THE STROY OF ONE BOOK AND ONE TOLL


Translator: Seçil Eroğlu

Painter: Abidin Dino

to  Nazım

I am a table lamp. I don’t see anything apart from the goods in the study room. I know the life from the books. I set good dreams in my mind with well-arranged remarks. I dally with what the words mean and I try to revive them. Until the hands which give my light to me, close my button, this festival goes on.

It was the same night again. This time, the remarks I enlightened were the lines of a poem. There was a community across to me. They were as many as the ants in the soil, the fishes in the sea and the birds in the sky. As they said, they were coward, brave, ignorant, dominant and sometimes a child. Furthermore, the ones who create and destroy, though they were, there were only their adventures in this epic. I was actually wondering what happened to them. I had seen before the heroes who were going from an adventure to the others. I had waited excitedly that the hands turning the pages would go to the other page more rapidly. But, I had never seen before the heroes as strange as these.

They were looking like ordinary people. They didn’t have wings, they were not throwing flames from their mouths, they couldn’t have been knocking over a giant with only a single finger, but they were feeling as strong as they would write an epic. As they were so pretentious, a little later, they would show their superior abilities that I had never seen before. It was meaningless to wait more. They told and I revived.

A man with a serge calpac was waiting on an Ottoman carbine. While the scorching hot was turning the salty sweat which burned his eyes, he was observing the way from the front sight of the gun. The sides of Kilis was lonely. The red lizards were walking around bright and sharp rocks. While the shadows were coming to the bottom of the feet, the French military union appeared suddenly from the side. About sixty soldiers with blue uniform and also among them a horseman with a pale face and a star on his shoulder… The horse was high, its legs were slim and its muscles were vigorous. The man on it was pulling the reins. The man with serge calpac stopped as a wolf which saw its prey. His black eyebrows on his sweaty and scorched face were frowned. He brought the carbine into the line of horseman. Eye, rear sight, front sight and he pulled the trigger. The body of pale-faced man was folded through the front side and it was bent double. He fell down. Later, the bullets blowed to the hill where the man with serge calpac stayed.

The sun absorbed the air and the scorching hot wasn’t giving breath. The man’s skin was so bright, his eyes were more red than flame and his tongue was forked. While black snake was going away silently, the wind started to send the clouds to Antep.

The black snake walked through the Antep.

As it walked.

Antep changed.

The mountains overflowed from straight plains in a very exalted way.

The air was spoilt.

The sky fleeced the rain to the sharp rockies.

Later, the wooden walls rised from four sides.

The man’s back shivered with an unbearable pain.

He was heaped to the place which he was.

He found himself in a soft mattress in a house with single room.

His name was Kerim anymore.

Kambur Kerim from Adapazarı.

He was fourteen. His slim legs as a forked branch were opened through two sides and there were the dark shadows under his eyes. His upper lip which just started to sprout beard was getting white and also his skin turned white. His sunken eyes’colour was pale and his looks were dim. The young man who was vigorous turned to a lifeless mass of bone.

There was Şerif Usta who is a bonesetter from the village Hatçehan near him. He asked him:

“What happened to you?”

Kerim said that he took some papers from İpsiz Recep to the heroes of Anatolian, his horse was afraid of foreign soldiers’fire, ran for a long time as a mad and fell down suddenly under Armaşa in Başdeğirmenler.

Şerif Usta said:

“What a pity! Don’t be worry, I will improve you.”

He began to knead Kerim who is very thin, as a dough with his thick fingers. Kerim was shouting loudly. As his voice hit the house’s old walls, he was remembering the death. He was remembering his father who was a carpenter. His father who died in the mobilization for war. Whould he go to the heaven like him?

Kerim felt near fainting for a while and he fainted. Kerim stayed in bed for days in a motionless way. He was as a sculpture because Şerif Usta wrapped his body with coated cloths. He was rankling with a sense of never standing up anymore. In this bedfast situation, he missed riding a horse, making wrangler, going down the rocks like a young goat and hiding himself in the forest. He wanted to take the news from side to side and to take a risk for his life. He was a young man as straight, brave and hopeful for the future as a sapling. It passed twenty days. Şerif Usta came to open the coated cloths to the house with single room. He removed all of them from his body as pulling up the coverings of a tree. Kerim straightened in the mattress. His whole body shivered as being exposed to frost. When he took his big head among his very thin fingers, he was bent double as a hump tree.

Kambur Kerim from Adapazarı heard the voice of water.

The smell of the sea came to his nose.

The mattress was shaking as a cradle.

He raised his head.

He was in the middle of the sea in a night without moon.

