فصل 27

کتاب: برف / درس 27

فصل 27

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Be Strong, My Girl; Help

Is on the Way from Kars

ka urges turgut bey to sign the statement

Ka left the house unseen by anyone in the courtyard or the car repair shops and walked straight to the market. He went into the same little stocking-stationery-audiocassette shop where he’d heard Peppino di Capri singing “Roberta” the day before; taking out Necip’s letters to Kadife, he handed them page by page to the pale beetle-browed teenage assistant in charge of the photocopy machine. But to do this Ka first had to open the envelopes. Once the letters were copied, he put each of the originals into a new envelope made from the same cheap, faded paper stock as the letters and, imitating Necip’s hand as best he could, addressed them to Kadife Yıldız.

Ever ready to fight for his happiness, to tell any lie, play any trick to make his dream come true, he hurried back to the hotel, musing upon a vision of Ipek he had conjured in his mind. It was snowing again, the ˙ same huge snowflakes as before. Everyone in the streets seemed as tired and tense as they would on any ordinary evening. At the corner of Palace Path Road and Halitpa¸sa Avenue, a mud-splattered coal wagon drawn by a tired horse was stuck between the snowbanks. The wipers on the truck standing behind it were barely able to keep the windshield clear. He looked at the passersby clutching their plastic bags and imagined them all running home to their happy safety; although he sensed in the air a melancholy that called to mind the gray winter evenings of his childhood, he remained full of resolve, determined to start life anew.

He went straight up to his room. He hid the photocopies of Necip’s letters in the bottom of his suitcase before he’d even removed his coat and hung it up. He washed his hands with excessive care. Then, without quite knowing why, he brushed his teeth (something he usually did in the evening); sensing that a new poem was on its way, he spent a long while looking out the window, making good use of the heat rising from the radiator; in the place of a poem came a stream of childhood memories: the fine spring morning he had accompanied his mother to Beyo˘glu to buy buttons and a “dirty man” had trailed after them; the day his mother left with his father for a tour of Europe and the taxi taking them from Ni¸santa¸ s to the airport disappeared around the corner; the hours spent dancing with a tall long-haired green-eyed girl at a party in Büyükada, his neck so stiff for days thereafter that he could barely move (he’d fallen for her but had no idea how to get in touch again). None of these memories were in any way related, apart from the commonality of love; Ka knew very well that life was a meaningless string of random incidents.

He bounded downstairs as eagerly as a man just arrived somewhere he’d been planning to visit for years; with a sangfroid he was shocked to discover in himself, he knocked on the white door that divided the lobby from the owner’s apartment. The Kurdish maid answered, and her expression, half conspiratorial, half respectful, was straight out of Turgenev. He went into the room where they’d eaten dinner the night before to find Turgut Bey and Ipek sitting side by side on the long divan facing ˙ the back door; they were watching television.

“Kadife, where have you been? It’s about to begin,” said Turgut Bey.

The pale snowlight pouring through the windows of the Russian

house gave this spacious high-ceilinged room an aspect that was very different from the night before.

When father and daughter saw it was Ka who had joined them, they bristled for a moment like a couple whose privacy has just been invaded by a stranger. But then Ka was cheered to see something light up in Ipek’s ˙ eyes. He sat down on a chair that faced both them and the television and allowed himself to notice once again how much more beautiful Ipek was ˙ in life than in his memories. This intensified his fear, though before long he had convinced himself that they were destined to live happily ever after.

“Every afternoon at four my daughters and I sit down on this divan and watch Marianna,” said Turgut Bey. There was a note of embarrassment in his voice, but something else as well that said, Don’t expect me to apologize.

Marianna was a Mexican soap opera that was broadcast five times a week on one of the big Istanbul channels to the intense delight of the entire country. The heroine who gave her name to the series was a small, bubbly, charming girl with large green eyes and skin so fair as to suggest an affluent background; she was, however, from the very lowest class.

