(Menekse Toyay’s article appeared on Al Arabiya English, 12/7.)

Born in 1957 to a family with 10 siblings in a small village in Turkey’s southern city of Adana, Ummiye Kocak had to drop out of formal education after primary school due to her family’s limited financial resources.

But, such hindrances never stopped her from expanding her knowledge. During her childhood, she began reading books and started with Maxim Gorky’s 1906 novel “The Mother” which tells the story of revolutionary factory workers.

Reading books in a village that had no library, for a lady whose name “ummi” means “illiterate” in Arabic, required great effort including asking people to lend her books.

Then she got married and moved to a small remote village on the outskirts of the southern city of Mersin in the midst of the Taurus mountains. One day, a mobile theatre group stopped by the village. After the play ended, she asked an actor his name and she was surprised to realize that his real name was not the same as his stage name.

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Photo: Yeni Marmara Gazetesi

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