TRAIN AND WE HAVE KNOWN EACH OTHER WELL FOR A LONG TIME. OUR ACQUAINTANCE DID NOT HAPPEN JUST YESTERDAY OR TODAY, IT GOES BACK OVER A CENTURY, CLOSE TO TWO HUNDRED YEARS.
How are we not related to train? It is our relative, a close one. It stops by our village or town every day, blows its whistle to let us know that it arrived. ‘I came’ it says ‘but I cannot stay long, I am in a hurry!’ We go to see it sometimes because we miss each other; moreover, we succumb to its call and we nestle in it comfortably, chatting all the way. It becomes our uncle or cousin sometimes. We respect it as our fellow townsman. This is how close we are. It is among the primary things that we are proud to be a fellow of, because train inspires the feeling of fellowship.
Train and we have known each other for a long time. Our acquaintance did not happen just yesterday or today, it goes back over a century, close to two hundred years. It has been a fellow Anatolian for over hundred and fifty years; it has nestled on remote roads with its rails, as if it had stopped right in front of our doors. This is how close we are. Moreover, we got to know each other better in time and learned each other’s traits. We call it as one of us, because it has become one of us. Train is the boy, when Aunt Fatma who lives in a remote corner of a remote town in Anatolia says, ‘My boy is coming, I just heard his footsteps.’ Time goes by and footsteps slow down, as if the boy has passed by and long gone, leaving us alone here. No, he would not. This time the duty would be taken over by another boy, who is faster, nimbler, neater, and dashing. Now, he is our close relative. One would become very happy for having such person as a relative or as an acquaintance.
Train is both our adolescence and youth. Why not? Practically, we did not go to anywhere without it. It was that close of a friend to us. One might lessen the number of friends while rushing between home, family, children, and work; however, never forgets that youth means friendship. One’s youth is measured by the number of one’s friends. If you had a small number of friends or did not have any friends at all when you were young, I would pity you, because you were never young. You might appear young; however, the place of your spirit, your heart, your feelings will never be next to the youngsters. What I’d like to say is young people don’t want to go to anywhere without friends. We did not either. Wherever we went, train did! Wherever train went, we did! Just as the line in the poem that was written by Can Yücel for his father, our legendary Minister of National Education Hasan Ali Yücel, “This was how I learned homesickness by heart,” this was how we traveled the eternal valleys, plains, nights, and days of youth and our country.
We used to call it express, the Anatolian Express, and then came the Blue Train, but there used to be black trains, too. They used to travel long distance from the westernmost to the easternmost under the snow without tiring, just like a marathon runner. We used to consider them as our teachers, carrying the light of the republic on their foreheads, running from town to town to illuminate our folks, raised by the village institutes, equipped with republican values, working with the pride of being the teachers of Veteran Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and illuminating more as they work. They were working more as they became more tired, and they illuminated more just as how black kohl warms as it burns, and black train makes people smile as it unites them with their loved ones.
Greetings to those teachers, greetings to trains, the fellow travelers of our youth…