The innocent long-haired Marianna had been orphaned early in childhood and had spent most of her life in impoverished solitude (hardly a day passed without a new setback), and whenever she fell in love with someone who refused to love her back or was the victim of some misunderstanding or false accusation, Turgut Bey and his daughters would nestle up against one another like cats; with the two girls’ heads propped against their father’s chest and shoulders, they would all shed a few tears.

Perhaps out of his embarrassment to be seen so caught up in a silly soap opera, Turgut Bey now offered a running commentary on the underlying reasons for Marianna’s and Mexico’s persistent poverty; he applauded Marianna for her own war against the capitalists and as the show began he even addressed the screen: “Be strong, my girl; help is on its way from Kars.” When he said this, his teary-eyed daughter smiled very faintly.

Ka’s lips curled into a smile too, but then he caught Ipek’s eye and, ˙ seeing that she didn’t like this smile, assumed a more serious expression.

During the first commercial break, Ka broached the subject of the joint statement with swift confidence and managed in no time to arouse Turgut Bey’s interest. The old man was flattered to be taken so seriously.

He asked whose idea this was and how his name had come to be suggested.

Ka said it was a decision he’d reached himself after consulting with the liberal press in Germany. Turgut Bey asked about the circulation of the Frankfurter Rundschau and whether Hans Hansen called himself a humanist. To prepare Turgut Bey for Blue, Ka described him as a dangerous religious fanatic who had nonetheless grown to understand the importance of democracy. But Turgut Bey seemed unperturbed; people gave themselves to religion because they were poor, he said; he went on to remind Ka that even if he didn’t believe in what his daughter and her friends were doing, he respected them. It was in much the same spirit that he respected the Kurdish nationalist, whoever he might be; were he himself a Kurdish youth living in Kars today, he’d be a fierce Kurdish nationalist too. Turgut Bey said all this in the same jocular tone in which he offered his support to Marianna. “It’s wrong to say this in public, but I am against military coups,” he declared. Ka calmed him down by reminding him that this bulletin was not going to be printed in Turkey anyway and went on to say that the best place for this meeting to happen in safety was the shed at the top of the Hotel Asia. He could get there via the back door of an adjacent shop giving onto the same courtyard, and no one would be the wiser.

“We must show the world that there are true democrats in Turkey,” said Turgut Bey. He spoke fast because the soap opera was about to resume. Just before Marianna reappeared, he looked at his watch and said, “Where’s Kadife?”

Ka joined father and daughter to watch Marianna in silence.

At one point Marianna climbed a flight of stairs with her lover; once she was sure no one could see them, she wrapped her arms around him.

They didn’t kiss, but what they did Ka found even more moving: They embraced each other with all their might. During the long silence that followed, it occurred to Ka that the entire city was watching this same scene.

All across Kars, housewives just returning from the market were tuning in with their husbands; girls in middle school were watching with their retired and aging relatives. With everyone watching, Ka realized, it wasn’t just the wretched streets of Kars that were empty, it was every street in the entire country; at that same moment he also understood that his intellectual pretensions, political activities, and cultural snobberies had brought him to an arid existence that cut him off from the feelings this soap opera was now provoking in him—and worst of all it was his own stupid fault. Ka was sure that, after they’d finished making love, Blue and Kadife had curled up in a corner and wrapped their arms around each other to watch Marianna too.

When Marianna turned to her lover and said, “I’ve waited all my life for this day,” Ka saw it as no coincidence that she was echoing his own thoughts. He tried to catch Ipek’s eye. She was resting her head on her ˙ father’s chest, and her large, sad, lovelorn eyes were glued to the set, lost in the desires the soap opera had awakened.

“But I’m still so worried,” said Marianna’s handsome clean-shaven lover. “My family won’t allow us to be together.”

“As long as we love each other, we have nothing to fear,” said the good-hearted Marianna.

“Watch out, my girl, this man is your worst enemy!” Turgut Bey shouted at the screen.

“I want you to love me without fear,” said Marianna.

Looking deep into Ipek’s mysterious eyes, Ka now succeeded in get- ˙ ting her to notice him, but she quickly averted her gaze.

