December 6, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

Usually, there are three generations living at the same time. All these three know that they have generation gaps between them. They all try to overcome this gap just to be able to understand the other better. Interestingly this gap always exists, though it differs from person to person.

However, the generation gap that I am talking about here is based on my personal experience and it is different from what others find.

I came to TRNC in 1991 with my wife and 3 year old son. My knowledge of the Turkish language was poor, and my wife did not know Turkish at all. However we both worked hard to learn and improve our Turkish.  But of course it was not so easy. We tried to mix with Turkish people and speak with them. Luckily all the people that we met and talked with helped us a lot, not only in learning the language but also in understanding and adapting to the local culture and social values.

The reality of those days was that as we were struggling to learn Turkish, our three old son was quickly picking up the Turkish words. His knowledge of Turkish was improving day by day.

In a couple of years time, we had started to ask for his help whenever we got stuck while buying something in the market or anywhere else. That was our first experience of the generation gap. At the age of just 4 or 5 he was adapting to the social values and practices quicker than us.

There is an interesting event, from that period that I frequently narrate. We had got him enrolled in a nearby kindergarten, so that he would start speaking and understanding Turkish and to mix with other children. One Saturday he asked us a difficult question. He asked, “which one is our village?”. Since we came from Pakistan and had started living in Lefkoşa, obviously we did not have any connection with any village. So our reply was simple, that we are not from any village. But this answer was not sufficient for him. He had seen that all of his friends used to visit their grandparents at weekends in villages. So he too wanted to go to a village at the weekend.

It was difficult for us to please him on this issue. He had started feeling upset as his friends used to tell him about their grandparents and the village, whereas he was not in a position to tell them about either of the two.

Luckily, as he got enrolled in primary school, one of his classmates living nearer to our house had started visiting us. That had led us to get together with her parents and grandparents. They had a house in the village called YAYLA village near Güzelyürt. So we started taking our son to that village frequently. Thus he felt himself being from Yayla village, which he had started telling to his other friends too.

As time passed by, we experienced a number of opinions and understanding the differences with our children. The next problem was the grandparents. Like their friends, they wanted to be with their grandparents frequently. It was not possible at all, as our parents were back in Pakistan, who we used to visit after a long period of time. Our children felt themselves a bit different from their other classmates. However, luckily our children never made it an issue with us. They had simply realised the situation at a very early age, and they had learned to adjust themselves in different conditions. They had accepted the fact that they are somewhat different from others. Realising being different from others has got its own positive and negative aspects.

It could have led to some psychological problems, but our children managed to use it as their plus point. They opted to go ahead to show their skills in other fields. They managed to make their one deficiency (I do not accept it as a deficiency) as their plus point. They all studied on scholarship, and always had good marks in their studies, and also made their name in fields other than education.

There was also another serious problem that I faced. People had presumed that since we know English,  our children must be very good in English. Interestingly our first preference was not English. Our first preference was that our children must know good Turkish.  English was to be their second preference.

Our family

People around us had thought that since we know English we would be able to teach English to our children. This is what they had made our children believe too when they were in their middle school. I tried to explain to people that being able to speak and write English does not make me a teacher of the English language. I was never very good at English grammar, in my school days, so it was almost impossible for me to involve myself in English homework for my children. The main reason that I kept myself mostly away from the homework of my children was that I did not want make them double minded, because I did not know the ongoing educational system and teaching practice. We always tried to accept the directives of the teachers, without adding our own remarks.

Another problem came up when my son went for compulsory military training. In Pakistan, we did not have a compulsory military service. So our knowledge of military service in the TRNC was based on only what we had heard from people around us. But of course, that was not sufficient, since we had never passed through the psychological impact that the family of a soldier passes through. We had consulted our local friends, but of course, lack of personal experience was more than evident, may it be in arranging the bag of our son, or while going to meet him in his camp. We found ourselves absolutely inexperienced and frequently made his other soldier colleagues realise our amateurish ways.

Luckily all this did not demoralise our son, and he completed his military service, without any untoward incident.

My son and my wife

We were experienced when our second son went for military service. But again we found things different and challenging for us since he was going to serve as a mountain commando. He had to do his first three months of training in Turkey. Again we lacked knowledge. Later on, we went to Turkey to attend the ceremony held after the completion of his three months of training in Turkey. Again we found it difficult for us to adjust to the circumstances in Turkey.

Now as they have grown up and getting engaged and married, they are leading us and showing us the ways regarding the customs and procedures. Though we do know what to do for an engagement or marriage ceremony,  as we have seen a lot in Cyprus during the last 28 years, but we repeatedly mix things up when doing this ourselves. Once again our children come to our assistance and act as a bridge between the two generations.

But all these periods when we found ourselves in difficult situations passed, without leaving any wrong impression on the lives of anyone in the family.

However, the fact remains, that on a number of occasions now our children have tried to sort things out for themselves rather than involving us since they have a better understanding of local customs and procedures.

As I had mentioned in the initial part of this writeup,  as compared to us, our children found it easier to learn the Turkish language and to adjust to the local customs and social structure.  So still we follow our children on a number of occasions. I do not find anything wrong with it. The reality is that the next generation always is quicker in learning and adapting themselves as compared to the previous ones.

It is this fact that we refer to as a generation gap. I never considered the generation gap as something wrong or unacceptable. It is a reality, and we all pass through it.

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