Aykan Safoğlu



The pinkish fan that my friend Belgin holds in her hand reminds me of the heat of that summer day in July 2008. We were guests of the City of Cologne to attend the Pride events. Cologne is one of the sister cities of Istanbul, therefore the invitation: Aykan, Belgin and Cihan – 3 activists of the queer organization Lambdaistanbul – to come to Cologne to present the LGBTI community of Istanbul. This is Belgin’s first time abroad, and Cologne is the first city I have visited in Europe, so I am the proud companion to Belgin to show her around. In the hassle of the intense bureaucratic meetings, lobbying activities, Belgin and I find time to wander around the city. We walk along the Rheine-shore. I show Belgin the Deutzerbrücke (Deutzer bridge) and tell her that my grandmother lost a scarf, while she was crossing it in a Cabrio. She came to Cologne in the ’70s to visit her two daughters, and the wind stole her scarf. Rheine takes us to Kölner Dom (the cathedral) and I talk about the B&W photographs that I had seen which showed the immense destruction of Cologne after the bombardments of the allied air forces. Belgin listens, I wonder if my grandmother’s scarf had similar colors to Belgin’s fan, but I will never find out. We take the train from the central station to go to Paffrath, a small village in the neighboring district to Cologne. It was my idea to pay a surprise visit to my aunt Zerrin, who has been running a tailor’s shop there for the last 30 years at least. We arrive and my aunt welcomes us with tears in her eyes. She has always liked surprises. She happily and tenderly invites us to lunch. We object to her kindness, but she insists, proceeds, and we surrender.  Belgin tells her common problems that transgender women face in the daily life in Istanbul. My aunt listens silently; we all chain-smoke. Zerrin takes us to her little garden; we see the prominent cherry tree that grew out of a seed that she threw away in one her coffee breaks. With the taste of the cherry and the smell of the coffee, we rest in the shadow of that tree that is almost 4 meters tall now. Belgin points out some leaves of sinirli ot (folium plantaginis) in the green meadow that lies in front of the tailor shop. Belgin tells us that it is good for stomach, Zerrin is happy to hear that. The strong coffee she likes is bad for her stomach. We leave in late afternoon to go back to the city. Zerrin, Belgin, Aykan, all happy… On the way back, I realize that I have just come out to my aunt. Belgin snaps her fan wide open and I dream that she takes a photograph of this revelation. Here Belgin stares out of the train’s window at the beginning of our day trip with the dome of the cathedral behind her. That hot beautiful afternoon swings eternally between her fan and my aperture.