I am writing this later than I would prefer because I have been unwell. Recuperation has given me more time than usual to reflect on this episode. I’ve come to the realization that it is probably the one that I love the most in this wonderful story which has been feeding my soul for quite some time now. I could just map the events, complex, disturbing, entangled as they may be as pressures build and an explosion of some magnitude seems inevitable. After all, only a few episodes are left.

This week I want to pay close attention to the beauty and transcendence which illuminate three parts of the episode. There were times I held my breath, then had tears in my eyes at the obvious love of the cast for their characters and for the worth of the story they are telling. Each of the scenes that touched me so much involved Salih Baba’s relationships with younger people. The first is with Aziz, the second with his “beautiful boys” and a small street hawker, the third with Feride.

“Vuslat” follows the pattern of the Hero’s Journey, a template for story telling which has its origins in the mists of time and is recognizable in the mythologies and folk tales of myriad cultures across the ages. This is Aziz’s Journey, negotiating the trials and vicissitudes of his family legacy through the challenges and events we have witnessed during almost one hundred hours of “Vuslat”, so far. The pattern is easily identified and can be compared with other classical “Journey” sagas. Take as examples, “Star Wars”, “The Lord of the Rings”, the “Rocky” series, Harry Potter and, from Greek literature, the “Odyssey” and “Jason and the Argonauts”.

In all of these stories, the hero is set a challenge of almost impossible magnitude which will start with a leaving behind of that which is familiar but which no longer serves, or which is broken. A journey will ensue and after many adventures, the hero will return, irrevocably changed by what he has faced, who he has met along the way and what he has learned of others and, most of all, of himself. Help will be found along the way, very often in the form of an older, wiser mentor who carries special knowledge from having completed his own journey.

I’ve been very interested in the development of the relationship between our “Hero”. Aziz and his mentor, Salih Baba, who often reminds me of Gandalf without the grumpiness, though he has no problem in setting limits, as he did when Aziz berated him over the death of the younger Firat. Salih burned the “old” Satranc-i -Urefa board and was willing to accept Aziz when he came back asking for help and carrying the even older and infinitely more precious board which was a legacy from Salih’s own mentor, also Aziz’s grandfather.

A contract has been set up. Aziz is to be the Traveller, to take responsibility for his own inner process while at the same time making the external moves on the ancient and holy board from the origins of Sufism. Salih Baba is the teacher, the mentor, the listener who is willing to hear anything and to contribute from his rich store of experience.

At the end of the last episode we were left with an image of Aziz standing, devastated and shocked, in the middle of the road as Kerem drove off with Bulent, holding the precious miniature for which Aziz had just spent five million lira. Yet, at the start of this episode which we soon discover happens over the course of the day after the auction, here is Aziz, at his ‘lesson’ with Salih. He is very serious about this new learning, even after the shocks of the day before.

I’m struck with the almost child-like anticipation evident on Aziz face. Wide -eyed and excited, he is eager to find out what today’s spin will bring. Will it move him beyond the “Hatred” and “Betrayal” of the last two lessons?

Spinning a four, which takes him to “the Sea”, he is told by Salih that the Masters often connected the sea with ANGER, but today, the focus will be on another aspect of this place on the board, the place of water.
“God says I created you all by one soil and a water drop.”

The first part of this lesson is about the essential nature of water for all life: life stops when water runs out. Aziz has never really thought much about water apart from general knowledge. As Salih expands the teaching, Aziz is led to consider that he is as much a creature of the sea as the land. Sea water, Salih tells him, runs in his veins. Aziz muses, “When you find yourself looking at a view, it’s sort of searching for self?” Salih’s response shows us how deeply he understands Aziz’s need to search for meaning in the process they are sharing. He has an oblique style when offering new ideas to Aziz, waiting for the younger man to turn them over in his mind and to come up with the next possibility for himself.

I’m a teacher by profession and am always excited to recognize such respect between partners in any learning opportunity. Aziz is hungry for knowledge and for change, Salih wisely offers ideas which feed this hunger at a rate which can be comfortably taken in and digested. The two are moving in tandem now to the symbolism of the sea. Salih responds, “The trouble sea calls people who want to get to know their selves.”

What Aziz will experience in the coming hours and days will take him to a place of inevitable aloneness. Salih’s next words are a call to prepare. “You remain all alone in the middle of the big sea.

