The bus engine rumbled as I stood in the West Terminal, looking at the columns of the building. Was I dead? Was it my soul riding in the bus? Or was I riding it myself?
The bus was warm, and Tehran’s sunlight shone inside the bus through the smoke and dust. It cast a dim light, similar to what hope was now casting on my life. I was exhausted and liked to sleep. Nonetheless, the thoughts of leaving the country I once called home kept me awake on this bus.
I do not care what those thoughts were. They were good. Months or years later, I finally had a smile on my face. I was heading for a new land, going toward the land of the beautiful poems of Nazim Hikmet and the amusing stories of Aziz Nesin.
At this point in my life, many other Iranians and I were fleeing. We ran from a land of captivity into the hands of humble men. I was leaving this city. I was sad and tired for a while. I could not say how long my journey was going to last. I wanted it to be extended. Seeing Iran shortly again was not what I desired.
I went to Turkey hoping to find work, even though my income was low. Any amount of money would be good, as long as it could sustain me, even for a few weeks.
The Iranian walls and houses had been repeated. I was running away from the unknown future that I had in Iran. Nevertheless, to where was I running? An unknown future in Turkey. At least, there was a future in Turkey. Iran held no future for me. There was no hope for a future or a good life from the present.
The United States imposed sanctions on us several times. Khamenei stubbornly accepted and was proud of them. He did not want to admit that these sanctions were only to our detriment. He was consciously playing with the lives of 75 million people.
The bus was travelling on the road, my country was beautiful, and I loved it. Nevertheless, living here was challenging and frustrating. Staring out of the window, I looked at the mountains and the surrounding scenery. We passed homes, cities, and streets. I fell asleep, but I was unable to sleep. I did not want to sleep, even if I could have time to sleep. I might sleep longer in the future. A wall of clouds had risen on the horizon, and the sun was setting behind it.
I was tired of the black color of women’s tents and the smoke and dust of Tehran. I was tired of the sadness broadcast on every television and the crowded streets filled with misery. I was also tired of the monotony of traveling from home to work and back again. It was as if I had a dull state of rehearsal in my life. I grew tired of seeing police officers cocooning girls and women daily, of the lies broadcast every day. I was tired of the photo of Khomeini and Khamenei in the city. I wanted to go somewhere and feel free.
When I was on the subway in Tehran, I came to Azadi station. A seven-year-old child, instead of saying Azadi Station, shouted Azadi, meaning freedom. His father laughed and looked at me and said, “The only thing that does not exist in this country is freedom.”
He was right. Khomeini’s slogan was that independence and freedom did not exist in our lives at all. Our independence was in the hands of China and Russia. Our freedom was only in the empty promises of the Iranian authorities.
In the dark of night, we passed through the towns and villages of my country and reached the three paths of Khoi. The police were in one corner and the intelligence officers in another. Police officers searched the passengers’ belongings. Moreover, the intelligence officers searched the Iranian people’s lives. My passport was new. The skinny and spectacled officer asked why I was traveling. I told him that I was going for a walk. He smirked and dropped my passport on the table.
In this ugly and humiliating move, I saw no respect for civil rights. How did our taxes pay for a man who had no respect for his people at this table? I picked up my passport and left, grief weighing down on me.
After two or three hours, we reached the border. I hoped that I would not be humiliated again. Fortunately, the officer just looked at my face and the bar code on the passport before putting the exit stamp on it. The officer handed the passport over to me under the glass that separated us. Then he said good luck. I became glad and I thanked him for his treatment. His excellent attitude diminished the wrong attitude of the intelligence officer.
It was a strange and sad moment, the moment I crossed the border. I broke through the invisible wall that that system had built around itself. Why was everything good and beautiful beyond this wall? Why was everything on this side of the wall gloomy?
Poverty can easily be seen in the actions and behavior of travelers. People brought cigarette boxes to make some money and even angered the Turkish appraiser. Passengers did not dare to buy. Some of us did not even go to the bathroom to keep a lira. We had reached the depths of Iran’s economic catastrophe.
It had been snowing since we arrived in Turkey. We seemed to be sinking into the storm as we headed for Istanbul. Fat white flakes were falling everywhere. I saw the footprints of animals. In several places, I spotted foxes sitting along the side of the road.
After two and a half months of waiting in Tehran, not only had there been no snow, but the exhaust fumes had engulfed the ground.
Everywhere I looked was beautiful, surrounded by mountains, trees, and small villages. In the snow, It was strange to see a road so secluded, There were only trucks and trailers on the road.
Sometimes I was asleep and sometimes watching the snow or following a little river with my eyes. The trees rose and fell like waves, yellow and orange sea on the ground. We entered long tunnels filled with light as if we were on a rocket passing through the stars. We came out of the starry tunnels and moved on a long bridge between the mountains.
For the first time in years, I did not think about anything. My mind was empty of everything, empty of sadness and violence, and everything terrible. Though there was worry in my mind about finding a job, the advice from other travelers eased the worries. An address in Istanbul would bring hope to the future.
When I arrived and stepped off the bus, it was raining in Istanbul. Although the bus ride had been long – thirty-six hours to be exact – all the exhaustion I felt dissipated. The sky around me was filled with the flapping wings of the seabirds. No one was in the streets, and the cobblestones were shining. White buildings aligned side by side. I walked along the road and went under a bridge that connected the three blocks. I passed a subway underpass. I looked at the Tramva Station, which was closed. The great white clock in the box showed me that it was two o’clock. The cold wind was blowing, but I was warm and happy.
After walking for some time, I found a boarding house. A few minutes later, I was in a warm room. Two people were sleeping already. Unwilling to wake them, I took off my shoes and socks and lay on the soft bed.
No matter how much I wanted to sleep, I could not sleep. My mind was alive with excitement because I had done it. I had left Iran for a new life. I looked at the ceiling and then at the two windows that were on my left. The warmth of the bedroom, the softness of the bed, and fatigue gradually influenced me to sleep.
It was nearly noon when I woke up. The last time I slept well was months, if not years ago. Once awake, the same feeling of excitement flooded back. I was there in Turkey in Istanbul, in the country of Aziz Nesin and Nazim Hikmet.
Rain pattered against the window. The other two people in the room were still sleeping.
I did not know what to do. Should I go out? Shall I take a bath? Should I have breakfast?
I knew I had to find a job as soon as possible.
The streets were beautiful in the rain. The drops were ringing against my umbrella, and droplets fell to my shoes. In the sky, seabirds were flying. There were no black crows to make a bitter noise and disturb the soul.
Looking at Istanbul, you would realize that the people of this country and other countries had lived alongside the four elements - tradition, modernity, religion, and liberty. It was unknown to me that all could exist together. In our country, religion was imposed on people with every possible trick, and people had to obey it. Yet the mosque, disco, dance, and wine stood next to each other. The people here had the right to choose what they enjoyed. They had the right to live as they pleased.
I continued walking, looking at the papers that were glued to the walls and restaurants. The sidewalks were full of people who came from all over the world. The attractiveness of places caused me to walk to a big mosque. In the park beside the mosque, Japanese tourists were taking pictures.
When I came here, people were getting ready for the New Year. At the same time, guards and politicians were getting ready for the month of Muharram when I left Iran.
Part of the Iranian people prepared themselves for eating different kinds of foods because they were almost hungry. Muharram had become a form of entertainment for people. Boys were looking for girls and girls were looking for boys. I immured myself at home. I worked from morning until night, and I did not go out at night. These conditions were disgusting. The appearance of the streets tended to be black. The sound of crying was heard everywhere. The media enjoyed these circumstances and published their advertisements in mourning. As a result, they got their money and sank people in sadness. People obeyed them as docile slaves.
People forgot Emam Hossein’s motto, which was: “At least be liberal if you do not have a religion.”
People were not free and did not have freedom. But they were also misled by liars who took the freedom of these people.
I counted the moments when I was in Iran and wished that these days would end very soon. I wanted to get away from this unwanted and forced sadness and desolation.
I remembered those days and walked. After a while, I arrived at a boardinghouse.
Television had a lot of happy programs and music. We were deprived of music in my old country. We could not listen to our favorite music in Iran. We could only listen to songs about war and revolution, Palestine and Khomeini; though recently Lebanon and Syria were added to the list.
The variation of channels and programs did not permit us to sleep. I was also not in a hurry to sleep. I had time to relax. I just hoped to find a job and stay in this beautiful city.
A man came from Tunisia and wanted to go to France or Italy after some days. I asked him what the post-revolution situation was like for one of my roommates. He told me that there was no change. After hearing that talk, I believed that all revolutions do not have a fitting end. Not only could conditions be good, but circumstances could also make things worse. The revolution or dissolution of the Soviet Union and the most important one that was Iran’s revolution in 1979 are two clear cases. Iran’s simple people were deceived by Khomeini’s talks and expelled the King. Khomeini came to save Islam and died without seeing how Islam and Shia became insignificant in most viewpoints. Khomeini brought war and poverty and told his most outrageous statement: “War was affluence for us.”
These absurd statements did not have an end. Khamenei and the commissioner of BASIJ made idiotic comments about the benefits of sanctions.
I wanted to vomit on their faces. The future of the post-revolutionary generation was turned upside down by their words and destroyed.
It was present in the Khomeini revolution for Iran and the Iranians, bringing Khomeini and Khamenei’s Islam for the future of Iran. It was a cruel joke. There was no hope for the future. Many looked to simply escaping Iran.
The sun was shining, and the city shone in the sunlight. There were no tall buildings, traffic, and horns. People were walking and shopping together in the street with a hijab and without a hijab. There were no police, BASIJ, or SEPAH that compelled people to wear a veil.
An Iranian boy who was not yet twenty years old came to Istanbul and wanted to go to the United Nations Office for asylum. I became despondent when I saw a young boy who wished to escape from his country. What event caused him to decide to escape and continue his life in another country? Perhaps, one day this event would happen to me. Iran’s events and positions were depressing and wrong, thinking they were embarrassing to the government and the regime, while the simple slogan was justice and a better life for people.
I preferred to go to the street and walk instead of entertaining these thoughts any longer. I liked to separate myself from people’s suffering. The rain started once more. All my desired beauties were collected in one place. I rarely had such beautiful feelings altogether in a moment.
I walked down the streets and arrived at the harbor and the beach. The sky was full of clouds. Where the clouds broke, the sunlight flowed across, illuminating the water. I listened to the call of the seabirds overhead.
It was sorrowful that despite having famous people, Turkey had the name of Kennedy on its street.
I went to the Audi car gallery and watched luxury cars from outside. White, red and black cars collected together in a beautiful fair, fascinating every passerby.
I did not know how much I wandered, looking at beach houses. I was jealous of the people who saw the sunrise or the sunset.
I saw young couples who walked together calmly and kissed. I remembered Tehran capturing young couples because of love. They arrested girls because their hair was visible, punished them, and even hustled them until rape and death.
When I was returning, I did not know how I reached the most beautiful part of Istanbul. The exciting thing for me was the remaining part of the old architecture that people still lived in. It was not like Tehran, where ancient buildings and artworks were destroyed cruelly, and small rooms and buildings with the name of apartments were built instead of them. These destructions caused extortionate traffic. There was not any symptom of the heavy traffics and running red lights here.
Indeed, this city deserves to have many tourists. Istanbul is attractive to everybody.
When I returned to the room, I was happy to open and visit my favorite websites. I opened YouTube fast and listened to Oasis’s song”I Outta Time” without a break. When I was in Iran, my only communication bridge with the outside world was a satellite that always had parasites and low-speed Internet most of the time. People of Iran are even deprived of high-speed internet. The tracks I wanted were released on YouTube at high speed.
Because of the corrupt policy of Iranian politicians, Turkish authorities deprived Iranians of freedom of arrival and departure for more than three months per year. I wish Turkey’s authorities would understand Iranians more.
I was faced with music and an assault on French movies, various channels, and colorful commercials when I turned on the television. I suffered from an Akhoond and an enforcer who had forged a smile. They talked for hours and they did not believe any of their talks. In the end, they said a motto in support of the revolution and Khomeini and Khamenei.
