Our goose Rodi is in mourning
Our neighborhood Kadikoy, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, has a lot of colorful characters, but Rodi the goose is the most special one of all. On most days he is to be found in the area of the little Greek-orthodox church Ayla Efimia or a bit further, at the old Ottoman fountain next to a fish shop.
Early in the morning, when I buy my newspapers, Rodi is already making his inspection tour. He checks if the workers at the countless little restaurants clean the dirt from the last evening and how they prepare for the new day.
Rodi keeps an eye on the shopkeepers in our bazaar, who start to display their colorful products in their stalls – fish, herbs, vegetables- and he goes even further, in the other streets, where other shopkeepers put shoes, office chairs and old stuff on the sidewalk. An old Kurdish street porter sits next to his big empty basket waiting for the first load of the day to carry through the narrow streets where trucks cannot come. In front of one of the veggie stalls men are peeling a sack full of fresh hazelnuts.
Our goose then walks along one of the small mosques in our neighborhood, where often a man stays, who sells obscene little pictures from a shoe box. Rodi waddles along the Kurdish pizza parlor, where the men are already busy making thin round forms from dough for the typical Turkish pizza: lahmacun. The goose is greeted, carefully approached by fearful children and caressed on his head by some passers-by. At the animal shop Rodi looks at the puppies, ducklings, mice and canaries. They make a lot of noise, but unlike him they have to spend their days in closed cages.
To complete his daily tour, Rodi walks along the Armenian church, passes the Fortis bank and a new modern supermarket. Our goose has everything he needs around him; when he feels like having veggies, he nibbles at them from one of the stalls; if he’s more in the mood for fish, he walks to the fish stall of his bosses, the brothers Recep (27) and Ümit (31). “He gets a shower everyday and we wash his feathers with Johnson’s baby shampoo”, says Recep. “We treat his feet with moisturizing skin lotion and every month we take him to the vet for a check-up. We take care of him better than of ourselves”, he laughs. “Rodi is part of our family.”
Their father Nimet bought the goose eight years ago on the market in Aydin, near Kusadasi. The sales man asked him if he wanted the goose to be slaughtered. “No” he said”, I take him home alive.” There he put the bird in the pen with the other seven geese he already had. The following night the seven old geese were slaughtered to death by a wolf or a fox. Only Rodi survived the massacre.
Nimet got attached to Rodi and decided to take the bird to Istanbul where he bought an old fish shop in our neighborhood Kadikoy.
Since that day Rodi became one of the distinctive characters in our bazaar. “He is very clever and that’s why he escaped his encounter with death for the second time”, says Recep. “During the bird flue panic three men in white overalls from the municipality where looking for him. They wanted to kill him, but Rodi was nowhere to be found. They called him, but he didn’t show up. When they left, he appeared again. After that we kept him in hiding for some time.”
Rodi is becoming a celebrity. Tourists from Europe take pictures of him and later show him to their families and friends back home. The shopkeeper opposite the Ottoman fountain sells small towels with a picture of Rodi embroidered on them. And the last year a real size bronze sculpture of Rodi appeared on the small square in front of the Greek orthodox church. But that has been stolen.
Lately Rodi is behaving differently. Since his boss Nimet (60) died two months ago from a heart attack, the bird walks around looking for him. “He is in mourning according to the veterinarian”, says the youngest son Recep. The goose obviously is very depressed: he eats less and isn’t so fond of interacting with people. To comfort him the brothers spoil him even more. “We take care of him as our own brother. That’s the way our father would have wanted it”.