Gulseren Tuðcu Karabulut

Didn’t I tell you to listen to Mozart when you’re writing your poems? Instead, you listened to Kenny G. You listened to him and your poems smelled saxy. I looked for the dynamism your previous poems had, but couldn’t find it. If you had listened to Mozart, I would have lived him when reading your poems, I would have heard his laughter, joyous, crazy. No, you cannot make me utter “hysterical” for those laughs. Say childish, I’d agree but I’d insist on joyous and crazy. Look, if it’d been Mozart, it could well have been a flute concerto. It could’ve started with the strings, then a slow down. Both speed and peace in the same measure. The flute is not capricious at all. It doesn’t keep you waiting for long; it starts right away, lets you feel its fragile articulations. But what did you do? You said Kenny G and nothing else. That’s why your poems smelled saxy, and I got scared.
Didn’t I ask you to get a haircut buddy? I did, but you kept growing your hair long and let it wave freely above your shoulders. And even that was not enough, you combed it backwards with your fingers, staring at me at the same time. Your whiskers got visible. At least you showed me your whiskers. I’m grateful. Your hair got greasy so quickly. You had to wash it every day. You tried all kinds of shampoos. On one it said: “Head and Shoulder.” Though I could tell what it meant you translated it for me. Then I said, “Oh, then it must be good for your dandruffs!” We were even now. I saw the white in your hair too. I saw them and didn’t get worried. I just thought: “What if one day he decides to have a pony tail?” And I got so scared.
Didn’t I tell you not to get excited when you’re eating, and even if you’re excited that you shouldn’t make it so clear, eh? I did. And what did you do? You shook it and shook it accompanying it to the rhythm of your chewing. Was your meal too delicious? Was it so delicious that putting the morsel in your mouth, chewing and then swallowing it did not suffice, and you got your leg to participate in this ritual? And what did I do? I made borek for you. I put too much carrot in it so that you don’t enjoy it. And what happened? You added to the leg rhythm of yours your left hand that was free, and made the table a darbuka. I left the kitchen. Then I remembered my duty to set the dinner table, and I got so anxious.

Didn’t I tell you to climb up the stairs one by one? Oh, what am I to do? Oh, how am I going to cope with this? You went up and down the stairs two by two, and sometimes three by three even. The noise your shoe soles made disturbed the neighbors on the block. All the young women, moaning sick people, even the milk sucking babies rushed out to see what was happening. When evening came, and your legs began to hurt, I started to eat my fingernails fearing that you would call me and ask me to massage your legs.
Didn’t I tell you not to crack all your fingers when you’re watching TV? I told you to start with the middle finger, and move in sequence, the ring finger next, the little one, then, if you didn’t mind, the pointing finger, and finally the thumb. I even said, “It would be more fun that way.” But you started cracking the fingers on both hands all together. Whenever I looked at them, I saw that your hands were dirty, and your fingernails bitten. One day you got out of the bathroom, and your hands were so black, and I got so scared.
Didn’t I tell you not to pile bottles in the kitchen? The kitchen is so small. All the bottles, the water bottles, milk bottles, wine bottles of all shapes and sizes keep standing there between the fridge and the door to the balcony. I took all the bottles, and put them in nylon bags, and left them in front of the door of the block for the janitor to take away. In the evening, to my surprise, I saw two huge transparent, plastic bottles with big tummies. I thought they would attack me, and got so scared.
Didn’t I tell you not to show me an actress, or a house we left behind or anything to the left or the right of the car when you’re driving? You know I told you that. And you, ah and you drove the car to the pavement, straight on to the pedestrians. You could hardly stop the car. I looked at the faces of the people who escaped death in the nick of time, and then at you, when you started grumbling “Oh God, oh God!” Exhausted I was, so exhausted.
And I never told you not to laugh. I just said, “Hush down a bit, and let them think you’re wise.” There is a difference between the two, right? I said, “Sweetheart, people respect others who are serious and not excited all the time.” You got sulky, and never laughed again. For a long time I couldn’t see your teeth, we couldn’t. You came in and went out so discreetly. Then one day, I went into the bathroom unexpectedly only to see you with your tooth brush in one hand and your teeth in the other. I shut the door immediately, and went to the living room. I laughed so much.

Dearest, I didn’t say anything to intimidate you, did I? I always praised you, always encouraged you. I only wanted you to change for the better. You sneezed one day, and I even said “God bless you!” And what did you do? Ah you, you passed away.

And I...I lived long.

Kucukyali, Istanbul

(Translated by Yusuf Eradam)

1.The author was a teacher of Turkish literature in Turkey, the niece of a most popular writer in Turkey, Kemalettin Tugcu who wrote over 700 books for children, was also a close friend of Yusuf Eradam. She died of cancer at the age of 47 in 1997. Her thirteen short stories were edited by Eradam and the book was published posthumously in 2002.

2.Borek is a Turkish dish made with flour and cheese or minced meat with some vegetables and parsley if wanted.

3.Darbuka, a Turkish percussion instrument, a kind of drum put on one leg and under one arm, and played using the hands.