فصل 42

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فصل 42

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CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

I’m Going to Pack My Suitcase

from ˙iPek’s point of view

When, on his way to the National Theater with his two army bodyguards in tow, Ka stopped and turned for one last glimpse of her, Ipek was still hopeful, still convinced she’d learn to love ˙ him dearly. The knowledge that she could learn to love a man had always meant more to her than loving him effortlessly, more even than falling in love, and that was why now she felt herself to be on the threshold of a new life, a happiness bound to endure for a very long time.

So she was not particularly disturbed to find herself locked in a room by a jealous lover during the first twenty minutes following Ka’s departure. Conveniently, her mind was on her suitcase: if she could concentrate now on those things she wanted to keep with her throughout her life, she would, she thought, have an easier time parting from her father and her sister, and if she could finish planning what to take during this unavoidable captivity, they’d have a better chance of leaving Kars in one piece at the earliest opportunity.

After a half hour had passed with no sign of Ka, Ipek lit a cigarette. ˙ By now she was wondering whether she hadn’t been a fool to think everything was going according to plan; her confinement to this room only fed her agitation, and she grew as angry at herself as at Ka. Seeing Cavit the receptionist dashing across the courtyard, she was tempted to open the window and shout to him, but before she could resolve to do so, the teenager had scampered out of range. She was still unsure, but she still expected Ka to return at any minute.

Forty-five minutes after Ka’s departure, Ipek managed to force open the icy window; she called to a youth who was passing in the street below—a bewildered religious high school student who had somehow managed not to be carted off to the National Theater—and asked the boy to go into the hotel to tell reception that she was locked in Room 203. The youth seemed very suspicious, but he did go inside. Moments later, the phone in the room rang.

“What on earth are you doing in Ka’s room?” said Turgut Bey. “If you were locked in, why didn’t you just pick up the phone?” A minute later, her father had opened the door with a skeleton key.

Ipek told Turgut Bey that she’d wanted to accompany Ka to the National ˙ Theater, but Ka had locked her in the room to keep her from danger, and with the phone lines down throughout the city, she’d assumed the hotel phones weren’t working either.

“But the phones are working again, not just here but everywhere in the city,” said Turgut Bey.

“Ka’s been gone a long time, I’m beginning to worry,” said Ipek. ˙ “Let’s go to the theater and find out what’s happened.” Despite his panic, Turgut Bey dawdled in getting ready. First he couldn’t find his gloves, then he said he was sure Sunay would take offense if he didn’t put on a tie. He insisted on walking very slowly, partly because he didn’t have the strength but also because he had much advice to give Ipek and wanted her to listen carefully. ˙

“Whatever you do, don’t cross swords with Sunay,” said Ipek. “Don’t ˙ forget that he’s a Jacobin hero who’s just been endowed with special powers.”

Seeing the curious onlookers milling about at the entrance to the National Theater, and the religious high school boys who’d been herded in on buses, and the hawkers and soldiers and policemen who’d been longing endlessly for this sort of crowd, Turgut Bey remembered his own excitement as a youth over attending political meetings. He clutched Ipek’s arm tighter as he looked around, hopeful yet afraid, looking for the ˙ conversation that might make him feel a part of this event, for the initiative to which he might lend his support. When he saw that most of the crowd were strangers, he shoved aside one of the youths standing in the entrance, but then he immediately felt ashamed.

The hall wasn’t yet full, but already there was a family atmosphere in the large theater; it reminded Ipek of those dreams in which you see ˙ everyone you’ve ever met assembled before you in a crowd. But there was no sign of Ka or Kadife, and this worried her. A sergeant moved them into the aisle.

“I’m the father of the leading lady, Kadife Yıldız,” complained Turgut Bey. “I must see her at once.”

Turgut Bey sounded every bit like a father who’d come at the last minute to bar his daughter from playing the lead in some objectionable school play, and the panic-stricken sergeant acted rather like a teacher putting aside his job to help that father—whose concern he knew in his heart to be justified. After they’d waited a short time in a room lined with pictures of Atatürk and Sunay, Kadife appeared alone at the door. Seeing her, Ipek knew at once that whatever they said, her sister would still be ˙ taking to the stage that evening.

