He was a man made me laugh with healthier teeth


 My first years as an assistant doctor…

The days when from masters to officials Oral Diagnose and Radiology Sciences -the name it was called back then- was groaning under lack of sufficient numbers of personnel …

Just at that moment we received some information about a posting. A dentist who was subject to the law number 657 had ‘been assigned to our dental clinic. That was good news for sure, we were all so excited but who was that dentist? What was he like? Was he hard-working? Was he easygoing? We didn’t know yet.

A few days later, someone tall and with grey hair turned up and introduced himself: Dentist Yaver Işık.

His accent was revealing the fact that he was an immigrant from Bulgaria. After all, it was an era when fascist Jivkov regime was assimilating our kin who lived in Bulgaria and forcing them to migrate. And we happened to know that he was one of those sufferers who were picked up with their families unaware of the place they were taken in Turkey but were still grateful for being alive. However, he was always cheerful and always in good spirits.

As we got to know him better, we admired his vocational knowledge. Even thought it had been a long time since his graduation, he was a person who for example knew a lot about from substances that made up a channel, about characteristics of materials, lesions in mouth, to systemic diseases. In a word, he had absorbed every education he took, built it on solid basis and kept it in his repertoire. He derived a great pleasure in sharing his knowledge and experience with us and our students. However, his main qualification was that having been done health education and having been worked as a doctor in villages even before he had started working, which was something that had no correspondent to in Turkey and in Bulgaria that was something in between being a health technician and a medical practitioner. Thanks to the input he provided we better understood that our job and science weren’t made up of only teeth, we learnt how all process from diagnosis to treatment and which mechanisms would affect general health of the body, and what kind of approach it should be held against systemic diseases and related to our job how a wider perspective should we hold about general health.  No one of the same generation would deny the contribution Mr. Yaver Işık made in our career.

In a really short time we created an atmosphere that was warm, sincere and friendly as if we had been working together for years. As a matter of fact, he was older and in terms of profession he was more experienced than all of us but he definitely didn’t have any fixations. Moreover,  as a person who joined last he used to see himself as the least experienced, always respect  the decisions we made about the process and would give advice by making a sentence starting with “if you ask my opinion”. He was so easygoing that we didn’t have to change anything in our work environment.

Only few days later we discovered that his breakfast consisted of only coffee and cigarettes. Those bad habits we had in common back then, were scope for spirited conversations we had either until we started working or when we didn’t have any patients left. Morning coffee breaks we had sometimes passed with jokes, sometimes by doing clinical jobs, sometimes by telling funny things happened to us and sometimes by sharing our future plans. However, it always ended up by loud laughter following a joke that illuminated our day and by cheering us up helped us start working with high spirits.

When there were no patients in the clinic, he sometimes would pop into my room and laughingly say “Mr. Erdem, my lady gave me some pocket money. We’re well off. Let’s have something to drink.” One day, “What shall we drink today?” asked him. And I answered him saying “If it’s on you, we drink coffee, if it’s on me we drink tea, shall we?”. He really liked this joke. So he would give the same answer as well whenever I asked it, then I would hear his famed laughter. So, we started passing years with those sweet memories of the conversations we had in an unyielding manner.

Despite his cheeriness, the fact that he didn’t want anybody to notice was that leaving his motherland after age of 40 he went back to the place where he had started and was making an admirable effort to live in a new country and provide a bright future for his children. He never complained about it. Neither he felt pity for himself nor did he let others feel pity for him. He lost nothing from his jolliness and smiling face we were accustomed to. Step by step but with a ceaseless effort he rebuilt his life up. His concerns were mostly about his family and children. And his nostalgia was for his village in Bulgaria.

In 1995, for a rotation I was getting ready to go to Paris. With Mr. Yaver Işık and a few people, we were having one of those routine coffee break chitchats. Telling me that how wonderful life there was my colleagues were advising me to stay in Paris for good in a way by creating an opportunity. When they left Mr. Yaver Işık looked at me and said “They don’t know what migration means. But I do. Besides I migrated to my native country”. Only in the three months when I stayed in Paris I construed what he meant and his face I saw while telling me that still hurts me.

In July 2010, we learnt that Mr. Yaver Işık went down with an illness. He knew his diagnosis and could anticipate its consequence. Yet, in his first six months he was still jocular, still with a smiling face and still hopeful. On 15th July 2011, fate took away our bosom friend whose own sufferings themselves weren’t able to bring him to his knees. People say every death is premature but his really was. From now on his laughter will live on the walls of our department he made a great effort for as an enjoyable voice. While my hopelessness of his lost is tearing my heart out, on the other hand I feel lucky and I thank God for being able to get to know him.

Dear Mr. Yaver Işık,

I hope you gave us your blessing. I hope your new place will be heaven and your grave will be filled with divine light. I wish you have peace forever.

If it’s me you are asking about, I would say I feel no more like drinking coffee. And I don’t know until when…


With speacial thanks to

Prof. Dr. Tamer Lütfi Erdem  / http://www.istanbul.edu.tr/dishekimligi/duyurular/yaver.pdf

translated by Güzin Ayan



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