Retire Mechanical engineer. Student at California State university Channel Island studiyingAbout Me

July 26, 2015

Tugba and Ibrahim: A Love Story by Behcet Kaya

She worked assiduously, arduously just to clear the entrance to the house, piling the snow on both sides of the path that was now as tall as she was from the previous shoveling.

She was sweating as she finally reached the street, and the last shovel full she threw landed on a young man passing by.

She was embarrassed as the young man tried to sweep the snow from his face and clothes. She stood there speechless; unable to move. The young man wiped his face, moved closer, and they stood face to face, their piercing eyes looking deep into each other's souls.

Tugba's cheeks were rosy against the pale white skin of her face. Her long, dark hair reached past her waist; several strands falling over her eyes and one strand caught in her mouth.

Her hazel eyes, elegantly shaped eyebrows, clear skin, full lips and straight, round nose made her one of the most talked about girls among the young men of the village.

She was just three months shy of her sixteenth birthday and quite tall compared to the rest of the village girls her age. She lived with her father and had been brought up by her aunt after her mother died when she was very young. Her father had never remarried.

Shivering, she turned away from Ibrahim and ran inside her house; a tingling sensation filling her heart. Whenever she saw him at the Bayrams, they had checked each other out, but it had been from a distance and there had always been other boys around.

She flirted with other village boys, but with an insincere attitude. She kept thinking about him, in the daylight, and in her dreams. This was the first time she had been this close to him and she knew she was in love. She had never thought about it in those terms before.

Why now?

Ibrahim was six-foot-one, with slightly hollow, high cheek bones, and mysterious looking green eyes with a slanted Asian look that were elongated due to the skin around them.

He had broad shoulders; every inch of his body sleek and muscled with not a smidgen of fat around his belly. His hands were calloused from cutting logs where he worked with his brother at their mill. He had an on and off beard, but kept his mustache trimmed.

Ibrahim had noticed Tugba long before, secretly thinking about her; even mentioning her to his older brother. He followed her whenever he had the chance.

Several months after the snow incident, Ibrahim caught up to her as she was returning home from tending the family garden.


"Hello," she replied, shyly.

"I have been wanting to talk to you."

"About what?"

"I want us to be friends."

"I thought you were going to complain about the snow I dumped on you."

"No, not at all. That was the best thing that ever happened to me."

She giggled, "I was so embarrassed I ran inside the house."

It was a fine day, late in the afternoon. The sun's crimson, slanted rays made shadows of their bodies; so tall that they both noticed.

"Can we sit here and watch the sunset?"

"I don't know. I will be late to cook dinner. My father is expecting me; he may be worried."

Ignoring her own worries, she sat down next to him facing the setting sun. Neither said a word. Ibrahim inched himself closer and she did not protest. He reached for her hand and squeezed it with both of his.

Their hearts were pounding as Ibrahim slowly pulled her to himself. Looking into each other's eyes, their lips touched, the passion poured, and she hugged him tightly. Half an hour passed in the blink of an eye, but finally Tugba separated herself from him. It was late and she had to get home.

Tugba could not get him out of her mind, reliving the moments of kisses and excitement it stirred in her body. It was no use, she was in love and her hormones made her desires clear, but the customs of the village stood firmly in their way.

The village of Evren was a very cultured village compared to the other 152 villages of Siran.

Its residents were successful builders, living in other cities in Turkey and even in Europe, coming back in the summer. Only a handful of people lived permanently in the village; Tugba and her father were of those few.

The village had every convenience of bigger cities, but when it came to men and women mixing, they followed the old customs, which meant that Tugba and Ibrahim could not openly date until they were engaged.

But young people have their secret ways to overcome such obstacles. Tugba and Ibrahim designed a way to communicate to each other by letter. He would hide his letters in the garden wall of the mosque, and then hide himself to watch and make sure she got the letter and it did not fall into someone else's hand.

Some nights, after her father was in bed and sound asleep, Tugba would quietly sneak out and meet Ibrahim. They made arrangements and relied on their closest friends to cover for them.

Their subterfuge continued for the next nine months. But when Tugba found out that her father had arranged for her to marry a distant relative, she knew she had to do something drastic.

Ibrahim and Tugba begun planning their elopement.

