With its light
increasing, an intensive, vivid moon was rising behind the branches of the date
palms at the opposite shore causing an illusion as if it were approaching; and
an emerald dawn was overspreading all around. On the left hand, the roof of
the deserted but magnificent Qasruddubare hiding in a multitude of plants and
trees behind the long walls with white columns was seen, and further on, there
were the ruins of the forlorn but conceited Qasri Ali resting at the shade of
trees with wide, long leaves, and at the place opposite, faraway at a secret
side of the horizon, there were the indistinct, flickering and weak peaks of
My companion and
I leaving the road not free from noise, went toward the solitary shores of the
Nile. There was a perceptible, discernible current in the large river; the waves
were dragging and taking away the reflections of the coast falling on the water
and the Nile, absorbing all light of the full moon as if thirsty for light,
was flowing slowly and mysteriously with a blood-red water in its windings.
Listening to the plaintive voice of an Arab singing gloomy melodies in a far
away ship loaded with earthenware jugs, which has opened her cross like sail
poles like the arms of a mythological creature searching its way in the dark
and always staggering silently, I turned to my old companion and said:
"What a lovely
night! And what an interesting, legendary place this is! My soul lives the one
and thousand night tales, I am so filled with dreams…"
My companion, his
head bent as if mentally occupied with more important things, was walking beside
me. He responded these words which were uttered somewhat to warn him, with this
same abstracted mind, with the same silence; and much later, pointing out a
half ruined marble wall surrounding a vast garden, "would you like to sit
on this wall" he said.
We forwarded to
the wall: With my breath I have cleaned the dust on the place I was to sit down;
and he covered the cold of the stone with his topcoat that he was carrying on
his arm; then we sat down with our legs dangling. From the tobacco box he got
out of his pocket, he offered me a cigarette, and one he took and smoked with
a great pleasure. Our cigarettes were halved and yet we were not talking. But
my old fellow suddenly with an overly familiar, cheerful manner tapped on my
knee and with a desire for speaking evident in his sound that amazed me he said:
"Just a moment
ago you said your soul lives the one and thousand night tales. Would you like
me to narrate a one and a thousand night tale - a tale that has interfered in
my youth, not only interfered but also ruled, meddled in it? A tale occurred
forty, forty-five years ago! Sure, it is an old tale… however, one relating
to the edge of this river and even to that opposite shore! It is yet too fresh
and for the moment one belongs to the past… You won't get bored, would you?"
"No, on the
contrary" I replied, "Please, I listen with an interest".
then" he said, "here is my tale":
I was twenty years
old then. My father has just passed away leaving me a considerable inheritance.
What does a young guy of twenty usually do when he inherits a fortune? He gets
married, not so? Especially in our by-gone time, that was as though a general
custom. However, I did not go about so. Since I was a starry-eyed guy, and my
goal before all was to become wealthy. I don't remember how; I commenced a trade
work between Istanbul and Egypt. Trade of what? It was not clear in fact. That
was a kind of merchandizing similar to that of an antique-dealer. Between the
two countries I was carrying any rare goods I found -since I am narrating a
tale let me say it in an obsolete phrase- light in weight, high in value.
In fact, my uncle,
who was then in Egypt and close to the family of the Khedive, had an effect
on my intention to be put into practice. Thus, in my first journey, my uncle
acted as an intermediary, introduced me to the almost all wealthy circles, and
caused the establishment of an acquaintanceship with a young pasha that then
progressed into virtually a close friendship. That was by his help that my first
attempts resulted in profitable outcomes.
Owing to my introduction
don't assume that I am to talk about imaginary profits and earnings, findings
of treasures, and carrying of diamonds ashore the Nile on camels. Subject of
my tale is entirely different. That is an affair of love and a considerable
event far from trifling subjects such as money, trade, and wealth, one, which
is exactly related to heart. Well, what did I say? My first travel was rather
profitable for me, not so? However, the thing that I was pleased the most in
my first travel was that acquaintanceship with the pasha, which then progressed
into a close friendship; that was even the reason for my return to Egypt the
following year. The pasha had assigned a private suit for me in his palace and
insistently invited me. Hence, by the end of November next year, I was on my
second journey from Istanbul to Egypt: a troublesome journey with a steamer
operating in the Syria line, which could arrive in Alexandria hardly in one
month! Now listen carefully, my tale actually begins hereafter.
Now I cannot remember
the flag or the company of that steamer; and I don't know whether she exists
now, or not. Yet, the only thing I can remember is that she was an extremely
terrible and small ship. There were an excessive number of passengers in the
ship, and for one week the weather was severely overcastted in a degree to give
one a scare. In spite of all these, I was too on the deck, among the deck passengers.
