فصل 22کتاب: برف / درس 22
- زمان مطالعه 37 دقیقه
- سطح خیلی سخت
دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»
این درس را میتوانید به بهترین شکل و با امکانات عالی در اپلیکیشن «زیبوک» بخوانید
متن انگلیسی درس
A Man Fit to Play Atatürk
sunay zaim’s military and theatrical careers
After Ka had identified Necip’s corpse at the Social Services Hospital morgue, an official hastily drew up a report, signed it, and passed it on to be certified. Then Ka and the MIT agent got back into ˙ their army truck and set off down the road. A pack of timid dogs walked alongside them; the only other signs of life were election banners and antisuicide posters. As they continued on their way, Ka’s mind registered the restless children and anxious fathers twitching their closed curtains to catch a glimpse of the passing truck, but he looked right past them. All he could think about, all he could see, was Necip’s face and Necip’s stiff body. He imagined Ipek consoling him when he got back to the hotel, but ˙ after the truck had gone through the empty city center, it continued straight down Atatürk Avenue to stop just beyond a ninety-year-old Russian building two streets away from the National Theater.
This was one of the beautiful run-down single-story mansions that
Ka had been so happy to see on his first night in Kars. After the city had passed over to the Turks and joined the Republic, the mansion passed into the hands of one Maruf Bey, a well-known merchant who sold wood and leather to the Soviet Union. For forty-three years, he and his family had lived magnificently here, conveyed in horse-drawn sleighs and carriages, with their every need met by cooks and servants. After the Second World War, at the start of the Cold War, the government rounded up the well-known merchants who did business with the Soviet Union, charged them with spying, and carted them off to prison, from which it was clear they would never return.
And so, for the next twenty years, Maruf Bey’s mansion sat empty,
first because of having no owner and then because of a dispute over its ownership. In the mid-seventies a club-wielding Marxist splinter group had seized the building as its headquarters, where they planned a number of political assassinations (including that of Muzaffer Bey, the lawyer and former mayor, who had survived the attempt but was wounded); after the
1980 coup the building was empty for a time, and then the enterprising
appliance dealer who owned the small shop next door converted half the old mansion into a warehouse, while a visionary tailor—who had returned to his hometown three years earlier with an impossible dream, having made his money in Istanbul and Arabia—turned the other half into a sweatshop.
When Ka walked into the former tailor shops, he saw button machines and big old-fashioned sewing machines and giant pairs of scissors still hanging from nails on the wall; in the soft orange glow of the old rosepatterned wallpaper they resembled strange instruments of torture.
Sunay Zaim was still dressed in the ragged coat, pullover, and army boots he’d been wearing two days earlier, when Ka had first seen him; he was pacing up and down the room with an unfiltered cigarette wedged between his fingers. When he saw Ka, his face lit up as if on seeing a dear old friend, and he hurried across the room to embrace him and kiss him on both cheeks. Ka almost expected him to say, “Congratulations on the military takeover!” as the cattle dealer at the hotel had done; something in his excessive friendliness put Ka on his guard. He would describe his dealings with Sunay in a favorable light: They were just two men from
Istanbul who, having been thrown together in a remote and impoverished city, had found a way to work together under difficult conditions.
But he was only too well aware of Sunay’s part in helping to create those difficult conditions.
“Not a day passes when the eagle of dark depression doesn’t take flight in my soul,” said Sunay, infusing his words with a mysterious pride.
“But I cannot catch myself. So hold yourself in. All’s well that ends well.” In the white light pouring through the great windows, Ka surveyed the spacious room. The large stove and the friezes in the corners of the high ceilings bore witness to a glorious past; now the place was crawling with men carrying walkie-talkies, and there were two huge guards clocking Ka’s every movement. On the table by the door leading into the corridor was a map, a gun, a typewriter, and a pile of dossiers; Ka deduced that this was the center of operations for the revolution, and that Sunay was the most powerful man present.
“There were times in the eighties, and these were the worst of times,” said Sunay as he paced back and forth, “when we would arrive in some wretched, godforsaken town in the middle of nowhere—still not knowing if we would find a place to stage our plays or even a hotel room to rest our weary heads—and I would go out in search of an old friend, only to discover that he had long since left that small town, and it was at such times that depression—grief—would overtake me. To keep it at bay, I would rush about the streets of the city, knocking on the doors of the local doctors and lawyers and teachers in search of someone, somewhere, who might be interested in hearing the news we had brought from the frontiers of modern art and contemporary culture. When I found no one living at the only address I had to hand, when the police informed us that they would not, after all, give us permission to put on a performance, or when—and this was always my last hope—I took my humble request to the mayor, only to learn that he too was unwilling to accommodate us, I began to fear that darkness might engulf me. At moments like this the eagle in my chest would come to life; it would spread its wings and—just before it smothered me—it would take flight.
