a story by Recep Nas
After a long time, he showed up. At a time I never expected. I ran out of patience and abondened my hope. I was under the big plane tree that was throwing its yellowish leaves one by one from its dried branches. The rotten smell of the autumn was even more impinging one at this time of the evening. A sea of gloom was fluttering madly inside of me.
“Maybe I will come,” he had said. This ‘maybe’ accounted for the hopeless clinging of a weak seed to the ground. I didn’t know how long I had been there. Ever so many people were passing by on that short road connecting the station to the main street: Those who pass under the carriages, those who jump over them, those who use the flyover, those who go for an evening stroll, groups of two, kindred spirits of threesome… I wondered that what happened on that side of the town. The constant moving with heartrending grunts of the lifeless road lying under a yellow light surprised me thoroughly. He would come a little later and say, “Come on, let’s go.” “To where?” I wouldn’t ask.
I have never had valid causation to ask that. I was thinking of the desperation of insects bedding in the bosom of a yellow sadness. I was green with envy for the ants. For real, were the ants at ease under the ground? Were the cicadas out in the cold and hungry?
It seemed that we were doing the same things for ages: Either I was coming to the same place and waiting for him; or he was coming and waiting for me. We have been continuing a game that we always started from the same point alternately for centuries. We also had called the plane tree stretching over my head with its autumn-drunken arms as a witness to our own game.
He came. I heard the footsteps of a tired crowd in his face. “Do you have any cigarettes?” he asked. “Oh, yes, I’ll have one in my shirt pocket. I hope it didn’t get wet.” The rain was mizzling. With skillful pickpocket dexterity, I inserted three fingers of my right hand and took the cigarette out of its narrow slot. It was not wet. I lit and took a drag on my cigarette and handed it to him. As I was emitting the smoke out of my mouth:
“Hem and haw!” I said.
“What?” he looked surprised.
“Aren’t we going to?” I asked.
“To where?” he asked. He seemed to have forgotten.
“Where do we go every day?” I asked, without smudging my amazement into anger.
“Fuggedaboutit! Let’s sit here today,” he said.
“My cuddie, dont’t you see that the bench is wet? How will we sit here?” I protested.
The pouring rain took away the rotten smell of autumn and slammed it on his head like a hard sledgehammer. In his every attitude he displayed a nonchalance peculiar to boozers. Being crazy was as easy as apple pie.
“Anyway, my ass is wet, too. On my way here I stumbled and fell down. I came within an ace breaking my bucket.” he said.
Then we kept silent. What were we waiting for? We didn’t know. Perhaps we were entrusted with the task of spectating how nature dies gradually as the autumn approaches. Each of us was an onlooker of death.
A stream of people was flowing by us. Some of them were hasty, some of them were carefree. As the yellow leaves crushed under the lazy steps, a strange flood of enthusiasm flowed through me. I leaped up off my seat like awakening from a fox’s sleep.
“Why don’t we go?” I shouted unconsciously. It was as if everyone passing by halted and stared at us.
“Hush, my cuuud’e, calm down a bit.” He said. He combined ‘u’ with ‘d’ and made a long ‘u’. “I came across Necmi the elder brother on my way here. He told me that the police had come and taken him away.” he explained.
“What? Why? How? …What crime has he committed?” It was as if I was shooting with my machine gun against his brain. He explained his predictions with the heart’s-ease of people who have reached the source of all mysteries:
“He didn’t seem like a very placid man. I have already cottoned on it. God knows if it is an affair of booty or heroin.”
“No, my cuuud’e,” As my amazement increased, the letters of ‘u’ of mine got longer. “What are you talking about? “What has he got to do with an affair of booty or heroin? Can you beat that? Cevdet the elder brother doesn’t do such a thing.” I said.
“Think as you like, my cuddie! In fact, you should afraid of suchlike people,” he said. He emphasized ‘my cuddy’ as if he wanted to cease the discussion.
“What do you mean by saying that you should afraid of suchlike people? Do we have a reason to fear Cevdet the elder brother?” I asked.
“And what is worse there are so many! Just imagine, my cuddie, a solitary man in a big house. How does he earn a living? Who subsidizes him? I am unable to understand why on earth did we stick around his home for days? Those are the ominous affairs, my cuddie!” he explained.
Our conversations were lurching in the calm sea of the not-so-distant past. At this hour of the evening, it was the wafting wind of ambivalent enthusiasm that took hold of my heart loutishly. Any longer the footsteps were less heard now.
“Jee, Cevdet the elder brother, and the cop! That will never do! He was really a soul brother. I wonder if was I under the impression that he was a really good man? Well, how couldn’t we realize it? It seems that he is a man of dirty affairs. Set me aside, such things don’t cross my mind; how did he not realize it all this time? Humph! He said that ‘I have already cottoned on it.’ It’s surely easy peasy to prophesy after the cop took him away. ” I thought. I was taken aback.
“Are we going to sit here like this?” I said, with the despair of people who have gone red as a beet.
“Go away if you like. I am going to sit a little longer here and go home,” he said.
“What’s up? You are early bird today.” I said.
“I get underway tomorrow. I am going to Istanbul,” he replied.
“What’s the big idea, my cuddie? You didn’t talk about it at all before!” I was shocked.
“I heard about it yesterday, too. My uncle found me a job there,” he replied.
“Well, go away then,” I said. The light of the streetlamp leaking through the diminishing leaves of the big plane tree was not enough to illuminate our darkness. It was as if he had been sitting there for hours: with his arms folded, his eyes at a certain point, as if reading a text written in front of him… It’s like they brought him and put him here years ago and they’re going to take him away soon…
“Well, go away, then.” I said.
I left without saying farewell to him. Breaking through a yellow sea I was leaving; leaving unnerving cracklings behind me. Something herky-jerky was tumbling down inside me. I was aware of it. I could feel the pain of the tension in my body in my palms. I clenched my fists so hard that my nails dug into my palms. The sky was in the night glow. The rotten smell of autumn made me nauseous. Only the moon in the sky could see me and it was laughing bitterly at me. Now all I needed was a warm underside of a duvet…
Recep Nas, a translator, and a writer, was born in Ereğli (Konya) Turkey, on June 21, 1963. Along with many poems and stories of American and English writers and poets he translated into Turkish, we can also mention the following books translated by him: Collected Short Stories by Virginia Woolf, the novel by James Joyce named Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Essays on the Art of Painting by D. H. Lawrence, Collected Stories by Stephen Crane, William Shakespeare’s tragedies including Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello and King Lear. He also writes his own short stories and publishes them in various literary journals in Turkey.
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