They set a camera in front of Emam Hossein’s sanctum in Muharram and talked for many hours. After the speech, it sank people into sadness and depression. These were the politics of the regime. It wanted to keep people’s thoughts from essential topics. This was a reality that, unfortunately, many Iranians did not know it.
Here, it was raining every day which made the weather fresh.
I sat in the window and watched people in the rain. I looked at the bright lines that descended beside the lamps. Honestly, it seemed as if I was born again. For a moment, I remembered when I had decided to migrate. I remembered the Turkish embassy and the gentleman who said I could go to Turkey for 90 days. One day before the trip, I took the metro and the bus to land here; in central Istanbul.
I did not know whether I would have this desirable feeling or not if I had gone to another country. The critical issue was deliverance from the place I was tired of. I wished that I were in better condition.
I took the bus to go to the famous square Taksim. There were many posters on the walls of foreign singers who wanted to hold a concert. Here, many advertisements for books were stuck on the walls.
I was waiting for a train at the station. The orange train entered the station, and I got on. I looked at the people and the landscapes on the train. I listened to the voice that announced the names of the stations. Two young boys put on their headphones. They were dancing. One of them moved his hands in the air as if he was holding a drum kit. The other one was stamping his feet on the ground. They were dancing freely, but no one could blame them. I wished Iranian people were also free in the subway. I wanted to ask for the song’s name they were listening to, but I did not want to disturb them.
I was still confused and trying to digest all the beauties of this city. Everything was beautiful. The air, sky, buildings, and sunlight shone through a large window.
I sat in a cafe and looked at the walls, pictures of soccer teams, people drinking tea and smoking, steaming kettles, and filling cups. I was watching television. There were horse races. Some men spat on the TV screen because their horses had fallen behind. Some were celebrating full of joy at their horse winning.
Four men were playing the “Ok” game together. I tried to understand the game, but I could not do it. I did not know the language to ask them. One of them asked me something I did not understand. I explained to him that I did not know Turkish with hand gestures. He asked me where I came from. I said Iran.
He knew Iran, and he asked again: “Why?”
I could not tell him the reason for my arrival at that moment. Secondly, it did not matter at all to tell him. I made him understand that I had come to work.
He smiled proudly. I could understand the reason for that pride. Turkey had reached a place where many people came from different countries to work and travel.
He asked my name, and I told him. He also said his name, Ismaiyil. He instructed me to come there again tomorrow at 3 PM.
I asked him with a hand movement: “Why?”
He said: “iş,” which means “job.”
I did not believe it, but I saw honesty on his face. He ordered tea for me. So, I thanked him with a head movement. Horses came out of the gates again and ran toward the finish line.
I was looking out through the apartment window. The sidewalk was full of people.
He told me three o’clock. At 3 o’clock, I went to the same cafe again. I looked around and he called for my name.
He asked me to sit down and have tea. I took the tea and attended an incomplete horse show. It seemed that these horses were competing 24 hours a day. Soon, he asked me to leave with him.
We rode in an old Volvo model. The engine rumbled and turned onto the main street. We crossed over a bridge. Then I was looking out over the water and the city. It was beautiful. We passed green hills and beautiful villas. Then we reached an area called Şişli-shishli. We entered through a side street from the main street and stood in front of a building with a green iron door. The door opened. The garage of a home was changed to a producing workshop. Here, most garages were transformed into a place for people to work. We entered there. It had a high ceiling, and it was hot. The sound of irons filled the space.
Ismail shook hands with a man who was wearing a lovely coat and controlled clothes. In Iran, when we saw each other after a long time, we kissed each other. Nevertheless, they brought their heads beside each other in Turkey. Ismail put his hand on my shoulder and introduced me to Salahettin, which was also used in Iran. He warmly greeted me. I also said hello to other colleagues of Salahettin. Ismail told him something about me. Salahettin looked at me with a happy face. He repeated the word “TAMAM.” He seemed to agree with me working.
We went back to where I had been staying. Quickly and happily, I picked up the little things I had brought with me. There were not many things, just a tiny bag, a towel, shampoo, and some clothes. Soon, we returned to the little workshop.
Using his hands, Salahettin explained the work to me. Pointing at a big white table he asked me whether I could sleep on the table. I confidently told him yes: “ Evet.”.
At the bottom of the workshop was a kitchen space with a refrigerator, a table and chairs and a television.
I was overwhelmed by the variety of colors and patterns of clothes. A tiny girl came to me with a small nose and greeted me warmly. She said her name was Gulçin.
She showed me that my work was sticking labels on clothes. So, I started to stick labels on clothes. Salahettin came with a sponge for sleeping and showed it to me. I thanked him with a nod. He put the blanket and the sponge under the white table. It was seven o’clock, and the workers went home.
Salahettin opened the fridge door and said there was some food and that I could let him know if I needed anything else. For then, I had everything.
Salahettin asked me with embarrassment to give him my passport. I understood the reason for his acti on and agreed. Even though I thought it would be safer to have my passport on me. I gave him my passport.
After that, he went away. I was alone with the clothes and the dominating silence that was there.
Before sleeping, I looked around. I was living. I looked at myself in the big mirror and said I was here, and I laughed. The food here was like Iranian food. I warmed up and ate. I turned on the TV. Harry Brown’s film was on. I saw Michael Kane kill the drug traffickers, set them on fire and save the dying girl.
I threw a sponge on the table and lay on it, glancing at the ceiling. Still, I could not believe that I was here. The thoughts were keeping me awake. Eventually, I slept.
In the morning, I woke up with a knock on the door. I opened the door, and the mailman gave me the newspaper. Though I looked at the bold letters of the ZAMAN newspaper, I did not understand anything.
I went back to the table, took my bed and sat for a little while. All of a sudden, it came to my mind to fill the samovar and make tea.
Like Iranians, Turkish people enjoyed tea in the morning. Everybody came before 8:30. They were glad that the tea was ready. Salahettin also came and brought breakfast. After tea and breakfast, we started to work.
Their quick movements surprised and praised me. Their hands were fast and precise, while the first day was almost hard for me. Of course, they were not too strict either. Before midday, the garments were ironed and ready to be worn. In the afternoon, a new load came. They were brought in, opened and counted with the purchase order. He wrote in a notebook.
At ten o’clock, we had tea time again. They spoke to me, asked me my name, and started over. I tried to work fast like them. Shortly after, it was noon, and lunch was made by a pregnant woman named Tulin. They talked to me again during the meal. They tried to contact me, ask me my age and where did I come from? Gradually, I learned the words, many words that resembled Persian and Azeri Turkish.
After breakfast, tea and a cigarette, and a short lying on the table, we began to work again. We had a break at four o’clock. I sat out of the workshop on the curb. I was tired but happy. I took the procedure of work.
The work was speedy from four to seven o’clock. These people did not seem tired when the work was over. There were a few labels left. Salahuddin asked me very politely if I could finish them tonight. I nodded in response. So, he thanked me and left. I put the TV on a music channel, and I continued working.
The sound of music permeated the workshop. I pasted the labels until the labels ran out. I sat down as if my knees were breaking and making a noise like dry wood in the middle. Tuhlin always made more food for me to eat at night. I changed the channel, and I could not believe it. The movie Cell started playing and Jennifer Lopez was passing through the corridors of the killer’s mind.
It was Saturday. At two o’clock, the irons went off. Everyone got dressed because Saturday was a part-time job. Salahettin gave them money. Then he gave me money and thanked me for working. That was when he gave me the key there. As a brother, he asked me to be careful there. Then he handed me a lock and told me to close the windows and lock the door once I leave. I learned to tell him Tamam Abi. He went and closed the door. Then, I looked at the money he gave me and smiled. I closed the windows above the irons and then sat down. There was silence everywhere. There was much thought in my mind.
What should I do, and where should I go?
There was slight tiredness in me. I lay on the table and slept. At 6 o’clock I got up. The sky was dark. Opening the door, I saw the pouring rain. I put on my clothes, took my umbrella, and locked the door. Under the umbrella and the rain, I walked the streets and alleys around. No one was in the streets. The cars were passing by from time to time. I could hear the sound of rain, and the feeling of happiness was rippling through me.
I went to the stores, looked at written names and prices, said “yumurta” to egg-like Azeri language. The tomato was called dominates. The potato was named patates. Maybe it was in English. I looked at people and their children before I bought some eggs. Then I returned home. It was my home, a big house, and a workplace.
It was Sunday. I woke up after a long and sound sleep. Then I opened the door. The sun made everything yellow, but there was not a cloud in the sky. I ate breakfast and went to Aksaray. People were sitting beside the pool in Aksaray. I met Iranians whom I told my story of finding a job. They told me that clearly the person who found me a job was undoubtedly a job seeker. He or the patron would receive money from me.
Even if he were a job finder or requested my money, I would give him a commission with satisfaction because he had rescued me from wandering.
I wished that those talks were a lie. Unfortunately, there was truth to the Turkish job search. At worst, unlicensed Iranian job seekers sent foreigners to unknown and unreliable places by giving them money or a portion of their salary.
Foreigners worked for one month, and the job finder took a commission. Still, a worker could not get their salary. Sometimes, patrons fired the workers and did not give them any money. Foreigners were left wandering in the streets. I was afraid of those conversations. I hoped that Salahettin did not do such activities with me. I separated from them and walked into the beautiful weather.
A new week began with no expectations. Something new was happening every day. When my colleagues came to work that morning, Tulin was more beautiful than ever. Her stomach seemed to grow larger with each day that passed. Golchin was beautiful. But I did not know why she was waiting for a new face when she looked in the mirror. Sometimes, she looked like a teenager, untouched by ageing, though she had a son and a husband. Eyüp entered the workshop, talkative as usual. He said good morning to the Turkish and English bilinguals. Engin was next, a man who was both tall and fat. Tulin called him a frog, enticing a smile from the man.
When Engin saw me, he asked: “Do we have tea, buddy?”
For once, I could understand all of the words that he said.
The Kurdish girl, Berivan, came a little late because her house was far away. She looked at Salahuddin’s empty desk. Suddenly he appeared on the bars from behind the hanging clothes.
Salahettin asked her with a paternal smile: “Nerdesin kızım?” (Where are you, my daughter?)
It was here that I found time passing quickly. As the Turks said: time passes like water. Each time I glanced at a clock, the hands seemed to be moving faster than before. Days were short, and the nights seemed even shorter.
Here, we had a happy atmosphere; Eyüp joked and even ridiculed Engin and Salahettin. There was always laughter and comradery. One time when Golchin was in the W.C, Eyüp threw a beetle under the door and pulled the door from back. As Golchin shouted, we laughed, watching as Golchin pulled the door while Eyüp held the door shut.
Sometimes, a song from the Karadeniz region was played over the radio. Engin, Eyüp, and Golchin abandoned the irons and danced. It was mesmerizing to watch the way they moved with the tune. At that moment, they looked as free as a person could ever hope to be.
There was a time when Eyüp and Engin had a fighting contest. Eyüp farted, and then Engin answered him with another fart. It continued this way, back and forth, until Golchin decided to show the men what she was made of. Golchin entered the contest, farting with a low sound. Salahettin cursed them as we left the shop to escape the smell, laughter ringing out the entire way.
Everything was alive for me. I had more energy than before. I moved faster and worked harder. The delivery car would come, and we loaded the clothes, bringing the new garments into the workshop. Together we counted them with Golchin and registered numbers in her notebook.
Sometimes, I wrote hello under the leg of the pants, in Persian or Turkish, or English.
Once again, the day came to an end quickly. After the other workers left, I swept the workshop and collected garbage. If the labels weren’t finished, I finished them. I would put the TV on Kral pop while finishing the remaining work. Then I ate dinner or watched a film. That was only in the evenings. There was no rain. If it was raining, I would walk outside, feeling the rain against my skin. In the rain, I stood by the highway and watched the cars. Istanbul had constant and beautiful rain.
One night the flights were canceled. The buildings and the light poles disappeared as if nothing had existed in the city; Istanbul had disappeared in the fog. It was so foggy that you couldn’t even see anything in front of you. Everything was dreamy and illusory; it was so strange that a weightless and silent phenomenon could stop everything; the fog had no sound. It had swallowed the lights. I saw a couple walking down an alley and laughing about not being able to see each other through the fog. The couple clapped, kissing after they found each other. When I asked Angin the fog’s name, he said it is called the sis here. I added the word to the list that I had learned since moving to Turkey.