“It didn’t matter where we performed—we could be in the most
wretched teahouse the world has ever seen; we could be in a train station, thanks to some stationmaster who had his eye on one of our actresses; we could be in a fire station or an empty classroom in the local primary school or a humble shack or a restaurant; we could be playing in the window of a barbershop, on the stairs of a shopping arcade, in a barn, or on the pavement—but no matter where we were, I would refuse to succumb to depression.”
The door to the corridor opened and Funda Eser came in to join them; Sunay switched from I to we. Ka saw nothing contrived in the shift to plural, this couple was so close. Funda Eser moved her great bulk across the room with considerable grace; after giving Ka a quick handshake she whispered something into her husband’s ear and, looking very preoccupied, left the room.
“Yes, those were our worst years,” said Sunay. “Social unrest and the combined stupidities of Istanbul and Ankara had taken their toll, and our fall from favor was well documented in the press. I had seized the great opportunity that comes only to those graced with genius—yes, I had— and on the very day that I was going to use my art to intervene in the flow of history, suddenly the rug was pulled out from under me and I found myself dragged through the worst imaginable mud. Although it failed to destroy me, my old friend depression now returned to haunt my soul. But no matter how long I languished in the mire, no matter how much filth, wretchedness, poverty, and ignorance I saw around me, I never lost my belief in my guiding principles, never doubted that I had reached the summit. . . . Why are you so frightened?” A doctor in a white coat and carrying a bag appeared at the door.
With a hurried air that seemed only half genuine, he pulled out a bloodpressure cuff and wrapped it around Sunay’s arm, and as he did so Sunay gazed at the white light pouring through the windows, his air so tragic Ka thought he might still be thinking about his fall from favor in the early eighties. For his part, Ka remembered Sunay more for his roles in the seventies; it was these roles that had made him famous.
The seventies was the golden age of leftist political theater, and if Sunay stood out in this still rather small theatrical society, it was not only for being a hardworking and accomplished actor who could rise to the challenge of a demanding role—no, what audiences most admired were his leadership qualities. Young Turkish audiences warmed to his interpretations of powerful leaders like Napoleon, Lenin, and Robespierre, and Jacobin revolutionaries like Enver Pasha, as well as local folk heroes with whom they could identify. When he raised his commanding voice to rail against oppression; when, after a stage beating at the hands of wicked oppressors, he raised his proud head to cry, “The day will come when we will call them to account!”; when, on the worst day of all (the day he knew, when everyone knew, that his arrest was imminent), he gritted his teeth and, wishing his friends luck, told them that no matter what suffering lay ahead, he remained certain they would and could bring happiness to the people through the exercise of merciless violence—it was at that moment the lycée students and progressive university students in the audience would always respond with tearful and thunderous applause.
Especially impressive was his decisiveness in the final acts of these plays, when power had passed into his hands and the time had come to mete out punishments to the wicked oppressors—here, many critics saw the influence of his military training. He’d studied at Kuleli Military Academy.
He’d been expelled in his final year for slipping over to Istanbul in a rowboat to perform in various Beyo˘glu theaters and also for staging a secret performance of a play called Before the Ice Melts.
When the military took over in 1980, all left-wing plays were banned, and it was not long afterward that it was decided to commission a big new television drama about Atatürk in honor of the hundredth anniversary of his birth. In the past, no one had thought a Turk was equal to the challenge of playing this blond, blue-eyed, westward-looking national hero; the predominant view was that great national films called for great international stars like Laurence Olivier, Curt Jurgens, or Charlton Heston.
But this time Hürriyet, the biggest Turkish newspaper, entered the fray to promote the view that for once a Turk be allowed to play the role. It even went so far as to provide ballots that readers could cut out and send in with their suggestions. Sunay was among those nominated by this popular jury; in fact, being still well known for his fine work during the democratic era, he was the clear front-runner from the very first day. He had, after all, been playing Jacobins for years. Turkish audiences had no doubt but that the handsome, majestic, confidence-inspiring Sunay would make an excellent Atatürk.
