Umut Yıldırım

On condition that my words be freely appreciated, I can announce the evidence and the measures I rely on.

The fact that a shadow, too engulfed in an apprehension as dark as rotten flesh to tend to my shortness of breath by kindly caressing my hair as he usually would while I followed him up the steep two-foot stairs of the dark corridor converging upwards, recommended I not be afraid certainly counts as evidence! Buried shadow. Huh. shad. ow. Huh huh shadow. Huh.

Hahahahah hah ha huh some shadow! I know from his rapid heartbeat, his dilated pupils and his tobacco breath, there is no shadow or anything. He is my corpulent and quite young father, and according to him, a burglar has broken into our modest rental house, but I no longer remember which since I've forgotten how many times we moved.

It happens. They always break in. Each time, the light oozing down the black corridor from where the apartment door that is meant to be closed has been broken, becomes sensory evidence and makes my father say, "A burglar has broken in." My father first turns into a shadow, and then something happens to his pupils. Because every time he becomes a shadow I can turn into a cyclops who can predict the near future with an adventure-craving weariness caused by being able to estimate more or less how we will pass our share of the half-hour that awaits the two of us and the burglar, I drop my backpack from my shoulder with a huff. This is what will happen next: my father will pick up my bag from the floor, hold my hand and with a nervous smile he will say, "Come on, pumpkin!" In quick little steps he will take me somewhere outside the building which he deems safe, and without actually commanding me, in a curt hiss between a plea and a recommendation he will ask me to wait. I will frown because I do not like to wait, or at least to be made to wait. My father will go into the building, then into our apartment. If there is no burglar, he will come back right where he left me. If there is indeed a burglar, my father needs to heroically eject him from our house.

Throughout the years, I have become quite convinced that my father can expel the burglar from our house, because now that I think about it, my dearest Cem, who was in his early thirties at the time, could cry while watching Akira Kurosawa films. He gathers bay leaves from inside a sea bass, fertilises jasmines, is an admirer of magnolias and a lemonophile pure-Samurai. A Samurai! If the burglar, may he die of thirst on the steep stairs of the coru doorc, cark, d ark cori, da ark cor ri dor, knew whom he would face would he dare break into our home? Not at all. That being true, what if Samur Cem needs help?

On one occasion, since I got tired of waiting outside I tried to enter one of our homes, following him. My father picked me up and galloped down the moment he saw his cyclops daughter passing into the beam of light from the broken door at the end of the stairs that stretched upwards, standing by the door to help him expel burglars from our house. I must have perceived that my father had not been positively influenced by my performance, though he had not yelled at me, for that reason never again did I refuse his request that I wait and not burst into the buildings. At the end of the day, he needs to be able to take care of himself. As you can appreciate, I cannot always save him.

While waiting and thinking of these things save for the knowledge that my father would become intimately attached to Kurosawa in the period of early maturity, which neither he nor I have yet reached, I wake up to his nervous and deep voice, breaking out of my reverie. I find him with a smile freed of anxiety, his hand freed of anxiety extending in a soft gesture to my bored of being bored hair. "The burglar's gone, sweetheart," he says. High five! I pick up my bag from the floor, he lifts me to his lap, I throw my arms around his neck, and we enter our home.

The burglars do not take anything from the house, as we are transient, and as a cyclops family of three, made up of individuals, we are on the go and own nothing of value. Though before we came out as cyclopes, we used to get many visitors, pipes would be discussed, books would be consumed, guitars and instruments would be cheered loudly, raucous laughter would break out—not that they visit anymore, whatever. It is true that we have our own features and belongings, and also true that we have nothing worth stealing. These burglars have been unable to achieve anything other than sticking their bear's feet into our home and breaking our things.

Who are these burglars, and what do they want from us?

[An under-fired piece requires a lot of glazing.]



[First and foremost, it is important to know which body, which temperature and which atmosphere you are mixing the glazing for.]