At the commercial break, Ipek turned to her father and said, “Daddy ˙ dear, if you ask me it’s too dangerous for you to go to the Hotel Asia.” “Don’t worry,” said Turgut Bey.

“You’re the one who’s been telling me for years that it brings you bad luck to go out into the streets of Kars.”

“Yes, but if I don’t attend this meeting, it has to be for a matter of principle and not because I’m scared,” said Turgut Bey. He turned to Ka.

“The question is this: Speaking as the Communist modernizing secularist democratic patriot I now am, what should I put first, the enlightenment or the will of the people? If I believe first and foremost in the European enlightenment, I am obliged to see the Islamists as my enemies and support this military coup. If, however, my first commitment is to the will of the people—if, in other words, I’ve become an unadulterated democrat— I have no choice but to go ahead and sign that statement. Which of the things I’ve said is true?”

“Take the side of the oppressed and go sign that statement,” said Ka.

“It’s not enough to be oppressed, you must also be in the right. Most oppressed people are in the wrong to an almost ridiculous degree. What shall I believe in?”

“Ka doesn’t believe in anything,” said Ipek. ˙

“Everyone believes in something,” said Turgut Bey. “Please, tell me what you think.”

Ka did his best to convince Turgut Bey that if he signed the statement he would be doing his bit to help Kars move toward democracy. Sensing a strong possibility that Ipek might not want to go to Frankfurt with him, ˙ he started to worry that he might fail to convince Turgut Bey to leave the hotel. To express beliefs without conviction was liberating. As he nattered on about the statement, about issues of democracy, human rights, and many other things that were news to none of them, he saw a light shining in Ipek’s eyes that told him she didn’t believe a thing he was say- ˙ ing. But it wasn’t a shaming, moralistic light he saw; quite the contrary, it was the gleam of sexual provocation. Her eyes said, I know you’re spouting all these lies because you want me.

So it was that, just minutes after discovering the importance of melodramatic sensibilities, Ka decided he’d discovered a second great truth that had eluded him all his life: There are women who can’t resist a man who believes in nothing but love. Overcome with excitement at this new discovery, he launched into a further monologue about human rights, freedom of thought, democracy, and related subjects. And as he mouthed the wild simplifications of so many well-intentioned but shameless and slightly addled Western intellectuals and the platitudes repeated verbatim by their Turkish imitators, he thrilled to the knowledge that he might soon be making love to Ipek and all the while stared straight into her eyes ˙ to see the reflection of his own excitement.

“You’re right,” said Turgut Bey, when the commercials had come to an end. “Where’s Kadife?”

As the show resumed, Turgut Bey grew nervous—part of him

wanted to go to the Hotel Asia and part of him didn’t. Like a sad old man lost in a sea of dreams and ghosts, he talked about the political memories that came to him when he was watching Marianna, and about his fear of winding up back in prison, and about man’s responsibilities. Ka could see perfectly well that Ipek was annoyed at him for making her father ˙ anxious, but she also admired the speed with which he had convinced the old man to leave the hotel. Ka didn’t mind that she kept averting her eyes, and when at the end of the soap opera she turned to her father, wrapped her arms around him, and said, “Don’t go if you don’t want to; you’ve already suffered enough to help others, Father,” he was not offended.

Ka saw a cloud pass over Ipek’s face, but now a joyful new poem had ˙ come into his head. In the chair next to the kitchen, where, only moments earlier, Zahide Hanım sat with tears streaming down her face as she watched Marianna, Ka now sat, beaming with optimism as he began to write.

It was only much later that he decided to call this poem “I Am Going to Be Happy,” perhaps choosing this title to torment himself. Ka had just completed it, not a single missing word, when Kadife came rushing into the room. Turgut Bey flew to his feet, threw his arms around her, kissed her, and asked where she’d been and why her hands were so cold. A single tear rolled down his cheek. Kadife said she’d been to see Hande. She’d stayed later than expected, not wanting to miss any of Marianna, and so having decided to watch at Hande’s till the end. “So how’s our girl doing?” asked Turgut Bey (he was referring to Marianna). But he did not wait for Kadife’s answer before turning to the other subject. A great cloud of apprehension descended over him as he summarized what he’d heard from Ka.

