Istanbul Stories: The mother at the Taksim Square

Istanbul Stories: The mother at the Taksim Square

It is bright everywhere. People from different nationalities can be seen taking snaps. Few adults enjoying their cigarettes while others taking selfies of uniqueness at this place. One can also enjoy the sips of Turkish Chai within a radius of one metre from the vendors in the exchange of two or three Turkish Lira. The eye-catching place is the statue of Mustafa Kamal Ata Turk and his friends leading the nationalist movement of Turkey back in the 1920s. Also, there is a smell of Turkish food which lies in front of your eyes just two hundred metres ahead on the tables of stylish Turkish restaurants. This is the glory of the great Taksim Square in Istanbul. Here, the world moves fast and life is the quality of time you spend at this place.


I was wondering for the Mosque to offer Namaz and to perform ablution I needed washroom. Taksim Square is a multicultural place with two huge Churches and mosques for prayers. I was about to jump out of a queue into a mosque when I heard the voice of a woman sitting on the stairs. She looked shocked and said something in Arabic. It took some time for me to interpret her message but it was a valuable one. She was asking me to take my shoes off before stepping the stairs into the mosque. Then I understood that the stairs were covered with mattress and shoes were not allowed inside. I thanked this lady who took me out of the louche action I would have committed otherwise.

Post Namaz I took a few minutes to interact with this lady. She was selling tissue papers one Turkish Lira a packet a bit expensive but at the same time gainful comparing to a place like the Taksim Square of Turkey. She was a mother and an Arab migrant who ran out of the disastrous Syrian Civil war to save her family. She was a good looking lady, covering her head properly with the hijab and earning a living with dignity, unlike other migrants who openly beg on the streets of Istanbul. She was all smiles and treated me warmly regardless of not purchasing a single tissue packet from her small remote shop.

I distanced myself from her and stopped a few metres leaning against the wall to gaze her and the motherhood that made her strong to earn living from the stairs with all dignity. She was treating everyone with the same affection and love as she treated me. There were rich Arabs, Turks and people of different countries passing her but she sat aside all smiles and veiling the river of sorrows behind her smile. She was a mother and she chose dignity over sorrow. Maybe, her children playing in front of her provided the grip over sorrow, a bright light into the future that nobody knows will ever come true.

She also purchased a gift for her daughter hardly three years old. It was not an expensive toy or a shining pair of clothes. It was a bottle full of milk. Her tears were clearly stating that it was the first time she was able to afford a bottle of milk to her daughter. A few seconds later her daughter felt slept in her lap. She wished her quietly and told everyone that today is her daughters third birthday. She was proud that three years old Ayesha is alive with her. I also wished her daughter quietly a Happy and Prosperous Birthday. I kept staring at her until my friend asked me to tie my shoes left open after Namaz.

I felt proud of her motherhood. She made me believed an invisible power of vision, the hope that never dies. While writing this write-up in my mind is another to be a mother who is yet in her twenties. She is also an Arab. Or I must say while writing this write-up there are millions of to be mothers irrespective of them being an Arab, a Turk, an Indian or an American. It is up to them to enjoy their life in this world of Instagram or Facebook or to go out and make themselves capable to challenge this system of prejudice against women. They can be either the mother of change or can be just the mother of children. There are thousands of Ayeshas out there but not all can afford a bottle of milk. Not all can afford to study. Not all can afford to live happily. If you can afford then be a change. Shift this world to the horizon of respect, dignity, and make everyone realise your true hidden value. Indeed it is justly said that,

“Educate a woman and you educate a family; Educate a girl and you educate the future”. 

Happy Birthday!

Mohammad Rafay

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