“As a child of the Republic, I played with rag dolls.”
As a child of the Republic, I played with dolls made out of rags. When I was a little older, we began playing with paper dolls. My cousin Nezahat Aktar Hanif, who died a long time ago, used to draw beautifully. Suna and I would beg her to make us dolls and paint them for us. And dolls weren’t enough for us, we would also ask for dresses and she would draw, paint and cut them out for us. I’m still surprised we didn’t turn out to be fashion designers. Because Suna and I were of similar ages, we would each receive one of the same toy or just one that we would be asked to share. That’s how we learned to share when we were young, though it took some noise and fighting to get there.
If I remember correctly, my father brought our first doll from Hungary and it had Hungarian clothes, blond hair and pigtails dangling on either side of its head. My father also got me a Nutcracker doll, though I don't know where he got it from. It had huge teeth, a black beard and mustache, and when it opened its mouth, it scared us out of our wits. My mother hid the Nutcracker in the dresser in the lounge because we were so afraid of it; I was almost too scared to go into that room. When I think about it now, I laugh, but I also feel annoyed that we were brought up to be such cowards.
We would play tic-tac-toe and knucklebones at our orchard house. One of our greatest pleasures was to draw a grid with chalk and play the game with stones we found in the garden. Meanwhile Rahmi would labor away, making his own slingshot and try to hunt birds in the garden; my mother would get very angry at this habit of his and take the slingshots away and hide them. One day, Rahmi discovered the place where she had hidden his slingshots and was so happy he didn’t know what to do with himself.
Later on, lovely dolls and toys were brought from America. When I was 10, I was taken to America. It was Christmas time and I loved the lights, the Christmas decorations and the toys that I saw all around me. I wasn’t allowed to buy every toy, but that was where I first saw a jigsaw puzzle and thought it was amazing.
Sevgi Gönül, Sevgi’nin Diviti (From Sevgi’s Pen), Vehbi Koç Vakfı Yayınları, Istanbul, 2003, pp. 252-54; Hürriyet, April 27, 2003