Ibrahim said nothing to his older brother about the elopement until the night it was to happen. At 10:55pm, Altay heard a knock on his bedroom window and looked out to see Tugba and Ibrahim standing together, arm in arm.

When they told him of their plans, he thought it too late to tell their father, but knew he must. The reality of the situation was serious. When Tugba's father and relatives found out she was missing, they would be swarming for a big fight.

Altay woke his father. Hasan understood immediately the trouble that was to come. He did not have time to argue, or to try and talk the two young lovers out of their plans. Instead, he instructed his two sons and soon-to-be daughter-in-law to go to Kenek village, thirty miles north of Evren.

Hasan gave them enough money for the journey, dressed Tugba in warm clothes, making sure she had a sheepskin coat for the trip through the rugged mountains, and told them to get going.

The moon shone brilliantly, as bright as daylight, and powdery snow covered everything. They left the village and approached a wooded area where the road was covered in thick snow. As they made their trek onward, another blizzard moved in, obscuring their view.

The wind blew the snow creating places that were barren, other places that were hip deep in accumulated snow. Sometimes they walked on the soft snow that sunk beneath them up to their waist line. They had to traverse a very dense forest on the slopes of mountain forcing them to follow the upper side of the trail.

The wind began to blow heavily from their right and tossed them to the left, plunging them down into the trail and they sank into the softer snow. They were unmistakably on no sort of road. The storm became more and more violent and fine frozen snow was falling from the sky.

Tugba was exhausted, her nose and cheeks felt the cold more keenly. Even with the sheep skin coat, a draft of cold air crept in under it. She repeatedly had to stop and try to wrap herself more closely. At one point, she simply sat down and dozed off.

Alarmed, Ibrahim tried to wake her.

"Tugba! Tugba, you cannot go to sleep! You will freeze. Altay, we need to take cover over there," Ibrahim said, pointing towards a large boulder.

"You take her there and I will collect wood for a fire. We need to warm her," Altay responded.

Ibrahim picked Tugba up and cradled her in his arms, struggling to carry her, and placed her gently below the rock outcropping.

Altay made his way towards the rock.

Along the way, he parted and pulled whatever dry wood branches of the trees he could find until he had enough to start a fire. He then gathered dry grass to ignite the fire, while Ibrahim flattened the dirt and arranged small rocks around the fire.

As the fire roared to life, Tugba opened her eyes, feeling better with the warmth of the fire. Both brothers ventured out to find more firewood in hopes of keeping the fire going. There was the real possibility of them freezing, but with the fire, that danger was passing.

Sitting closely together, they ate some bread and cheese that Hasan had packed for them. The warm rock retained the heat and the men supplied more fire wood as the night passed into morning.

They woke to clear skies and resumed their trek. It was much easier to follow the trail and they avoided places where the soft snow had accumulated. The weather held and they arrived in the village of Kenek before noon.

Back in Evren, all hell had broken loose.

Tugba's father, waking to find her gone, and knowing what probably had transpired, gathered all the men of his clan and began searching for her. Their first stop was the home of Hasan. When they saw Hasan standing in his doorway with a loaded shotgun, they hesitated.

"One more step and I will put a bullet through you," shouted Hasan as he fired his gun into the air.

Reaching an impasse with Hasan, Tugba's father travelled to Siran and returned with several Gendarme, who had the authority to search every house in the village. But still no Tugba.

The search then extended out into the surrounding villages, which would eventually lead them to Kenek. Hasan called Altay and warned him of what was coming.

Altay, Ibrahim and Tugba traveled back to Siran by a truck that makes the daily trip between the two towns. Hoping to escape notice, they checked into a hotel that was owned by a friend of Altay's, who promised anonymity.

After a weeks of searching, Tugba, Ibrahim and Altay were finally spotted in Siran. Tearfully she was separated from Ibrahim and the brothers were locked up.

Knowing that Ibrahim was in trouble for taking off with an underage girl, Tugba's father took the matter the court in Siran.  Tugba's relatives saw the whole situation from her standpoint and thought it shameful to put her through a court trial. Despite their insistence, her father would not change his mind.