[Basic glazes: RO, RO2{PbO, Na2O, K2O, Li2O, BaO, CaO, MgO, ZnO, SrO}] We are playing remote tickle. No touching, but talking is allowed. So we are tickling without touching. While kicking around on the floor, I am yelling, "Father, stop!" and bursting into laughter. Samur Cem has a wonderful effect on me—if he wants to, he can make me laugh until I pee my pants. He comes up with nicknames for me, too. Ö ZÜ is my favourite. It is uttered in this fashion, "Ööööööööööö Zü!" In the years that ensued, many tried this one and failed because they are unaware of the original intonation, God bless them. Then, on account of the bread slices I burnt at breakfast he called me, "Coal-master Mustafa," but that one did not stick. He did call me, "Ruskating," after I referred to Russian figure skating as such. Referring to the gassy situation that occurs after I eat beans, he may end up calling me, "Özika-Honorika- Valentinika-Tatata!"

He has a moderate sympathy for all things Soviet, the kind that does not recklessly produce hammers and sickles all over the place. At first, I thought it was merely a literary and philosophical interest (he loves to read), up until How Man Became a Giant was bought for me, as every socialist does for their offspring. It may have been my first year of primary school. A person, who could read standing on her head at the age of five, is of course, old enough to grasp materialistic philosophy at seven. What is more, I had been put through a pre-curriculum that was gently anthropological in nature. For example, I knew what things like worker uncle, worker aunt, class, bourjoya, revolutionary, communix, anarchix, imperialix, union, factoly, meelting and fair distribution were, not merely from the place they occupied in the lexicon of the militant, but also from personal experience. I have long been aware that women who get their hair blow-dried and wear nail polish have betrayed our cause, to such an extent that right around that age, my militant's perverse destiny made me attack my beautiful mother with a slobbery growl of "bourjoya" as she got a blow-dry for her hair, and later on as I collected Debussy and Schnittke records from fragrant second-hand booksellers in Beyoğlu, as I got emotional over Mümtaz and Nuran's love, as I was looking for C's footprints on Kumbaracı Yokuşu, though I cared little for his fallen and crusty version of manhood, as I was alternatively reading Begoña Aretxaga, Ahmet Hamdi, Jacques Prévert, J. H. Prynne, Audre Lorde in hazy London cafés, as I was cooking mussels with white wine and sea bass with plums, falling in love with both lace and Concrete music, as I was cloudgazing, doing all these herebys, I would have that destiny removed. What I mean is, if it is not in the essence of the object, flattening sharpness looks unpleasant on a human being. Therefore, since most socialists never get the opportunity to have children because they are murdered, imprisoned, crippled by torture, busy with militant activities or undergoing a nervous breakdown, as the child of the few socialists blessed with kids, I quickly neutralise How Man Became a Giant instead of reading it cover to cover as I ought to because my mind is perpetually in the sea, in tomorrowwediganartesianwellhooray, in hopscotch, in Chinese jump rope, in dodgeball and in skittle hide-and- seek—I am completely obsessed with scheming ways to pluck the cherry tree before it is too late in the year, obsessed with trigonometry, geometry, the logic puzzles of the magazine Science and Technology and what not, these type of things. So, I've got my head in the clouds. I write poetry.


"Wherefore these falling leaves?

and why these endless pains?

Why is it I miss you,

Every day, once anew?"


[Amphoteric glazes: R2O3 {Al2O3, B2O3}] In that case, hair in a twist from distance-flirting with a melancholy with clogged drainage, my collar unstarched, my throwaway school uniform, as a je t'aime over the age of seven, I sense it—these two would get me started on M. Ilin and E. Segal, then would destroy me with those brick-sized–ova- evski books at the house, and good God, they would prepare me for Poulantzas or something. My golden-hearted, vigilant mother, since she swore to protect her offspring from anything unexpected, has herself became a panther subjected to the unexpected. Concerning these matters, there's no trusting Samur—he will just throw a book in front of you, you may read it with interest just because if came from Samur. So, what do we learn? Since he knew so much about these things, Samur would keep these bricks away from me. I am a militant girl-child. If a sister is the kind of comrade with whom one cannot voluntarily and openly make love, a child is the kind of comrade who thankfully goes unnoticed as such. I must take measures, as you will appreciate.

[Acidic glazes: RO2 {SiO2, SnO2, TiO2, ZrO2}] Özika-Honorika- Valentinika-Tatata! He really likes this nickname, although it is real long he can repeat it tirelessly without getting bored. He bursts into a crescendo of laughter at the Tatata! part. He is having a blast! I just laugh it off, as you know, there's no use being a child around a child. I let him act like a rascal because he has suffered a lot, though I am not entirely sure why and how. I may have developed this opinion because his heart went boom boom BOOM BOOMM while going up the steep stairs of the black corridor. In addition, when the burglars come, something would happen to his pupils as I have already mentioned. My eyes are on Samur. Though he does not realise it, I know quite well that I need to protect him. That's why my eyes are on me.