Sunay’s first mistake was to take this public vote seriously. He went straight to the papers and the television networks, making grand pronouncements to all who would listen. He had himself photographed relaxing at home with Funda Eser. He spoke openly about his domestic life, his daily routines, and his political views, remaking himself in Atatürk’s image: he was at pains to show that, like Atatürk, he was a secularist. He also dramatized the fact that they enjoyed the same pastimes and pleasures (raki, dancing, fine clothes, and good breeding). He took to posing with volumes of Atatürk’s classic work, Orations, and claiming that he was rereading his oeuvre from start to finish. (When one unsupportive columnist who entered the fray early on ridiculed him for reading not the original version of Orations but an abridged pure Turkish edition, Sunay took the original version out of the library and posed with it too, but all his efforts to get the new photograph published in this columnist’s paper proved fruitless.) Undaunted, Sunay continued to appear at grand openings, concerts, and important soccer matches, and wherever he went he answered the questions of every third-rate reporter about Atatürk and art, Atatürk and music, Atatürk and Turkish sport. With an eagerness to please rather unbecoming in a Jacobin, he even did interviews with the anti-Western religious newspapers. It was during one such interview that he said, in answer to a question that was in fact not unduly provocative, “Perhaps one day, when the public deems fit, I might be able to play the Prophet Muhammad.”
With this luckless remark, the trouble really began. The small Islamist periodicals went on the rampage. God forbid, they wrote, any mortal should presume to play the Great Prophet. The swarm of angry columnists who began with accusations of “showing disrespect for the Prophet” were soon accusing him of “taking active steps to discredit the Prophet.” When even the army proved reluctant to silence the political Islamists, it fell to Sunay himself to put out the fire. Hoping to assuage their fears, he took to carrying around a copy of the Koran and telling the conservative Islamists how much he loved this book, which in so many ways was really rather modern. But this only created an opportunity for Kemalist columnists who had taken offense at his preening as “the people’s choice” for the role of Atatürk: Never once, they wrote, had Atatürk tried to curry favor with religious fanatics. The newspapers supporting the military coup kept running the picture of Sunay in a spiritual pose with a copy of the Koran, the caption underneath reading, “A man fit to play Atatürk.” The Islamist press lashed back, running pictures of Sunay drinking raki with captions like “He’s a raki drinker, just like Atatürk!” and “Is this man fit to play the Great Prophet?” This sort of war would flare up between the Islamist press and the secular press every couple of months, but now Sunay was the focus.
For a week, you couldn’t open a paper without seeing Sunay. One picture had him guzzling beer in a commercial he’d made years earlier, others showed him getting a beating in a film he’d made in his youth, defiantly raising his fist before a flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle and watching his wife kiss the male leads in various plays.
There was page after page of innuendo: claims that his wife was a lesbian, that he was still as much a Communist as ever, and that he and Funda had done dubbing for contraband porn films. And for the right money, Atatürk was not the only role he could play. After all, it was East German funding that had made it possible for him to perform Brecht; and after the coup, Sunay had insulted the state by telling “women from a Swedish association that torture was endemic to Turkey.”
Finally, a high-ranking officer summoned Sunay to command headquarters to inform him rather curtly that in the view of the entire army he should withdraw from the race. This was not the same good-hearted officer who had invited several uppity Istanbul journalists to Ankara to scold them for criticizing the army’s involvement in politics, only to offer them chocolates afterward, but another less jovial officer from the same public relations branch. He didn’t soften one bit when he saw Sunay quaking
with remorse and fear; rather, he ridiculed Sunay for propounding his own political views in the guise of the “man chosen to be Atatürk” and alluded to Sunay’s short visit two days earlier to the town of his birth, during which he had played the “people’s politician.” (Cheered on by convoys of cars and crowds of tobacco manufacturers and unemployed men, Sunay had climbed up to the statue of Atatürk in the town’s main square and inspired even more applause by squeezing Atatürk’s hand; when a reporter from a popular magazine then asked him whether he thought he might leave the stage one day to enter politics, Sunay answered, “If the people want me.”) The prime minister’s office announced that the Atatürk film was to be postponed indefinitely.
