Peristalsis*

#28
Fatma Belkıs
About More

* A radially contraction and relaxation movements that the digestive system uses to transmit the contents of the tube along the digestive tract. 

 

A brief introductory note: This text, "Peristalsis", has been written as an extension of a longer text (or thoughts) with me for a while. The two characters who are with me in this text, Vuslat and Süleyman, are two ambulance drivers obliged to transport a piece of baggage to far away. The distance is long, and the responsibility is huge. When I went about this text for this Issue of Orta Format, I wished them to speak for me. Even from the first hand, it is hard to talk about collectives, initiatives, and friendships that we think comes to an end. Talking on behalf of someone else is even harder. I have been trying to find a formula of talking about my experiences as "cases" for a while, but I have not yet found a method that fully satisfies me. Then I said to myself: Vuslat and Süleyman, who have been the voice-over of what I have been thinking about some issues recently, can be the voice of this, too. One of my high school teachers said that I should not start any work with a warning. Then the audience, listener, reader always consider this warning. Being aware of this, I am warning. Maybe you just remind this. 

 

 

Vuslat got behind the wheel of the ambulance while Süleyman got the next seat, and they departed. They did not speak for a while. Vuslat, who is normally known for her enthusiastic and active temperament, was quiet. Although Süleyman realized this unusual situation, he did not ask anything. He waited for her to tell. Vuslat, on the other hand, waited for him to realize that her joy was missing and asked for it. Neither of them spoke. As long as Süleyman did not ask, the sadness surrounding Vuslat became heavier. Her eyes filled with tears, and she started to cry quietly. As Süleyman respects Vuslat's privacy, when he realized that Vuslat is demoralized, he took his book out of his bag. Until Vuslat started to sniff loudly, he did not look up from his book. When he saw that she was crying, he could not help asking. Vuslat explained the reason for the sadness that made her almost altered beyond recognition. 

One night, Vuslat had gone to one of the old rock bars in the city and hung out on her own without intention to meet anyone. Even though she did not find time to get bored, a long-haired sympathetic stranger came to her chummily, and started a surprisingly deep conversation. She flirted a bit with this long-haired, sympathetic stranger. Then she joined this stranger's friends who are also long-haired and sympathetic. Even though she remembered this night unsurely, there was a detail that she was sure: She thought that there was a bond between her and these long-haired, sympathetic strangers. A bond almost visible, starting from someone, Vuslat, and reached out to them; a bond looking like thin, luminous threads. She felt as if she was looking at the mirror while looking at them. Although the people she looked at did not look like her, she felt as if they were the same. Maybe she wanted to feel that way, and think that she was one of those long-haired and sympathetic strangers. Vuslat was short-haired and would think she was a type lost in the crowd. Maybe she just wanted to feel long-haired and sympathetic like them. Maybe it was truly special what they talked about, and she had never shared such things with anyone before. Long-haired and sympathetic strangers were talking about form a band. Maybe Vuslat just wanted to imagine that she was a part of that band about to be formed. Or to be a part of any group of people with a strong bond with each other. 

For one reason or another, Vuslat loved these strangers and spent the whole night with them. The next day, she was the bass guitarist of the mentioned band when she woke up in one of the long-haired, sympathetic stranger's home. She woke up on the couch with pyjamas that she did not know.   

The time that we spent together was very valuable for Vuslat. They talked about music for hours. The time that they spent talking about how music should be was even more than that they spent making music. But that was not a problem for any of them. In fact, it seemed more important than the music itself. 

Although Vuslat sometimes did not understand why they were meeting or what they were doing together, she was extremely grateful for every minute they spent together. She was free to do what she wanted, out of a circle of responsibility, completely outside her daily life, and it was different from what she was obliged to do in her work. That was a completely new method than she has known until now, and she was with these people. Togetherness was a new, unknown, and irregular thing; so did their friendship and practices. If there was someone else in Vuslat's shoes, or if Vuslat experienced such a situation under other circumstances; she would try to control, make sense, organize it. But she was fascinated by friends she met at an old rock bar. 

