Tonight, I was speaking to a young boy: one who has spent the last three years in Turkey with his family, and who is delightful; often-smiling, intelligent-eyed.
My sister asked him what Gallipoli was like. It was a rather abrupt question. I would not have thought to ask it, and yet, I was intrigued by the coming answer. The events that occurred on that steep, rocky hillside and skinny beach have always fascinated me. The terror, bravery, anguish, honour. . . I am struck by that inevitable and useless loss of human life. The way men survived, (or did not survive) through it will continue to arrest my attention for years to come.
I knew what would be said in answer to my sister's question. Gallipoli is a beachy cove, rocky hills, blue sea.
But even though I had inwardly asked the question, I knew I would not get the answer I wanted.
The answer I wanted could not be worded. The answer to the question, "What was Gallipoli like?" Is to go there myself; to walk along the slim strip of beach; to drink in the blue and grey tones of the sea and feel the hot air mix with the breeze that comes sweeping off the ocean with a tumbling, gentle glimpse of the significant past; to climb one of the dirty hills, never mind the dusty slopes, just for the sheer beauty of knowing how the soldiers did it in 1915, though without the inescapable gunfire and panic.
I want to see, and feel, and breathe in that place. I want to know; to really know the answer to the question.
And the answer to every question like it.
What is Gallipoli like? Well.
I might just have to go and see.