To Those Who Feel Like Leaving

Cemil Ozyurt
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The title is from a much-loved Can Yucel poem, which tells about those of us who always yearn to go somewhere but fail to do so. In a way, it tells how some of us in America feel.
Who, exactly? Those who are here illegally, those whose visas have expired, those who cannot quit being a student for the sake of maintaining their visa status, those who jumped off a ship, those who are waiting to get their papers, those who are waiting for a right won through a marriage. Those who cannot attend the funeral of their parents, those who never hear their child say “baba,” those who cannot be next to their spouse or lover. In other words, all of those who live every single day away from their loved ones with an unspoken grief. Those whose feelings have been amputated by time. All the people in this group suffer from the same problem: A desire to visit their motherland and quench the craving for home.

Some of them are well-educated people- engineers, instructors, lawyers, bankers, and economists; others are less equipped adventurers, trying their luck in America.
On one hand, they hope that one day they will realize the American dream and worry about what they would do if they went back. They want to maintain their lifestyles and do not have the courage to go back to Turkey for a fresh start. Putting their diplomas and social status aside, they continue driving limousines 12 hours a day, pumping gas in gas stations, waiting tables in restaurants or babysitting. Are they happy? No, but they are making money.

How does this road to nowhere look like? If some one is here illegally, the options to choose from are very limited. It doesn’t take long before young people who come to America to fulfill their ideals to realize that they can’t work and study forever. If no one is sending money from Turkey, you have to work at least 8 hours a day to pay for school and rent. Since the money that one makes is hardly enough to cover college expenses, many people enroll in a language program or a master’s degree in order to maintain their visas, facing the ultimate dilemma between work and school. Those who choose work say hello to an endless journey, as they lose their legal status and bury their hopes of return.

Leading such a life for the sake of living in the US evolves into suffering. Away from social circles and relatives, many feel like they are trapped in the largest prison of the world, the land of freedom.

If you have an illegal status and have no way to live here legally, if you are passing time by counting the money you make, I have some advice: Nothing is more valuable than the tenderness of your mother, the smile of your lover, or the way your little cousin hugs you. Every single day you spend here is another scratch on your heart. Do not torture your heart and your brain any more. GO BACK TO YOUR COUNTRY!   

To Those Who Feel Like Leaving...
Everybody wants to get away these days.
To a tiny village by the sea,
To another country, to the hills, far away...
Nobody’s content with his life.
Whoever I talk to, it’s the same story...
The urge to leave everything and everybody behind.
Not even the ‘three things to take along’.
Leaving all alone, that would suffice
And mean that you actually took everything and everybody along.
If only one could also leave the self behind, too. But one can not.
Even if the self is all right, the other is not.
I mean it’s not possible to leave all behind.
So it goes.
‘Come on, let’s go’, says a voice inside; `Sit down`, says the other.
The one that says 'sit’ wins. Because that side is crammed full.  
Can Yucel

(December 2004, 15th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07