Sunay was experienced enough to endure this defeat; his undoing came with what followed. During his monthlong Atatürk campaign he’d done so much television that people had come to associate his voice with Atatürk, and that meant no one would give him dubbing work. The television advertisers who had once been so happy to have him play the reasonable father with a knack for buying only the best and healthiest products turned their backs on him; they thought their viewers would find it strange to see a failed Atatürk brandishing a brush and holding a can of paint or explaining why he was so satisfied with his bank. But the very worst were those who believe everything they read in the papers, because now they believed with a passion that Sunay might be both an enemy of Atatürk and an enemy of religion: Some even believed he said nothing when his wife kissed other men. Or if they didn’t believe it, there was still a lot of muttering about no smoke without fire.
The chief effect of all these reversals was the dwindling in number of those coming to see them perform. Quite a few people stopped Sunay in the street to say, “I expected better of you!” A young religious high school student, convinced Sunay had stuck his tongue out at the Prophet (and wanting badly to get in the papers), stormed into the theater waving a knife and spat in the face of several people. All this happened in the space of five days; Sunay and Funda then disappeared.
The gossip got even wilder. One rumor had it that they’d joined the
Brechtian Berliner Ensemble, ostensibly to teach drama though really they were learning how to be terrorists. According to another account, the French Ministry of Culture had given them a grant and refuge at the French Mental Hospital in ¸ Si¸ sli. In fact, they had decamped to the house of Funda Eser’s artist mother on the shores of the Black Sea.
A year later, they finally found work as activity directors at an undistinguished hotel in Antalya. They spent mornings playing volleyball in the sand with German grocers and Dutch office workers; in the afternoon they dressed up as the shadow-theater characters Karagöz and Hacivat and performed in butchered German for the amusement of the children; in the evenings they sailed onstage dressed as a sultan and the belly-dancing darling of his harem. This was the beginning of Funda Eser’s belly-dancing career, which she would continue to develop during their tours of the provinces over the next ten years. For three months Sunay managed to play the clown, until a Swiss barber crossed the line, interrupting their act with his jokes about Turks with harems and fezzes, which continued the next morning on the beach, where he began to flirt with Funda. Sunay beat him up, in full view of a shocked and terrified crowd of tourists.
After that, it seems the couple worked as freelance emcees, dancers, and theatrical entertainers at weddings and dance halls throughout the
Antalya area. Even when he was introducing cheap singers, fire-eating jugglers, and third-class comedians, Sunay would make short speeches about Atatürk, the Republic, and the institution of marriage. Funda Eser would do a belly dance, and then the couple, now assuming an austere and highly disciplined air, would do something like the murder of Banquo, stopping after eight or ten minutes for a round of applause. It was during these evenings that the seeds were planted for the touring theater group they would later take all over Anatolia.
While having his blood pressure checked, Sunay had one of his bodyguards bring over a walkie-talkie; after issuing a few orders into it and reading a message a factotum had abruptly pushed in front of him, his face crumpled with revulsion. “They’re all denouncing each other,” he said. He went on to say that during his years of touring the remote towns of Anatolia, he had come to the conclusion that all the men in the country were paralyzed by depression.
“For days on end, they sit in those teahouses; day after day they go
there and do nothing,” he said. “You see hundreds of these jobless, luckless, hopeless, motionless poor creatures in every town; in the country as a whole there must be hundreds of thousands of them, if not millions.
They’ve forgotten how to keep themselves tidy, they’ve lost the will to button up their stained jackets, they have so little energy they can hardly move their arms and legs, their powers of concentration are so weak they can’t follow a story to its conclusion, and they’ve even forgotten how to laugh at a joke, these poor brothers of mine.” Most of them were too unhappy to sleep; they took pleasure in knowing that the cigarettes they smoked were killing them; they began sentences, only to let their voices trail off as they remembered how pointless it was to carry on; they watched TV not because they liked or enjoyed the programs but because they couldn’t bear to hear about their fellows’ depression, and television helped to shut them out; what they really wanted was to die, but they didn’t think themselves worthy of suicide. During elections, it was out of a desire for self-punishment that they voted for the most wretched parties and the most loathsome candidates; it was, Sunay insisted, because the generals responsible for the military coup spoke with honest realism about the need for punishment that these men preferred them to politicians endlessly promising hope.
Funda Eser, who had come back into the room, added that there were also many unhappy women who’d all worn themselves out having too many children, curing tobacco, weaving carpets, and working for pitiful wages as nurses while their husbands were who-knows-where.
