The Yacht of Söğütlü and the Lyrics of a Song


For the first time we were sailing on the Söğütlü yacht. I was watching the beauties of the Bosphorus before the yacht. My great love for the sea kept me our window and I had always asked about this yacht in front of the Dolmabahçe Palace and, according to the replies of my mother, I had to be a Sultan to get in this yacht.

It was impossible to get in this yacht for me at those times. The chief machinist came near me when I was thinking of my childhood memories. I conveyed my childhood memory to the young captain. Even he had a strange memory, too. At the time he graduated, the machinists of this yacht had been chosen among the admirals for courtesy of Sultans.

This young man wished to be a machinist of this yacht. His prayers were heard and he had became the machinist, then the chief machinist of this yacht. But he couldn’t be an admiral. We laughed together about that...

Atatürk was at the back of the yacht with his guests for dinner. The yacht was passing through Yeniköy; we were just passing the front of the waterside mansion of one Atatürk’s oldest friends, Dr.Rasim Talay. The memory of this musician family might have reminded the Atatürk our music, so that he called us. Udi (ud player) Şevki and I were near Atatürk because the yacht was very small. Atatürk wanted me to sing. I started a song but I forgot the rest of the song. In despair I tried to make up by playing but Atatürk remarked.

- Come here, he said.

I went.

- How are the lyrics of the song? He asked.

- I could not remember, Pasha.

- Probably you didn’t drink raki.

Then he ordered me to drink 3 glasses of raki one after another. Drinkers know what high degree raki means. But the order was an order. He offered me some Leblebi (roasted chickenpeas).

- Now go back to your place and complete the song.

Meanwhile my friends remembered the lyrics and whispered to my ear, then I was able to complete the song. By that time the yacht crossed over to Kavaklar and arrived at Beylerbeyi Palace. We continue to play in the hall of the first floor of this palace.

A tour boat meanwhile arrived at the front of the palace. The teachers in Istanbul had arranged the tour and they were singing marches.

Atatürk and his entourage went out to the balcony and we started to reply by singing the Karadeniz march. Atatürk remained there till the boat sailed away and waved his handkerchief.

We were going back to Dolmabahçe Palace towards morning. It was a chilly morning. We sit at a corner to protect ourselves. Atatürk came near to us then he said:

- Oh... Those young people. He was kidding us.

He was standing there, near to us like a lion.