[Along with the raw materials used in glazes, there are various metal oxides in their composition. During the development of the glaze at high temperatures, these oxides fulfil various functions inside the glaze.]

[Glassifiers: SiO2, B2O3] Hrrr hrrrrr harh h h h h haaaarrhhhh rah rah rah hhh h. The shadow is running quite fast. The orange light emitted by the street lights blends into the sooty black on the high walls—their tops covered with shards of glass—of a sugar factory deployed all along the right side of a narrow street. Samur is running, hhhhhrrr haaarh hhhr, he is panting and drawing air in short breaths, I am unable to touch his dark shadow. I cannot tell if it is Samur who is running or if his shadow has taken him over. The silhouette looks exactly like Samur. His athletic body, his sideburns, his black hair, his dark brown bellbottoms, his turtleneck sweater and his long-fingered, shapely hands extruding from the sleeves of his velour jacket. This is Samur! I am not sure. This is Samur! He is running. Others are running after my father. Samuhhhr hh haaarhg is running, the others right behind him going tap tap clump clump. Samur cannot run, but they can't catch him either!

[Fusers and stabilisers, respectively: Na2O, K2O, Li2O, PbO, B2O3; CaO, MgO, BaO, Al2O3, PbO, ZnO] Yet on that day, when they arrived in one of the working-class neighbourhoods where I grew up, in a manner completely unfitting Samur, the policemen put Samur into a police van by twisting his long swan's neck and pressing down his head. Unlike what happens in the recurring running dream that has been haunting me for years, Samur failed to turn into a shadow and got caught. While huge-legged, huge-bellied, humongous old women stood akimbo behind the police van, evaluating the situation by going this happened, that happened, so it happened, ah is that what happened, did this happen, it did so happen, with my football in my hand, dressed in my shorts, on tiptoe, I am trying to create a window through the what-a- shame-what- a-pity hips that block me. Finally, I see Samur. I feel relieved. Waving at me from the window of the police van, he looks more dejected and timid than I have ever seen him. He is gesticulating, I'll be back tonight he says, and this is because we will cook before my mom gets back home. My father cooks, does the dishes, and I wipe them dry and place them in a suitable place since I'm still not tall enough to reach the kitchen cupboard.

[Matte glazes and opacifiers, respectively: ZnO, TiO2, CaO, BaO; SnO2, ZrSiO4, ZrO2, TiO2] Oh well, Samur, from the window of the police van, wait the window is separating us, Samur, from behind the window, from that world that twisted your swan's neck, why do you wave at me? Why can I not come with you Alright, I'll wait if I must, but who do you think you are kidding, Samur? Under these conditions, as we both jolly well know, you may never come home again.

[Crystallisers: ZnO, TiO2, CaO, Cr2O3] Her face grey and whitewashed, my slim mother comes, stressed like a violin string about to break—she is listening to the women as though none of this had anything to do with us, and I hide under her trench coat. Samur does not come that night, he does not come for about a week. With hope, I am waiting Samur. Samur does not come. I could not protect Samur, my tears are flowing into me. Samur did not keep his promise, and my neck twists like an intensely green leaf that gently lands on the ground as it gets too heavy for the huge palm tree. Now we are something like two separate people, Samur.



Then his long fingers were all warped

crooked gnarled smitten smitten

the devil got into his hangnails

the nail enveloped his soul

his teeth retreated into their gums and fell off.

In the end, his mouth ran to the corpse washer

his nose got hairy

his hands were all tied,

he took on an odour!

Then even the corpse washer did not want to wash him,

he got a hump,

his feet stumbled shuffle shuffle as he walked,

his breath faded suspicion

his fingers turned all yellow

ether he became ether,

Samur went from bad to worse.

The revolution collapsed, and my father got eaten up with melancholy. Samur settled into a self-loving pain that did not allow any loss of control or self, his heart ceased to desire anything other than this glorious pain. Melancholy penetrated Samur like a nail, the radiant child, the dissenting genie, the rebel boy fallen in love with black bile. The bile scorched Samur, scorched him, burned him, ate his ashes and spit him out. And the bay leaves escaped, the jasmines faded, the magnolias fainted, the lemons sagged. Samur took out his anger on everyone.