They gathered in one of the group member's house yesterday. Vuslat was as cheerful and enthusiastic as ever. She did not interpret the silence in the ambience in a negative way. She thought one of them would criticize the new song they were working on. The first guy that she met on the first night broke his silence. They were about to release an album, that was a professional matter. They found another bass guitarist, Vuslat was always their friend, that was a professional matter. Besides, Vuslat was working during the day, and she couldn't keep up with their tempo, that was a professional matter. That was good for everyone in the long-term, and they knew Vuslat would understand. That was a professional matter. 

 

Vuslat dashes away her tears. She realizes a recreation facility sign on the drive. Ambulance speeds up, they enter the facility and park the ambulance. Vuslat gets out of the ambulance with a cigarette and keys in her hand, so does Süleyman with a thermos and small bags. Apart from restaurants and shops, there are several picnic tables under the trees. They sit face to face on one of the picnic tables.  

VUSLAT

I want to change back to a time that I did not know them. 

SÜLEYMAN

I don't think it is possible. 

VUSLAT

What do you mean?

SÜLEYMAN

I mean, it is impossible. 

VUSLAT

Why?

SÜLEYMAN

Because you can't undo what you experienced. You've already lived it. Accept that you're upset if you get upset. Accept you're hurt, if you got hurt. You have no choice but to live a bit like this. I think you don't realize what happened. As if you think like, "How did this happen to me?" But you missed the point: This has not happened right now. That is what has happened since you met with these people. 

VUSLAT

I should've known from the very beginning that this was coming. Still, like voluntarily… 

SÜLEYMAN

I am talking about any kind of friendship. It was obvious from the beginning that this friendship, this togetherness would somehow end. There might have been a disagreement, or someone might have moved somewhere else, someone might have been falling in love or finding a job… at the best scenario, some would die, and it would end. I don't underestimate your feelings, please don't get me wrong. 

You're just in a situation in which you can't understand. This situation is strange to you. I want to say that this is normal, so as not to torture yourself. Maybe this relationship from the very beginning was so unique that you could not explain even to yourself. You had never experienced anything like this before. Accept the ending with the same openness that you accepted togetherness. Because of your feelings and the end of this friendship are also parts of it. Incidents change a person. 

VUSLAT

But I was happy with the person I was before. I don't want to change. I wouldn't want to, at least.

SÜLEYMAN

I don't understand why you talk like something awful has happened to you. When you experience something you don't understand, you are especially changed. You won't be able to recover until it makes sense to you. When it makes sense, you have already become a different person on impulse. Do you want to drink something? I have tea and hot water. I can make coffee, too.

VUSLAT

I don't know. I don't know what to drink. 

SÜLEYMAN

Please pull yourself together. Don't torture yourself. Drink something. 

VUSLAT

I can't pull out myself. As you said, I am completely different now. I have a headache. 

SÜLEYMAN

Drink some tea. I am making tea, drink some. 

Süleyman takes out sage tea and a cup from his bag. 

VUSLAT

I am sad, I guess. 

SÜLEYMAN

You must be sad. 

VUSLAT

Should I be sad, or do you guess I am sad?

SÜLEYMAN

A little bit of both. I am pouring the water. It can brew up to two minutes. You can take it out at any time up to two minutes. Don't wait more than two minutes.  

Süleyman puts the sage into the cup, then pour some hot water from the thermos. 

VUSLAT

Should I take the responsibility of even the tea…

SÜLEYMAN

Don't exaggerate, please. It is just tea.

VUSLAT

I am bored.

SÜLEYMAN

Now, I am bored, too. 

VUSLAT

Don't you get upset when the bands quit? 

SÜLEYMAN

If it is one of my favourites, of course, I do. I get upset that the music I love will not continue. If I don't enjoy the band, I wouldn't care. 

VUSLAT

You wouldn't care at all? 

SÜLEYMAN

There is always good music. Music bands will always be bands. I wouldn't care. 

