My friend has a hobby: he is a genealogist. So, his passion is finding out about his family roots. He is German and he has been able trace back his roots that took him to today’s Czech Republic. It is not where it stops. And he will find it out.
I have always admired his passion, yet to me it remained as his passion. Could not become mine. Did not think much about it either. I liked to listen to him.
Three weeks ago I met some far members of my family, whom I have not known until this age. My ‘new’ uncle told me where my family stems from on my father’s side. He is also interested in genealogy, and it has been important for him to find out who we are and where we come from.
My gran-grandfather came to Turkey from central Asia, more precisely from Uzbekistan. My grandfather and father were born in Istanbul. Grandma and granddad found each other in Istanbul.
The form of the eyes of my ‘new’ uncle is like those of a central Asian. I recalled that occasionally few people have been telling me that my eyes are a little bit like Asian eyes, especially when I was still a child.
My grandma on my father’s side, whom I never met, is a ‘sarayli’ my new uncle said; which literally means ‘from the palace’. So, in general she belongs to a family that lived in the Ottoman palace. She and her family are Ottomans.
My grandparents on my mother’s side come from former Yugoslavia, today’s Bosnia-Herzegovina. Grandma and granddad found each other in Adapazari, a small town one hour away from Istanbul.
It sounds like I am a genealogical mixture: a little bit central Asian, a little bit Ottoman/Turkish, a little bit Balkan.
All of a sudden I have all this information about who I am, where I belong to, where my roots trace back to. What I feel is relief, and comfort. I don’t know why. Maybe because I have never felt that I had roots. I have always been on the move; I have lived in different countries, cities, continents, cultures. It was my choice, and it made me happy. I have cherished the freedom, I still do, and being able to move and not to have to be stuck somewhere. The feeling that the entire world is my home.
I feel relief and comfort, now that know a bit better about my roots. That I am not a ‘stray bullet’ like my grandma would have said… I am the product of central Asian, and European souls, who were seeking new homes in yesterday’s Ottoman today’s Turkish soil, whose ways and hearts crossed in and around Istanbul.
I have a friend. He is a passionate genealogist. I understand him much better now. I understand his passion.