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A Tribute To:
HUSNU ONARAN: A Soul for All Times
(April 1943 - August 2011)

Husnu Onaran, Ahmet C. Celebiler, Eser Celebiler
[Left to right] Ahmet C. Celebiler, Eser Celebiler and Husnu Onaran, Istanbul, 2007.
From the Photo Album of: Ahmet C. Celebiler and Eser Celebiler

-"Civilized" & "Sophisticated" by Husnu Onaran (2000)


Husnu had subtracted 15 years from his age. Did he think that he had not lived those years? Or was it that he was so unhappy that he did not wish to remember or consider them? Whatever the reason, those of us who knew him from childhood respected his wishes. Well, until he had to introduce my wife to his friends in New York and she blurted out that she had daughters twelve and seven. We will not forget the pitying glances of those friends who thought that she had married and given birth in her early teens.

He was born on April 5, 1943, buried his first fly in a matchbox in the garden at the age of 5, tried to plaster the spaces in the siding of the house with I will not say what, at the same age, dug for treasure in the garden a year later and then at eight produced with me a new alphabet for our confidential and secret communication to exasperate my elder sister and possibly others.

We lived in the same wooden mansion built in 1908 by our grandfather. Husnu lived with his mother, my aunt in the room where I was born. The house still survives as property of another cousin. The room with the balcony and the terrific view is still there.

Husnu Onaran
Husnu Onaran at the balcony (Istanbul).
From the Photo Album of:
Ahmet C. Celebiler and Eser Celebiler

After his mother married again, they moved to the house on the street below and he started spending more time with his father. This must have been after our circumcision in 1951. Another traumatic event at that age. After that, we were together usually for about four weeks during the Summer vacations when his mother and step father rented a summer house at a suburb of Istanbul. His close friend Nedret is someone we got to meet at such a time, possibly when Husnu was 15 or 16. I do not remember the others in the group and whether we competed for the attention of Nedret or any of the other girls.

We were both afraid of his mother who always had a critical look in her eyes and was very stingy. His father was a pleasant man but rather distant. I remember that he would give money to Husnu to go out and do whatever he liked in the street outside his home and clinic which is somewhat like the area around Times Square in New York. Husnu would go to all movies and operettas and vaudeville shows since there apparently were no age limits in the fifties in Istanbul.

It was on such a day that he was hit by a car or an ambulance driving from the wrong side of the one way avenue rushing someone to the hospital. Husnu got away with a broken leg. His father, who was a famous orthopedist, operated but somehow could not do any better and Husnu remained with a slight limp and an off-angle left step. I remember my consternation and fear that something worse could have happened.

He was a top student, unlike me. Studied well and hard. Hated the English High School. Liked Robert Academy better, until a classmate forced him to give an answer to him at a final in his senior year and he had to repeat that examination as a punishment.

His step father, another grandson of Namik Pasha must have died at about that time. The mother became more stingy. Husnu lived a hard and difficult life barely managing through his university years and marriage, playing at a few concerts and giving lessons.

Many of you know more about his activities regarding spiritual growth and the healing that did not heal himself.

He was always obstinate. He hated the power of money over himself but could use it himself. Believed that the only authority should be spiritual authority but was selective in that regard.

He respected intelligence but did not consider it sufficient for a good life. His definition of wisdom was imbued with spirituality rather than practicality. He hated to be classified and profiled, yet he classified and profiled himself rather narrowly. All in all, he was extremely human. He acted very human. He thought well, played well, in all meanings of the word. He gave a great deal more than he received, but did not ever consider human interaction a barter arrangement or a commercial deal.

There was always laughter and sadness in his demeanor at the same time. He was a serious shaman, a sage, but also a mischievous juvenile. He learned to listen to others and empathize after his school years, possibly after his failed marriage. It is so unfortunate that like many of us, he did not listen to his body and his physical needs. It was not the dualities as preached in belief systems or in philosophy that he should have heeded. It was his own personal duality, that so very human duality that he was afraid to admit to himself.

I can just hear him say to me after having read this, “Ahmet, you don’t know anything!”

- . -

©Ahmet C. Celebiler, August 29, 2011.

Special Thanks To: Mr. Nuri M. Çolakoglu for his support to connecting the organization with the Celebiler Family for their Tribute to Husnu Onaran both via this article and with the shared photographs.

- "Civilized" & "Sophisticated" by Husnu Onaran (2000)

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