On the day of their court appearance, the judge dutifully explained the law was explicitly clear and penalties were severe for elopement with a minor. An emotional Tugba asked the judge if she could explain her situation.

"Your Honor! Everyone here is trying to decide what I should and should not do, but no one thinks that I am perfectly capable of deciding for myself. Yes! I am still several months underage but, your Honor, I am adult enough to think for myself. Both physically and mentally I am capable of making my own decisions. I love Ibrahim. My father is arranging for me to marry someone whom I do not love. If you turn me back to my father, I do not know if I can get along with my father anymore. Besides, I am afraid to live with my father. If I have to go back home, I would rather you turn me over to the village muhtar."

The wise judge took Tugba's pleading to heart.

"My dear, you are the only one here who makes any sense. I can see that you love your Ibrahim, but my hands are tied. What I can and will do is turn you over to the muhtar of Evren. In addition, I am placing a restraining order on your father, and he will not be permitted to come near you. When you turn eighteen, you can legally marry Ibrahim, or your father can give his blessing so that you can marry Ibrahim now. However, I see that is highly unlikely, given the state of mind he is in."

Following the judge’s orders, the muhtar of Evren took Tugba under his protection and when they arrived back in the village he allowed Tugba live in Hasan's house. In addition, he came up with a brilliant solution to Tugba’s problems. He arranged for what would appear to be an actual wedding to take place.

Tugba dressed in a borrowed wedding dress and stood side by side with Ibrahim. Ibrahim's mother placed a wedding ring on Tugba's finger and pictures of the ceremony were taken. In a clever ruse, and with the help of a talented photographer, the wedding pictures showed the entire clan including Tugba's father.

The muhtar then took the wedding pictures to the judge who smiled and concluded that Tugba's wedding was with her father's blessing. The judge then informed the muhtar that it would take a few months to complete the legalities. By that time, Tugba would be of legal marrying age and an actual wedding could take place.

Three years have passed since Tugba and Ibrahim were legally married. They have two beautiful children and clearly are happy together, but there was sadness in the reality that Tugba’s father, Erdogan, still refused to talk to her.

The stubborn old man's health was deteriorating and Tugba was in despair not to be able to talk her father and attend to his needs.

At sixty-two, the once tall old man was bent over from the arthritis in his hips and had difficulty walking. He also had lost vision in one eye due to an altercation in his younger years and had difficulty with his daily chores.

Altay had an idea about breaking the ice between Tugba and her father.

He asked his father to have a talk with Suleyman, one of Tugba's distant relatives who was close to Tugba's father. The plan was for Suleyman to visit Erdogan and Altay would show up at the old man's house.

Naturally, the old man could not be rude, even if Altay was an unwanted visitor, and no altercation would take place because Suleyman would not permit it. In addition, Tugba, Ibrahim and Hasan would be outside, waiting to join the gathering after everything had calmed down.

Suleyman agreed to the plan and was visiting the old man when Altay knocked on the door.

"Don’t get up. I will see who it is."

The old man just shook his head. When Altay entered the room, the old man stared at him.

"I came to make peace," Altay said.

Before the old man could respond, Suleyman spoke sharply, pretending annoyance.

"It's about time you and Tugba make peace, this can't go on forever. You are in no condition for this nonsense. She misses you, and you need to let your daughter come. You don't have many years left think about it. I am going to bring Tugba to see you and you can be father and daughter, like civilized people."

The old man opened his mouth to protest.

"I don't want to hear any of your nonsense. Erdogan."

The old man's face turned sour, but remained silent.

"Altay, go bring in your sister-in-law!" Suleyman barked in anger.

Waiting outside, Tugba, Ibrahim and Hasan had heard everything that had been said. As soon as the front door opened, Tugba rushed to her father.

The old man could not stop his tears and Tugba began to cry; neither father nor daughter in any condition to argue. She hugged her father tight and to her relief, he returned the hug. They were no longer aware of anyone else in the room, and Suleyman, Altay and Hasan quietly left them alone.

Later, when the men returned, they found Tugba in the kitchen happily preparing cay and while the men talked, she finished the house chores. Tugba and Ibrahim decided to stay on with Erdogan for the night and the next day the decision was made that she and her family would move in.

Peace and happiness had finally returned to the family of Erdogan.