When it was time for tea, I sat on the street and thought of the past. Though I did not allow my mind to wander through the years-long past, I thought of the previous weeks that had led me here.
It was during my thinking that Berivan came to stand beside me, saying hello. I rose and stood beside her whether a habit carried from Iran or new since living in Turkey. Berivan was quick to insist that I sit back down and tell her why I stood up.
In her presence, I became mute. Whether it was from a lack of understanding of the language or embarrassment, I didn’t know. Berivan didn’t seem to mind. Instead, she sat and talked mainly to herself, accepting the rare answers I gave.
“Are you married?” she asked.
“No, I am single,” I said
Turkish people used the word bekar for someone single; bekar was the word for unemployment in Persian. Sometimes, I laughed at this usage of words, but that day I tried not to laugh. In Iran, I encountered Kurds, but I talked to them in Persian.
One night, Berivan asked me what the meaning of good night was in Persian, and I said shab-khosh.
“Shab-khosh,” she had said before she departed that night.
The workday started with Tulin calling to us from inside. Berivan had a strange attitude that I found intriguing. One day I noticed that she drank water while she was sitting. When I asked her why she said: our prophet Muhammad drank water while he was sitting.
It was on Saturday that she asked me if we could go out together. After a nod of approval, I went to collect my weekend money. Berivan sat down and waited for me to change my clothes.
“Why are you not leaving?” Eyüp asked.
“I am going out with him,” she replied.
Eyüp spat on her in kidding and said, “Take me with you.”
Tulin hit his hip with a hand and said, “Kapat çeneni.” That meant close your mouth and don’t be jealous; you are married.
Once I was ready, I closed the door and went out with Berivan. I had a strange feeling, I was happy and I wasn’t alone anymore, and for the first time, a girl had invited me to spend time with her.
We sat on small stools outside a café and drank tea with a strange taste. My hand was shaking as I tried to pick up the cup without her seeing the shake. It’s nothing, a voice inside me said. It’s nothing, and I am here.
“Why did you come to Turkey?” Berivan asked.
With the dismissal wave of a hand, I told her an answer that came to me in an instant. It wasn’t the truth, but it was close enough.
She talked about her family and the work that she had done before. She was from Diyarbakir. She was 21 years old and was the family’s second child; she had an older brother and younger sister.
Later on, I understood the bitter truth about Kurds. Most Istanbul and Turkish people avoided Kurds and unfortunately hated them because Kurds were called terrorists and PKK.
“Do I speak too much?” she asked at one point.
If she were Iranian, I would say yes, but since she was Turkish, I not only became tired but also enjoyed her speaking. When she spoke, she forced me to learn the Turkish language.
“No, you are not,” I said with a shake of my head. “I am happy to be with you.”
She said: “You listen to my talks very well.”
I reached out and gave her arm a soft squeeze. After the silence that dominated between us, she told me that she wanted to go.
At that moment, I used the Turkish language and said: take care and told her good night in Kurdish.
She looked at me, and I wanted to kiss her. She looked at the ground and stood up. When the bus arrived, she boarded it and waved to me from the window. People were looking at us. Sweat beaded on my forehead, but I was proud. Our time together had gone well. The stares from the people around me continued as the bus pulled away. Quickly, I walked away, laughing from embarrassment as I went.
People from all over the world came here and sat together on the steps overlooking the bay.
The smell of fish filled the air. The children fed the pigeons next to the mosque, and people took pictures of the scenery and each other. Everything was beautiful and relaxing here at Eminönu.
I think this was the most attractive place in the center of Istanbul. Boats were carrying people and taking them back to the bay. Some people were fishing on the Galata bridge. They came here from all over the world. I looked at the little mermaids, the boat passing under the bridge and people dancing on its deck. How happy I felt sitting on the steps among the world’s people and watching the bay. We ate fish, got on a boat, and went to the bay. Berivan spoke about Diyarbakr and insisted that it was more beautiful than here.
Berivan pointed out the names of notable locations as we sailed across the bay.
From Eminönu, we started walking toward an unknown destination. We walked down from Galata Bridge and passed by people who were fishing. We entered the FATIH zone. When you are walking in Istanbul, you can see beautiful and old things at every moment. We were walking in the ancient alleys, passed through the lanes, and crossed by small houses.
I saw a large, old building nearly 150 years old and still alive among the houses and alleys.
The Red School or KIRMIZI MEKTEP. Suddenly I remembered Walt’s school children’s cartoon. It was the same. The cartoon came to life in front of my eyes. I saw students looking out the window. I told Berivan about the cartoon, and she looked at the building and read the information. We stayed there for a few minutes and looked at the school before walking away. My childhood came to life in my mind, and although it was not great, there were a few good memories.
It rained in Istanbul that afternoon. When we got back from school, we walked through the park. Crows grazed in small pits in the middle of the grass. The city was covered with fog and beautiful mist. We stood by the beach, staring at the small waves and shiny rocks in the water. Not long later, I went back to the workshop, and Berivan went home.
I was left impatiently waiting for her to return to the workshop on Monday morning.
Early Monday morning, before Berivan arrived for work, I poured tea.
“Is this tea for me?” Golchin asked.
“No,” “That’s for Berivan.”
She spat on me with jealousy and I laughed. When Berivan arrived, I gave her the tea.
“How are you?”
“I was fine when I saw you,” she said.
It was my first double breakfast in Istanbul. Eyüp winked at me, Tulin and Golchin looked at us, and Golchin spat again from a distance. Engin was telling Salahettin that a foreigner had found a manita (a girlfriend). Still, he hadn’t made any friends during his year of work. Salahettin told him that he was a Salak. Salak in Persian means stupid or crackpot. Eyüp pulled me to a corner and blinked and said “did you do anything(ibne)?”
I laughed at the last word he said because this word was also used in Farsi with the meaning of deceiving or smart.
When it was time to start working, Berivan and I were still talking. Tulin called my name. With a grin, I told Berivan that my mother was calling me. Her answering laughter was music to my ears.
That day, I learned more words from my colleagues. After that, I said Tamam instead of saying OK, Günaydın instead of hello, and Iyi Akşamlar or İyi geceler instead of bye at nights.
That evening, everyone left when the work was done. Berivan wanted to leave but I convinced her to eat with me and then leave. She reluctantly agreed. After she ate the eggs I made her, she left and I was alone in front of the television. I was not watching the picture on the screen. Instead, I was hearing her voice and thinking about the words that came out of her mouth, the touch of her hands, her innocent smile, and the long hair that came to my fingers. Berivan enchanted me, and the hours and days that passed were more beautiful.
It was Saturday again, and Berivan was by my side. We went to the store together. Though it was only supposed to be a simple purchase, she was mischievous. She made the trip take an hour by putting items back shortly after I collected them.
We returned, she cooked dinner, and we ate. After dinner, we sat beside each other and Berivan kissed me. I felt myself become free and kissed her. My hands came up beneath her shirt and thought they were shaking; I felt her brassiere.
I was kissing her when a little voice in the back of my mind said, kiss her neck.
I kissed her neck, picked her up and carried her to the table. She lay on the table and I lay on top of her soft body. Slowly, I reached ejaculation. I didn’t know whether to tell her or not. After a moment of consideration, I didn’t tell her and continued my kisses. She enjoyed it. I wanted to remove her pants but she abandoned me.
I got up from her and sat beside her on the table, looking at her. She also sat up. I looked at her hair, neck, and her white bra again.
“Do you want tea?” I asked.
Berivan said nothing but nodded. I get up from the table and looked at my pants, laughing.
I poured the tea and wanted to hide but didn’t, instead showing her my pants. She put her hand over her mouth and hid her smile. After another moment, she put on her clothes and straightened her hair. I watched as she drank her tea and looked at the table.
“I should go,” she said with a weak voice.
She got down from the table, and I brought her bag, kissed her, and thanked her. Berivan said good night to me and left.
After she left, I couldn’t sleep. I was lying naked on the table and even though she was gone, the smell of her hair and body was still in the air. Even masturbation was enjoyable. It seemed to be the only release I could get that night.
I stayed in the workshop on Sunday, and only the sound of passing cars came from outside. I guessed the passage of time only with the sound of the AZAN.
The Zaman newspaper woke me up every day. The motorcyclist would say günaydın, good morning, to me and leave. I would open the newspaper and look at it, learning a new word every day. At work, I asked them to read the newspaper to me. Salahuddin read the newspaper and cursed at the price of the dollar. Berivan and Angin read me some sentences, but they were too upset and dissatisfied with the country’s situation to read much more than that.
Monday morning came and a new week began. That morning Berivan came to the workshop early. I hugged and kissed her without greeting her before telling her about masturbation. She was ashamed and she told me that Turks call masturbation men 31. I laughed out loud and showed her the number 31 with my hand. She laughed, amused. Tulin called me from the kitchen and I said, “My mother is calling me.”
Tulin said: I cooked a lot of food and ate with Berivan at night. I wanted to kiss her but was afraid and kissed her arm instead. I told her “Sağol.” (thanks).
At nights, before she rode the bus, we had wandered on our way to the station together.
Spring arrived in Istanbul early. The Iranian calendar was in Esfand. It was almost March, the snow and cold had stopped, and it was only a little chilly in the morning. It always rains; Istanbul was not full of smoke like Tehran. If you stood high or on top of a tower, you could see far away. There were no clouds of black to block the view.
This spring had become more beautiful with her, one-day Tulin asked me about the beginning of Nowruz and I was surprised to find out that she was aware of Nowruz. She even told me about the last Wednesday of the year. I had found much strange energy after that conversation. I put the big packages of clothes on my shoulders, and I walked fast. Taking off the packages of clothing, I counted them in Turkish.
Berivan used to come to the workshop early every morning. One morning, I ran to the door with my shorts on. Opening the door, I saw Tulin in front of me. I ran away and she laughed out loud. Berivan arrived shortly after and Tulin told her that her boyfriend had come to greet her in shorts. Berivan was embarrassed and looked at the ground. Tulin kissed her, put her hand on her stomach, and laughed. She also told the story to Golchin. Golchin laughed and spat at me again from a distance.
I did not know what I should buy for Berivan. According to the Nevruz, Tulin wanted me to buy her henna, and, providing it was not hard, Berivan also wanted the henna.
I bought henna. Tulin drew lines and shapes on her feet, soles and crushes with the skill of a professional painter.
At night, when some part of the work remained, she also stayed with me. She would ask Salah ad-Din for dinner. Since he was a lavish man whom the Turkish language called geniş, he bought dinner. We started work with music, worked and played, wore the clothes, and then she forced me to wear womanly clothes and laughed. In the end, we slept in each other’s warm hug. On rainy nights, I did not like to separate from her, but she had to go. I was happy that she would come by again the next day. I returned, swept the workshop, and slept without concerns; I was calm as if I was in heaven.
I had hope for my future, I had come out of the well of despair and darkness with a thread woven from the love of Berivan, and I was on the horizon of light.
I got my salary on time, but unfortunately, some foreigners could not receive their wages. Even after some months, we were beaten and fired, and no law supported us as foreigners; even the police did not help us. Foreigners worked with low salaries and without insurance; cheap foreigners circulated Turkey’s economy’s wheels.
I went to Ismayil, the man who introduced me to Salahettin, and told him that I wanted to give him an amount of money as a gift. Instead of accepting the money, he smiled and asked me to pray for him.
What prayer could I have for him, or who was I that prayed for him?
I told him that I hoped he was happy and healthy every day.
He also told me in answer, “Life is just this, being happy and healthy unless much money is inefficient.”
I thanked him again and went. I bought a cake, fruit and a plastic bottle of Georgian liquor.
Berivan and I ate dinner. I didn’t want to insist on her drinking, but she asked for a little. We drank for each other’s health. She wanted another shot and laughed, the alcohol doing its work. It coursed through both of us, penetrating our brains and hearts. Berivan took a look at me and again looked at the ground.
