The first day I overhear Mustafa's grandmother lamenting the absence of grandchildren. My daughter Vera lives far away and will not grow up to be an Alevi child, she says. She repeats herself and talks of the burning of her village and the family members that were killed when the village was burned. Sometimes she cries remembering her forgotten dead. She speaks in Turkish and I understand much, but not all, of what she says. Sometimes my responses clue her in to some incomprehension and she asks me again, "Do you speak Turkish?"
Mustafa's mother speaks primarily Kurdish and a little Turkish. I glean from the others that in raising her eight children, she has been mostly home bound and therefore hasn't had much contact with Turks or Turkish. Her situation as a linguistic outsider reminds me of my own and I feel that I am beginning to understand the powerful communication conveyed by her first hug. I understand the fear of being forgotten because one can not entertain through words, and I want Vera to kiss and love her in a simple way as my daughter too does not yet have a vocabulary to communicate powerful feelings through words.