At some point, after Samur got cross, while burglars kept pillaging our homes, I started primary school. Erol who died from heroin when he was seventeen, his mother, Nigâr Hanım Teyze, who forced the neighbourhood into exile due to the tripe she cooked every Friday and her daughter, Melek Abla, whose face is said to be warped because she walked on hot embers during the evening call to prayer, the alcoholic former policeman dipstick uncle whose name I cannot recall and his wife, the porcelain fiend, Çiçek Hanım Teyze, whom he regularly beat, the mother of three daughters and one son, Mavi Hanım Teyze, who slept around with every man in the neighbourhood for pocket change, while her husband worked as a labourer in Libya, and their daughters, the malicious Hülya, the evil-eyed Oya and Nida, who was so educated and elegant that she could not possibly have belonged to that family; the horse-faced and smart daughter of Muzaffer Hanım Teyze from apartment 10, Selma Abla, who always had a book, and the oldest of the seven children in apartment 9 whom Selma loved like a sister, Pınar Abla, the only girl in the neighbourhood to attend university, the lover of bedsheets, Ayşe Hanım Teyze, mother of seven children, two of whom are girls, her utterly ignorant, former agha, prince of a spoon husband who calls her Miss Eli, with difficulty she managed to raise two rebel daughters, and five men of five fractions in her two-room house without setting them off against each other, her one daughter escaped to a husband for lap-play, while the other daughter prepared the rebellion and became a revolutionary—I started primary school in the social dwellings of the ancient Istanbul slums that embraced these values and many other similar ones. Occasionally, the adolescent boys who communicated by CB played us songs by Orhan, Müslüm, Fikret, the Eagles and Chicago in stereo broadcasts, and these tunes would get under our skin while we ran around in the sun among oleaster, plum, mulberry, and sour cherry trees, and later in the poppy fields, blasted off on flying horses and took to the air. We escaped the tables of habitual evening drinkers who lived in derelict houses, with curiosity we dug our noses into the gypsy neighbourhood a bit further away, with laughter we vomited this arabesque that worked its way into our skins, and we set out on awesome expeditions. Is there anything more pleasant than being surprised? Every child should run free in the streets. Here we are with our heads miles above in the clouds, our gravity-hating knees constantly covered with wounds, during those times when everything was a wonder, I simply forgot about Samur and the burglars, for ten years or so.



[Glazing can collapse.]

I am scraping slightly burnt bread slices with a knife, and Samur is setting the table. My mother is calmly frowning at the newspapers. We were never a family that constantly hangs out together, in close quarters, in each other's hair, on top of each other, in a tangle. Everyone lives in their own space, so when we are together, especially if it happens to be during breakfast at the start of the day, can be precious and intense—we can turn into a political organisation. This is a dinner table organisation where the recent political conjuncture is evaluated, literature is discussed, a bit of gossip exchanged to spice things up—mind you, Samur only learned how to gossip with a laugh after he turned sixty-five, which makes us very happy—decisions concerning the household are discussed, propositions concerning cats, dogs, plants, trees and human health and development are made, criticisms are expressed, decisions made, occasionally voices raised, at times tears shed, full of laughter and kisses, every bit of which was prepared with love, with a lot of love, with passion. In the parental home, the food is prepared by Samur, without taking his rolling pin-nosed, Virgo wife too seriously. I think his food is the best.

According to the news piece in the paper that my mother left on the table as she ran to the doorbell, a person named Abdullah Öcalan was a supporter of the Galatasaray football club. So? Two-thirds of the people of Turkey commit this error—why is this newsworthy now? While I am scraping the bread, "What's the PKK, Father?" I ask. Samur gives me a look of disappointment mixed with terror that cannot hide his motivational agenda. What a shame, he says to no one in particular. Yes, he does say this, and he gets up and leaves the table.

He did not have to get up in this manner, because Samur had previously taught me what Kurdistan and Kurdish meant. During primary school, on a weekend when I was utterly confused because I had trouble grasping the concept of geographical borders separating regions and countries, I had asked for Samur's help. He did not make my task any easier. This here, he had said, indicating a place called South Eastern Anatolia, is an area in our country. But this place, according to some, is the northern part of a place called Kurdistan.