I took her and carried her toward the table, and she said slowly, “I want to say something. I wanted to tell you, do you know?”
Her eyes were full of tears.
She said, “I didn’t say anything, but now I want to say something.”
I asked her, “If you don’t want sex, tell me.”
She laughed and said, “No, I want - I want more than you, you know? I’m not a virgin.”
It didn’t matter to me, and I only cared about sleeping with her. I have come from sex poverty; virginity didn’t matter, sex, ejaculation, and satisfaction were important.
I said, “It’s not important, my dear.”
I had learned the “my dear” word from Tulin and kissed Berivan. I laid her on the table, then lay on her, kissed her, and took off her clothes. I brought out her nipple from under her bra. I pulled her nipple slowly with my teeth, pushing my penis against her thigh. Her eyes were closed. She had beautiful legs; her skin soft as I stroked them. I looked at her vulva, and her underpants were wet. I pressed fingers on her vulva and she sighed deeply. After a moment, I pressed a little harder. She squirmed as I kissed her. Slowly, I pushed aside her underwear, my fingers becoming warm and wet. After another few moments of teasing her, I pushed a finger inside.
I put my head on her chest, she was breathing erratically, her chest rising and falling with her excitement.
“Don’t you need to go home?” I asked.
She said, “No, I told my family that tonight I will be in the hospital beside one of my friends.”
I enjoyed her lie; it was a lie in logic, but it was the truth in philosophy. She was in a sense acting like a nurse. Her only goal tonight was to take care of me. I moved off of her body, laying on the table beside her.
She put a hand on my penis before removing it from my pants. She crawled down the table and looked at my penis, before kissing the tip. She looked at me as she opened her mouth, sucking as she slid down the length. Berivan moved up and down, her tongue sliding across my sensitive skin as she sucked.
Sighs escaped me, oh slipping from my lips over and over again as she worked her magic.
For a moment she paused and looked up at me, a mischievous smile on her face. “Is it good?”
I laughed and sat up to kiss her hair. Again, my penis went inside her mouth and came out, and then I felt tension creeping through my body. I reached ejaculation and she guided my semen onto her breasts. Berivan stroked my penis, squeezing softly until the last drop of semen was gone. I lay beside her, speaking in Persian. What she had done was perfect. I thanked her several times, even as her face became bright red.
I always smoked after drinking liquor. Lighting my cigarette, I watched as she took it from me. The smoke rose in the air, she put the cigarette to my lips and I smoked before she took it away once more. We smoked for many hours and I never got tired of watching her.
Then she asked me, “do you want it again?”
“No,” she said.
“Do you want?”
“Do you have olive oil in the refrigerator?”
I jumped down from the table to the ground like a cat and she laughed. I brought oil and rubbed it with my finger on her vulva. Berivan moaned as I worked at pleasing her. Her hands clenched, and her pleasant and beautiful voice was coming out from her chest. Applying more pressure, I continued to rub her. She put her hand in my hand, and I understood that I should stop; a lot of liquid came out of her vulva. She looked at me, and I lay beside her. Berivan glistened with sweat as she laughed. I leaned over to kiss her softly before moving to kiss the rest of her body.
She sat up and rubbed olive oil on my penis before laying me back down and pulling me on top of her. I inserted my penis slowly, oh my god, it was as if I entered it into a hot kiln. I pulled it out, and Berivan’s moans filled the workshop. I inserted it again, and suddenly I reached ejaculation. My semen poured onto her belly.
“Oh, excuse me, oh, excuse me,” I said.
She laughed and said, “It doesn’t matter; it’s nothing, my dear.”
I lay on her and said, “Oh,” repeatedly, all my nose sinuses were opened, and I was breathing well.
I thanked her several times, and she also said thank you. Slowly I drifted off. Some minutes later, I was awake. Again, I kissed her and thanked her. I wanted to get up and do something.
“I want to get up,” I said.
“To do what?” she asked.
“I will make it,” she said.
I said, “Tamam.”
As she made the tea, I lit my blue camel cigarette and smoked. After, we drank tea; she poured tea again and told me not to smoke any more.
Overall, I smoked rarely, and also, at the time of tea, I just smoked one cigarette. As I drank tea, she took my hand, and we went to the table. It was there that she gave me an indescribable enjoyment.
Berivan turned off the lamps and started dancing in the darkness. As she was dancing, she took off her clothes. I could see the curves of her body in the dim light. I saw her hands moving in the air and her hair waving. She was turning like a snake, fish, and flower, and she was dancing like those young boys on the train.
I approached her and she stroked my hand with her hands and her body. Her skin was covered in a sheen of sweat. I was jealous of the freedom she felt. It was as if her soul had come out of her body. I looked at her, touched her, and caught her as if she was a bird in flight.
We were naked and lying on the table. I hugged her.
“Who did you give your virginity to?”
“Şerefsizin teki (to a basterd)”
“How was it? Was it pain or pleasure?”
“It was a pleasure for him.”
“How about now? Tell the truth.”
“Both pleasure and pain.”
“So why do you sleep with men?”
“Women feel empty without men.”
“Was that bastard your relative or friend?”
“He was my relative and my friend and my love.”
“Your love? Where is he now?”
“Don’t know, I came to Istanbul”
“Did you find?”
“He escaped from here too”
“Where did he go?”
“Are you following him?”
And then her voice went out like a candle. She was crying, I kissed her shoulder.
The next morning, Tulin came and knocked on the door, taking us out of heaven. Berivan was a shy girl and she didn’t want Tulin to see her. She went to the kitchen and put on her clothes while I ran to the bathroom.
I didn’t want to work that day, but I did it because of Salahettin. It was as if I was in a coma that day or a trance. My thoughts were somewhere else, and my body was here. I could see Berivan’s face, my job would call me, and I would go back to Tulin. Moments later my mind would go back to Berivan, Patron would call me, and look at Berivan. I could see that they were laughing, but I didn’t know why. When they called me for tea, I told them I wouldn’t eat the food.
I don’t know what happened to me. I took the broom and drove the imaginary insects flying, everyone was laughing at me, was I crazy? I don’t know, maybe. I heard the sound of a knock at the door. I opened the door, Salahettin asked: Who? I would say, “They knocked on the door and ran away.” Everyone was laughing.
I drank a lot of water and tea that day.
“Are you okay?” Tulin asked.
I learned a bad word from these Turks. When I told Tulin, she was upset, and everyone laughed. The term was common among close friends. If you ask a friend about his condition, he replies that I he is like a testicle or an esophagus. Tulin disapproved.
My bladder was filling fast, and I was going to the bathroom often. What were these deep and complex feelings that had arisen in me? I remembered my past, I saw my life ruined, and then I fell in love with Berivan, and the night I was with her, and then I was relieved.
It was night, I had vexed Tulin and she had left without saying goodbye. Berivan wanted to go, but I begged her not to go.
Berivan laughed and said, “I’m sorry, I have to go.”
I went with her to the bus station, watching as she got on the bus and disappeared among the cars.
I went back to the workshop, slowly regaining consciousness and sanity. Thinking of Berivan, I masturbated. I thought about the alcohol and cigarettes we smoked… her mouth, and I masturbated again. I thought of Tulin, who knocked on the door in the morning, and suddenly I remembered what I had said to her. I remembered the way that I had upset her.
I said to myself:” dirt on your head(shame on you), She was cooking food for you and Berivan, stupid fool.”
I wished that the morning would come sooner so I could apologize to her.
I woke up early in the morning, prepared tea, and again swept everywhere. I cleaned Salahettin’s desk with a wet handkerchief, I kissed the table on which I slept with Berivan and then washed it with a tissue, and I sat in front of the door and waited for Tulin to arrive. I heard the sound of a knock at the door, and I opened it. Tulin was on the other side, a frown on her face.
I greeted her, took her hand, and said the words I had practiced: “I apologize, I wasn’t feeling well” I didn’t tell her I had drunk too much and was thinking about Berivan. Several times I just apologized and kissed her arm.
She looked at me and said, “Always think before you speak and see who is sitting in front of you.”
I nodded and apologized. The situation got a little better, and I was relieved that she was no longer as upset as she had been. Angin and Ayub came and laughed when they saw me. They reminded me of yesterday’s imaginary insects, they showed me the sky, and we laughed.
It was then that Berivan arrived. She was worried and embarrassed.
“How are you?” she asked.
“I’m fine. What did I do yesterday?”
She laughed a little and shook her head in regret.
I had reached the depth of the tragedy. It was then that our Patron came.
“How are you today?” Salahettin asked. I was happy that he was not upset with me as well.
Golchin came, and I said hello to her. She was standing while putting one hand on her wrist with a cigarette in the other hand. She looked at me from down to top.
“How are you?” I asked.
“It’s none of your business. Are you a doctor?”
She went behind the iron, ignoring me.
I just worked and ran that day. I did not even smoke. By doing that, I saved my reputation. Tulin talked to me and forgave me. She had prepared food for us, and I thanked her with all my being and compensated for the rudeness of the previous day. We had dinner with Berivan, and I asked her for sex in a special way.
“I have to leave early tonight,” she said.
“It won’t take more than a minute.”
She laughed and slapped my head. “Allah belanı versin.”
I put my hand on her breasts, and she put her hand on my pants, took out my penis and said, “How hot.”
Then she gave the heat of her mouth and her existence to my penis. My penis gave warmth to my whole body like a radiator pipe. I looked into her eyes, reaching ejaculation. Everything she said was provocative. When I reached ejaculation, she said, “What a blow to the head of the penis.”
It provoked me once again. I asked her again. She laughed, swearing that she had to go but she would return the next night.
After she left, I cleaned up the traces of ejaculation. Before turning on the TV, I went to the bathroom, watching a movie with ease and comfort: a cigarette, a tea, and a continuation of life.
My hair and beard had turned white before I was thirty years old. I did not have an attractive face, but now I was attracted to someone. My good days went on; I was happier every day. I had Berivan, a job, and sex most nights, and that is how my life went well.
One Sunday, when we were on the street, we saw the bride’s car, and the bride and groom were sitting together. Berivan looked at me. I read the question and wish in her mind, but I could not answer her. I had a terrible doubt; I had come to Turkey for something else, I loved her very much, but I did not want to get married.
“Why do you love me?” I asked.
“You are a stranger like us,” she said.
“Why do you feel I am strange? Because you are a Kurd?”
“Although I have a Turkish ID card in my pocket, I am still a stranger,” she said, sadness heavy in her voice.
“I know you’re thinking about getting married, but I can’t get married right now. Don’t think I’ve abused you, no. I love you, I just can’t get married.”
She cried when she heard the truth. I had told her the truth I wanted to hide simultaneously. She had to find her way and clarify her task, either to marry me or to find another man, the man to marry her. I apologized to her.
She sang for me, a Kurdish song that had a strange melody and sorrow in every note. I glanced at her mouth and lips and listened to the voice that came from within. Sometimes after sex, I put my head on her legs and listened to her voice and imagined ourselves in another place. Again, she sang another song; I understood some Kurdish words because they were Persian. However, I didn’t understand the Turkish terms. Still, I could separate them from each other, and she asked me to sing a Persian song. I sang a song for her from Dariush or Ebrahim, famous with the title “Ebi” in Iran or from Siavash Ghomayshi.
I told her to sing again, and she had a voice-like cradle song that mitigated everything.
She sang the songs of Metin Kahraman and his brother; they weren’t Kurdish but were beautiful.
She was gone, but her voice was still in my ears. Again, I was alone.
That morning she didn’t come over. I waited for her until the night and it was only then that Salahettin told me that Berivan wouldn’t come any longer.
Perhaps she was right for not coming, maybe it was better like this, and she should continue her life and find a good man. When I thought about it more, I concluded that she did not leave me. It was I who distanced myself from her and left her.
It didn’t make sense without her here; the food no longer tasted without her. When I smoked, I remembered the cigarette smoke coming out of her mouth, the memory of the day we went to the park and I sat on the swing and she pushed me towards the sky. The little kids were looking at us and laughing, two big kids in the middle of the children.
