Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Who was Ismail Kara?

Ismail: the Mr. Fixit of Dilko. The Guy who was sent to the airport to pick up new teachers, fresh off the plane, they not speaking a word of Turkish, he only knowing a smattering of words - 'Welcome! Hello! Come!' - delivered in a voice that was deep and cigarette-stained. His face was a dark ruddy colour, forged from years of sunlight, fags and way too much raki. When he wasn't pootling round the school, generally avoiding work, or delivering things to the teachers' accommodation, he could be find in the spit-and-sawdust reeking pit of a birahane next door. When you wanted something done, or sorted out, or a bill paid, it was Ismail who would sort it out, one way or another, usually by finding someone else to do the legwork. A cigarette usually dangled from his mouth, which was largely set in a lazy, benign smile. A kind man, by and large, with a good word for everyone. Behind that, though, there had been tragedy in his life; problems with relatives, a daughter killed in a car crash, another one said to have been born with severe disabilities. Yet he ploughed on in a lowly, not very well-paid job, sweating his life by, largely trusted, even though he could be lazy and dishonest to his boss. Someone well-liked, loved even.
I found out when I went to Bakirkoy that he died of a massive heart attack while at work last year. Ruhuna Fatiha.

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