By Figen Şakacı
From Keseklİ Tarla (Cloddy Field), a collection of short stories, 2020
Aysel was grumpy. She would look for defects wherever she went. Then, she would take the best seat with an air expecting deference. I would respectfully beseech her company; she would oblige me and scooch over. She didn’t like guests much. If someone laughed a lot, she would find it goofy. If someone else took her seat, she would do her best to unsettle them out of that seat. She liked to watch movies at night, but they had to be eastern European movies. She couldn’t stand thrillers, action movies, or directors that filled void with music. If that was the case, she would roll over and go to sleep or walk out of the room.
Aysel was a real bitch! If she was forced to do something she didn’t like, she would scream her head off. She was the one using the house as she pleased; I merely stayed there. Arrival and departure times were very important for her. She would not have late comings, long vacations, or drunkenness at night. When she was occasionally subjected to such situations, she would be capricious, and it would be really difficult to appease her. Once she was cross, she would not be pleased even after you resorted to various methods. Breakfast with fruit yoghurt or a tuna dinner might assuage her, though.
For Aysel, getting accustomed didn’t mean adapting to the repetitiveness of things. It was imperative for Aysel to rough up and test their endurance before she could get accustomed to somebody or something. According to her, if you didn’t know how to resist, you couldn’t know how to love, either. When she loved, she loved fiercely. She would trick you by saying “here, there, all this is mine, but you look like an OK person, so come closer,” and then if she saw something she didn’t like, she would slap you hard. It was also forbidden to whine, like “but sister Aysel, what did I do now?,” or talk back and get the upper hand because loving Aysel actually meant loving her Ayselness.
Oh, but let me give her dues where she deserves it. She could really read people and discern good ones. She would detect fake love games and give a hard time to those who beat around the bush and can’t cut to the chase. She preferred social distance in relationships. She thought it was impertinent to get too touchy-feely and mushy. She would sabotage rough quickies but get close in order to benefit from soft touches. Her affection was hidden behind her tough looks and furrowed brows. When her help was not solicited, she would approach and reach out in the dense atmosphere of lonely nights. In our six-year-long relationship, she even occasionally licked my tears away and retorted “Sweetie! He’s just not worth it!” I think those nights best describe my relationship and bond with Aysel, but some bonds cannot be put into writing. All sentences are fragments without touch, smell, or feeling.
Aysel also disliked blabbing. Verbose language, whether in writing or speaking, quite literally annoyed her. If there was a superfluous “but” in your writing, she would come sit on it and squash it with her butt. Or she would destroy the “nature” of a sentence like “naturally, I did not do that.” She didn’t appreciate an inflated self-confidence or “yes, I wrote that, but do you know why?”-type of attitude. When she appeared with dilated pupils at night and got no response from me, she would know that I’d sat down to write one of those pieces without the “but.” When she was left alone, she would gouge the eyes of murderous husbands, audacious thieves, brazenly corrupt criminals, or tear their bodies into two in newspapers scattered around the room. I read some novels out loud to her in order to appease her. She loved the twins in Agota Kristof’s The Notebook and listened attentively to the story of children who’d suffered at the hands of their cruel grandmother. She would daydream while listening to Gülten Akın poems and sighed heavily at Didem Madak poems.
On the mornings we woke up happy, we played together. She loved chasing a little ball while her big belly bounced up and down. This fun activity had a time limit, though. When we ran around the house a little too long, she would get tired and divert her attention to the crow in his black suit or the hungover seagull, forgetting all about me in the process. That meant “OK, we had fun while it lasted. Now everyone goes back to mind their own business.” I would understand; we would agree.
My sleep time usually overlapped with her waking up from various dreams. Now, that was the moment of reckoning. Aysel did not like the word “reckoning,” but anyway. If it was a summer night, she would fight with my shadow changing its place on the bed. When she couldn’t overcome it, she would nibble at it. If it was a cold winter night, she would pretend to be shivering in order to cuddle.
I paused when winter came. Perhaps because that’s what you do in winter, or perhaps I paused that day and then the world did. It was one of the days I went to sit with her. I knew she didn’t like crowds, so I went there to stop the whining and tell her in my cracking voice that she would return home in a few days, so she should just hang in there and not complain. The neighborhood vet had said she would recover in a week at the most; after all, the diagnosis was only temporary kidney failure. But failure was not a word you could associate with Aysel. So, neither of us actually believed it. We would overcome this hurdle and then jump on each other as usual, and continue this “civilized relationship” for many more years.
I thought she turned her head towards the door when she saw me enter the room, which gave me pangs of grief. It turned out she left her gaze at the door for me. With a note attached: Now, when she sees me like this, my human will be hung up over this. She will gather everyone at the house crying her eyes out. She will use me as a pretext to hug people and get a little more affection. She will shamelessly try to humanize me, talk about me, and even write about the inauspicious years we spent together. Beware! Don’t let her. My name is Aysel. I am not the kind of woman who would die. We just broke up. That’s all.