I was pulling my nails on the table. I stared at my cigarette smoke and saw Berivan’s picture, the cigarette smoke was disappearing but Berivan’s face was not. I regretted it; I wish I had lied to her, promised to marry her, and kept her to myself. I could see her wherever I went; I couldn’t sleep.
The dark was gone but her picture still stayed.
I was quiet at work, alone amid the hustle and bustle, and the day was not fun without her. Neither she nor I were here and time passed slowly. I turned my head and looked at the clock, only twenty minutes had passed ten o’clock.
I looked at you an hour ago, haven’t you gone from ten to eleven yet?
The clock was ticking, and even the second hand was making fun of me. The food did not go down my throat. The rice was as dry as grains of desert sand as if I were eating bitumen or asphalt. When it was seven o’clock, I thanked the clock for gathering the hands together.
Before she left, I quickly picked up the garbage, but the broom was heavy in my hand after she left. It was as if the broom stuck to the ground as if everything stuck to the ground. The days without her were empty. Golchin made fun of me.
“Hani, sevgilin ne oldu, biraktimi seni?” she said.
Tulin browbeat her and said, “Sus kiz (be quiet girl).”
Golchin was spitting at me again from a distance, spitting in my face several times. Her only strength was that she was helping me pass the time and not think about Berivan.
One day, she annoyed me more than ever before. She spat continually and reminded me of my masturbation secret. She stuck her tongue on the inner wall of her mouth and brought one hand up and another one down, and said 31 slowly.
Golchin forced me not to think about Berivan, which made her annoyance okay and entertaining.
At night I listened to Kurdish songs, drank Georgian alcohol, went to the Kaٔiğrençhane valley, smoked, urinated, sat for a few hours, and then went home. I couldn’t forget her, but I slowly got better. A good image of her remained in my mind; I wish a good image of me was engraved in her mind, and she didn’t hate me.
Little by little, I concluded that it was good to tell her the truth, even if I was left alone.
I didn’t look at the clock anymore, I shrugged my shoulders, and without looking at the clock, I said, it’s none of my business, show every time you like, I can take out your battery, and you can sleep if you want.
It was nearly 10, and others wanted me to buy breakfast for them. Tulin had a tiny bag that was only good for carrying coins, she gave me two Lira.
“See her bag, it’s the children’s bag,” I said, teasing her. Everybody laughed. I kissed Tulin. “Ben bu bayanı seviyorum yav.”
I was surprised for a moment by what I said, the words all in Turkish.
Tulin blushed and said, “Also, buy something for yourself.”
“Can I kiss you too?” Eyüp said.
Tulin became a brighter shade of red. “You go and kiss your wife.”
Suddenly, Golchin ridiculed me and imitated me.
“Tamam kiz,” Tulin said.
Golchin spat on me; I also spat on her. Like a small girl who had become angry, she raised her hand, as if she wanted to slap me. I stuck out my tongue at her. She attacked me though Eyüp grabbed her and told her not to hit the kid. I was laughing.
“Artistlik yapma bana,” Golchin said.
At breakfast, Golchin asked, “Where is mine?”
“I didn’t buy it for you,” I said.
She took my neck with two hands and squeezed. Others and I laughed.
She complained to Salahettin and told: “Abia, bana almamish ya (he didn’t buy me any).”
“You spat on him,” Salahettin said.
Golchin’s behavior changed that day, went, and came and passed in front of me. I felt she wanted to tell me something. The back of her hand smashed my leg.
At lunchtime, she sat down next to me and put her hand on my thigh. My throat became dry, and only my head was spinning. I could feel the warmth of her hand through my pants.
I always lay on one of the tables and take a nap for a few minutes. She asked me to go to the grocery store instead. In Turkey, like Iran, a grocer (Bakkal) is called a grocer and is easy to understand. She usually ate chocolate and ice cream, asking me to buy something for myself too. I didn’t buy anything for myself, and when I wanted to return the remaining money, she didn’t accept it.
She continued touching me with her hand and body at the end of the workshop. I looked at Salahettin, worried about the occurrence of a misunderstanding. The workshop’s back was so crowded that the lower body couldn’t be seen, especially Golchin, who had a small body.
She stood next to me and put her hand on my penis. I looked at her; she didn’t take her hand away, instead, she started rubbing my penis. I reminded her of Salahettin.
She said calmly, “Don’t be afraid.”
I went to the other side and looked at her, and she spat from a distance. Then, she came to me again. Put her hand on my penis. Salahettin didn’t see us but the others might. She pulled down the zipper of my pants and I was scared. Moments later, she put her hand inside.
Suddenly, Salahuddin’s voice echoed through the room and called Tulin. I walked away from Golchin as soon as I could.
“I’m going out for one hour,” Salahettin said. Golchin came to me and put her hand in my pants again. I was more relaxed now that Salahettin had gone. Golchin was rubbing my penis.
Lust was a terrible and dangerous thing, and it could destroy everything in an instant. She took off her pants and showed me her pink shorts. Her hips were small and beautiful. She turned her hips to me, fear and enthusiasm merging at that moment. I went out at tea time and Golchin followed me.
“You have a husband,” I said.
“Do not be afraid,” she said. “It is not necessary. Kafaya takma.”
“Stop that,” I said. After a moment, she went away.
I was eager, but I didn’t want trouble or to be fired. Until 7 o’clock, I was almost running from her while she chased me and laughed. Tulin asked her why she laughed, and she said that she remembered funny things.
It was seven o’clock when everyone left. I closed the door and took a deep breath, before sweeping the workshop and sitting down. I heard the sound of a knock at the door. For a moment I thought it was Berivan but when I ran to the door and opened it, it was Golchin. She came in, closing the door and saying hello. My tongue was stuck, and I moved my head. I wanted to cook eggs.
“Let me cook,” she said, standing next to me. I allowed her. It was not hard work, a few eggs in hot oil.
“Can I sit next to you?” she asked. I wanted her to but I didn’t say yes, instead shrugging.
“Why don’t you go home?”
“I want to be with you; there’s nothing in my home.”
“You have a husband and a child,” I said, trying to remind her exactly why she shouldn’t be here.
“It doesn’t matter,” she said.
I looked at her cheeks and lips. I thought to myself if I put my penis between these lips, how would it feel? She had a small mouth. I just had to kiss her thin neck. I looked down; she was wearing a button-down shirt, her breasts moving with her breathing. Were her breasts like Breivan’s breasts?
She kissed my face and said in my ear, “Let me sleep with you.”
“Maybe Salahuddin will come over,” I said.
She raised her hand and caressed me. “Don’t be afraid, no one will come.”
I wanted to say something else so that she would caress my head again. I felt like an orphan boy whose stepmother loved him. There was a part of me that was still scared. She picked up some of the eggs and put them in my mouth, touching my face with her hand.
“Eat, don’t be afraid,” she said. My hands trembled. She took my hands and said, “Come.”
I opened the first button of her shirt and my heart rate rose. She was breathing heavily, the blood suddenly spread under the skin of my face and my hands were shaking more. To control my hands shaking, I opened the second button and saw the side of her breasts. I opened the next button and the fabric bra was closed. She looked at me, caressed my head, and kissed me.
When I took her clothing off, I hugged her quietly. I called Berivan’s name quietly and kissed Golchin’s shoulder. I heard the sound of Golchin’s expiration; she was 27 but was like a 17-year-old girl. I turned my head back and looked at her again, and I wished she would caress me again.
I took her to the bed I shared with Berivan and helped her go onto the table.
“You slept with Berivan here?”
I was dumbfounded, wondering why she was here and wanted to sleep with me. I swallowed hard several times. She lay down on the table, and I lay on her and asked, “Why do you want to sleep with me?”
“Berivan said that you had good sex.”
I should have been calm. Behaving slowly so as not to disappoint her, I rubbed her breasts and nipples gently.
“Whose breasts are more beautiful mine or Berivan’s?”
Berivan’s breasts were beautiful; it was a full circle with the sun in the middle of it, but Golchin’s breasts had fallen a little, but she had kept her beauty.
I swallowed and said, “Yours.”
“Lie,” she said.
I laughed. I put one of my hands between her legs and behaved like the first time I slept with Berivan. She had thin legs like a malnourished girl. I wanted to make her happy, I opened her legs and put my mouth to hers and I heard sounds I had never heard from a woman. She reached orgasm rapidly. She laughed a little and told me that she wanted to go. I helped her put on her brassiere. She kissed me, saying goodnight before she went. I smoked a cigarette and drank tea, and thought of Berivan.
She was gone, but she left a good image of you for them. She didn’t tell them you didn’t want to marry her and you just slept together. She didn’t tell them that you were an irresponsible man and told them that you sleep well with women. A voice from inside reminded me of this.
I don’t know if I slept that night, but when it was morning, everything was different. Everyone came to the workshop and Golchin came; she was beautiful and she was made up. She was like a doll. I said hello and gave her tea, the only thing I could do.
I worked hard that day and I communicated with her a lot. I touched her hips with my hands and kissed her. I communicated with her hips through my penis over my pants. In the end, I got the answer to these communications at the toilet.
When a new worker came, Golchin also helped with seeing her. Eyüp and Engin came and helped us. Tulin wanted to help, but we didn’t let her. Golchin gathered all of us together.
With Berivan’s kindness, the relations between Golchin and I continued. After work she went and came back again. We intertwined and enjoyed each other. I didn’t know why she kissed my palm, this behavior outraged me, and when it was over, she went home. After, I took a shower, smoked, and laughed at life.
Every day something new and dangerous happened. The work was over soon. Eyüp, Angin, and Salahettin left, and Golchin and I were left alone. We were in the kitchen when Golchin put my penis in her mouth and Tulin suddenly entered. My mouth was left open with fear, and my throat was dry. What would happen if it was Salahuddin or Angin?
Tulin looked at Golchin and my penis in astonishment. She looked at us for a few seconds and left. I pulled my pants up in embarrassment and Golchin wanted me to stop, She pulled my pants down, and I pulled them up. She insisted, and I stopped her. Golchin laughed and tried to calm me down. I pushed Golchin out of the workshop, pushed her, and she laughed.
That night I couldn’t sleep out of fear. I heard Salahuddin’s screams, I ran away from him. It was morning, Salahuddin came to the workshop and I was waiting for his attack. He asked me for tea, I poured it with my trembling hands and took it for him, he thanked me. I didn’t see any trace of anger on his face. Tulin hadn’t told him yet. Every time Tulin went to Salahuddin, my stress went up and down. Every time Salahuddin called me, it was as if my feet were empty. I was running away from Golchin that day and I couldn’t look at Tolin.
I was waiting for the moment of my punishment to arrive. Why doesn’t my trial start? When will I be hanged? These thoughts were rippling through my head. Salahuddin was calling me. It’s time.
Salah al-Din said, “Buy cigarettes.”
I said twice “What?”
“Sağır mısın?“Are you deaf?”
In Persian( Sağir ) means orphan. I had not heard wrong. he wanted cigarettes.
I left the court, took a breath, bought the cigarettes and came back. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t even urinate. I was talking to my penis. Is that what you wanted? Now you can’t work, can’t you? I lifted my zipper.
It’s seven o’clock, oh, I’m happy, I’m not going to be executed today. When Golchin wanted to stay, I hugged her like a little girl. Golchin laughed.
“Wait a minute,” she said. I left her outside and closed the door. I could hear her laughter, knocking on the door and calling me. I told her in Persian: get lost.
Ah, I took a deep breath, my kidneys and vesical started to work, and I urinated without stress.
My captured stomach in my stressful belly announced the hunger. My body was still shaking. I ate six eggs that night, I drank half of a 2.5-liter Coca-Cola. The cola was cold and cooled my whole body. I brewed tea; I didn’t know how many glasses I drank. I always smoked one cigarette at night, but I smoked four cigarettes that night and concluded that the joy followed by killing anxiety and stress had no value and enjoyment. I should be careful.
The next day, our mouse and cat game continued to play, a large male mouse escaping from a small female cat. I was running away, she was chasing me and laughing, and She was saying: (Allah Allah, bi’dur yav) That is, stop. But I didn’t stop. It was 10 a.m. when I saw Golchin and Tulin talking. Probably they were preparing the text of the lawsuit; Tulin was the devil’s lawyer.
