Assault on Atatürk

Turkey is hit by more human tragedies.

June 30, 2016

Turkey is hit by more human tragedies.

“Explosions and gunshots at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul,” read the news alert across my iPhone screen. The next alert told of the causalities, ten death and many more injuries. And the death rose with every new alert. It is 41 at the time of this writing.

I had written on the pages of The Globalist about the pain of watching the rising violence, the explosions, and the death of innocent bystanders in Istanbul, a city so close to my heart.

At the time of that writing, there were explosions on Istiklal Street, a short walk from where I had lived in the past. But the attack at the airport affected me more personally. It hit home.

I sat motionless remembering the many somber farewells, joyful greetings, agonizing long waits and my many travels into and out of the assaulted airport.

Beautiful memories

I saw myself going through the checkpoints and waiting on the line to enter the departure hall that was now the target of this horrible attack.

I remembered the day I impatiently awaited my aging mother’s arrival from Tehran. Wiping the tears of joy from her face, I gave her a bouquet of red roses. A Turkish woman, also waiting for a loved one, gently touched my mother’s hair. They both smiled.

There was that morning when I went to the airport to greet an Iranian friend’s 17-year-old cousin coming to Istanbul for his immigration visa to the United States.

Clumsily holding the piece of paper upside down on which I had written his name, I waited long after the plane’s arrival until a tired young man stood before me trying to make sense of the paper in my hands.

Thirteen years later, that morning remains a subject of laughter and jokes between us.

I thought of the time I ran into a sharp tree branch at Taksim Square in the rush to go to the airport to greet my brother. I arrived late and with an open cut on my forehead.

And how could I forget the taxi drivers who overcharged me and took the opportunity to choose the longest possible route to the airport whenever they could.

My Ataturk airport

Good and bad, this was a place of innumerable memories with friends, family and people who I loved. It was my Ataturk Airport.

I opened my Facebook page for news from friends in Istanbul.

“My beloved friends living out of Turkey, I know I don’t have any right to say this yet. Please do not come to Turkey for a while. Just don’t. So much pain nowadays and I don’t want more. So just don’t, and pray for us. Thank you,” a Turkish friend posted on her timeline. I broke down in tears.

Takeaways

I sat motionless remembering farewells, greetings, long waits and travels through Istanbul’s airport.

The attack on the airport in Istanbul hit home for me even harder than earlier attacks.