These women who shouted and wailed at their children all day long were the ones who kept life going; if you took them away, it would be the end of the line for the millions of joyless, jobless, aimless men you now saw all over Anatolia. They all looked the same, these men, unshaven, their shirts dirty; without the women looking after them they would end up like the beggars who froze to death on street corners during cold snaps, or the drunks who staggered out of taverns to fall into open sewers, or the senile grandfathers sent to the grocery store in their pajamas and slippers to buy a loaf of bread, only to lose their way. These men were all too numerous, “as we’ve seen in the wretched city of Kars”; although they owed their lives to their women, the love they felt for their wives made them so ashamed they tortured them.
“I gave ten years to Anatolia because I wanted to help my unhappy
friends out of their misery and despair,” said Sunay. There was no selfpity in his voice. “They accused us of being Communists, perverts, spies working for the West, and Jehovah’s Witnesses; they said I was a pimp and my wife a prostitute; time and time again they threw us into jail, beating and torturing us. They tried to rape us; they stoned us. But they learned to love my plays and the freedom and happiness my theatrical company brought them. So now, as I am handed the greatest opportunity of my life, I shall not weaken.”
Two men entered the room; as before, one of them handed Sunay a walkie-talkie. The channel was open and Ka could hear people talking; they’d surrounded one of the shanties in the Watergate district, and after someone inside fired at them, they’d gone in to find one of the Kurdish guerillas and a family. On the same frequency, a soldier was giving orders; his subordinates addressed him as “my commander.” A short while later, the same soldier addressed Sunay, first to give him advance notice of their plans and then to seek his views, now sounding more like an old schoolmate than the leader of a revolution.
“There’s a little fellow who’s a brigade officer here in Kars,” Sunay said, when he noticed Ka’s interest. “During the Cold War, the military command had the very best forces massed farther inland, in Sarıkamı¸ s, in anticipation of a Soviet incursion. At most the people here would be staging diversions during the first attack. These days, they’re mostly here to guard the border with Armenia.”
Sunay now told him how, the first night, after he and Ka had come in
on the same bus from Erzurum, he’d gone into the Green Pastures Café and run into Colonel Osman Nuri Çolak, a friend for thirty-odd years.
The man was an old classmate from the Kuleli Military Academy. In those days, he was the only other person in Kuleli who knew Pirandello’s name and could list Sartre’s plays.
“Unlike me, he couldn’t get himself expelled for lack of discipline, nor could he embrace the military wholeheartedly. This is why he never became a general staff officer. (There were people who whispered that he was too short to be a general anyway.) He’s an angry, troubled man, but not, I think, because of professional problems—it’s because his wife took their children and left him. He’s tired of being alone, bored with having nothing to do here, and worn out by the small-town gossip, although of course he’s the one who does most of the gossiping. Those unlicensed
butchers I raided after declaring the revolution, the disgraceful stories about the Agricultural Bank loans and the Koran courses—he was the first to tell me about them; he was drinking a bit too much. He was overjoyed to see me but full of complaints about loneliness. And then, by way of apology but also with a note of boastfulness, he told me he was the highest-ranking officer in Kars that night, so he was going to have to get up early the next morning. The commander of his brigade had gone to
Ankara with his wife to see doctors about her rheumatism, the deputy colonel had been called to an urgent meeting in Sarıkamı¸ s, and the governor was in Erzurum. He was the one with all the power! And as the snow had not yet stopped, it was clear from the experience of years past that the roads would be closed for days. I saw at once that this was the opportunity I had been awaiting all my life, so I ordered my friend another double raki.” According to the report submitted by the inspector major sent from
Ankara, this man Ka had heard moments earlier on the walkie-talkie was indeed Colonel Osman Nuri Çolak (or Crooked Arm, as Sunay, his old friend from military school, preferred to call him); the major also reported that the colonel had initially taken this strange proposal for a military coup as nothing more than a joke, a whim of the raki table invented just for fun, but he nevertheless played along with the gag, adding that the job could be done with two tanks. That he would later actually execute the plan owed more to his wish not to blacken the name of courage in the face of Sunay’s insistence—and his belief that, when it was all over, Ankara would be pleased with the outcome—than it did to any grudge or grievance or hope for personal glory. (According to the major’s report, he had, however, sadly compromised his principles when in the turmoil he went into the Republic district and raided the home of an
Atatürk-loving dentist to settle an argument about a woman.)
