On June 10 these images were made, one day after we were introduced to each other in the street. We happened to be walking in her neighborhood the day before, looking for children to photograph. We were granted permission to photograph a couple of girls and then were overwhelmed by many more. Unfortunately the sun had set and the photography was limited. So we returned the following morning on the very day of my departure from Turkey.
As we walked closer to that same street I could see her and her friends standing on the corner. Her smile by now had become familiar to me. We talked with them for a few minutes and arranged another session. My dear friend, Ömer F. Atmaca, helped with the reflector and we photographed on the side of her friend's home. She had the most perfect combination of shyness and confidence, rarely spoke a word but expressed herself without reserve.
Looking back at the group picture of the girls and myself from the day before, she was the one next to me with her arm around my shoulders. Having visited many conservative societies in my lifetime, her act of friendship took on even more significance. As a result her name is etched in my memory: Elif.
Fittingly her name is the first letter in the Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish alphabets... and refers to the origin of the universe.
When we walked back to town she walked alongside us. When we reached that same corner, she turned to her right and started up the path to her home. As distance increased between us she waved her hands and in secret blew kisses towards us. She did so repeatedly, and this was my last memory of Turkey.
Halim Ina Photography