Originally, Abay did not intend to return to his native province of Tunceli, where the Keban Dam is located. He and his wife and four children moved to Eskişehir, where he ran an antiques shop. His children graduated and he and his wife were looking forward to a peaceful old age.
But his wife tragically died in a car accident in 1995. For ten years, Abay mourned and tried to find meaning in life. In 2005 he returned to the village of Pertek, where he grew up. “I went to Eskişehir when I was twenty. Since then, I have lived there and returned to Tunceli only when I felt lonely, “said Abay.
A small hut, a water reservoir, and then only trees planted by an old man. There’s not much on the island.
Loneliness burdened him more and more, and he didn’t want to just sit in cafes, as his peers allegedly do. Near the village lies a small island on the Keban Dam.
It was desolate 16 years ago, and nothing grew on it except tufts of grass. Abay began growing fruit trees on it. “In memory of his wife,” the old man explained. “I spend time relieving my grief. It’s hard to endure loneliness, but what can I do? ”He added.
Now the island is green and there are about 4,000 trees – mostly chestnuts, cherries or apricots.
The locals call Abay Robinson Ziya.
“I feel happiness and peace,” admitted the eighty-two-year-old, who is completely filled with hard work.
Sometimes he sleeps in a shed on the island and admits that if he could build a house there, he would not leave his green paradise at all. “I’m happy here, I feel the peace,” said a man nicknamed Robinson Ziya by the locals.
Although the work is getting harder and harder and sometimes he has to go watering old trees with buckets full of water, he is glad that he can be active. “That island kept me alive, and in return I will keep this island alive,” Abay concluded.