The colonel had used half a squadron to search houses and schools, and four trucks, and two T-1 tanks—these had to be driven with great care because spare parts were scarce—but that was the only military equipment he had used. If we don’t count the “unexplained deaths” ascribed to “special teams” like Z Demirkol and his friends, most of what happened was typical of extraordinary circumstances like these. In other words, it was various hardworking officials at MIT and police head- ˙ quarters who did most of it—after all, they had the files on everyone in the whole city and employed a tenth of the population as informers. In fact, these same officials were so elated to hear the spreading rumor of the demonstration that the secularists were planning to make at the
National Theater that they sent out official telegrams to friends away from the city on leave, advising them to return at once lest they miss the fun.
From what he could hear coming in on the walkie-talkie, Ka gathered that the skirmish in the Watergate district had reached a new stage. When three gunshots sounded, first over the radio frequency and then were heard traveling through the air, muffled by the snowy plain, Ka decided that the sound of gunshots carried better when amplified by a walkietalkie.
“Don’t be cruel,” Sunay said into the walkie-talkie, “but let them feel the power of the revolution and the state and let them see how deter mined we are.” He’d raised his left hand and, propping his chin between thumb and forefinger, assumed a pose of deep thought, a gesture so distinctive that Ka now had a memory from the mid-seventies of Sunay posed this way while uttering the exact same words in a history play. He wasn’t as handsome as he’d been in those days; he looked tired, pale, and worn.
Sunay picked up a pair of 1940s army-issue field glasses that were sitting on his table. Then he picked up the thick but ragged felt coat he’d worn throughout his ten-year tour of Anatolia and, putting on his fur hat, took Ka by the hand and led him outside. The cold took Ka by surprise; it made him think how weak and thin are men’s dreams and desires, how insubstantial the intrigues of politics and everyday life compared with the cold winds of Kars. He noticed that Sunay’s left leg was far more damaged than he’d thought. As they set off down the snow-covered pavement, he marveled at the emptiness of the bright white streets, and when it occurred to him that they might be the only ones walking outside in the entire city, he felt a surge of joy. While the beautiful snow-covered city with its empty old mansions could not help but make a man fall in love with life and find the will to love, there was more to Ka’s feeling than that; he was also enjoying this proximity to real power.
“This is the most beautiful part of Kars,” said Sunay. “This is my theatrical company’s third visit to Kars in ten years, and each time this is where I come when the light fades, to sit under the poplars and the oleander trees, to listen to the melancholy cries of the crows and the magpies, while I gaze at the castle, the bridge, and the four-hundred-year-old hamam.”
They were now standing on the bridge over the frozen Kars River.
Sunay gazed out over the shanties scattered on the hill rising above the left bank and pointed at one of them. Just below that house, just above the road, Ka saw a tank and, a little farther on, an army truck.
“We can see you,” Sunay said into the walkie-talkie, as he peered through the field glasses. A few moments later, they heard two gunshots— first through the walkie-talkie, then through the air above the valley into which the river flowed. Was this some manner of greeting? Just ahead, at the entrance to the bridge, two bodyguards awaited them. They gazed at the wretched shantytown—a hundred years after Russian cannon destroyed the villas of the Ottoman pashas, the poor had come here to stake their claim—and they looked at the park on the opposite bank that had once been the heart of the bourgeoisie of Kars and at the city rising behind it.
“It was Hegel who first noticed that history and theater are made of
the same materials,” said Sunay. “Remember: Just as in the theater, history chooses those who play the leading roles. And just as actors put their courage to the test onstage, so too do the chosen few on the stage of history.”
The entire valley rattled with explosions. Ka deduced from this that the machine gun atop the tank was now in use. The tank’s cannon had also fired shots, but these had missed. The later explosions were caused by hand grenades. A black dog was barking. The shanty door opened and two people came out, their hands in the air. Ka could see tongues of flame licking at the broken windowpanes. All the while, the dog barked happily, darting back and forth, his tail wagging as he went over to join the people crouching on the ground. Ka saw someone running in the distance, and then he heard the soldiers open fire. The man in the distance fell to the ground, and all noise stopped. Much later, someone shouted, but by then Sunay’s attention was elsewhere.
Followed by the bodyguards, they turned their back on the scene outside to reenter the tailor shop. The moment Ka looked again at the exquisite antique wallpaper in the old mansion, he knew he could not contain the new poem now waiting within him, so he retreated to a corner.
This poem, to which he would give the title “Suicide and Power,” contains bold references to his walk with Sunay; he describes the thrill of power, the flavor of the friendship he’s struck up with this man, and his guilt about the girls committing suicide. Later he would decide that in this “sound and considered” poem, the events he had witnessed in Kars had found their most powerful and authentic expression.
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