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Part One
Away From Home

Chapter 1
Istanbul, Turkey

The story unfolds on an ordinary day in Adel’s life. It was his twenty-fifth birthday and his mother and sisters had given him a simple celebration—making plates of baklava which they spent all morning preparing. His brothers and his friend Kamil bought him a T-shirt that said in English "Looking for wife". It had become a question his mother would repeat over and over—Why hasn’t Adel found a bride yet?

His father, a dark skinned, stern looking man, arrives home from a hard day’s work in the construction field, still dressed in his muddy work clothes. He sits on the couch, picks up the remote to change the channel to watch what is left of the football game. He lights up a cigarette and sits back enjoying the first few moments of relaxation. Adel’s mother, a light skinned, plump, petite woman, is in the kitchen ironing clothes. Her hair is wrapped in a golden coloured hijab, a head scarf worn by religious Muslim women. The hijab frames her face, emphasizing her piercing blue eyes. She is dressed in a traditional long sleeved tunic, the shade of fresh cocoa, which flows down to her feet. Seeing that the ashtray on the coffee table is overflowing with cigarette butts, she bustles in from the kitchen and swiftly replaces the ashtray with a clean one.  Without missing a beat, she hurries back into the kitchen, empties the ashtray into the rubbish bin and then tosses it into the sink. She quickly washes her hands with soap and water and dries them on her apron. She returns to her ironing board where she continues ironing the wrinkles out of her sons’ jeans and underwear. All the while, her eyes are glued onto the twenty inch television set on the kitchen counter which is playing "Fatmagülün Suçu Ne (What is Fatmagul’s Fault?)", one of her many favourite Turkish soap operas.

Adel and his two younger sisters, Juliana and Keananna, sixteen and thirteen years of age, look like carbon copies of each other. All three have the same golden wavy honey blonde hair and emerald green eyes which are uncommon traits to see in people from their local area. Other Turkish people who meet them for the first time are fascinated by their features. Some are intrigued by their unique appearance but most are simply envious of their looks, gossiping about them behind their backs. His baby sister Zeinab has his father’s colouring. Her soft skin is the colour of creamy mocha and her baby curls are oil slick black.

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