At 5 o’clock, Salahuddin called me. Tulin was standing next to him, and they were both looking at me. The time had come; I was called to court, and I prepared myself. Even my tongue was paralyzed. I just looked at Salahuddin.
Salahuddin said, “Go out with Tulin, she wants to buy something.”
I looked at Salahuddin and Tolin several times.
“Did you hear what I said?”
I think I heard right, and I should go out with the devil’s lawyer. I obeyed. I didn’t talk until near the main street. Tulin called me. I looked at her.
“Walk slowly, I’m tired.” She was angry with me.
I slowed down and we walked together. Tulin bought me a glass of corn, and the corn salesman laughed. Why did he laugh at me? Maybe he thought I was Tulin’s son? We went to the park. Maybe if the corn seller saw us, he would still laugh because my mother took me to the park.
Tulin took my hand and said, “Sit down. I want to talk to you.” I sat down, and she stood in front of me and said, “Look at me, I’m not a snitch, I’m not telling anyone, don’t be afraid of me.”
I nodded several times and ate my corn; the smell of mayonnaise inside the corn whetted my appetite, and I quickly ate the whole glass.
“Is it delicious? Is it good?”
“Do you want another mug?” she asked.
“Stand up, you’re sitting here like a child.”
Due to her condition, she could not carry heavy loads and buy more. She bought her supplies, and I brought them. It was seven o’clock again, my trial was not held, the witness had given up her testimony, and I had lost my temper. I vacuumed safely, and closed the windows; Golchin was gone, and I didn’t notice. I closed the door, and suddenly Golchin came out from under one of the tables.
I was scared, and she laughed. When the Turks are afraid or frightened of the person in front of them, they put their thumb on the upper teeth. She did the same and laughed again. She approached me and took my hands.
“What did Tulin tell you?” She didn’t let me talk and closed my mouth.
I said: “I’m still afraid.”
“Not to be afraid, Tulin and I understand each other.”
She took my hand and stuck my palm to her face. Still, my hands were shaking. She pulled me toward the table and lay on the table and motioned me to lay beside her. I didn’t know whether I returned to the wrong path I escaped from or gone to another path. But it was too late.
Her voice and the warmth of her body melted me. I lifted her skirt and buried my penis in the side of her shorts. Golchin was holding her skirt on her chest with her hand. I was pressing, and she was having fun. After two days of torture, this sex was doubly enjoyable. It got warmer and continued on its way. Golchin smiled with satisfaction and just thanked me.
“Did it come?”
“Bravo, good boy.”
She was pressing her skirt with her fingers and her head went back. I listened to her voice, and I didn’t know why I became a putty when I looked at her face. After some minutes of friction, attrition, and heat, she drenched herself and caused my ejaculation.
She looked at me, took my head, kissed me, and thanked me. When I looked at her eyes and mouth, again I became putty. I also kissed her.
After a while, I asked, “Do you want to go again?”
“Really?” From her intonation and voice, I became a putty again.
She cleaned her vulva with her skirt and had a strange eagerness and was waiting for me.
I licked her vulva at that moment. She didn’t believe that I wanted to lick her. She looked at me. I did this to make her happy. Her hands and feet were shaking, and I heard a series of noises that I had never heard from a woman. She was calling my name, and after every time she said my name, she also said my dear. When she had urine, she got up and with a sorrowful voice, cleaned her vulva with her skirt, took my head with her hand and kissed my head. I looked at her, and her eyes were full of tears, kissed me several times. I saw the need for sex in her.
She continued again. Her voice returned to her usual tone as if she wanted to cry. She then lay again and pulled me on her, sticking my penis inside her. I lay on her and kissed her, reaching ejaculation.
Little by little, we became calm. I stood up, as did she. I looked at her wet feet and was laughing as she was cleaning herself. I poured tea and smoked. The whole time that we were smoking and drinking tea, she didn’t say a word.
“It’s not too late? Don’t you want to go home?”
“I want to stay here, I love it here, it is quiet here..” she used the word”sakın”.
Then, she got up, and I also got up to respect her; she kissed me twice and went. When she left, I thought about what she said. Why does she say that? Then I thought about what we did together, and I don’t know what to call it. Betrayal or an illegitimate relationship? Did she feel guilty? Did she think of her work?
I had seen her husband, and he was tall and handsome. Again bath, again music, again cigarettes, tea, and a good night’s sleep.
The next day, Golchin brought me pants and a blouse and a T-shirt. I put on one of my pants, put my hand in my pocket, and found 100 lira paper money. I quietly called Golchin and showed her the money.
“It’s for you,” she said
In those days, 100 lira was a lot of money for a worker. Why did she do that, and why did she give me money?
It was night, and she said, “Do you want me to stay tonight?”
It was strange that she asked me and did not impose herself on me. I said, “Yes.”
Our secret, illegitimate but beautiful relationship continued. She was fine; she didn’t want to get married. I spent days at work and nights in Golchin’s arms, telling me the days she was menstruating. I didn’t put pressure on her either.
One night, the door was opened, and Golchin told me very quickly, “Don’t be afraid, that’s Tulin.”
She had a key. She was wearing a tight white T-shirt that put together her breasts at a point. She looked at us, Golchin got up and pulled her toward us. She sat on her knees and got my penis in her mouth.
As if her mouth’s warmth was more, she had a big tongue and compressed the tip of my penis. Golchin took her T-shirt off, and all at once, her white belly and big tits came out, and my semen poured out like the water behind a dam. Golchin rubbed my semen on Tulin’s chest, belly, and cracks under her belly. They were sucking each other’s lips. I was overwhelmed by the intensity of this unique ejaculation and sat down on a chair. I didn’t understand when Tulin left; when Golchin left, I didn’t even hear them say good night.
I put my hand on my penis for a few minutes and enjoyed this ejaculation, and I was shocked. I was talking with my shadow. It was unbelievable to be with two women in one day. “Was it real? Was I drunk? Did you see Tulin’s belly and tits?”
I was reminded of the protrusion of her big belly and her breasts, making my penis rise again to another hearty ejaculation. I lay on the table in a state of despair and thought about what had happened before falling asleep.
I waited until nightfall; the clock was at war with me again. I looked at the watch. It was only 4 o’clock; there were still three hours left. That day was my chance. We were supposed to do a little work and do it in a hurry and send it, but it didn’t come. Salahettin said this good news after a few insults. He got up and left. Eyüp and Angin danced a little, put on their clothes, and left.
Golchin and I looked at each other; Tulin said to Golchin with a little mischief, “Don’t be late.”
Why did Tulin go? I wanted Tulin to stay.
I came behind Tulin and assured her that the door was closed and opened the door again and closed it. I turned toward Golchin, hugged her, took out my penis, and inserted it into her vulva without any pause. Remembering Tulin’s belly and breasts, I inserted my penis severely; my lust growing stronger. Golchin was feeling pain, but I was pressing harder, closing my eyes and remembering Tulin.
Golchin was in pain, and I didn’t care. I just kept going. I closed my eyes more, pressed Golchin more into my arms, and pressed my penis harder. Strange voices were coming out of me. I suddenly ejaculated by remembering Tulin’s breasts, put Golchin on the table, and grabbed my penis. The water in my body jumped, and those sounds came out of me. Golchin laughed when she heard my voice. It was as if my penis was coming out.
I slept on the table, and some voices exited from me. Golchin was laughing and kissing and striking me. Maybe I was unconscious on the table for half an hour.
“Are you okay?” Golchin asked.
“Oh, boy, Golchin, where is here?”
Golchin laughed. “What did you say?
This time, I said in Turkish, “Where was there?”
Golchin laughed. I thanked her not because she slept with me but because she brought Tulin that night. Of course, I didn’t say that to Golchin, and I just said thank you for staying with me at night. She warned me not to be so harsh next time. I shook my head and said, Tamam.
It was Saturday and near noon. Tulin asked me whether I was free on Sunday or not.
“Do you want to rebuy corn?”
“No, I want to send my house suite repaired,” she said.
Her house was near, at last, it would my time about 30 minutes or one hour. Golchin also didn’t come over on Sundays because of her husband.
“Tamam,” I said.
I ate my food and went out. Fatih and Aksaray had another manifestation in my viewpoint. I remembered the first days that I walked unemployed and worried.
When I was talking to some of my countrymen, I liked to strangle and kill them with my hand, a series of liars, lazy and addicted Iranians who brought their addiction with them there. I was ashamed when I saw them; addicted Iranians were sitting and waiting for traffickers to bring them narcotics. Later on, I heard something that I couldn’t believe; there was gossip between Iranian and Afghans that these narcotics were entered and published in Turkey through the Iran embassy employees because the drugs used in Iran were plentiful in Turkey.
I couldn’t believe it, but the sad thing was the increasing addiction of Iranians; Iranians worked and spent their wage on narcotics and even were coming to sell such items.
When I asked the Iranians who intended to migrate to Europe what their purpose was, they didn’t have a specific goal. Amidst their talkativeness, it became clear that they wanted to go to Europe because of their laziness. Their eyes were sparkling when they were told they wouldn’t have to work in Europe for an extended period and would have received unemployment salaries.
I felt sorry for myself for having such lazy countrymen. I wished we had learned to work from Turkish people.
There were many Iranians who escaped from Iran. Everyone had a massive crime and claimed innocence, but some thrashed a person or killed them and fled to Turkey. There were also Iranians who I was proud of; distinguished, educated, and talented persons who couldn’t work because of Iran’s corrupt system. They show themselves in every field; I had seen and heard of such people who had gone to Germany and the United States and succeeded.
Sunday, I went upstairs. When I went up the stairs of these buildings, I remembered the classic movies that I had watched in Iran through satellite.
I entered her house and I didn’t see that pasty-faced and tired Tulin who had a veil, but I saw a woman who had long, beautiful hair and was wearing a white T-shirt Like that night, her belly and breasts were seen; I could see her belly button. She had a pleasant smell and could awaken lust, lust was aroused, and I wanted to attack. But, I kept my calm.
“What’s wrong with you? She’s pregnant, crackpot.”
She came near to me. I took her arm and kissed her. I don’t know whether she understood my intention or just thought that it was a simple kiss. Her arm was soft, and her face was warm; she had shining cheeks.
“How are you?” she asked.
“I became fine with seeing you.” I looked at the line between her tits. “You’re sexy.”
“Thanks.” She said and went, and I looked at her big hips; she was walking like a horse and my lust followed her.
I chased her to the kitchen. I looked at her hips and went ahead as if somebody or something was pushing me forward. I became near to her, stuck to her, and took her breasts with my hands, they were soft from back and fore.
Suddenly she turned, laughing, and said, “What are you doing?”
She was surprised; I kissed her, holding her hips from behind.
“What are you doing?” This time she was more serious.
“No, it couldn’t be.”
“One minute, lütfen.” With the body she had, it didn’t take more than one minute. “One minute.”
“Olmaz, it couldn’t be”
“Don’t you want?”
“Yok. So why did you call me?”
“Allah Allah,I said that because of the furniture”
I apologized and backed quickly, I receded, and I saw that I trampled my personality because of one-minute sex. When I withdrew, her breasts shook. I went to the exit door. She called. I apologized again and went down the stairs. I returned to the workshop and encountered myself in front of the mirror. I saw him in the mirror, and it wasn’t me. He was a person who was blind because of lust and was invading a pregnant woman. I was at the start of crime. Those breasts, arms, and hips chained my hands.
I remembered Golchin had spat on me. I also spat on myself. I poured tea and lit a cigarette.
“What are you doing? Did you forget where you were and where you came to? What are you looking for?”
It was as if my other personality who was in the mirror came in and told those talks. The cigarette burned in my hand, and the tea became cold as if the workshop was also cold. I repented, then tried to think of how I would apologize to her.
I asked him who was taunting and admonishing me, so, why didn’t she go when saw Golchin and me that night? And why put my penis in her mouth? Why was it with open hair and sticky and luscious clothes in front of me? Didn’t those who repair the suite have workers?
If Tulin told me everything, I would not ask these questions here.
I changed my clothes and went to Aksaray, and I concluded Tulin ruined my Sunday and even made it black.