In my return to
Istanbul what my uncle had said to me was:
"Son! Don't let these first accomplishments seduce you. Know that savings
are the mother of all profits and earnings; and a young person, a contemporary
of you, who recently attempted to trade work, should comply with it more than
That advice was
the cause; I was too grave a young man. It was my habit then to profit from
the remarks of the elder as principles of life. However, this time I was only
to a certain degree successful to comply with this advice; I even could not
bore up with the difficulties of the first few days, and had to rent the cabin
of one of the steamer's sailors.
The cabin had two
windows, one facing the sea and the other facing the deck; and my bed was between
these two windows. I was watching the sea, the waves and the horizons from one
of them; and watching a disordered, contemptible and filthy mass of people and
goods from the other. For my eyes there were generally more amusement in the
scene of the latter side. For instance at nights I would tried to distinguish
the people from the goods on the deck under a ceiling of ash gray linen cloth;
all covered with the divine, queer and lively shadows caused by a lantern swaying
by the wind and its light fading steadily, but I could never succeed in it and
wait for the morning; since, the baskets resembled persons who wrapped their
arms around the masts, the persons who wrapped their arms around the masts resembled
baskets, the saddlebags resembled bodies embraced each other, the bodies embraced
each other resembled saddlebags, the chests resembled fat women wrapped around
their quilts, and the fat women wrapped around their quilts resembled chests,
and I, watching this mass of people and goods, curiously and impatiently waited
for the first lights of the morning.
However one morning
I did not succeed in seeing any of them. Since my eyes were attracted to a young
girl, lying in a white, clean bed next to my window. A thin, elegant girl, resembling
one of those mysterious, rare flowers… There were no goods around her. Neither
chests, nor baskets, nor saddlebags… As I said, in a white bed under thin white
covers that did not obscure her eloquent, matured form, she was looking at my
window through a half open space of the curtains separating, hiding her from
the others, with eyes creating an astounding spaciousness to the limits of the
spirit. And I looked at her too; she was beautiful, so beautiful… But there
was a worrying tiredness in her face; the surroundings of her eyes were encircled
with a sad, dark halo, and the sleeplessness of a long night has given her eyes
a charming exuberance. There were two accompanying her - another girl of her
contemporary, wearing a headscarf and looking rather pensive at the bedside
and a man of forty-five with a black beard, who occasionally inserting his dark
head through the curtains.
The same day towards
evening, I have investigated the situation: These two young girls were two concubines
taken to Egypt for sale; and that bearded, dark man was a famous slave dealer…
In the moonlight that night, I have a better watch of them from my window. The
man was away and the two young girls were lying down side by side. Eyes of one
of the girls were still open and shining in the dark like two black diamonds.
She was undoubtedly aware of my watching her. Despite, there was a casual, submissive
indifference in her entire body against me. However, from time to time she took
out her white arms naked up to her elbows to tidy up her luxuriant hair, which
fell on her temple below her headscarf, and tried to put them in order with
her thin fingers, and then returned to her old stillness as if became tired.
I suppose she passed
that evening more terribly because the following day she was quite ill. Anyhow,
the slave dealer, with a casual manner peculiar to men of his kind, told everything
to me the same day. Following his complaints about the steamer, the weather,
etc., all of a sudden he pointed out the curtain with his hand;
girl is ill," he said. "It annoys me so much… With this appearance,
she won't make a good impression there on people I suppose. And the noble, bless
them, are obstinate… No use what I say…"
"Why are you
so insistent on her maintaining her freshness?"
The dark man nodded
and as if revealing a very important secret;
"Ah son, otherwise
it is of no use!" he said. "She is a concubine. Yeah, concubine… You
see! She will lay in the bed of a pasha, a prince!"
Upon the last words
of the slave dealer, I asked the question, which, I don't know why but one that
I have been pondering since last night:
whom will you take her?"
And from the detailed
answer of the man, I understood that the beautiful girl who has engaged my attention
thoroughly was for the young pasha whom I was to be his guest.
I answered the
slave dealer with a queer hurry which I have found its meaning later on:
"I know your
client very well" I said, "Moreover, I will be his guest in his palace."
Following his being
apprised, I saw that the black bearded man acted more friendly, complimentary
and humble to me.
the illness of the concubine became severe. The deck was indeed in a terrible
situation. The wind was blowing so fiercely to pull out the ropes of the awnings,
and the waves were frothing menacing bubbles. There were the most terrifying
sounds coming out of the throats of the passengers and there were the most terrible
smells coming forth from the floor. There were children crying out, women shivering
with prayers at their lips, and men outraged, staggering and falling down.
If you ever did
not see a crowd of people having plague or cholera, it would be impossible for
you to imagine the view of this deck. Nevertheless, I worried about her all
the night long. My heart was full with an endless compassion for her; and till
morning my eyes, through the curtains, sought for her submissive figure under
the white covers, her wilted pink rose color face getting more and more pale,
and her beatific eyes, flames of which never faded away. My heart was full with
compassion and yearning for her.
