Mustafa Hatipoğlu (4): I wept as I left Pakistan

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Mustafa Hatipoğlu (4): I wept as I left Pakistan

Mustafa Hatipoğlu, while teaching at PakTürk Schools...

In the fourth part of our interview, Mustafa Hatipoğlu, one of the first education volunteers to go to Pakistan, narrated his marriage process, the exciting events he experienced in Karachi and Islamabad, and why and how he left Pakistan.

-How was your marriage process? How did you explain Pakistan to your wife?

Whenever I visited Kayseri on holidays, they would recommend various suitors. In the summer of 2000, my late mother was hospitalized for a while. She had talked to another woman patient in her ward. That woman had said to my mother, “Let’s marry your son with my neighbour’s daughter.” The elderly like to mediate on such auspicious matters, you know. My mother told me, ‘There is such-and-such girl’. We went to meet up her family with my mother and sister. The girl’s father was a retired soldier and he liked us too… Later on, my sister and I talked to that girl and we did not ask her hand for marriage.

At that time, a brother said, “Friends who return here after studying abroad and learning different languages do not like the girls here!” I felt offended when I heard these remarks. After all, we went abroad for service to humanity. No matter from where we graduate, we are all human and we travel on the same path. I said, “Let my wife-to-be someone who will agree to migrate to Pakistan. It doesn’t matter if she is a high school or university graduate.” Later, with the recommendation of friends and colleagues, I met with my wife and we got engaged. I returned to Pakistan with the decision to marry the next summer but things didn’t go the way we had originally planned.

While I was in Turkey in the same summer, I met a businessman who wished to do business in Pakistan. He wanted to buy intestines from Pakistan for his salami and sausage business. That’s when I learned about the companies dealing in this segment in Pakistan. “I don’t know, but let me ask” I said and found those who did this business in Pakistan. That businessman also came to Pakistan and bought a container of products. Meanwhile, I had got engaged and returned from Kayseri. He said, “Let’s hold your wedding function ASAP, why will you wait for a year?” Our families had thought that wait appropriate for the preparations, but this businessman brother said in a tongue-in-a-cheek manner, “I will represent the groom, let the bride’s parents should think for themselves!” He said these to support me. May Allah bless him. We kept in touch for many years after that.

Whenever I went to Turkey, I would stop by his house as if I were visiting my own parents’ house. That brother’s words and support boosted my courage. When the principal gave permission, I called my father-in-law before my own parents and said, “Dad, I’m coming for the wedding!” He said, “Come and do it if you can!” With that courage, we arranged the wedding day without even informing my own family. My wife prepared her wedding dress. I went to Turkey, we had the wedding within two weeks, and I returned to Pakistan with my wife.


-Could your wife get used to Pakistan easily? What did you experience during that period?

Unfortunately, my wife could not get used to the country easily. There were negative experiences. I was robbed at gunpoint and she witnessed snatching incidents. Moreover, we were considered alone in Karachi in those years. There was only the school principal and us. We were two families who knew each other in that big city. During my wife’s pregnancy and birth, no one from our family could come to Pakistan, so she was left alone. My son was born in November 2001. My wife gave birth in a foundation hospital. Mr. Halit Esendir was also in Karachi. When the baby was just one day old, and my wife needed home care, he sent me to a friend’s wedding in Quetta, which was a 12-hour bus ride. What was the need for that exactly in those days? While I was away, I heard my baby son had suffered breathing problems. They had barely made it to the hospital and immediately intubated him there.

My wife had such a fear while I was away. She also had problems because she did not know English. She had just arrived, and I was teaching her English myself. Karachi is not a safe city, especially for foreign ladies. Our wives couldn’t even go out back then. If we even ran out of salt, I myself would go out and buy that. We had undesirable experiences. I got robbed at gunpoint. My wife’s friend’s purse was snatched while my wife was walking with her. The snatchers dragged the poor lady on the ground to seize her bag. My wife had psychological problems and she was prescribed with medication for some time. Our second child was born in 2008. Both have Pakistani second names: Abdullah Ikbal and Ahsen Betul. Pakistanis use the name Betul a lot. Mr. Halit named my son.

My daughter was very young when we left, she doesn’t remember Pakistan much… but Abdullah had planted a tree in the garden of our house in Karachi, he still remembers it. Our landlord, who lived downstairs, had a handicapped brother. Abdullah and he were very good friends. He also remembers well he did not eat the rice his mother cooked but ate biryani at the landlord’s house. He had learnt Urdu well, but he has forgotten already. Our daughter was only 3 when we left Pakistan. She was just learning Urdu, but now she has forgotten it.

-How did the robbery happen?

