Loss is like something torn out of one’s soul. Something strong grabs hold of it and takes it away. Never to be replaced in this life.
I’ve lived through loss. Of parents, lovers, and relatives, but this is the first time I’ve faced the loss of a very good friend, the only male one. We had been friends for life, he was a month or so younger than me. Our grandmothers were friends, our mothers, and us.
I keep thinking of England, when he came to my wedding party in Warwick. He and his wife were the only Turks there, besides another friend Mehmet, and his English wife. Azmi and his wife gave me a silver tray as a wedding gift. That tray has been sitting on my coffee table for a while, waiting to be put away. You know how one forgets things, after a recent event. I wonder if that was a sign. It is still there and now I cannot put it back in the dresser. Another gift he gave me, sits among the small silver knicknacks. A milk pitcher with a ladle. I love it and polish it, thinking of him.
After our school days, we were apart. He got married and moved to England, while I got married and began to work. We had no contact during the time I lived in the Far East. When I returned to London, we were both separated from our spouses. It was a difficult time for both of us. We stuck together, supporting each other and shared things. Going out at night, to shows, dinner with friends, and countryside rides.
During my miserable days in London, he was the only beacon of light that kept me going. I hope I was the same for him, for his losses.
He used to take me to a night club called The Escapade in South Kensington, very close to the Bibenium. That was the only venue open until the early hours of the morning, after the Pubs closed. South American owners, Argentinian steak, music, and dancing, and Londoners from all walks of life. Then, he’d drive his classic Lancia along Park Lane, breaks and tyres screecing, taking me back to my flat. He was a gentleman, generous, courteous, intelligent, and kind. Despite his excellent education and high qualifications, I don’t think he found the dream job of his life. But he tried, through thick and thin, he tried, to his last day, always…
Then we’d have Fish&Chips at Notting Hill, watch the Talking Heads movie at the ICA, go to Sunday lunch with his friends, or mine at my flat.
I returned to Istanbul after two years, he followed a couple of years later. Being an engineer, he had turned his skills to IT. He became a programmer, an international one. He worked in Beirut, in the UK, and wherever his services were required.
Then life happened. Companies closed, he had the big C. He never ever gave up, until the last moment.
Wherever you are, my friend, may you rest in peace. I have thousands of memories to cherish, once I can deal with your loss.
Dedicated to Azmi Tenikalp, 1950-2020, Istanbul.