He was a man with a long and crooked nose who sat alone in a skiff.

He didn’t have a hump. But he was again straight and brave like a sapling.

His name was İsmail anymore.

İsmail from Arhave…

The severe wind stopped and the sea became as a sheet. But İsmail couldn’t feel happy about this. He looked the broken shovels being waved in two sides of the skiff. The nearest coast was fifteen miles away from him. While the skiff was dragging through the high waters, he prayed for a breeze through the coast. Then his hands which he left on his knees touched the trust wrapped with a blanket. He took this heavy machine gun from Bekir Usta, the master of dagger in the Tophane quay. He spoke and agreed with Şaban Reis and they opened to the Blacksea. He would hand over it to the leaders but he would take it with his own hands until Ankara if he didn’t consider the people in the port, appropriate for it. He was still waiting all alone in the middle of the sea. There was nothing that he could do. He became as if he saw a light for a while. It was looking like a match flame. He kneaded his eyes and the light got lost. He said in low:

“I suppose that I was confused.”

Then he remembered the torpedo’s projector, the English projector wandering around the sails of the small boat. He remembered also that he took the trust and got lost in the dark with this skiff after he made amend for all his past with Şaban Reis and then how he pulled the shovels with all his power while the five tons boat from chestnut tree was burning in the middle of the sea, later how the shovels were broken while he was fighting with the waves in the height of a minaret. He said:

“But still, I did well. But, what if I stayed in the boat?”

İsmail could die for the victory of the anchory whose back is dark blue and corn bread as he was singing a song, without expecting anything from anybody. What interesting it! He remembered Fotika’s breasts in Kemeraltı and he smiled.

The skiff was still dragging in the night without star.

İsmail’s huge body was shrinked and his eyes became bloodshot because of the sleeplessness.

Later ,it was suddenly striked  a match in cold and wet dark.

İsmail supposed that he was dreaming again.

He smelled tobacco and the bitter smoke burned his eyes.

While he was kneading his face, he found himself in a café.

He had a cigarette on his lips and he breathed in fire by turning it to smoke.

He was sitting on a table and writing a letter.

He was a young teacher.

His name was Nurettin Eşfak.

“My brother,

I have been writing this letter to you in the café Kuyulu in Ankara. You know Ankara, it is thundering and cold. I am in front of the window. The soldiers out of breath have been passing on the street. Their lives have become narrow under the heavy ammunition and their necks with thick vein have been bent. They have been walking by coughing crunchingly in squishy mud. Their very very short life-span have been being grazed from their legs.                                                                                                          

A woman has been following soldiers. She is a thin and with slim skin woman. There is a fair paleness in her face, it is probably because of the illnesses reappearing in the houses. She has gathered her young girls with old face and drying their eyes from time to time, around her knees. Her pallid, naked heels has extended over the edge of her rubber shoes. Her pallid dress has gotten muddy. But she is inordinately proud. Who knows? Maybe one of the soldiers is her son.  My brother! I mean that we have been living in such days as that, you will always feel the death in the middle of your brow to tell that I can do a work. I remember the children in villages. They are those who learn and know without books. They are those who cry as Hodja Nasrettin and laugh as Zihni from Bayburt. I have still been burning to teach one of the most alive and fresh languages of the world, their own language. But they have been fighting in the front. I can not wait any more, my brother. I will leave from the school and go to the front.

Your Brother

Nurettin Eşfak”

Nurettin Eşfak set free a big smoky breath.

The smoke stringed slowly in the room.

He was bored and his face was faded.

He had a bad mood. He was surprised at his own state.

However he was filled with hopes to the utmost, while he was in the café.

He noticed that the pencil in his hand got lost.

His finger tips started to press on the keys of telegraph with a flawed rhythm.

He was a telegraph clerk in İstanbul.

His name was Hamdi anymore.

Hamdi from Manastır…

The clouds getting lighter with stopping the rain were taking back their shadows from İstanbul. Veli’s son Memet from Reşadiye got himself out of the gendarme station; but he didn’t leave his gun. He was feeling near fainting because of the sleeplessness and tiredness. His body didn’t have any alert part. He was biting his lower lip with rancor; he killed two English soldiers. While the sounds of bullets were ringing the ears, Hamdi from Manastır with the very clever and agile eyes and bent body, sat on the telegraph. His nostrils were one swelling and one decreasing. As the fear started up from time to time, his body under his cloths being excessively sweaty and dark, was shivering. In that telegraph to Mustafa Kemal, he said:

“It is presented. While English navy union was occupying the gendarme station, our soldiers waked up in a surprised way and then the clash started. As a result, there were six martyrs and fifteen casualties from us. English soldiers occupied Beyoğlu and Tophane by docking the battleships alongside the quay. I have just learnt my sir.