What Aziz identifies as dark loneliness can be an advantage, according to Salih, because it brings simplicity. One can get rid of hatred and burdens then turn one’s face to God. Searching and finding for this place of aloneness can be in the middle of the sea or any other place that an individual person needs. Aziz is embracing his aloneness for some parts of the time ahead. Salih is showing him that he need not be afraid because God is in charge. If he is to be alone in the sea, he will be returned to the land in time. Likely he will have a pearl in his palm, the story of which Salih promises him for another time.

Aziz has had no reliable and appropriate father figure throughout his life, Tahsin has been so preoccupied with keeping his murderous past hidden and pretending to be in charge of his financial world whilst at the mercy of Bulent that he has not functioned as a father. I’m reminded of a quote from the Bible which talks of the child being the father of the man, a role which Aziz has frequently exercised.

Salih understands the family set up, having been part of it as foster son to Mehmet Sefik Korkmazer and foster brother to the reluctant Tahsin. He offers Aziz the perspective and affection of a missing father without overstepping natural boundaries. I found in this scene a great deal of love and care from the older man to the younger. The exchanges between them made me cry a little for the boys in need of fathers that they had both been. The lesson ends with Aziz pouring a symbolic glass of clear water for Salih to drink.

We’re taken next to Bulent’s pretentious office, to hear him extolling to Kerem the advantages of being enough for himself, content with his books and desk, a happily retired scholar. Kerem, cynical as ever, doesn’t buy into it. If he was so content, why the need to chase after the miniature? He’s still suspicious of his grandfather who reassures him that all his plans have been for Kerem’s benefit. Hasn’t he been waiting patiently for the boy to grow into manhood, after all?

As the episode plays out the true Machiavellian nature of Bulent’s plans become clear. He wanted the miniature not for its symbolism or beauty but because he discovered that there were important papers hidden in the framing. These documents held incriminating evidence which could be destroyed to protect him, or used to blackmail others, specifically Tahsin Korkmazer who has been confirmed as a murderer.

Bulent is about to declare himself to be the kelebek, and even presents Tahsin with a handcrafted glass butterfly in a cynical power play, while refusing to disclose what was at the back of the painting. He has enough now to destroy Tahsin completely.

Kerem is after payback, not just against Tahsin, but against Aziz. The full force of his resentment will be exposed as he sets out to accumulate enough shares in Korkmazer Holdings to unseat Aziz from the chairmanship. He says, “I have a perfect idea to finish Aziz Korkmazer” and demonstrates with Bulent’s chess board.

Bulent is only too willing to support him, but Kerem is unaware of the true nature of Bulent’s history with his grandmother and mother. We find out later in an exchange between Yalcin and Aunt Zehra, that collector of local stories and friend to all, that Bulent is the reason both women are in such poor emotional and mental shape. Both were abused physically and psychologically by Bulent and he is further abetted in his reclaiming of power over his wife because of her memory issues.

Kerem is adamant that the outcome he wants at the end is his family back. Bulent agrees and adds a further sweetener. For the first time, kerem discovers that his father may still be alive. All the more reason to hate Aziz who told him as a small boy that thought he saw Kerem’s father being killed.

Taking up his role again as chairman at the Holding, Aziz discovers that Tahsin’s decision to oust Feride from the design team is having disastrous results. Orders are being cancelled and the replacements are confused and defensive. There are other staff problems. While talking with Feride about Kerem’s betrayal, about which Aziz wasn’t so surprised, he tells her he is sure that there is a mole in the Holding. Information is being leaked and he needs urgently to plug that leak.

We have been told by Bulent that the young financial whizz, Mr Enes has been in his pocket for some time, a discovery which delights Kerem who had sensed a likeness between the younger man and himself already. Mr Enes has been instructed to do whatever Kerem wants at the Holding. But his behavior is very odd,

He is caught in the act by Aziz as he empties Feride’s assets, using data left over from her time as an employee.

Aziz has made strategic staffing decisions. He convinces Altan that he should join the Holding as director of security. Not only will the company benefit, but such a salaried position without the need to constantly be armed will be a definite advantage in convincing Yalcin to let him marry Emine. He’s finally bought the ring and plans to formally propose. Emine is dressed up and very excited but is let down and left standing in her café when the security issue erupts at the Holding. He’ll not have an easy time explaining himself.