Awesome! I was already confused about the absoluteness of the border, just go ahead and pour some more gasoline onto this fiery mess, won't you, Samur?

— In that case, why has this been drawn like this, as though it has always been this way?

— To make it easier.

— It's not easy. I'm confused. If it is both this way and that way, why is it only like this? Who is drawing these borders, and who is filling in their insides?

— Borders can change.

— (Though I felt that the imperialix and the bosses were involved in this mess, I did not stray off topic.) So what's gonna happen now?

— Referendum.

— (Yay! An unfamiliar word!) How does that work?

— The people who live there can change the boundaries through democratic means if they so desire.

At first it seems plausible. Democracy, I already knew about that. It meant that workers would be happy. Other than us kids, but not counting my classmate, Serkan Dal, because he worked as a shoeshine boy, other than wherefores everyone I knew worked: my mother, my granny, too, and Samur as well. All the adults I knew either worked or were looking for work, therefore, all adults should be happy. But what would happen to Serkan Dal? Something was always left out of the equation. Alright, let's focus: all creatures on earth live inside these borders, our kitty and our doggy, too, granny's geraniums as well, even the imagination-deficient people who drew the borders and filled in their insides any which way they wanted. Serkan Dal as well. Now, the referendum was the thing that made it possible to change that border, if we do not like it, so that we can be happy. (Although Serkan Dal did not want to work, and in that case, he may not have had any connection with a democracy that made people happy, and he may not have had any connection with the referendum, therefore what was supposed to happen to the happiness of those who did not work and who did not want to work?) Argh, I could not wrap my head around it. I was in quite a challenging situation! Stop, stop, stop now stop, if we leave Serkan Dal out of this, (but how could we not think about him, we shared a desk, he had a necklace-like thing made of the strap material of the shoeshine box, and he never wants to step onto the street to shine shoes, he just wants to smash his brush into five pieces on the floor, CRACK!), in that case happiness, AH! WHILE MY HEAD WAS ACHING, I was startled by my teacher's voice asking what we learned over the weekend, and when I blurted out, "Referendum!" I was sent home for the day. So, what? I chucked my schoolbag and climbed the cherry to get some practice before summertime.

Between the time Samur got upset and left the table and came back with tea, and the instant my mother came to the table with toasted bread, I do not know what it is that hit my nevernaught, that touched me, but I could not control myself:

Ö— You should not have left me with Mama Rezzan.

S— How so?

Ö— You can't be angry with me, Daddy. I can be angry with you.

S— You don't say! And why is that?

Ö— I have the right to be angry if I want to…

S— What's to be angry about?

Ö— There's something. If I feel so…

S— What does Mama Rezzan have anything to do with this?

M— Oh dear! She was a very important, very lovely person. A bit on the opportunistic side, but that's fine.

Ö— Should not have left me with Mama Rezzan.

M— Özgür, what are you saying?

Ö— They shot up the place with guns, mother.

S— My child, what are you saying?

Ö— You weren't there when the fascists fired. Only Mama Rezzan and I were home. Mama Rezzan shoved me under the table, and that is the reason we made it out alive. Why do you so recklessly leave me exposed?

S— Sweetie, what are you saying?

M— Özgür, for god's sake don't be ridiculous. Is such a thing possible?

Ö— Of course, it's possible! Plus, you are more at fault! That day, as the military police came in to apprehend you, weren't you the one who handed me over to Süheyla Abla who was sleeping inside, oblivious to the event, and didn't you leave the house running? I was not even wearing anything!

Süheyla Abla and I made it out alive because we were hiding behind the sofa!

The choir continues rehashing the same motifs: My child, what have you done? My child, is it possible? My child, where does this come from now? While they keep trying to prove that these two tales are not real as I would come to understand and accept in the upcoming years, I'm not in control of my limbs, I'm turning inside out with a gurgling sound, tothepointofnoreturn. I explode like a fire:


[Glazing gives the body to which it is applied a shiny and smooth surface. Since it forms a nonconductive barrier, it protects the body from liquids and gases, insulating it. The glazing also provides mechanical resistance and electrical isolation. It protects the body from acids, bases, scratches and impacts. It ensures hygiene, prevents the proliferation of microorganisms and limits their actions. It prevents dirt build-up and ensures easy cleaning. It brings colour and textural features to an otherwise uninteresting surface and increases the aesthetic value of the object.]


Translator: Umur Çelikyay