My daughter’s cool scent
Hair as curly as can be, feet as bare as it gets… And she; is an African as she can possibly be…
When we moved to South Africa, first time with our daughter with an expatriate position, it took 1 month to convince our 2,5 year old little curly haired stubborn angel to take her shoes off at school. And when we moved back, we couldn’t get her to wear them for some time! Still in diapers, not knowing a single word in English -surprisingly, one of the first words she said when we were still living in Turkey was ‘cheetah’- barely even speaking her mother tongue, Turkish, she started pre-school within the first week of our arrival to Durban, South Africa. After 11 days of waiting in a room close to her classroom, one day after school, she walked towards me, holding hands with a sweet little black girl. “You can go home now”, said her teacher, with a big smile on her face. By the end of the first year, she was already singing songs in Zulu and learned how to guard her banana from the monkeys that came to our garden…
Someone once said, ‘’you never really leave a place you love… Part of it you take with you, leaving a part of you behind.’’ After 2 years, feeling sad to be leaving that beautiful country and continent behind, we moved back to Turkey-to its third largest city, İzmir. It was a soft transition for us, after South Africa’s beautiful weather and nature; because İzmir is also a seaside city with a warm climate and peaceful surroundings. One day in İzmir, I found out that my daughter had brought a part of Africa with her… It seemed, she had brought what she loved the most, into our pool: Swimming! She was swimming just like a speedy little frogie, as if there was a mistake in her chromosomes! Her first exploration of swimming was at her school’s pool in South Africa. Battling with the Indian Ocean’s waves by the shore almost every afternoon, while watching the surfers and the dolphins passing by also helped her fall in love with the sea and the water!
What living in Africa has brought her and our lives was invaluable. Traveling as much as a little girl ever could, opening up to a brand new world, different cultures and languages, anchored deep memories and experiences in her soul… So much that to our surprise, we realized that she thought for a long time that she was born in South Africa…
Then another 2 years passed… We moved back to the world-famous Cosmopolitan, the amazingly intriguing city that one can adore and might dislike at the same time! İstanbul, is the one and only city in the world that connects two continents-Asia and Europe. İstanbul is, where my -not any more so curly-haired angel was born. In Istanbul, she was ‘discovered’ when she was swimming at her school’s pool and started her competitive swimming, where she truly made us proud with her achievements and success.
Every city has its own sounds, colors and textures. Another 2 years passed by and here we are in Amsterdam… The sound of Amsterdam is the bicycle and tram bells. The color is orange. And the texture is stone, which are all over the streets and on the traditional Dutch houses walls… This is a city that offers limitless diversity, variety and freedom. What is not to love about this amazingly inspiring, marginal, free-spirit souled city?
Having moved to the 4th city and having changed school for the 6th time since the age of 2, by now, my daughter already knew even better than us that, a good way to adapt a new place is to keep oneself busy and productive. She knew that this was also the easiest way to meet new friends. So, she signed herself up for various activities at school, started learning Dutch amazingly fast, engaged in with her busy swimming practice schedule at one of the leading swimming clubs in Amsterdam and with her piano lessons.
Imagine a beautiful day in the summer, at one of the amazing parks of Amsterdam, people having picnic by the lake… Their biggest wealth being their bicycles, parked nearby each one of them. Dogs and kids, playing around freely, enjoying the fresh air and the sun. The precious sun, which does not show its face too often at this part of the world… A family sitting next to us is busy chatting to each other and playing games… A mother from UK, another mother who is Dutch, with the origins of Chinese and 2 black kids! The only thing we see in this scene was: Pure Love. My daughter is now growing up into a beautiful minded young girl in this city, capable of seeing and acknowledging this, without any judgments. Opening up and stretching the tunnels of her brain as much as it is possible, in a place where she can totally be herself. Exploring her true self and potential, which is what real freedom and feeling liberated is all about after all.
I stop writing. I get up. I kiss her. I tuck my nose in to her beautiful hair, smelling her cool scent. It is such a privilege to have a child. Especially, a child whom you can be proud of… A child who can adapt to every situation, using her social skills and strengths, her cool breeze and sense of humor, while transforming and finding peace within, walking through her life not knowing what the next step or city will bring.
Every time she participates in a swimming competition, in that finishing moment, all the difficulties we go through, facing worries of adaptation, transitions we are encountering in a life like this…dissolves. Every possible trouble disappears in that special moment, opening doors to new beginnings. Just in that split second-with the relieved, satisfied look on her face, knowing she did her best and always will-not only brings her the gold prize, but also to us.
Divya Beste Dolanay
Note: Ada Dolanay, is 10,5 years old right now, holding more than 15 medals ranking one of top three at her swimming competitions… She ranked 13th at 100 m. breaststroke in Holland National Swimming Championships at the age of 9. She holds the 13th place in 50 m. breaststroke and 14th place in 50 m. freestyle-at the ‘all time rankings’ in her club at the moment.