THE OPEN SEA
Yehya Kemal Beyati
As I passed my childhood in Balkan towns, I felt
At every instant, a tongue of flame-like longing.
With the melancholy that devastated Byron in my heart
I wandered my youth through the hills in a mute dream,
I breathed the free air of Rakofça's fields,
Felt the hot desire of my raider ancestors:
For centuries a summer's racing northward
Lingered like an echo roaring in my gut...
Army in defeat, the entire country in despair,
Yet every night I dreamt a sense of victory.
The remnants of migrations, exilic emotions,
Waters streaming from across sorrowful borders,
Murmered together in my heart with that sense;
I knew it then, the taste of endlessness on the horizon!
I said one day, "I wish for neither lover nor locale!"
And so set out on a long exile, roamed from land to land;
Went to that final country, last frontier of earth,
And still on my tongue I taste the wide sea's salt!
In the uttermost west, most clamorous of final shores,
At a flood tide, the skies all draped in lead,
I saw that thousand-headed dragon they call the sea;
I saw it... the skin that turned its lovely body emerald
With a sharp shuddering, moment by moment it writhed;
I saw and knew it was that dragon coming to life.
Oh what a fervent coming... from the endless horizon!
How it gathered itself up of a sudden and roared!
Steam and sail, they all fled for the harbor,
The vast expanse and sea-scape belonged to it alone!
Alone it stood there, rebellious and enraged,
It gaped a thousand caverns, howling long and long,
I sensed its majestic grief as though I knew it well!
Face to face with your spirit I was, at that high-tide,
I listened to your plaint, oh eternally tormented sea!
I felt that in our souls we are one with you, in exile,
Realized that no lovely shore would give rest
To this agony, this unending thirst.
She has always had land of rich and ruins. That's how at least, her inside looks like. All means to self, motors in my hand, and I mould it into her. Delhi or Istanbul, the Mughals or Ottoman, those elaborate gardens, the rubbles she decides to not notice, their scent, an austere sadness, and all that a deliquesced joy. All good writing is about good-decision making, that's what she thinks. That's perhaps what George Eliot thought. Whenever I read her, that goes into my mind, she perhaps admires George Eliot more than she should. She was born into a household so communist, always political, no festivals, no exchanges, not even gifts. Once she gave her father something she made, and he rubbed it off, said "I do not like gifts, they are unnecessary". He would bring books after books to the house so that all corners had all sorts of books. And that's all that is necessary perhaps.
She didn't know for what reason, they were so full of propaganda, and documentation, something that stupid Lenin, god knows what he was doing, asked Gorky to write, or some Hitler in some weird world wrote to his beloved. He wrote good love letters, what later happened to that chap is history. I mean we always say, rest is history, but in some cases rest is indeed history isn't it. She would visit the Gole Market from time to time and there was the Sheherazade or the woman who prolonged her death narrating stories to the king on their wedded night. She had an endless capacity to go on. Is that because she loved to tell, or speak, and share and give stories after stories, or is that because she loved the king too much. Either or, all stories are perpetually clammed, made, and shared with little hope that it will let the storyteller be alive at all. And the rest is history!
The fishes in the market are jumping in and out, their eyes are bound, they aren't like the fishes from the south, the scale is dead, they hold no blood inside but are red. Their turquoise eyes have grown dark blue, they are irritating. She pokes the skin of the fish and plays with its tail and the father is silent, he simply watches from the sides. Excess libido, that's what you write, says that guy. I was crossing the Abu Dhabi security check, and this guy, who smiles at me, asks, "Istanbullu"? and I am so thrilled, wow! "No" I smile back at him friendly, and he doesn't stop "I like your hat," he says "Thanks" my mouth hurts smiling. "Istanbul is a nice place, you will like it there". What goes inside my mind perhaps is to ask him, are you guys not fined for all this, are you risking it all for me? then I randomly ask him "will you take me there" and he goes, "oh yes, but I just only got this job, if needed I will get a big job, I will make all the money and take you there". I have heard this before, my love. He seems interesting, I am taking off my laptop, and he says, no no leave it in there, and he gets my bag for me and places it on the belt. I just let him be, "You didn't have to do that," I tell him. It, I think it is that polite daintiness of working-class men, he tells me "that's okay!" that he doesn't mind" and I smile back at him. "Thank you," I tell him. "No Istanbullus are like me, they look nothing like me, where did it come from?" I ask him. They are really pretty people. He, now evidently to my surprise "Some Istanbullus to the south are shy and not so white and they look like you". Buddy! don't nail it all so much, heh!
I give him that wonderful gape and he starts to laugh. I grab back my bags and am about to leave. "You didn't tell me where you are from" he shouts, "I am never going to tell you, go die" I shout back. Everything about Istanbul is her, Henrik Nordbrandt, the sad eyes, the restraint, the obedience, the drooping melancholy. All things Islam is probably her, the sharing, the food, the taste buds, the green and blue kohl, glinting hopes, and the shawl on the head. Another girl, I don't know where she is now, was so badass that she came for her, she was a journalist, who came searching for her, after the first story she wrote. She hosted the empire, if she were a princess, there would have been things showering on her. Happiness is everything you make, unlike museums that collect things from here and there, like someone running around with mops and forks to collect autumn leaves. What are museums other than a bin, a luxurious bin? What are we other than those who behave as if in sweeping whatever is unfamiliar that we have garnered riches - when they are all unwanted- about having known nothing. Her afflictions for erudition is after all an attempt for her to live the life of a poet, after all she is just an excuse, an excuse.
Dude! I saw one from my place somewhere here, and I was like, this is there in my home, lol. Why, why would you keep my house enclosed in a glass chamber? Let's forget the structures, and, everything large, and the big things happening all over the world, but why is my house inside a glass chamber, that too expensive. When Kemal tells the narrator in the museum of innocence "tell them, that I have lived a very happy life" The Istanbullu inside me wakes me up, I am so happy, that I am dancing around. Innocence is oblivion, and all sorts of oblivion come with its perks of being either too happy or too sad.