VUSLAT

But, a good band is an exception. A band that is good for itself. 

SÜLEYMAN

How so?

VUSLAT

You might think I am romanticizing. And I am a little bit. But I think in this way: Sometimes you see someone in the crowd or anyone. I mean, it is not exactly like this. Sometimes you meet with someone in all this crowd. You start to talk, and so on. You say, "Wow, how similar we think" or "Oh, I have never thought about that. Let me think a little bit." Then you ask, "Shall we make music together?" or whatever is your occupation. Then you start to make things together that you normally think that you make on your own. I say "think" purposely, because togetherness completely changes what you make. You read the room, and say "We're doing something different." You think that you are questioning what has been done until now. Maybe you are not doing something new, but you feel so. I think that is an extraordinary thing, no matter what.

SÜLEYMAN 

Of course, it would be extraordinary if you describe it like this. But I don't think that every friend or co-workers experiences this in the same way. Tea should be ready, come on. 

VUSLAT

Thank you. Sometimes I don't want to do anything. I don't even want to cook, eat, go to the toilet, take a shower. Then I think it would be great if someone would come and take care of me. They would cook dinner, ask me to eat. They would say "Tea should be ready, come on." But I don't want to live together with anyone. The idea of another person coming to and living with me in my house sounds terrible.

SÜLEYMAN

Have you ever fallen in love? 

VUSLAT

How did you come up with that? I have or not. That I don't want to share where I live should have nothing to do with it. 

SÜLEYMAN

Okay, you don't want that. I am not saying this. Have you ever completely let yourself go with someone? Okay, you don't want anything right now, you think you're miserable, you want someone to decide on your behalf. But have you ever chosen to let yourself go with someone with your own will and decision? Even if you were already happy? Even if you were eager to do something? Not as a necessity, I mean. As you want it to be so? 

VUSLAT

No.

SÜLEYMAN

What do you mean by, "no"? 

VUSLAT

It didn't happen. I like to do my things in my own ways.

SÜLEYMAN

As a person who does things the way you like it, you seem to over-romanticize the issue. Or you are really romantic and resist that. Or you deny it.

VUSLAT

I am talking about something extraordinary. I am talking about something that disrupts the order we know. Can I smoke? 

SÜLEYMAN

You can do whatever you want. Your nerves are a little shot.

VUSLAT

Thank you. And my nerves are not shot. And I have fallen in love. I don't think I should let myself.

SÜLEYMAN

I don't think so, too. Not a requirement. I am sure many people have fallen in love in many different ways. As there have been a lot of music bands. Like, how did you feel, when you were in love?

VUSLAT

I wanted it to never end, and I thought it would never end. I wanted it to last forever, and I thought it would last forever.

SÜLEYMAN

And then, it's over.

VUSLAT

Yes, it's over! What're you getting at?

SÜLEYMAN

I am saying, it always ends. Always. And you know it from the beginning. 

VUSLAT

Secretly, without even telling yourself. Right?

SÜLEYMAN

One way or another. Then, the friends or lovers who suddenly find each other in the crowd that you are thinking of, also want it to last forever, right? They want it to never end. Or they think it would never end. But what happens when it ends?

VUSLAT

What kind of a question is this? What do you want me to say? They get upset, cry, say, "I will never fall in love again", say "I will continue my music career by myself."

SÜLEYMAN

Please. I am not asking to anger you.

VUSLAT

Sorry. I am overreacting. If we already know the end is inevitable, why do we struggle so hard?   

I mean, why can't we continue our lives? Why can't we move on our lives as if it never happened?

SÜLEYMAN

Because you changed. Because you are not the same person anymore. Because it happened, it is happening, so and so. Think about in this way: Your friend, your beloved one, whoever this is, took a piece of you off and ate it. Meanwhile, you took a piece of them off and ate it. While you continued your relationship, you took pieces of each other and ate them. With slobber. Slowly. How can you move on with your life as the same person after such a thing? 

VUSLAT

I'm not feeling well. Can I sit down on the ground? 

