A prose by Önder ÇOLAKOĞLU
Lilac Smells My Breath
The voices were coming from the end of the corridor. I can’t quite hear. The rose essence emanating from the napkin that I wiped the saliva on the corner of my lip covers the air.
The sun is sneaking into my room. An inexplicable smile on my face. The misconception that I started the morning well. I glanced back at my phone on the nightstand. Dozens of messages, e-mails. It doesn’t seem important. I’m out of breath because I’ve just quit smoking. It’s been six months. You gain weight, the doctor’s secretary had said, with it. I almost went to the check-in just to see him. Dozens of unnecessary questions under the pretext of speaking. That inexplicable shudder in me when I heard about her divorce, she. Instead of artificial flowers waiting to be dusted in the waiting room, I used to buy daffodils sold by Roman women at the stop of our house on the way to the examination. Daffodils are a habit I inherited from my mother.
The name of the hotel I stayed in is Phisi. It means butterfly, in Cretan.. Symbol of freedom. Blue butterfly figure at the entrance, made of wood, as tall as a human. The voice from the end of the corridor is near me now. I opened the door. The owner of the hotel, Mr. Muzaffer, wants breakfast to be finished in an hour. I said I don’t want it today, he couldn’t even finish his speech. I closed the door. It’s like he’s turned everything off.
It had been twenty days since I came to the hotel. After the chemotherapy sessions were over, I had arranged a honeymoon for myself. My honeymoon hotel. Muzaffer Bey told me how nice it would be in the summer. If you reach out your hand, the sea. How could one know that winter calls the sea more? If only he knew what I told the sea…
I opened the window, I can’t help myself from being cold. I’ve been wearing a beret since my hair fell out. Even Ms. Meliha, the wife of Muzaffer Bey, asked several times. Of course I passed. Both questions and answers require seriousness. He should give it his due. My beret is always black. There are three. I change it as I wash it. I even lied to myself. I’m not going to wear a cap when it looks like it’s hit number three. It’s like I got used to it. The last time I looked at my bare body in the full-length mirror, the hair tips were coming out. My mom still thinks it’s ringworm. This situation will end with a couple of drugs. The same thing happened with the neighbor’s daughter. Of course, the stress also increased. I have read all the publications about the disease. One-year life expectancy after treatment is fifteen percent. Good rate!. That’s why I take refuge in the air in my room. It’s suffocating outside. An old blanket covered with a duvet cover. Their basting is old, that’s what Cretans do. Even the soaps are from there. I always feel at peace with them. Their meals and conversations are very fond of my memories. Sardines come out once every three days. Ms. Meliha, my light is here. This hotel stands with its energy. His grandfather’s land was already on the opposite shore. He tells me a story every day.
I met Selin in the bed next door when I bought the last institution. National taekwondo player. My seven, his twelfth session. The previous ones were hard. She lost her hair after the second one. He got used to wearing a beret. He’s got dozens of berets. Different colors every time you come in. We’ll trade berets when we’re good. “I’ll see you first.” Don’t scatter. We promised. The promises made when you’re sick are unforgettable. You cheat on yourself every time. He cheats at work, at home, in a hotel, everywhere. Oh, what would I do if it wasn’t for you who’d been cheated on? The meaning of life as much as the lights seeping out of the cave in the patient room. And then when you come out, I get the same light. One I’m after this light? Your hand will come. We got every treatment together. My photo shows it. Blonde, the beauty of hair is indescribable. Seven belly cretans from the mother. We bring photos every time we come to treatment. We’re photographed with each other. We promise, we’ll bring a sign from each other every treatment. Bowler hats, fabercastel red pen, buckle. We’re texting sometimes. Sentences that don’t cross the extreme word. He says he’ll tell you when he gets here. He was wearing glasses. He’s been reading the Bible lately. He’s got something to tell. Promised. He’s going to invite me to my game when he’s good. And I said, “I promise.” I’m going to get it all over with the kids at school. him. I teach third grade. Selin’s coming to school. Diyarbakir by plane, lice from there. I’m the one who keeps the flags ironed until he gets here. Paint-whitewashing is the mayor’s job.
I’m drinking my water with a straw. It’s easier to swallow. I’m sleepy. Miss Meliha put on makeup today. I’m taking my breeze cologne in. Selin’s. I’m coming to my mind that we’re going to trade berets. We’ll check the photos.
He’s mad at me, Miss Meliha. It reminds me that I haven’t had breakfast in the last day. I’m just having soup tonight. He tells Mr. Muzaffer that he will allow it. He ventilated my room. I smell like lilac. He’s forcing himself on breakfast. He torpedoed it. Sausage eggs, cheese graters on top. His son bought the bread from the village down there. You’re going to take the beret out today,” he says. I’m pretending I didn’t hear it. I’m telling him about Selin. Forced smiles. He’s confused and jealous.
I’m in stunning peace today. He’s turning on the TV, Mr. Muzaffer. Opening and channel change coincides with the same moment. Intolerance. Don’t let him come back! I want the channel he changed. A hearse with berets in a coffin. It’s subtitles. National taekwondo player. ..
I’m handing my beret over to Miss Meliha. His gaze surrounds me with compassion. I’m putting up a picture of Selin in my room.
Önder ÇOLAKOĞLU was born in İskenderun. He lives in Izmir. He has two daughters named Ekin and Deniz. He works as a Specialist Doctor (Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology) in a private hospital in Izmir. His poems and text were published in the magazines Varlık, Yeni e, Bireylikler, Sincan İstasyonu, Hurriyet Gösteri, Sözcükler, Eliz Edebiyat, Akatalpa, Çini Edebiyat, Caz Kedisi, Edebiyat Nöbeti, Hayal, Yaşam Sanat and Iran Tabriz in Persian and Azerbaijani Turkish in Ghoroob. His first book, 'Çapak' was from Hayal Publishing in January 2018, and the second book 'Taş Uğultusu' was published in November 2019 by Hayal Publishing. The book 'Taş Uğultusu' won the Ruhi Türkyılmaz Art House award in 2020.
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