The Honor of The Neighborhood
Mehmet N. UCA


No one knew where she was buried,

They just dug a big hole and dumped her there,

In a graveyard that did not belong to her family,

Where only strangers were laid to rest.

It was early in the morning,

not her sons, nor any of the neighbors

were present,

They just opened the ground and put her there,

The Imam asked for forgiveness,

Her sin was the biggest,

Bigger than her sin

was the stain she left on the family's honor,

Not just the family’s,

the entire neighborhoods.

She had committed adultery


I was less than ten,

and she less than forty,

she was the most joyous,

the most flirtatious.

She was the envy of all the women nearby,

She acted their aspirations,

Lived their dreams.

In the hottest days of summer,

She woke up later than all,

She dressed the sexiest,

Went to the street door,

And joked with every passing-by man.

No one blamed her ,

The women covered up for her,

'her's was all in the tounge”

the youngmen liked it

they felt like real men,

where sex is the biggest taboo,

the scariest  secret.

The hottest days of the summer,

The asphalt was melting on the road,

Flowing on the old cobblestones,

Our water ran two hours a day,

While women filled their buckets,

She was in the front door,

All clean,

with a hose in her hand,

Squirting water on the asphalt,

The burning cobblestone,

and every young man that passed by,

And finally on herself,

Feet, ankles and legs,

Head, face and neck, and arms,

And back at the boys.

She cooled herself down,

Cooled the street and

the youngmen.


It was a sad day,

A very sad day in the neighborhood.

The women were very sober,

the men mad.

We kids were not allowed to listen,

Nor talk.

We were kicked out

onto the street.

The street was dead.

She was killed.

The night before,

her husband came home earlier,

from his usual card games

and caught her with another man,

all naked,

the man run away

all naked…


the husband consulted his brothers,

and his oldest son.

The brothers said  “kill her”,

“it is the family honor”

it must be kept clean,

“she must be killed”

“and if you can’t do it,

I shall” said the brother.

The husband loved his wife,

The son loved his mom,

And they have never killed even a chicken in their lives,

She was not the wife nor the mother anymore.

She was a stain on the family’s honor,

As my father put it

"she was halal to kill, just avoid any drop of her blood"

The husband has already shown

Lack of manhood.

His wife has cheated on him.

He had to prove that he was a "man"

He had to prove it to his family,

To the neighborhood,

He had to clean the honor of his family.

No man could live with such a stain on his face.

And his brother was to do it

If he did’nt.

She must be killed,

She must be killed,

She must be killed.


And the husband loved his wife

And the son his mother

A butchers knife late after midnight,

When all the neighborhood was deep asleep,

Was stabbed in her chest many times,

She did not resist,

She knew the rules,

She knew the traditions,

If it were not for her husband or her son,

It would be her father or brothers.

She had to be killed.

The husbands’ stabbings were not deep enough,

Did not kill her,

The son came to help,

He stabbed her too,

She was still alive,

Her desire to live

Made her difficult to kill.

The morning was nearing,

She had to be killed,

If it is not the butchers knife,

Not the husband and not the son,

How was she to be done?

They were all crying,

She was in deep pain,

She has stained their family honor,

They loved her,

And they had to kill her,

It was not just her life they were trying to take,

but theirs too.


They wrapped her in a blanket,

Took her upstairs,

Fourty or so stairs up,


They did not want to see her face,

They did not want her to see theirs,

She was already dead in their heart,

They were all crying.

She had to be killed.

They dropped her from the balcony,

Down to the stone yard,

Hoping now she will die.

She died after a while.

The husband cleaned his family honor,

He was back in the folds of the society,

He did what he was supposed to do,

Now though,

He had committed a crime.

Took a life,

And before being captured,

He had to flee.

Flee, flee

Fleeing is a “ manly” thing to do,

Especially after you kill your wife.

He fled the neighborhood,

The city,

Even the country.

He was back in the fold of an imaginary society.

His family was victorious,

His life nevertheless was finished,

On the run for the rest of it,

And away from his children.

She lost her life,

He lost his,

And the children their parent.


She was being buried

In an unknown plot,

With no tombstone to remember,

None of the neighbors were there,

The Imam asked God for forgiveness…

That was it.

The joy of our neighborhood was gone,

Its honor restored,

And it smelt like dead flesh

For many years to come.

Apr. 15, 2001, New York

Mehmet N. UCA wrote this poem for the Light Millennium and read during
"A Poetry Breeze From The Shores Of Turkey"

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@The Light Millennium magazine was created and designed
by Bircan ÜNVER. 6th issue. Summer 2001, New York.
URL: http://www.lightmillennium.org