us. And that was the reason what was going to happen around us in Terke. Just remember the big shadow and the small one. Also, just think what is going to be a journalist who visit a village whose residents have been trying to reach the government (sure the big shadow). Government which is able to reopen the health care center which was closed 15 years ago, government which is able to bring solutions to the problems of the farmers. A government which has the fertilizer reserves and “governs” it.

I am not going to list what we heard, talked… Until 90s, both the local and the general elections held in Turkey mainly focused on villages since almost 70 per cent of the entire population used to consist of farmers, villagers. Moreover, what had changed in the very beginning of 90s is that the masses started to move from villages to cities. Thus, words were not given as what had been before 90s. Further, those who heard the nicest “words” before 90s, moved to big cities in the beginning of 90s, came back to their villages when it was around the first decade of 2000s. Hence, whoever we met there were those who left and who were left behind.

A cult novel “Shadowless” – story of a city, and far, far away, forgotten by God and the government – by Hasan Ali Toptaş describes the situation: “One is enjoyed in the dark, the other is enjoyed in the light.” That was the first thing that emerged in my mind when I started to realize the first words of the inhabitants of Terke, who are going to disappearing now, instead of running away.

What I have “linked” to Terke since the very beginning of this post is only “a village.” However, Terke is not a village but a district of the village İğdir, which belongs the city, Araç. Whatsoever, it may not be important as to be called as “village” or a “district” when it comes to the state of “being forgotten,” to feel it. Thus, while the government is calling them as a “district,” they are calling themselves as a “village.” Although what is going on in the minds of outsiders are not well known, the inhabitants of Terke – who are insiders then – are fairy capable of perceiving the outsiders “how they want.” Just because of this, the inhabitants of Terke regarded us – journalists – as a means of access to the government.

İğdir, the village that hosts Terke district, struggled for being a city. Although they were capable of doing this, being a city, it had not been that long to remain as a “city.” Today, the inhabitants of İğdir are taking 40-50 kilometres long road for the nearest bank, the same for mid-level health care.

They are on-air now:

“One who loses his job goes to İstanbul.”

“One who has conflicts with his/her parents goes to İstanbul.”

“One who elopes with a girl goes to İstanbul.”

“İstanbul is really big, like a government.”

“I had my 25 years in İstanbul, then came back.”

“See this street? There used to be lots of shops. Where are they now?”

Someone interrupts, “Also, I had my 25 years in İstanbul, then came back.”