In teaching one of my language classes in this elite private high school on Istanbul’s Asian hills, I have oft been tempted to compare the lamblings of my tenth grade language class to zoo animals and the task of teaching them to zoo keeping. I might even compare them to farm animals (although they are far less useful than your average mule or chicken—I won’t get in trouble for eating a chicken—and nowhere near as docile as cows). However, to do this here, now, in this blog would imply a lack of respect for their basic humanity, so I will refrain from the jokes I was about to make regarding their grooming habits and egg laying abilities. In fact, to protect them as much as possible, I will even use pseudonyms.
One of the most difficult students is Elsie. Elsie often plays on her phone in class and sometimes attempts to sleep, laying her huge head down on her desk and staring at me with those uncomprehending bovine eyes of hers as if she had just been struck in the head with a hammer or perhaps been ‘treated’ too much with a large electrical baton. Bonzo is the worst of the male students. He leaps about the class, is never in his seat, and makes loud hooting noises from his perch by the lockers as I attempt to speak over him. Bonzo drives me absolutely bananas and if some sort of disease or poacher were to put him down, I would not shed a tear. Even Bossie, a fairly bright girl generally stares dully at the floor and I have to milk her for even the shortest of answers.
These kids have taught me a lot about shit. That is, words and various synonyms to express poop and all its various permutations. First, you have the word bok. I might say ‘Bonzo bok bir oğrenci’ 'Bonzo is a shit student', or ‘her seninyaptığı şey bok olur, Bonzo’ 'Everything you do is shit'. Another word is dışkı or ‘feces’. For example, ‘Bonzo, sınıfta dışkını atma!’ 'Bonzo, don’t throw your feces in class!' Gübre means ‘manure’. I might tell my colleague, ‘Elsie’nin gübresi tarlaya koyup, çapalarsak, ekinler daha çabuk büyüyor’ 'If we take Elsie’s manure and hoe it into the fields, the crops will grow faster.’ Children use the word kaka, just as Spanish speakers do. I have more than once had to say, Yine mi bezinin içinde kaka var? ‘Do you have doo doo in your diaper again?’ Finally, there is tezek, dried manure for burning in the winter. After sweeping up after a day of classes, the janitor might say to me, ‘Oğrencilerin gübresini toplayıp kışlık tezek yapalım.’ Let’s gather up the students' manure and turn it into fuel for our winter fires.’
Thank you my students. What crap I would not know if not for you!