Little by little, I had become aggressive and profligate. I was riding a wild horse of lust and turning in the streets. Everywhere was full of girls and women who wanted to be with a man. If I had seen a girl or woman, I looked at her a little. Golchin had taught me, to be bold. I smiled and then said hello. If they wanted, they would speak. Some were afraid of foreigners, some were curious to understand where I was from, and asked me whether I was from Syria. I said Iran.
They had thought a little, and the conversation was started and if they didn’t want to speak, I didn’t insist and returned. There, everything was simple; becoming or finding friends didn’t need wayside issues. Some women showed me a ring of marriage, and I also said goodnight and left them.
Berivan had taught me, are you married? and if they were single or divorced, the work was easy, fortunately, or unfortunately, there were a lot of widowed or divorced women, some of them were alone and liked to speak to a person.
I asked about their work or lives, and they started to talk about many economic problems. They complained about their colleagues in their workplace and they asked all their questions quickly. There, I saw some 50 years old men who had delicate emotions, talked about all their problems, and cried suddenly.
Leila was a single girl who lived with her widow mother, both of them worked, she talked to her mother like a friend, she told of her father’s death on the road and cried.
Gözde took her close friend for work to the company. Now that close friend caused her discharge. I saw a widow who was working to provide her girl dowry.
Fonda was talking about her husband. She said that her husband slept with other women.
“ Sleep with me,” I said.
“I have a teenager girl at home, I don’t like to be a prostitute woman in her opinion.”
I told her very shamelessly “Separate from your husband and divorce.”
“I don’t want my girl touched by divorce and separation.”
I saw a pregnant and beautiful woman, she didn’t want to speak to me, but I was mulish. She showed me her belly and said, “Don’t you see?”
“I want to see your belly and breasts.”
She became angry. “Leave or I will call the police.”
I acquiesced and said, “Tamam, Tamam, just let me touch your belly.”
She said, “Go, spaik.”
I didn’t understand what she said, but she was outraged; I didn’t want to sleep beside the police and get deported.
Once when I saw a woman police officer, I went near her and said hello.
“Why is a beautiful lady like you in the police?” I asked.
Her age was less than mine and her height taller.
“What do you want?
“I would like to be your boyfriend and sleep with you.”
“Boyfriend? Until now, a Turkish man hasn’t suggested such things to me; now a foreigner offers me this.”
I was proud of myself “I can do other things too”
“Evet komutan (yes sir).”
She laughed and kissed me and put her Colt on my penis. “Do you want me to make a hole for you here?”
I was drenching myself. “That’s your fault. You are the police, and people trust you.”
“I am a police not a whore.”
“Ayıp”(hame on you), a beautiful girl – pardon - beautiful police like you shouldn’t speak like that.” She laughed. “Always laugh and behave with foreigners in a good manner.”
“Are you an Iranian?”
“Yes, of course,” I said in English.
To make her laugh more, I asked, “Can you get me an American passport?” She laughed again. I banished the colt from my penis and said, “Take this, you are laughing and suddenly, boom!”
She laughed loudly.
Once when I went to the store to buy a condom, I told the girl with the highest amount of rudeness, “Could I try that on?”
The girl became angry and called the store owner, condemned me politely, and called me Sapık. I came out of the store disaffected as stupid people do. I looked at my image in the mirror, laughed, and cursed myself.
I invited women and girls for tea. We went to the workshop and spoke. If conditions and our talks had reached sex, we slept with each other. Still, if our discussions hadn’t reached sex, I didn’t lose anything because I prepared myself for after, and the most critical point was that I talk to them, and my Turkish language improved.
Then, I learned the expression of words. I learned the state of making the question of a sentence, and I understood their accent.
Salahettin didn’t have any problem with my private life and just pointed out that I should be cautious and look after myself and my workshop belongings.
They asked me what did I do there. “Iran is a rich country, has oil and gas, why did I go there for work?”
We have everything except oil and gas, we have numerous mines, productive agriculture, and good soil, and I even heard that we have uranium. Still, we don’t benefit any of them; their money goes everywhere. Their money goes to Russia to buy weapons, and we raise our heads proud and say that we are a strong and rich country and do not have needy.
What was I seeking? I always asked myself this question of what I was looking for in life? When I came to Istanbul, I understood what I was trying for in life and why I came out of Iran.
I was searching for calmness, fresh air, and freedom and found them there. I saw freedom and calmness, and respect. We talked and drank tea, and after it, we reached the final stage.
When they went, I was lying down and talking to my penis, my penis twinkled me with the only eye on its face and admitted my talk.
I watched TV serials that didn’t have the necessary standard and quality. Unreal stories and empty characters, slow rhythm, and every part was lengthy and had music from beginning to end. Every channel had a foolish serial every night. I sometimes watched the serial MUHTESEM 100 Years because it was produced from a sultana novel. Of course, the serial had a lot of differences from the book.
I watched Güldür Theater regularly. The standard of theatre and acting was considered in it. Later, I found that Ali Sunal was the son of Kemal Sunal that was a famous Shaban. Every time this theater was shown, I watched it, learning more of the language.
In decade 90, Tukey’s channels were meager. Now, the number of channels is high but time-consuming and without content.
I watched news channels; Erdogan was in all channels and advertising; he also talked like Iran’s governors every day. Like Khamenei, Erdogan criticized the United States every day, didn’t see his country’s problems, and tried to find faults in other countries. He didn’t see his unsatisfied people.
I removed these thoughts from my mind and looked at the play of Belal in the theater.
I loved to ride the bus, sit beside the big windows, and look at homes. When it was raining, seeing these scenes had double enjoyment. In the crowd of the bus, I stood between people and listened to their talks. I went from Mecidiyekoy to Beylikdüzü, detrained before the last station, and returned.
Watching football was enjoyable there; I sat among fans and watched them play whenever a player lost a chance; Turkish spat on TV’s screen and told terrible curses.
Between the two half, we came out; unfortunately, people smoked like old trains, and I also looked at betting papers in people’s hands. I had tried very much, but I couldn’t understand that betting people told curses. And added that that was in government authority; from one hand, it announced betting was illegal and then encouraged people to bet through advertisement on TV.
The match started. We all returned together and spat on TV again.
I had passed Ramadan with hate for many years, but when I came to Istanbul, everything was different; when Azan was telling here, I watched TV, beautiful pictures of Istanbul had been showing with Azan sound.
Of course, none of us didn’t fast; if you wanted, you fasted, and if you didn’t wish you didn’t, soon no one let himself intervene or remonstrate with you.
Sometimes, I went to Beşiktaş, and waiters asked me what I wanted in an amiability manner; I asked one of them whether they hated to see us eating in front of them.
He said, “Of course I don’t hate, because this a personal issue, we just think of your money.”
I laughed and smoked and drank my tea.
But in Iran, Ramadan was very dark and depressing; people were invited to sadness and to cry, people’s heads sank into sorrow.
There was absolute freedom in Turkey; if you wanted, you fasted, and if you intended, you sat in cafes and drank tea.
People usually broke their fast after about 15 hours of tolerating hunger and thirst. The restaurants became crowded in Aksaray; even chairs and tables were arranged in front of restaurants. I sat among them and ate food some nights.
My life was going well with Golchin until one night when Golchin and I were wrapped up, the door slammed loudly and Salahuddin’s voice came calling my name. Golchin grabbed her clothes and went under one of the tables; I put on my pants and opened the door. Salahuddin and Golchin’s husband came in. When I saw Golchin’s husband, everything collapsed inside me.
Salahettin looked inside and asked: “Is this Golchin here?” I became convinced that our relationship had reached the precipice. I swallowed hard and nodded. Golchin’s husband called Golchin’s mobile phone. My legs were shaking more, and I was waiting to hear the sound of the cell phone.
“It is off,” her husband said.
My mouth was dry with fear and I couldn’t speak. Golchin’s husband left with Salahuddin. I was stunned, like a lifeless scarecrow staring at the door. I could only reach out my hand and close the door. Like a cat, Golchin pulled her head out from under the table curtain. There was nothing to be afraid of. It was very comfortable and relaxed, as the Iranians say.
“Did they go?” she asked.
Half of my being was dead, and I just nodded. She quickly put on her clothes, kissed my frozen face, and left. Maybe I would stay dry there for ten minutes and look at the door and the table. I just thought, what if Salahuddin had opened the door with the key? And what happens to us?
The wild horse of our lust could not jump right this time and fell to the ground. I didn’t sleep until morning, and I woke up with various nightmares; I wanted to take my belongings and run away. It was a very long night. I was happy when the Azan was read. There was nothing left in the morning.
Tulin came, Eyüp came, Angin came, and then came a man I loved and adored more than my mother in these few months, but now he had become like the great giant of computer games. He did not greet anyone and did not answer anyone. He called Golchin loudly. Tulin looked at me and understood everything. Golchin came and entered the workshop.
Salahuddin shouted, “Which hell were you in last night?”
The silence in the workshop was like the silence after a thunderstorm, or you were waiting for the next lightning, or you were waiting for hail. Salahuddin’s lightning flashed again, shouting at Golchin.
“Why was your phone off?”
Tolin’s voice was like rain on fire. “She was with me, Abi,” Tulin said.
Salahettin was white with rage. “Where the hell were you?”
Tulin told the biggest believable lie. “Hospital”
Salahettin was not convinced yet, and he asked, “Hospital?”
“Yes, last night I was in a sudden pain and I asked Golchin to take me to the hospital,” Tulin said.
Salahettin shouted again to vent his anger. “Did you die if you called your home? Insert that phone in your anuses.”
It was the first time that Salahettin had reviled Tulin and Golchin. Tulin came into my life like an angel of salvation and a miracle.
“It was my fault,” Tulin apologized with a broken heart.
She heard all these shoutes and insults and did not complain and did not disgrace us. I should have heard these insults, not this innocent woman. I just looked at Tulin’s face, drooping with grief. Salahettin went out and lit a cigarette. Tulin went to the kitchen and cried. Eyüp and Engin turned on the irons.
That day the workshop was immersed in deep and sad silence; no one talked, and even Eyüp did not say anything. Eyüp had a good moral when Salahuddin used those words, he was very upset. As if Salahettin had said such a thing to his sister or his wife, he did not eat that day, and he did not drink tea at 4 o’clock. I did not eat anything due to stress and shame in front of Tulin.
I wanted him to slap me outside the workshop or revile me so that the heavy lading of embarrassment became lighter. That day, my heart became pained for the first time, my left hand ached.
For the second time, Tulin’s heart broke again because of me; she left. I called her, but she didn’t stop. I looked at her, apologizing was a small word in front of her. Everyone left, and I was left alone in the hell I had made for myself. I sat in a chair, like a murderer blamed on his sister. That night, I decided to end my relationship with Golchin, not for myself or Golchin; I didn’t want anyone to pay for our guilt anymore.
When I was in Iran, I rarely watched TV, but once a sentence was said, if a person does not stop making mistakes, one day mistakes will stop a person from making mistakes. The wrong way I went was to reach the black hole.
I didn’t eat dinner that night, and I didn’t smoke; I loved smoking when I felt good, not when I felt guilty. I just drank tea and didn’t turn on the TV. The bed and the table were no longer warm as if I were sleeping on a concrete floor, and the pillow was like a brick, the walls were coming together, the ceiling was coming down, I was suffocating.
The next day, everyone came, but Golchin didn’t come to the workshop. I remembered the day Berivan didn’t come. My eyes were on the door, and I was waiting, but she didn’t come anymore. Salahettin also arrived late that day. Seeing his face, I realized that something had happened, Salahettin did not greet me.
“What happened?” I asked Tulin.
She was still disappointed in us. She shrugged. It was night again, and my life was empty; I decided to leave, Berivan left, Golchin left, Tulin was disrespected. I decided to leave, now it’s my turn to leave.
After a few days of being away from Golchin, I heard a noise. I jumped when I heard the sound of the door. Salahuddin and Golchin’s husband came. I prepared myself for everything, I opened the door, and Golchin was behind the door. After a long time, I mentioned God’s name.
I don’t know if it was a dream or a reality, but when I hugged her, I felt the reality.
