By Heidi Trautmann
From January 10 until 25, just in time for his birthday on January 10, the third anniversary after his death on November 28, 2010, friends of the great poet have organized an in-memoriam exhibition of his personal effects, manuscripts and photos, to create the atmosphere his work was written in. The viewing times are according to governmental office hours.
I have met Fikret Demirag several times on the occasion of our interview that took me two years to finish as he had been suffering from health problems. I had told him that I’d prefer to wait for him to get better than put my questions in writing because I needed to see how the colour of his eyes changed while we were talking. My first impressions of him: Fikret Demirağ has a peaceful face, a thinker’s brow, brown eyes behind big glasses; the movements of his hands are thoughtful, nothing agitated. He observes, relaxed. I am sitting opposite him in his house in the outskirts of Nicosia, at home with his wife. His children have come to visit them. There is love in the room, one baby grandchild touches everything, joyfully. It is a room full of books.
His friends from the Artists and Writers Union have got a street in Lefke, his hometown, named after him, that was last year, also on the occasion of his birthday. I still remember our talk about Lefke:
A magical place. Whenever I travel across the mountains from Kyrenia, I have the feeling of passing from one space into another. It is a different air altogether, as if passing through a curtain.
“You are right, the area around Lefke inspires people, makes them stop awhile and inhale the atmosphere of the place. Before I wrote my first poems I used to paint.” Is painting not the same as writing poems? I ask. It’s all painting, with words or brush, is it not?
“Lefke is where I went to school. It is a small but friendly town, predominantly Turkish since the time of the Ottoman empire, prosperous because of its plentiful water supply and the mining works in the former days and its rich citrus orchards at the foot of the Troodos mountains. A paradise, it’s where mango trees blossom, where our strawberries are picked for our markets. Where in spring, with snow topped mountains as a backdrop, the scent of orange blossom envelops us.
He will always be remembered as the great Cypriot Turkish poet and humanist.
I salute him from here, with the quotation of one of his beautiful poems and I would like to tell him that he is right in so many ways.
…So says the holy book
There is a time for sowing seeds
a time for rain and the sun,
a time for the wind and for passion,
for sorrow and exile a time,
a time for the skies
to bring the swallow’s cries,
a time for the damp smell of soil,
and to start talking to the wind
but never to be delayed is
the time for love and hope
Nicosia, 5. 7. 1985