It was not enough for Kadife to pretend she was hearing all this for the first time; when she caught sight of Ka at the other end of the room, she pretended to be surprised. “I’m so happy you’re here,” she cried, as she hastened to cover her hair. But her scarf was not yet back in place when she sat down in front of the television to advise her father. Kadife was so convincing in her feigned surprise at seeing him that when she went on to encourage her father to attend the meeting and sign the joint statement, Ka thought this too must be an act. Since Blue’s motive was to produce a statement that the foreign press would be willing to print, his suspicion may have been correct, but Ka could tell from the fear in Ipek’s ˙ face that something else was going on here too.

“Let me go with you to the Hotel Asia,” said Kadife.

“I’m not about to let you get into trouble on my account,” said Turgut Bey, affecting a gallant air straight out of the soap operas they watched and the novels they had read together once upon a time.

“Please, Daddy, if you get involved in this business, you could be exposing yourself to unnecessary risks,” said Ipek. ˙

While Ipek spoke to her father, Ka took stock: It seemed that—as ˙ with everyone else in the room—everything she said had a double meaning; as for this game she was playing with her eyes—averting her gaze one moment, staring at him intensely the next—he could only assume that this was just another way of transmitting the same mixed message. Only much later would he realize that—apart from Necip—everyone he met in Kars spoke in the same code, and so harmoniously that they seemed almost a single chorus; he would go on to ask himself whether it was poverty that somehow brought it out in them or fear, solitude, or the very simplicity of their lives. Even as Ipek said, “Daddy, please don’t go,” she ˙ was teasing Ka; even as Kadife spoke of the statement and her bonds to her father, Ka could see she was revealing her bonds to Blue.

It was with all this in mind that Ka entered into what he would later call “the most profoundly duplicitous conversation of my life.” He had a strong feeling that if he could not get Turgut Bey to leave the hotel now, he would never have a chance to sleep with Ipek, and since the challenge ˙ he saw in Ipek’s eyes only confirmed the notion, he told himself that this ˙ was his last chance in life for happiness. When he began to speak, he used the same words and ideas that had ruined his life. But as he tried to convince Turgut Bey to leave the hotel—because it was important to act for the common good, to take responsibility for his country’s poor and share in their struggles, because he was on the side of the civilizers and so obliged to stand up against the forces of darkness, even if the gesture itself seemed insignificant—Ka found that he even believed some of what he was saying. He remembered how he had felt as a young leftist, when he’d been so determined not to join the Turkish bourgeoisie, when all he wanted was to sit in a room reading great books and entertaining great thoughts. So it was with the elation of a twenty-year-old that he repeated those thoughts and ideals that had so upset his mother, who had been right in wishing he would never become a poet, and which had condemned him to exile in a rathole in Frankfurt. Meanwhile he was well aware what the passion of his words said to Ipek: This is how passion- ˙ ately I want to make love to you. He was thinking that at last those fine words of youth that had ruined his life would serve a purpose; thanks to them, he would be making love to the object of his desires, knowing at this same moment that he’d lost his faith in them; he now knew that the greatest happiness in life was to embrace a beautiful, intelligent girl and sit in a corner writing poetry.

Turgut Bey announced that he was leaving at once for the Hotel Asia.

He went to his room to change, accompanied by Kadife.

Ka walked over to Ipek, still in the spot where she’d been watching ˙ television with her father. She looked almost as if she were still leaning on the old man. “I’ll be waiting for you in my room,” Ka whispered.

“Do you love me?” asked Ipek. ˙

“I love you very much.”

“Is it true?”

“It’s very true.”

For a while, neither spoke. Ipek turned to gaze out the window, and ˙ so did Ka. It had started snowing again. The streetlamps in front of the hotel had come on, but darkness had not yet descended, so even as they lit up the frenzy of the giant snowflakes, they seemed superfluous.

“Go to your room,” said Ipek. “As soon as they leave, I’ll come up.

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