16 March 1920

Hamdi from Manastır”

The sounds of bullets stopped.

The shadows died suddenly and it became evening.

The moonlight was a pure white lantern being reflected to the sea.

Hamdi from Manastır was a soldier in Gebze.

His name was Kazım anymore.

Bahçıvan Kazım from Kartal…

Mansur who is a spy for English was lying down in the coast. He was wounded. He couldn’t estimate that he would fall into an ambush while he was going through the railroad with his horse. He was shooted to his leg and shoulder; but he was able to come to the coast of the sea by crawling as an animal whose back legs was broken.

Kazım approached to Mansur slowly. He removed his knife that he holded with his huge wrists. The knife was a silver flame breaking off the full moon in the moonlight. It was appeared the fear stripes never seen before in the face of Mansur. Who knows, how many people Mansur had gotten into trouble before? As Kazım thought that, he frowned and his anger broke out. He sticked the cold steel into Mansur’s heart. The man’s mouth became large because of the pain and his eyes bulged out. His blood solidified in his face in the lonely coast never being breathed. In spite of the hot, he tried to say something with his getting cold and clattering voice but it was left half-done. The light of his looks was faded. Kazım rummaged through his pockets and he removed the bloody papers. He read them quikly:

“The defense power of the Nationalist Forces: 98956 guns, 325 artilleries, 5 planes, 2800 and a bit mitrailleuses, 2500 and a bit swords, 186326 soldiers.”

The sky blowed his white breath.

The fog being settled in,covered up the skirts of  the mountains.

The high hills stayed as an island on the white sea.

Kazım heard the voice of a motor.

He was in a van.

His name was Ahmet anymore.

Şoför Ahmet from Süleymaniye…

The van in number three was climbing on the hill, breathing heavily with a clattering noise by eating fuel and stopping once in every eleven kilometers. Şoför Ahmet looked down the way. He saw the oxcarts going to the front in Afyon over Akşehir. They were moving forward as ants in a row. He watched the children who closed their faces with their fingers… The children who were looking at the deads of oxes and wheels remaining from the coffles in the past… Later the voice of the fun changed, the revolving went down and the van completely slowed. Şoför Ahmet from the first army and the second transport battalion sweared. He said in a murmuring way:

“The motor is becoming a spoilsport and it will leave us on the top of mountain.”

When the shadows started to get longer, it smelled soil. The sky pouring huge drops for a few days, fed and fed the streams which have been flowing by penetrating the mountains. The wild waters threw up the dead remains of trees from the mountains to the right and left. Ahmet stopped the van and wrapped a hornbeam trunk with branch which he found in stream, on the axle, under the chassis, instead of the left back spring. He ran the motor again. So he hasn’t gone ten kilometers yet that, the left back tire was lurched. Ahmet got off the van and lifted it with the jack. He was bent and looked it. The inner part of tire was torn from end to end. Ahmet spitted on the floor. He turned his face which was burned with under the mountain sun, to the tire and thought. The coffles passed near him and he stayed alone in the mountains. He said himself:

“You are from Süleymaniye Ahmet! The van in number three is entrusted to only you. Also you remember that there is a sheep. The sheep which hangs from its own leg. Undress Şoför Ahmet from Süleymaniye, undress!”

The jacket, the underpant, the trousers, the shirt, the calpac and the belt left Ahmet naked on his half boots and went into the outer tire blew up it.

Ahmet thought his land. His land which has got blue seas and mountains on all sides of it… The words which he couldn’t express were withholded in his mouth and leaned against his teeth. They tried to remove from his mouth. He was repeating these words silently: “We have been making fifty kilometers an hour, bear down on this condition, my long and exhausting business! Bear down on it and so the mountains must see Şoför Ahmet in a stark naked way. Bear down on it! My lion!”

When all of these finished, from 98956 guns and Şoför Ahmet’s van in number three to snayders in seven and a half and obuses in fifteen, with all devices, for the sake of homeland, that is to say with their abilities of diying for land and liberty, the first and second armies are ready for an unexpected attack. The horseman with a black and drooping mustache who states near his horse, in the bottom of a chinar in the twilight, jumped up his horse with his short boots. Nurettin Eşfak looked his watch:

“5.30”

And the Great Attack started together with dawn and artillery fire. The book went on in this way. The hands which gave my light to me forgot to close my button. The coffe cup on the table, pencils and papers, also the words of the half open book waited in light until morning.