Dudu Şahin with a great-grandchild

Dudu Şahin with several generations of her family

Dudu Şahin (Shahin means Eagle) Arab Ali’s wife

Dudu’s birth was registered in 1910 although the exact date is unknown.

Dudu explained her life like this: When I was a child I remember always being hungry and thirsty while I was small. My father, who was from Okçular, lost his life in the Balkan War (1912-1913). Any 15 or 16 year old boy from this village who could handle a gun was sent into military service. Nobody came back. At that time many people died of epidemic disease. According to hearsay, poison from Rhodes was thrown into Black Lake from a small churn or chemical gun, the consequence being that a number of people died, they say.

We ate bread made from grain that we pounded with a mallet. We planted wheat with a mattock. We kneaded herbs into our dough. We didn’t have flour. We suffered a lot in those hard times. We couldn’t sleep at night for the sound of gunfire. In this area rebels were widespread, rebels who would demand food and goods from us. We span yarn and made underwear and from every house our muhtar (village head man) Mehmet Ceyhan collected two kilos of butter and sent it all to our soldiers. (This was the time of the Great War 1914-1918 and the War of Independence 1918-1923)

In these times we grew sesame and maize and raised animals. Our transport was camels. We had no mosque, no school. We prayed each day in a different house. On Fridays we went to Dalyan. Our hoca (religious leader) was sometimes Mehtin and sometimes Bayram. Because our menfolk were away as soldiers we women dug the graves and conducted the funerals. We had our religious education at prayer time.

I ran away from home with 16 year old Ali Şahin, nicknamed Arab Ali, and sheltered in muhtar Abdil’s son Mehmet’s house. The muhtar proposed to my mother that I should leave my home again, this time as a bride and that we should have animals to raise. During these years we lived in Kapız Mevkii.

Ali Şahin became muhtar after Işıl Mehmet, then after a year it was İzzet’s turn. Then he did another term. He did 4 more years. When the surname law came in (in 1934) my husband ‘Arab Ali’ became Ali Şahin.

When we built the first school, women, girls, men, everybody brought stones by donkey and we all mucked in together. When the school opened most women went to learn to read. In the era that the school was being made we used to go to a building in Marmarlı built by Ali Çakır to learn the new alphabet. (Atatürk introduced the Latin alphabet nationwide in 1928, discarding the Arabic script completely, everyone was expected to learn the new characters)

I have 2 sons, 4 daughters and 70 grand and great-grandchildren. My husband died 13 years ago at the age of 88. May he rest in paradise.


There are more stories and photos from our old folks in ‘Okçular Village - a Guide’, click here to learn more.


. . . or, if you prefer, here’s another story with yet more insights into how life was in the days before there was even a road; this time from Şevket Akgün.


. . . or, a portrait of a remarkable lady whose wonderful attitude in the face of a truly awful personal tragedy is an inspiration and a lesson to any of us who have ever said, ‘Well, under the circumstances . . .’  Meet Gülay Çolak.


© 2010 The Okçular Book Project


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