My father was the most popular shoemaker of our town Bor,

Nigde. For years, he had made and repaired shoes in his shop

“Fashion Shoes,” which was very near the Government Square. The

bank manager’s wife, the beauty symbol of our town, Nigar Hanim

(Lady Nigar), would never wear any shoes but those made by my

father. My father was a very respectable shoemaker in our


When my eldest sister insisted on going to college, the whole

family had to move to Ankara, the Capital. My father kept to his

shoemaking in his shop at Demirlibahce for a while but as he was

no longer a demanded master of shoemaking, he wasn’t earning

enough money, so he found a job at the military shoeandclothes

factory, where he made boots for soldiers, pushing the buttons of

some machines he himself had seen for the first time in his life.

He spent a whole life as a clicker. A lifetime between his

job, home and the KAHVEHANE (*). Now he is seventyfive. He had

told me, in one of our rare talks, that he had done his military

service in Iskenderun, a seaside town in the South of Turkey, and

that one day when he went to have fun by the sea with his fellow

recruits, they decided to get on a rowing boat and spend some

time at the sea. However, my father, immediately after he put one

foot into the boat, decided not to do it saying that the bottom

of the boat was liquid and that he would not dare to get on that

scamp. I had learnt that, all his life, my father had never ever

been on a ship. I was shocked.

My father was very happy when he heard that I bought a flat

in Istanbul, a flat looking down on the Bosphorus. As I was sorry

for him because he had never lived anything related to the sea,

the other day I took him by force to Istanbul.

I was determined to take dad to Labor Cafe, on the other

side of the Bosphorus, after some tea at Dalyan (Fishgarth) Cafe

at Beikos.

As soon as we finished our tea, I told him that we were

going to have our breakfast at a beautiful place amongst

enchanting seaside residences. He did not resist. Until we came

to the Beikos quay, where we had to take a boat to cross the

Bosphorus, he did not ask anything. But when he heard the bawler

shouting “Yenikoy, Yenikoy” (**) and seeing the boat was filled

with passengers ready to go to the European side, he grew


“Where are we going?” he asked anxiously.

“To the other side, to Yenikoy.”

“How are we going there?” he inquired again, this time


“We’ll get on that boat dad. It’s the shortest way.”

Dad grabbed my arm.

“You mean we’ll sail?” he roared.

“Yes, in a way,” I murmured.

“I’d rather die!” he shouted.

The rest was a hard time trying to persuade dad to get on the

boat. As I believed that dad had never lived anything worth

remembering, my only aim was to get him to live something

exciting. Thus, I would feel happy and relieved as if I was doing

some charity. However, my father was so obstinate. He just would

not set afoot aboard. Everyone around joined in my efforts to

persuade him to get on the boat.

“Come on old man. There is nothing to fear. Look, we are

aboard, aren’t we? You think we want to die for nothing?”

No one could believe that in this age one would fear to get on

a boat. They were dying to share the joy of getting my dad

aboard. They were so eager, as if it was their only aim in life.

“Poor old man, he must have lived like a hermit,” one


In the end, we managed to get him on the boat. Victory for us


Dad kept looking at his shoes and never put his head up. As

the boat reached half way on the Bosphorus, dad put his head up,

saw Yalikoy, Beikos, moving away from him like an island, he took

a deep breath as if he was fearing to be petrified. As he was

shievering out of fear, he mumbled:

“What a pity!”

“Why dad?” I asked.

“I have wasted a life son. So far, I have led a whole life of

nothing but illusions!”

“You love this, don’t you?” I wondered, expecting


“Yes, so much!” he exclaimed. Then he added:

“I wish she were here on this boat, and wearing the shoes I

made for her.”

He probably meant mom.

“Who dad?” I asked, sure about the answer.

“The bank manager’s wife, Hicran. Ah, what a pity!”

(Translated from Turkish by the author.)

(*) KAHVEHANE is the equivalent of a pub frequented by the old,
the retired, the unemployed and the idle, where one can drink
only tea, coffee or beverages, and no spirits.

(**) One of the beautiful districts on the European side of
Istanbul, means “New Village”. (New York?)