Ipek asked about Ka, and Kadife said that they’d spoken briefly but ˙ that Ka had headed back to the hotel. Ipek wondered why they had not ˙ run into him on the way over, but soon she dropped the subject: Turgut Bey, now in tears, was imploring his daughter not to go onstage.

“At this late hour, after all they’ve done to advertise this play, it would be more dangerous not to go onstage, Father dear,” said Kadife.

“When you bare your head, Kadife, do you have any idea how much you’ll enrage the religious high school boys, not to mention everyone else?”

“Frankly, Father, after all these years isn’t it ironic that you’re now telling me to cover my head?”

“There’s nothing funny about it, little Kadife,” said Turgut Bey. “Tell them you’re feeling ill.”

“I’m not ill.”

Turgut Bey cried a little. Ipek felt that her father staged his tears, as he ˙ always did when he saw the opportunity to focus on the sentimental aspect of a problem. There was about the old man’s anguish something so ready and superficial as to make Ipek always suspect that in his heart of ˙ hearts he was in fact grieving for the opposite of what he tearfully professed. In the past she and her sister had thought this trait of their father’s endearing, but now, faced with a subject they urgently needed to address, they found his behavior embarrassingly trivial.

“What time was it when Ka left?” Ipek whispered. ˙

“He should have been back in the hotel quite some time ago,” said Kadife, with equal alarm.

They could see the fear in each other’s eyes.

When I met with her in the New Life Pastry Shop four years later, Ipek told me that at that moment they were worried not about Ka but ˙ about Blue, and as they communicated this to each other silently with their eyes, they were paying little mind to their father. By now I could not help seeing Ipek’s frankness as a token of feeling close to me, and imag- ˙ ined I would be unable to see the end of this story from any other point of view than hers.

For a while, neither sister spoke.

“He told you that Blue doesn’t want you going onstage, didn’t he?” said Ipek. ˙

Kadife shot her sister a look of warning that their father could hear her. Both girls glanced at him and saw that, even through the tears still streaming from his eyes, he was paying close attention.

“You won’t mind, will you, Father dear, if we leave you for a moment to have a word alone as sisters?”

“When you two put your heads together, you always know so much more than I do,” said Turgut Bey. He left the room without closing the door behind him.

“Have you thought this through, Kadife?” said Ipek. ˙ “I have thought it through.”

“I’m sure you have,” said Ipek. “But do you realize you may never see ˙ him again?”

“Maybe not,” said Kadife carefully. “But I’m very angry at him, too.” Kadife’s affair with Blue had been full of ups and downs, arguments that gave way to peace offerings that led to jealous fits, and Ipek thought ˙ back to the couple’s long secret history with some despair. How many years had it been? She wasn’t quite sure, particularly as she was trying not to think about how long Blue had been seeing both of them. She thought lovingly of Ka. Thanks to him she’d be able to forget Blue.

“Ka is very jealous of Blue,” Kadife said. “And he’s madly in love with you.”

“I’ve found it hard to believe he could be head over heels after such a short time,” said Ipek, “but now I believe it.” ˙

“Go with him to Germany.”

“As soon as we get home, I’m going to pack my suitcase,” said Ipek. ˙ “Do you really think Ka and I can be happy in Germany?” “Yes, I do,” said Kadife. “But stop telling Ka about your past. He already knows too much, and he can guess a great deal more.” Ipek hated it when her younger sister spoke so condescendingly, like ˙ some seasoned woman of the world. So she said, “You’re talking as if you have no intention of coming home after this play is over.” “Of course I’m coming home,” said Kadife, “but I thought you were leaving right away.”

“Do you have any idea where Ka might have gone?”

As they looked into each other’s eyes, Ipek sensed that they both ˙ feared the same thing.

“Let’s go,” said Kadife. “It’s time for me to put on my makeup.” “The thing that makes me happier than seeing you take off that scarf is seeing the last of that purple raincoat,” said Ipek. ˙ The raincoat in question reached all the way to the ground, and now Kadife did a defiant little two-step that sent its hem flying upward. When they saw that Turgut Bey, who’d been watching from the door, was now finally smiling, the two sisters threw their arms around each other and exchanged kisses.

