Thursday, 24 September 2009
My Turkish family
At the time of our wedding, they weren't talking so no family were present, just a few close friends. For some years most of the contact I had with my father-in-law, who speaks excellent English, was on the telephone, and more recently on webcam. During these conversations he has criticised his son a great deal, and this has made me feel uncomfortable. I did however pluck up the courage during one such conversation, to tell him that in my opinion the very things that were the subject of his criticism, were mostly due to his not being such a good father to his son as he had been to his other two children, Mr Ayak's half brother and sister. He was angry at the time, but a couple of days later sent me a long text message almost agreeing with my comments.
Over the years I have tried to build a bridge between Mr Ayak and his father. At the same time, Mr Ayak's stepmother has done her best to do likewise. It's taken a lot of hard work, but eventually it seems to have paid off, which resulted in my father-in-law giving us the house that we moved to in May of this year. A house that Mr Ayak senior had been renovating with the intention of moving to with his wife at some time in the future...so for him to give up on this plan, I see as a huge gesture of goodwill.
On the rare occasions that we have seen them, the atmosphere has always been tense. Even though my mother-in-law doesn't speak English, she and I sensed each others' discomfort, and we both seemed to be treading on eggshells when Mr Ayak and his father were in the same room.
So I have been dreading their visit this week. I wasn't sure that Mr Ayak would be able to get home to see them so I knew I would be faced with having to entertain them...but in a way I had mixed feelings about this. Perhaps it would actually be easier if Mr Ayak couldn't get home? Maybe this would be better for all concerned?
They arrived yesterday afternoon, loaded down with bags of food. Very generous of them, although I had already been shopping in Milas and most items were duplicated. Then Mr Ayak arrived home an hour later...also with shopping...so then we had everything in triplicate. Unfortunately most of it is perishable...what a waste (although I'm sure the neighbours will help to dispose of some of it). The evening started out with the usual tension but gradually everyone relaxed and it was fine.
Mr Ayak had to return to work early this morning and isn't sure when he can next get home. This has given me a long overdue opportunity to get to know my in-laws a bit better. And it has indeed been wonderful.
I was anxious about being able to control Beki, Poppy and Milly, because like most Turkish people, the in-laws aren't keen on dogs...but they've taken it all in their stride. In fact they've looked on in amazement at my giving the dogs orders, and them actually obeying me (they don't usually...but maybe they had decided to give me some support today!). And they've laughed at the dogs running rings round me and tripping me up when I've been trying to feed them.
They spent a few hours today down at the land on the edge of the village, pruning fruit trees, etc...and I am going to attempt to help them tomorrow (should be interesting!)
We have just spent a wonderful evening chatting about all sorts of things. My mother-in-law has being showing me photos of my nephew, who is 4 years old, and of course I have been showing her pics of Billy. Lots of ooh-ing and ahh-ing from both of us. Not having a proper barbecue, father-in-law made a charcoal fire in the garden and cooked on that, and mother-in-law and I prepared the rest of the food together.
Much to my pleasant surprise, I will actually be very sorry when they leave.