“Where have you been?” She didn’t say anything. “What happened?”
She was silent again. We stayed together for a while, I was lying on the table, and she was lying on me, and her head was on my chest. Her voice twitched in my chest as she spoke. Again, she did not answer my questions. I asked her to talk to me; it had been a few days since anyone had spoken to me. Even Eyüp did not speak because of the conditions of the workshop. Golchin talked about where she had come from. She was from Sirt; she was a hybrid, her mother was an Arab, and her father was Kormanj. She talked about her sweet childhood world when she was twelve years old. When she was a little girl, she would play, be naughty, and go to weddings, neighbors, and relatives with her mother. She saw girls in wedding dresses and liked to wear them one day. She got married at the age of seventeen and wore that dreamy white dress. She achieved her dream. She gave birth to a son, breastfed him, and came to Istanbul with her husband.
She looked at me and said, “The future is very cruel, I want to go back to the past. I want to go back home to my mother.”
Her past was similar to my mother’s. She wanted to go, and I asked her would you come again? She shrugged and said she didn’t know.
When Golchin left, I was convinced that I no longer wanted to stay there. She left, and I went into the coma again.
Everything was back to normal. Salahettin was no longer shouting, we were working and time was running out. The nights were spent dreaming of Berivan, and I would occasionally walk in front of the door so that maybe Golchin would come. I was thinking about everything. Where is Golchin, and why doesn’t she come? Why did her husband came that night, and how had her husband found out about our relationship? My brain was spinning like the earth inside my skull. And then I fell asleep without realizing where and when my brain was standing.
One morning Salahettin came and called me and took me out of the workshop. He slapped me hard, a tight slap. I had been waiting for it for a long time. Its sound rolled in my ear, I put my hand on my face. Salahettin told me to leave there that day.
However, I was relieved, the condition might be worse than that.
“What happened abi?” I asked
He took my hand and led me to the car, and we got in the car, he kept it on the main street.
“Golchin has left her husband and her house and wants to separate from him.” He was silent for a while. “I don’t know what you did with Golchin. I don’t know if you like Golchin or she loves you? Whatever it is, it has separated them. I am sending you to go; I don’t want her husband to come and see you. He knows she was with you.”
His hand was on the steering wheel. I bent down and kissed his hand and got out of the car.
I couldn’t believe that I had ruined a life, but who was I, and what did I do to make it happen? I told her you have a husband, but I shouldn’t have slept with a married woman either. Everything was over; I reached the end of the line. Salahettin gave me my salary with humility and saved my life in some way, he did not want Golchin’s husband to come and another incident to happen.
I packed my things. I wanted to thank Tulin for everything and apologize, but there was nothing to thank her for, and I just hurt, pained and humiliated her. I learned the words( özür dilerim) - I apologize - very well. I told Tulin twice, but I know it was too late. I apologized to her for everything, and I kissed her arm.
“Yolun açık olsun, Allah emanet,” she said.
Engin and Eyüp also asked me to forgive them if I saw anything wrong with them. I hadn’t seen any harm in those few months, Eyüp had given me his watch, and Angin had taken my clothes home and washed them over and over again.
An Iranian once said that this city was dirty. But it is we who pollute a city and a society. If we all try to respect each other’s rights, we can grow morally, which is where I was morally dirty. Going for sex made everything dirty and ruined. I got dirty here.
Bad rumors were heard in front of the exchange offices in the center of Istanbul, When this news spread to the newspapers and on television, everything became a reality. The price of the dollar went up and every US dollar was sold for two lira. When I saw the figure of two lira, I remembered the big headlines of Tehran newspapers, when every US dollar was sold for two thousand tomans. Here, too, the newspapers reacted, but to no avail, because it did not matter to the people and the government. It was just scary for the economists and businessmen. It was scary for me too because I had experienced this price increase. No one responded to the price increase and the government was reluctant to respond.
Given the situation in Iran, behind this increase was the corruption in the system, the Turkish administrative system was also infected, it was infected with lawlessness, lack of supervision and control. The pleasant heat of summer 2013 suddenly became dull and sad, the autumn of that year became colder and the sadness settled in the hearts of the people, with the increase in the value of the dollar, food prices, gas bills and electricity also increased.
Aksaray no longer had that lasting pleasure. The war-torn Syrians came in groups. Istanbul was full of homeless Syrians. The Yeni Kapi beach was not that beautiful. The ships were no longer attractive to me. They reminded me of everything there, and the women reminded me of Berivan and Golchin and the heart that broke from Tolin. I didn’t know what to do. Should I return to Iran or stay here? After a few days of wandering, I found a new job. I went to Rami in Bayram Pasha, a plating shop called Kaplama in Turkish.
When I got there, I came across a dark place and the devices that poured the metals into it to make it shiny. The black-faced, tired Pakistanis looked at me and worked—the men who walked the miles and worked there. About 20 workers, an Azerbaijani and two Uzbeks, a neglected group of Pakistanis who worked without complaint. I had to work at night. I went to sleep.
There were 20 black and dirty mattresses; I regretted myself and them; I saw how our value as workers was trampled; I felt sorry for them and regretted ourselves, ten people worked day, and ten people worked night. Five of those Pakistani people spoke English very well.
It was heavy work; we would carry 20-kilogram pails, work every night, didn’t have any holidays and the wage they gave us was meager compared to the amount of work. They had come with beautiful and big wishes and tolerated everything to go to an ideal land.
Those Pakistanis became tired so that they couldn’t take a shower and were mortified and belittled because of this case, and their human value was downplayed.
Didn’t they have the value of the right sleeping place? Such a big company with this income, why hadn’t gotten a clean mattress for everyone?
I couldn’t tolerate such disrespect and left there.
I didn’t know what to call that work. Whether it was working with dogs or working for dogs, but I call it life with dogs.
I didn’t know dogs; the number of dogs was meager in Tehran. In the street and among my around, I didn’t know anyone who kept dogs.
I went to a beautiful (chatalja) Çatalca region. I went to an old house that had been changed to a veterinary office and a place for keeping dogs. I slept at night and started to work in the morning.
My work was cleaning the dog’s cages. Once in the morning and once in the evening. At first, when the dogs barked, I was afraid, but later, a man who was there told me that they wanted to have the others’ attention. When I stood beside them and stroked them, they became quiet.
After some days, I understood that dogs have spirit and personality. Sometimes, dogs were brought to be vaccinated, and sometimes they were brought for washing. It was exciting to work; dogs stood calm and politely; we washed them, dried them with a hairdryer, and they became clean. Sometimes, dogs were brought for ear cutting. It was a bitter part that I couldn’t tolerate, and the most painful part was opening the bandage on their ears.
A little white dog was brought in and his ears were cut while he was unconscious. I hugged him and put him in his cage. The day after the procedure Osman wanted to open the bandage around the little dog’s ears. The poor dog was whimpering pleadingly and painfully. I couldn’t tolerate the sound and had to leave.
Uthman told me, “This is our job and we should tolerate it.”
I returned, tolerating the dog’s moans, I opened his ears. I was endearing and talking to a dog in the Persian language when we took out the cotton. As soon as the dog’s bandages were open, I told the dog that it was finished.
The suffering dog went to the corner of the cage while I collected bandages and cotton. Two days later, when I was playing with that dog, my hand was touching its ears, and it was crying out with funny voices from pain. As I laughed at the strange sounds, I fed him sugar cubes.
Once another dog was brought, the dog, despite its large size, did not resist at all and endured us, humans.
After successfully cutting the ears, I made a point to meet the dogs. I gave food to a big dog, sat beside him, and played with a small dog to forget its pain.
Why are we humans like this? We get used to animals and then bring them to such places and imprison them.
Later, I understood why dogs became depressed or why they escaped from people. I even realized that dogs also have feelings of embarrassment, antipathy, and disgust, exactly like humans. Perhaps we are dogs, too, and just have the ability to speak.
The maddening part of each day was the feedings. All dogs were barking together continuously because of severe hunger. The barking seemed to only drive the humans insane. Of course, that was the proper behavior of the dogs. The owner of that place only fed the animals once a day.
That was where I understood why some humans cry when they lose their dog and why films are produced for dogs in the United States.
During the day, I inspected and visited dogs, looked at the sky and passing planes, and thought of Berivan and Golchin.
Although Iranian and Turkish people have a lot of similarities, there are profound differences between us. Differences that I saw them passing through time and regretted myself and Iran’s people. An intense and burdensome difference has been seen in Tehran city. The people of Istanbul behaved like animals very well. Dogs and cats lived freely in the town and nobody bothered them.
The cats slept under the tables in front of restaurants. Once I saw a cat that was standing beside a table. She was trying to take a piece of food with her claws. It was a funny and exciting scene. Women were laughing and hit the paws of the cat with a spoon. The cat pulled his paw back and then tried to filch food again. In the end, one of the women put a piece of meat into the cat’s mouth.
Another time, I saw a bizarre and beautiful scene that gave me goosebumps. A homeless dog neared a woman and I was waiting for the woman’s fear, but she wasn’t afraid. The woman said hello to the dog and stroked him. The dog became more interested and the woman sat, continuing to stroke the dog and speak to him. It was a scene that surprised me. I had not seen such displays of kindness to stray animals before.
I saw a scene similar to this one in another place. A stray street dog and an older man. My God, why we weren’t like this? Why our neighbor, Akbar, who was an adolescent man, was the sworn enemy of cats? When he saw a cat in the street, he sought a stone to throw toward the cat.
I couldn’t stay there long. I was alone and there was no one to whom I could talk to.
A sick dog died a few days later, we buried the dog and I left there and returned to Istanbul.
I washed dishes in a restaurant. After twenty hours of washing dishes, the work still wasn’t done. I let it go and left that place too.
I went to the separation center for garbage where we worked to separate waste. When we were chopping papers, I fell into the chopper machine, caught the edge of the device, and the other workers laughed at me while shutting down the machine. I climbed out and thanked them for turning off the machine. I slept at night and left there in the morning. Patron gave me 100 Lira, I lost that money and I cursed myself.
I was tired, and I couldn’t find the right place and a man like Salahettin. I understood how right the place I lost had been.
I had stayed here for several months. I couldn’t get temporary inhabitancy and the police told me that I had to leave Turkey very soon. If the police caught me, I would be deported, so I decided to return. I didn’t want to move there, but I had to do this. Leaving Turkey and returning to Iran wasn’t an option. I didn’t want to return to Iran; I didn’t like the hell and perdition, and I didn’t want to return to prison.
I didn’t want to see the sad and tired people of Tehran in buses and the subway again. I didn’t want to change this city’s bright colors with Tehran’s dark and depressing colors. I didn’t wish to.
The only thing that made me happy was that I was not deported and could return three months later.
I returned to Iran, to Tehran. Things got worse, terribly worse than I thought. Food had become very expensive. Where did I come from? Is this my Iran? Is this my city? What has happened to my poor city, my poor fellow citizens? I wish I could take all of you with me.
I didn’t miss anything and I certainly didn’t miss my father. I didn’t even miss my mother. But when I thought of Tehran, the only thing that came to my mind was the Lavizan Forest Park; yes, I just missed it. When it snowed, I would go there and walk among the trees. It was there that I saw a fox for the first time in my childhood. I was scared. We both looked at each other for a moment before the fox ran away.
I went there again, to the highest point and from there I looked at my city. The city where I grew up. Unfortunately, when I looked at Tehran, I missed Istanbul and its red houses. I missed Berivan and her smile, her beautiful and long hair. I missed the family I had there and I felt hopeless. Nothing was more beautiful for me in Tehran. The same darkness, the same blur, was still in the city. But justice must be served, and some facts must be acknowledged. Clean, potable water and gas were flowing through the city’s pipes. There was no need to buy blue cans to drink water. The water and gas bills were much cheaper than in Istanbul. Justice must be done again. The SHAH left us water, electricity, gas, and a man who wanted to do us good things, but we did not let him.
I missed the sound of seagulls flying at night. I missed everything about Turkey; I lost myself when I was there and happy. I missed the freedom. I counted the days and hours until the day came. I wanted to fly to Turkey with my hands and fly in Istanbul’s sky with the seagulls and be free.