04 February, 2008

The Man in the Yellow Jacket

So, this is a preliminary post. I am writing out something by hand, trying to process this morning. Somehow, typing on a computer is too removed and I need the weight of a pen in my hand and the feel of the paper under my fist. You need some kind of contact when you watch a person throw themselves off a building to their death.

I didn't know the man in the yellow jacket who killed himself in Osmanbey this morning. He jumped from the fifth floor of the building next to the slim, pink house with intricate white trim where Ataturk once lived, not far from where Dink was gunned down last year, carrying his signs against the reversal of the headscarf ban, handwritten horizontally, seemingly quickly, in black marker on a flipchart like an office presentation. He had sat on the ledge for awhile, just sitting calmly and occasionally arguing with those who came to an adjacent window to try to talk him back inside. We had gathered at the window to watch, wondering why anyone would stage a protest where no one could see you. Some of us took pictures. I took a few, not denying the severity of a man on the roof, but perhaps simply fascinated by the oddity of it, never assuming it would end the way it did.

Even when he shouted at the man in uniform at the window and leapt to his feet, we assumed he would eventually sit back down. The, as quickly as he'd risen to his feet, he threw his signs and jumped away from the ledge, his arms and legs spread wide like a skydiver, in a direction that would avoid the orange inflatable pad firemen were assembling on the pavement. He landed behind the firetruck and for that I am honestly thankful. I had seen enough, still saw enough, without having to see his impact, the dull sound was sickening.

So, I am left to rewrite the piece I had been working on regarding the headscarf ban, left with a lingering anger towards a man I did not know, left wondering what the point was. My students drifted off to the cafe and I stood at the window and watched the firemen, now irrelevant, gather at the back of their truck for a smoke as the ambulance crew went about covering the body and pieces spread across the sidewalk, a person in the crowd capturing the scene on a camera phone, and pedestrians streaming by, stopping only to step into the street to avoid the police tape.