I had a small and inexpensive car. We had purchased it in an original way. We had visited a friend at his house. I had seen a car downstairs. I had said to my wife, “What a beautiful car! I wish it was ours!” We asked the friend about the owner of the car. He had said, “It belongs to my landlord. He buys cars, fixes them and sells them.” I had asked, “Will he sell it to us?” and “Let’s ask him,” answered my friend. That car was meant for me. The landlord had said, “Get in, check it, and if you like it, take it!” I had bought the car, and I had to pay for it. I had $300 with me, so I went to exchange it at an outlet. Turns out, the robbers had followed me. They had followed me during Karachi’s those hottest hours between 2 and 3 pm until my doorstep.


I stopped in front of the house. A car came up behind me and stopped a short distance away. Just as I was about to get out of the car, a person came up to me. He mumbled something like a name or an address. I couldn’t understand what happened. Just as I was to reply him, he simply shouted, “Take out the money!” “I have no money!” I said, but the man reached into my shirt pocket and snatched the car license. He also took my sunglasses from the glove compartment, the car key, and my little mobile phone from the holster on my waist. They left me in front of the house without a phone, without money, and without a key. As I was walked towards the snatcher’s car, I called from behind, “At least give me the license, what good will it do to you?” To my surprise, he returned it! Think about it, I casually asked a robber to return my things!

-What would happen if you didn’t give him the money?

You don’t know what will happen if you don’t give him anything. He already had a gun on him, and he flashed it. He could have shot me, I don’t know, maybe he would not… his gun could be fake, but he waved it. When the men left, I rang the bell, and my wife looked down from the balcony. She asked, “You look ashen, what’s wrong?” Later, I and the son of the landlord pushed the car inside to the porch. After some time, that phone returned.

-How come?

There were cricket tournaments back then. Samsung Pakistan held a lottery. I had recently bought a phone for my wife. They had given a raffle coupon with the new phone. We got a new phone thanks to that coupon. A few months later we got the same phone back. The stolen phone returned as new on another occasion. I never forget this.

This is how I interpret the loss of my money: I had not given a donation amount I had promised for that year, yet. The lost money was of the same amount. I never forget it, so I often tell my friends: “Please keep your promises ASAP, or else things leave your hands somehow.” Whether we were students or teachers, we provided more or less financial support to educational activities as much as we could. I had been angry about something, but now I can’t remember what I had been angry about. The phone had been an additional issue in that incident, so it returned in another way, but the robber had snatched the amount I had promised to donate.


-What was your duty when you returned to Islamabad? What did you do there?

In 2009, I asked for a transfer from Karachi to another country. Instead of another country, it was deemed appropriate for me to return to Islamabad. We fulfilled our wish for a change of place. I only worked as a school manager in Islamabad. I was the principal of the kindergarten and the primary school. I also worked as the head subject specialist for the primary schools. We used to dispatch the brochures and books to be published to all our schools. Our colleagues had designed English documents to be used in guidance and counselling classes. We compiled those documents into booklets with many illustrations and articles. They also included cartoons, pictures, paintings, and stories. We later distributed those booklets to all our schools in Pakistan.

-What was your reason for leaving Pakistan?

When I got married in 2000, my mother-in-law had said, “I am sending my daughter abroad for ten years.” We had requested to migrate somewhere else and learn other things before that 10-year permission was over. Otherwise, I had no problems in Pakistan. During our last years, we lived close to the foundation head office. My wife was also involved in the services related to ladies. She used to attend conversations and drove her car. Our relations with our colleagues were impeccable. We had no problems. In such an environment, my mother-in-law said, “The 10-year consent is over, return immediately!” We had to leave because of their pressure. “We have our services abroad, why do we need to come there?” I used to say so, but my mother-in-law was very fond of her daughter because she had raised my wife like the only daughter of the house. She insisted, “I want my daughter with me”.

I wept so much while leaving Pakistan. That last summer, Mr. Fesih was in the head office. Even he couldn’t stand it while we said goodbye; he wept too. I had so fond memories. We returned to Kayseri with 12 suitcases. My father-in-law had come to the airport to pick us with his minibus. He was surprised to see the suitcases. He had said to himself, “They didn’t always come to Turkey like this, I hope everything’s okay!”, but he did not ask us anything. We stayed in Kayseri for three months. Later, we went to Albania. It was easier for us to travel to Turkey from there. Our parents could visit us occasionally. Especially in the years that followed, the participants of the Hizmet Movement in Turkey suffered ordeals and were imprisoned. Observing the situation, my mother-in-law said, “Good thing you didn’t return here for good!” said. We migrated to Albania but still ordered Pakistani spices to add to our food. Friends frequently sent us spices from Pakistan. My wife still cooks Pakistani food like biryani at home.

Devam edecek…


Part Three: Educationist Mustafa Hatipoğlu (3): We became the first mentors of PakTurk students

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