Every minute I feel that the vessels around my heart are narrowing. Every step I take is as difficult as a tired sparrow flapping its wings. It was as if I died and came back to life.
Nazlı wanted our wedding to be grand, and I was looking for ways to support my mother back home. The work I was doing was quite tiring, but I was making good money. The experience this job gave me made me a bad person. Years ago, I trusted my boss and authorized him to access my bank accounts at will. In the early days, my business was going quite well, the company had a good reputation. I had a meeting that morning, as is often the case. My guests arrived and I opened my files. As I was making the presentation, the door suddenly opened. He is smaller than me, two policemen told me there was an arrest warrant and a warrant for his arrest. When they asked my boss, all eyes turned to me. They held out two hands, they forced me out of the company. I don’t remember much about what I was thinking in those moments. I was filled with shame. It was obvious that I was guilty. They showed me some documents proving that money from illegal casinos in Gaziantep was coming into my bank accounts. They didn’t hear what I was saying, they just wanted me to confess. Like the crimes the gendarmes beat innocent villagers into admitting. I wanted to get rid of their pain as soon as possible. My interrogation took a long time. On the one hand, I was thinking about Nazli. The fifteen years they took from me were nothing compared to Nazlı. Then I realized it was bigger than Nazlı.
Every day of each visit, I could feel the blood flowing through my veins all over my body. Nazlı was sitting at the table waiting for me to come. I missed him so much, I rushed up to him and stood in front of him. His eyes were tired, he held out his hands to me and said he would not come again. A week had passed. Something went wrong, I thought he’d show up. I couldn’t count the number of days I asked the guard.
After 9 years, I got out. The roads, the people, the face I looked at in the mirror were not as I had left them… For a few months I tried to come back to myself. I had gotten used to the city and I was making plans in my head to prove my innocence. This was not going to happen. The city was quite crowded but I didn’t know anyone. How was I going to cope with this loneliness? When I was inside, all I dreamed of was the streets of the city. First I found a part-time job. I rode a bike, went to the movies, ate corn from a street vendor, fed the birds and took the ferry to a few piers. I remembered the past: I used to visit the villages of Istanbul on Sunday. Who was going to notice me in the summer? I’m a man of the fall season!
In late spring, I decided to take a trip. I sat on a train for six hours. The train is empty and cheerless, the countries are flowing on both sides. Children are running, laughing and crying everywhere. An old woman is past her prayer time, but she is reading a novel. A thug with a stubble beard finishes the bottle in his hand, most of his whites are visible because his beard has grown long, cold sweat drips from his hat…
My time there was so short, my lips were dry. During this time the young woman next to me said in a thin, slow voice: “You look worried, I can help you.” I wanted to tell that woman my thoughts and feelings. I made an attempt to talk to him, but I didn’t know where to start, so I walked away from him. I was in my hometown. If I go, will I find it, if I see it, will I remember the roads where I played ball and ran?
It’s afternoon in the town. I like this kind of weather. My hat, umbrella and coat will be enough to be there. I saw a few swallows in the green branches. I was shocked to learn that swallows live for 8 years, not 9. God knows how many swallows I would have died without meeting. I remembered the past, I just dived in… Ever since I was a child, I always found it pleasant to choose a step on the stairs and sit down. The stairs in the alleyways, on the beach… Steps softer than the stones I built between me and people. Even though it rains on me all day, I don’t feel like leaving. It’s soaking wet. I watch panting women with bags in their hands, pausing to rest for a few seconds. It thrills me to watch children, or young people who want to remain children, sliding down the railing with laughter. And then there are birds and cats. They are everywhere. A bird of the ladder didn’t come back, I heard it went to the ship’s rail. But those who choose stairs are more special. And there are houses that adorn this place. Poor houses, unplastered, unpainted, brick houses in large gardens… The brightness in the latticed sections that protrude towards the street at window level puts the stars to shame. Again I hear the loud calls of crows circling in a circle. On the slopes that get plenty of sunshine, the historic color of the streets appears as you step on them.
The town was just as I left it. At the end of the street, when I turned the corner, I could even see Nazlı. When I was a few steps away from seeing him, my feet went back. I noticed your little girl playing. Just like his mother, Mashallah, may God protect him from the evil eye. I’ve been thinking of buying and selling from Cevdet at the grocery store. But the last time we heard from him, he was hospitalized. When his father came out of prison, he continued to torture his mother and himself. The two pennies of bread they earned were taken from them by force. When his father had an accident and became bedridden, he became a very angry person. Now he never smiles and rarely speaks. Cevdet is going crazy!
No one in town recognized me. I am 58, how can they recognize me (!) If I had as much time as these birds flying overhead, I would have more than one plan.
I was close to the house where I was born. How I miss my mom! I wish I could knock on the door and he would open it and say “welcome, my beautiful son” again. He passed away 10 years ago. We don’t cry over the dead. I held back a lot, but I couldn’t bear it and I cried, I cried a lot. Life is more difficult when you lose your mother. She sewed with her beautiful hands. It was a cheap tool. It was an industrial sewing machine that reached full speed when the engine started and then transferred the movement of the engine with the clutch to the finance with a belt, but since it was extremely fast, its power was not controlled during the transfer and it worked in series. She used to sew clothes for me, I was happy. What pleasant memories. My time there was over and I decided to take the night train back. I feel that the ideas in my mind were very strange. Nothing has been good for my broken heart for a long time. I was ready to forgive everyone.
When I went back to the city, I felt cleansed. I was thinking, what good will it do me to be right at this age… I didn’t leave the house for three or four days, I didn’t open the curtains, I only ate a bite or two. I have learned very well what it means not to enjoy this life. I had given up on proving my innocence, Nazlı and the company. I had also given up looking at the lady in the café where I read the newspaper every morning over coffee. It must have upset him because he stopped coming at the time I was there. I came across it once in the afternoon, that’s how I know. I wanted to spend the last few years I had left to me in peace and quiet. One way or another, I have come to this day.
The other morning I fed the cats again and went for coffee. They said I fell on the way there. I’m not a patient, doctor. I’m a tired old man. You prescribed me some pills last time I was here. Summer from them felt good again. Don’t worry, I don’t blame them for having no one. Send me home!