At first, I was flying from happiness. I was invited to Berlin to make an exhibition of my paintings. But the fact that I am a Turkish citizen made it a long way to go… I had to face something that has a mythic quality: The Schengen-Visa-Myth, which has been delivered through generations and ages, how it seems to me. You can hear rumours about it, cruising through the streets of Istanbul: “Hey, s/he got the Schengen-visa, have you heard that?”, “Are you kidding, has s/he?”, “How? For how long did they give? Was the visa officer so merciful?”…
Getting a visa catapulted me into a ‘parallel world’ and became dominant over my exhibition happiness. I was going to go for a myth!
A friend of mine has told me that when you enter the consulate building you face with a highly tensed and deadly quiet atmosphere. Waiting people who keep wondering about what will ‘happen’ to them soon. We, Turks, are kind of disorganised how you may call it. We are known as the people who are hard to discipline. And sitting without talking, holy God, is an extreme torture. What Turks mostly have is ‘energy’, an extreme energy that it can easily lead to chaos. That’s why this kind of disciplined places are not that suitable for us.
For that fact I’ve never thought of going to the consulate and applying personally, in other terms doing my own work by myself. Thank God, here we have some ‘helpful’ mediator companies that provide services of making the application for you. I love these companies. I love them because they simply protect me from the agony of going to a consulate for application. They’re professional and unbelievably practical. And they do not require a high price. They erase the possibility for me to make any mistake. Besides, you could ask them thousands of questions. (We, Turks, do love asking questions.) In return, there is zero stress.
You could think that I must be rich if I am spending my money for these companies. On the contrary. I prefer spending the money for them just for the sake of my own mental and spiritual health. Because there is always a threat of beginning to dislike human beings during your application period.
Everything comes with an existence-questioning: “Why are you going to this country?”, “Why are you having an exhibition?”, “Why are you having your exhibition in this city?”, “Why do you have so little money?”, “Why are you a student or not?”, “Why are you staying at a hostel?”, “Why are you staying over at your friend’s?” and so on…You can face with questions that even your mother has never asked you. And suddenly you could find yourself asking, “Why is my name Nihal?”. In 30 seconds a consulate officer could encode every single data that I haven’t been able to encode from my unconscious, yet for 32 years. And this success would surprise me. All I was trying here is not to get into an ‘identity crisis’.
Thousands of required documents – finally all collected and completed. The visa company did its job. And I’ve gained the power… I mean the visa. When I got on the airplane to Berlin, I still couldn’t believe and instead of enjoying the excitement I just felt exhausted. I landed at the airport and was carrying my huge drawings and a bag full of small canvases in my hands. I was just like a suitcase smuggler. Arriving at the passport check, I encountered a police officer with an extreme sulky face, a ‘you’re the one who killed my mother’ expression.
Officer: Can I see the invitation?
Me: I gave it to the consulate for they have required.
Officer: Why did you come?
Me: I’m having an exhibition.
Offices: The title of your visa must be different then.
Me: I don’t know about that. I should have been informed at the consulate.
During all this conversation I’m looking in his eyes, on the contrary he never does so. He just keeps staring at my passport: “How much money do you have now?”
Why was he asking that? Was he going to borrow some? Still don’t understand… Cause I didn’t want to lend him some, I said, “300 €” although I had 600 €. And I asked this time: -Would you like to see it? The lack of sleep was accompanying with the feeling that I could go out of my humanity at any moment. He said: – No.
And the classical ending: He holds the permission stamp in one hand, my passport in the other. He stares at it with doubt, hesitates for a while. Then he gazes into the distance, with eyes half closed in a mysterious way. This keeps going for a while. I imagine him thinking, “Ha ha, I’m the king of creating tension. She could pee her underwear any second.” He is staring like “It’s under ‘my’ authority, whether you can pass from here or not, don’t you ever forget that!”
It seems that my exhibition can start from here on…I finally made it! At least for six months, that’s how long my visa is valid for, I will be part of the Schengen-Visa-Myth.
Illustrations by the author ©