My Dad and I

by Tuna Sagdan (Turkey)

April 2021

Audio: "My Dad and I," read by Ajay Nair

As a child, my relationship with my father was very straightforward. I’d ask him for something and he’d say “yes” or “no.” We didn’t play games or go to football matches together, or talk about girls. Maybe it was because of the fact that our interests were different: he liked agriculture, I hated getting dirty; I loved reading books, he was more like a movie guy; I wanted to play chess, he didn’t know how the queen moves.

This got worse when I went to a boarding school for high school. We spoke, at most, twice a week for thirty seconds.

“How are you?”

“Fine, you?”

“Do you need money?”

“No, maybe next week.”

This was the only interaction we had ‘til the pandemic. Surprisingly, things changed when we had to live in the same 80 square meters for seven months due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

My father always wanted to teach me how to drive a tractor, and I always refused his invitation because even the thought of disappointing him scared me. I’m a very clumsy person, driving a tractor is not the safest option for me. My father is not a patient person, and he can get angry about the most trivial things.

When he asked me again, I was hesitant to go. Yet, there was nothing better to do, so the answer was “yes.”

We got into the car and started driving towards my grandfather’s farm. My father started to talk about his high school years. It was quite unexpected. The person who never talks about his past friends began to talk about his best friends, his former lovers. He talked about the concerts he’d been to and the bands he loved. For the first time in my life, I saw him as a dear friend of mine.

We arrived at the farm and got into the tractor. It smelled like cow dung. We barely managed to fit into the tiny cabinet. He started to show me where the pedal, brake, and the clutch are. They were very difficult to push, yet I still managed to find a way. As we were going through the roads of the village, we were bumping up and down because of the holes in the road and my inexperience.

After driving through empty lots, we came back to the front door. My father wanted to take the wheel because he thought that the entrance was too narrow. This was a chance to prove myself and show him that I can be a good son, so I didn’t give the wheel to him. The tractor gently passed through the gate.

Now it was time to park. We were getting closer to the empty slot at the garage. I pushed down the brake but it didn’t work. With each second passing, we were getting closer and closer, yet the tractor was not slowing down. Then a thunderous “Bam!” We stopped suddenly. It wasn’t a big crash, still, things were messed up, the plough that stopped us from hitting the wall was there before us, terribly skewed.

It was a nightmare. The only thought in my mind was the fact that I had messed up this beautiful day, and with it, my chance to bond with him. I couldn’t imagine how angry my father was going to get.

Unbelievably, he was laughing like a madman. He came and hugged me and said, “Nothing’s more important than you.” At that moment, I finally felt the father-son relationship which took me years to find.

Tuna Sagdan, age 17, is a high school sophomore student at Robert College of Istanbul. He is a huge Star Wars fan. He loves reading fiction novels and his favorite novel series is "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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