He must have resigned himself to Kadife’s going onstage, for this time he neither cried nor offered advice. His performance was done. He embraced his younger daughter with a kiss on both cheeks and started with Ipek through the packed auditorium. ˙

On their way out the bustling entrance and back to the hotel, Ipek ˙ kept her eyes peeled for Ka; seeing no sign of him, she began to search for someone who might know his whereabouts, but there was no one to be found on the city’s pavements who could help her. As she would tell me, “Just as Ka could find any reason for pessimism, I spent the next forty-five minutes coming up with idiotic reasons for optimism.” Once home, Turgut Bey made straight for the television, and as he sat hypnotized by the endless announcements about the live broadcast, Ipek ˙ prepared her suitcase. Whenever she began to wonder where Ka was, she’d try to focus instead on the happiness awaiting them in Germany and on picking out the clothes and other things she wanted to take with her. Then she started to pack another suitcase with the things she’d already excluded on the theory that there were “probably things of far higher quality in Germany,” and as she rummaged through her stockings and underwear, wondering whether she might find to her dismay nothing quite like them for sale there, something told her to take a look outside.

Entering the courtyard was the army truck that had been ferrying Ka around the city.

She went downstairs and saw her father was at the door. A clean shaven, hook-nosed official she’d never seen before said, “Turgut Yıldız,” and pressed a sealed envelope into his hands.

With an ashen face and trembling hands, Turgut Bey opened the envelope to find a door key. Seeing that the letter also enclosed was addressed to his daughter, he handed it to Ipek. ˙

As a matter of self-defense, but also to ensure that whatever I was to write about Ka would reflect all available facts, Ipek decided to let me see ˙ the letter when we met four years later.

Thursday, 8:00 P.M.

Turgut Bey:

If I might ask you to use this key to let Ipek out of my room and then ˙ to pass this letter on to her, it would be best for all of us, sir. I offer my apologies.

Respectfully yours,

Ka

My darling, I was unable to change Kadife’s mind. The soldiers have brought me to headquarters for my own protection. The track to Erzurum has reopened, and they are forcing me to take the first train, which leaves at half past nine. You’ll need to pack my bag as well as yours and come at once. The army truck will pick you up at a quarter past nine. On no account should you go out on the streets.

Come to me! I love you very much. We are going to be very happy.

The hook-nosed man said they’d be back after nine and left.

“Are you going?” Turgut Bey asked.

“I’m still worried about what’s happened to him,” said Ipek. ˙ “The soldiers are protecting him; nothing can happen to him. Are you going to leave us and go?”

“I think I can be happy with him,” said Ipek. “Even Kadife said so.” ˙ In her hand was a document certifying her future happiness, and now, as she read it again, she began to cry, but she wasn’t quite sure why.

“Perhaps it was because I dreaded leaving my father and my sister,” she would tell me four years later. At the time I believed my intense interest in every detail of Ipek’s feelings stemmed from my need to hear her ˙ story. Then she said, “And perhaps I was worried about the other thing in my mind.”

When Ipek had managed to stop crying, she and her father went to ˙ her room to make a final check of the things she would take with her, and then to Ka’s room to put all his belongings into his large cherry-colored valise. Father and daughter were both hopeful now; they were telling each other that, fingers crossed, Kadife would soon complete her course, and then she and Turgut Bey would come to visit Ipek in Frankfurt. ˙ When the bags were packed, they went downstairs and huddled in front of the television to watch Kadife.

“I hope it’s a short play so you can know this business is over and done with before you get on the train!” said Turgut Bey.

They stopped talking and nestled against each other just as they did when they watched Marianna, but Ipek could not concentrate on what she ˙ was seeing. Years later, all she could remember of the first twenty-five minutes was Kadife coming onstage in a head scarf and a long bright-red dress, and her line, “Whatever you want, Father dear.” Sensing my sincere curiosity as to her thoughts at that moment, she added, “Of course my mind was elsewhere.” Over and over, I asked her where particularly that might have been, but she would allow only that her thoughts were on the journey she was about to make with Ka.

