We Know

Saygun Gökarıksel, Writing Fellow, Doctoral Candidate in Anthropology

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“When will they stop writing such letters,” thought the public administration officer. He had been working in the department responsible for answering the citizen’s complaints for more than a decade. Reading about other people’s problems, complaints, and life stories was a learning experience for him. When the letter was sufficiently attractive, he would then dream about what the author might look like. He spied on many strange faces, eavesdropped on many secret conversations, and recorded many previously unfamiliar stories to his diary as “words from friends.” He befriended those words that reminded him of the society he lived in even during his most solitary hours spent at his desk in the office. But how about this newly arrived letter? “Today everyone seems to be in ridiculously inflated debt with no prospects of repayment,” he thought. What was there to say to the author of the letter who complains that she will soon be evicted from her house because she was not able to pay the rent, because she was in debt, because she was unemployed, because she was alone with three kids, because her husband was in prison, because her brother with a criminal record could not find any job, because she was unemployed, because her rent went up, because the landlord was also in debt and because…

After months of receiving no answer from the state department, the author of the letter decided to tape a copy of her letter on her window that looked to the street. “These burglars are trying to kick me out of my house,” read the title. Her son drew a few animals on a piece of paper to illustrate the situation. The letter drew a lot of attention from those who wandered around the street, looking for a job or some fun. One day, she woke up to the sound of a knocking at her door. “Who is that?” The voice at the door sounded distantly familiar. Opening the door, she saw that it was her old friend from school. They learned how to write together. The friend also brought her own letter. Waving it in her hand, she suggested writing a manifesto together as the people, for the people: “We, the people! We know who you are and you know who we are!”

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