SÜLEYMAN

Okay. You don't need permission for everything you do. You can do whatever you want. 

VUSLAT

Thank you. I guess the idea of eating my friends and lovers makes me a bit dizzy. 

SÜLEYMAN

Then, it is a good example. Because it is such a thing.

Vuslat slowly gets up from the picnic table that they sit at, while touching the table with one of her hands, as if she gets strength from the table, walks to the other side where Süleyman is sitting. As she sits down on the ground and lies back on the bench, she realizes a man is leaning on a signpost and looking at the picnic table that they are sitting on. She continues to look at the man without saying anything to Süleyman. The man notices that he is busted, straightening himself up. Walks towards Vuslat and Süleyman. 

RASİN

Excuse me. I couldn't help but overhear. Did your friends eat you? 

SÜLEYMAN

Figuratively. I have also eaten them. 

I doubt that the friendship would maintain if this situation is one-sided. 

RASİN

What do you mean?

SÜLEYMAN

Think of it this way: In the eating act I mentioned, we take a piece from the other person, a piece that is not vital. But we take that piece and make it our own. 

RASİN

By taking a bite? 

SÜLEYMAN

In the beginning, yes, by taking a bite. Over time, you continue to bite. As you bite, you get something from each other. Those bites bring you life. But the friendships can last only if you continue to bite each other. However, if one-side is determined to consume the other completely without worrying about the existence of the other by own; by eating the other's brain, heart, arms, legs, eyes, tongue... 

VUSLAT

Do you have to do this? I am feeling faint. 

SÜLEYMAN

If you do, it means my example is right. You can come to yourself in a minute. 

VUSLAT

But now I feel sick. 

SÜLEYMAN

And that is exactly why. If one side is intent on consuming the other, the friendship would be over. Either it ends because there is nothing left to eat, or because the other makes an end by saying "Enough is enough, how much more will you eat!"

RASİN

Would friendship last if the eating action is reciprocal and proper?

SÜLEYMAN

At least, it wouldn't last by a one-sided decision. 

RASİN

So, this is something you have lost yourself that much. That is a kind of friendship that you want to last forever. Then, friends should have the attention not to consume the other one. So that it lasts forever. 

SÜLEYMAN

Absolutely. Exactly such attention is required. So, this is not something that comes out of nowhere. It is not like falling from a tree. It is more like seeing something unique in another person and falling in love. A thing that starts without falling in love, and lasts for a while when love is over. So, I think the question we keep asking ourselves shouldn't be "How did it end?", Vuslat. Being aware of the inevitability of separation and death, I propose to ask: How can we be still in love or friends in this limited time we spend together?

RASİN

Do you have an answer for that? 

VUSLAT

By biting each other in small pieces and eating slowly? 

SÜLEYMAN

I don't know. If we lose each other all too soon, then we would regret to bite in such small pieces. We have limited time, and we are alone in this world. The time that we have a taste of love and friendship are extraordinary moments that we don't feel alone in life. We try to fit eternity in those limited moments. 

VUSLAT

But it ends, right? It ends in any case, and you will keep talking with those people who are not there anymore. 

SÜLEYMAN

Yes, but the ending is not the main point. It always starts and always ends. It ends while beginning, and it always exists. 

RASİN

So, for example, the event starting with that I came here and started talking to you consists both of friendship and losing a friend? Is the potential encounter with something familiar but unique in someone else a call for sadness? I mean, with an act of incredible courage with all this awareness, did I come and say to you that: "Hey. Can you make me a little bit upset in advance for something that I don't know when will happen but definitely will happen?"
 

I have to thank some people for some texts that were with me when I was writing this text:

Jacques Derrida for Politics of Friendship,

Alain Badiou for In Praise of Love,

Cicero for On Friendship,

Bilge Karasu for Lağımlararası ya da Beyoğlu, 

Orson Welles for The Other Side of the Wind, 

 

And finally, my friends encourage me all the time and take every word coming from my mouth and daily texts which disappear most of the time seriously.