Last post I spoke about dear old Halil our local woodcutter delivering a donkey-load of illicit wood whilst the ‘suits’ from the Forestry Ministry were visiting. Halil was a real character, as was his last donkey. All the previous ‘donks’ had been sweet natured things that loved to have their ears scratched but this last one was a total animal! Given the slightest lapse of attention this sod would ‘fix’ whoever was within range.
Halil and the ‘donk’ wandered by one day and Halil had his arm in a sling – he took his shirt off to show the injuries that had been inflicted by the monster lurking in the skin of a gentle beast of burden. His arm, chest and back were black and blue! ‘What will you do’ I asked, ‘flog it for dog meat?’ – the beast eyed me balefully over the gate. He shrugged in that Turkish way, mumbled something or other and wandered on his way.
A few days later the pair walked by again and I noticed the ‘donk’ was hanging its head a bit – then I spotted the reason – Halil had fashioned a very effective muzzle out of an old saucepan by knocking a few holes in the bottom and tying it on like a feed-bag. The beast was beaten – not with a stick but by a bit of village woodman ingenuity. That monster may have sunk its teeth into Halil; but Halil was going to have the last laugh and his pound of flesh out of that ‘donk’!
Dear old Halil died a few years ago and I was fortunate enough to have taken a couple of poor quality but rare photos of him and his donkey. I wandered up to his house with copies of the photos for him and we sat outside on the wall and chatted a while. By then he knew he was dying and we cried together a bit and hugged – Okçular, and especially our corner of it was not going to be quite the same again.
We lost a good komşu (neighbour) and the village a character. We also lost our firewood supplier. Nowadays we get a phone call from the village muhtar (headman), we cough up some dosh and a tractor comes by and drops off a great trailer-load. It’s cheap and efficient service, but it ain’t Halil and his ‘donk’ – nothing will ever replace that pair of rogues!
Here’s a couple of photos of today’s delivery of cheap village firewood and a little, old village lady of my acquaintance cutting and sorting her supply – they lack the nostalgic charm of earlier days, but what the heck – a bit of sepia tinting and it could be a hundred years ago!
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü