(Fruit Trees… with Cenk Y from Istanbul)
I grew up having never met my father. But I had a close relationship with my grandfather and passed every weekend with my grandparents, spending a particularly large amount of time in the back garden. Even before he retired, he managed to have time to tend to a huge garden, organised into rows and patches like a working farm. His was full of flowers (especially irises, gladioli and roses), vegetables (including sweetcorn, sweet peas, and melons), and an assortment of fruit trees (plum, apple, cherry, fig, loquat and mulberry).
The latter two fruits were ones I’d never seen in a market. And since I moved to London, I never came across loquats or mulberries again. Perhaps he knew of these fruits from his Sicilian heritage, I never asked. But finally in Istanbul I came across them again. Not only were they in the greengrocers but hanging off the trees, seasonably ripe. I helped myself and was transported.
My childhood had its distresses, and though I’m not going to claim that it was worse than anyone else’s, it was at my grandparents’ house where I felt most safe and free to be myself. And having spent so much time with grandpa in his garden, tasting these fruits again made me feel safe again.
He passed many years ago and it sort of surprises me that even now I can miss him so much that tears come. And it happened in Istanbul, triggered by something as surprising as the taste, smell and texture of a fruit. One day when I’m older I’m going to have a garden and I’m going to grow these trees myself, enjoying the fruits of my childhood every summer. And I hope they will bring me comfort and safety. But for now I can always visit Istanbul.
See more of Cenk Y and read his story in Elska Magazine issue (06) Istanbul