Aziz has finally and irrevocably sacked Nehir as a director, though she still holds some shares. Kerem will be able to convince her to give him access to the shares, in a final act of intikam against Azi zwho has shut her totally out of his life.

And Feride has come to visit the new premises. Aziz is aware that the atelier is slow to get going and has concocted a plan to improve both her new enterprise and the design function of the Holding. If he can convince her, then he will have her back where he can be near her as she designs again, while he will supply labour at the atelier to allow her time to plan and develop her business.

Peace has broken out again between Feride and Sultan, to Aziz’s delight. The strained relationship between his two beloved women has troubled him. In a restrained and gentle conversation between Feride and Aziz, we see how their love is expressed through their eye and through their smiles, They rarely touch yet there is a sensuality present when they are together which is kept in check through mutual respect and an understanding that the time to be together more completely is not yet here. It will come, but we are always aware that their love is future focused. There is a sadness about their need for one another which touches my heart. They are beautiful together.

This is a very busy episode as tensions build towards an explosive climax. I want to come back to Salih Baba to restore some spiritual balance in contrast to all the betrayal, manipulation and selfishness we’ve witnessed. We’ve already witnessed Salih and his “beautiful boys’, Tekin and Ahmet quietly going about providing practical assistance to those in need in the neighbourhood. They carry out this work as if it is a privilege for them to do so. A young boy comes visiting the antique shop, selling tissues. Salih, understands immediately that the boy is doing so out of dire necessity. He is not in school and a respectful and gentle questioning elicits a story of sudden unemployment and illness in the family.

Salih assures the lad that he really was needing all the tissues, buys the lot and sends Tekin and Ahmet home with the youngster. Their mission is to see for themselves what practical aid the family will need and to do what is most important. Included in this will be a strategy to get the boy, Alim, back to school.

Feride had already asked Salih for help with the task Aziz had se her to repair the sacred binding he found in Yadigar, his grandad’s car. Both Aziz and Salih had spiritual, dreamlike experiences incorporating such a binding in a vault with an unnamed coffin, though Feride is not aware of this. She’s tried darning a small hole in the fabric and hasn’t been able to even get a needle into the fabric. Something is hampering her work, just what she is not sure.

Salih comes with her to the atelier and leads her in adding some essential elements to her new enterprise. We have been aware all along that Feride’s ‘ Moslem faith is an intrinsic part of her and Salih builds on this Some soul things need attention.

Salih teaches her the correct way to step into her atelier, and then to pray. Ever a storyteller, he explains that each trade or profession has a patron prophet or “Master” and that tailors are looked after by Hz Idris Nebi. He hangs a beautiful inscription just inside the door and these are the sacred words to bless her work.

There is a special prayer, Subhanallah to be said before putting a needle into cloth and Salih demonstrates how that works. As Feride turns to work the green fabric, Salih reaches into a package, bringing out a brilliantly white , lace edged headscarf. He lays it reverently over Feride’s dark hair then fasteners it in the traditional way just below her shoulder. Her radiant smile lets him know she understands that this was exactly what she needed.

Getting ready to iron the fabric, Feride bows her head and closes her eyes in prayer.

Prayer will have helped her take on board the news that Yalcin now brings her, that the gun which she handed over and which Hasibe has been trying to locate, is the weapon used to murder her aunt.

There have been some difficult confrontations between Aziz and Kerem over the course of the day. Aziz is back in his office, when Kerem breezes in with the miniature. He hands it over, commenting that he and Bulent have finished with it and Aziz might as well have it now. He also informs Aziz that he has bought the Holding, crowing about his art preferences as a new boss as he leaves the office.

Bulent and Kerem have, of course, missed the whole point, wanting only what was attached to it rather than looking inside the artwork for its meaning. Aziz is left with the miniature now. He understands and has told Feride, “It won’t be solved unless we valuate what’s inside, instead of the outside.”

The last words belong to Salih Baba who has already told Aziz not to worry because, “Bulent won’t be able to solve the mystery of the miniature, he’s interested in the appearance more.”

NO QUESTIONS THIS TIME., rather a recommendation for anyone who is interested in THE HERO’S JOURNEY
Joseph Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces” is the masterwork. Most good libraries will have it.

WRITTEN BY: Judith Kelleher



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