Later her mind would be gripped by fears but she could never admit to herself what those fears were, much less manage to articulate them for me. With the windows of her mind blown open, everything but the television set looked very far away; she felt like a traveler who returns from a long journey to find that during her absence her house has changed in mysterious ways—every room much smaller than she remembered, and every stick of furniture much more worn. As she looked around her, everything—the cushions, the table, even folds in the curtains—surprised her. Faced with the chance to go to an utterly foreign place, she could now see her own home through the eyes of a stranger; that, she told me, is how she felt. And this careful account of hers given to me at the New Life Pastry Shop was, in her view, clear proof that she was still planning to set out for Frankfurt with Ka that evening.

When the bell rang, Ipek ran to the hotel entrance. The army truck ˙ that was to take her to the station had come early. Swallowing her fear, she told the official at the door that she’d be ready in a moment. She ran straight back to her father, sat down beside him, and embraced him with all her strength.

“Is the truck here already?” asked Turgut Bey. “If your bag is packed, we still have some time.”

Ipek spent the next few minutes staring blankly at Sunay on the ˙ screen. Unable to keep still, she ran off to her room, and after packing the slippers and her little sewing kit with the mirror that she’d inadvertently left by the window, she sat for a few minutes on the edge of the bed, crying.

According to her recollection, by the time she went downstairs she was in no doubt as to her decision to leave Kars with Ka. Now rid of the lingering hesitations that had been poisoning her mind, she was at peace again, determined to spend her last minutes at home watching television with her father.

When Cavit the receptionist told her that there was someone at the door, Ipek was not unduly concerned. Turgut Bey asked her to get him a ˙ Coke from the refrigerator, and she brought it with two glasses so they could share it.

Ipek said she would never forget Fazıl’s face as he stood there waiting ˙ at the kitchen door. It was clear from his expression that something terrible had happened, and so it was that Ipek felt for the first time that Fazıl ˙ was a member of their family, someone very close to her.

“They’ve killed Blue and Hande!” said Fazıl. Breathless, he gulped down half the glass of water that Zahide had given him. “Only Blue could have dissuaded her.”

Ipek watched motionless as Fazıl cried a bit. In a dazed voice that ˙ seemed to come from deep inside him, he explained that Blue had gone into hiding with Hande, and a group of soldiers had raided the premises and killed them. He was sure someone had tipped them off: If not, they’d never have sent so many troops. And, no, there was no chance Fazıl had been followed: By the time he got there, everything was over and done with, and Fazıl watched with a number of children from the surrounding houses as the army searchlight shone on Blue’s body.

“May I stay here?” Fazıl asked. “I don’t want to go anywhere else.” Ipek took out another glass so he, too, could share the Coke. In her ˙ distraction, she couldn’t find the bottle opener; she kept looking in the wrong drawers and searching cupboards where she ought to have known it couldn’t be. She suddenly thought of the flowery blouse she’d been wearing the day she met Blue and then remembered having packed it in her suitcase. She took Fazıl inside and sat him down on the chair by the kitchen where Ka, after getting so drunk on Wednesday night, had sat down to write his poem. Then, like an invalid suddenly relieved of the pain shooting through her body, she relaxed; leaving the boy to watch Kadife and sip his Coke, she went to the other end of the room and gave the second glass to her father.

She went up to her room and stood there for a minute in the dark.

She stopped by Ka’s room to pick up his cherry-colored valise, and then she went out into the street. She walked in the cold over to the official standing by the army truck and told him she had decided not to leave the city.

“We can still make the train,” said the official, trying to be helpful.

“I’ve changed my mind. I’m not going, but thank you. Please give this bag to Ka Bey.”

She went back inside, and as she sat down next to her father they heard the army truck revving its engine.

“I sent them off,” Ipek told her father. “I’m not going.” ˙ Turgut Bey put his arms around her. For a while, they watched the play on television, but without taking in a single thing. The first act was just coming to an end when Ipek said, “Let’s go see Kadife! I’ve got ˙ something to tell her.”

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