I have reached a decision. I was to give my cabin to her. This decision all
of a sudden broke in my mind like a dawn warming up my heart. Yes, I would give
my cabin to her and find a place for me on the deck. So as not to let my reasonings
spoil my resolution, I immediately told this to the slave dealer. At first,
he did not want to accept it:
"How on earth
could it be sir? You'll get bothered. Anyhow, she couldn't accept this as well.
She is a well-bred girl. She would not deem herself worthy for such a kindness.
I suppose so," he said.
However, upon my
insistence, with a huge pleasure on his face he went and notified this message
to the girl. For a little while she seemed to be hesitant and even diffident;
I approached the curtain and said:
accept my offer! There is a long way yet, the weather is bad, and this place,
where you are now is unbearably discomforting. Furthermore, you are under the
And the dark, old
man, grinning beside me completed my words:
don't be coy," he said. Anyhow, this gentleman is not a stranger!…"
The young girl
accepted our offer, on condition that her sister would stay with her. However,
the narrowness of the cabin was a hindrance for this wish to come into existence:
she consented to it as well; with a strained smile of gratitude at her lips
to me, she gathered up her covers slowly, and entered the cabin staggeringly.
I watched her walking: She was tall and slender-waisted, and below the ripped
folds of her old silk coverall, astounding movements of her fresh hips were
seen. I assure you, I have never met such a beauty ever since. All has gone
with; by years, the fire in my heart has died down, I am old; I say this to
you now being cool-headed: I have never met such a beauty ever since. Every
time I saw her was as if the first time for me, there was such a fascinating
diversity in her beauty; so precious and boundless was her beauty. Just now
talking about her, I have said that her eyes were lightening the limits of the
soul. I felt it every time I looked at her, and these sudden extensions of my
soul always astounded me.
I was going to
my cabin everyday at least twice. Cause all my belongings were there and I needed
some of them everyday. You may consider it intentionally and look at my behavior
as fraudulent! However, the situation apparently consisted of this.
I often awaited
the right time that the other girl and the slave dealer were far from the cabin,
or sleeping, and then I would go and knock on the door slowly:
I would say; "I will get something inside, if you would allow."
Every time I entered
the cabin I saw her with her headscarf, sat on the bed, her arms naked up to
her elbows let down on the quilt, her face turned towards to the window on the
sea side, like a fantastic being, always at the same position, constant, and
I would delay sometimes,
looking for my belongings. My position there compulsorily required my forehead
to touch at her bed, and during all this period this warm and sweet-smelling
being who taking breath in the bed my forehead touched, was as if with an unusual
magic finding links, ways between herself and the bed and between the bed and
my forehead, and penetrating into my heart, and sucking and emptying it up with
a fainting attraction. Every time I went out the cabin I was altogether empty.
And one day, as I was busy with my belongings at the same position, such a conversation
took place between us.
are too going to Egypt, aren't you?"
if you are from there?"
"No, I am
from Istanbul. This is my second voyage there."
"That is better,
I may ask you then: Sir, is Egypt so much a horrible place?"
"Nay, on the
say Arabia for there. Its weather is very hot and people are so black I suppose."
you, its weather is not so hot and people are rarely black. Anyway, you are
to go such a place that is entirely different from Egypt. It is as if a part
of Istanbul, and there you got your citizens."
Then we were silent.
When I was going out she turned her face towards me for a moment. She had an
odd-looking face; her nose was wittily, her eyes curious, mouth mocking, and
chin severe… I turned my eyes feeling her personality staggering in all these
expressions reflected by a solitary and wandering soul on this charming face.
The unjust face of the child had really embarrassed and annoyed me that day.
was at the door of the cabin only five or six hours later once more. She was
acting as if waked up recently, and in an unnatural wretchedness seemed to be
discomfited by my entrance. I did not stay so much, and went out of the cabin.
The next day I
found her lying down, she did not even open her eyes. Since she replied immediately
when I have knocked at the door, now it would be credulous to assume her sleeping.
Hence, I have said:
"Are you unwell?
Again unwell, sister?"
did not open her eyes. However, below the pale, pink rose lids, her eyes were
moving petulantly and irritably.
she answered, "That is only as we get closer to Egypt. I asked it just
now, they said that we would arrive two days later. Just two days, and Egypt…"
While saying these
there was a pampered child manner in her face.
I asked, "you are still afraid of Egypt, so?"
Frowning her fine,
brown eyebrows, she added:
"You say still.
Why?… Cause you gave me information about Egypt, is that so? However, you are
like the others too, you are not speaking the simple truth, you are deceiving
I replied jokingly:
then," I said, "we will see when arrived."
Thus our friendship
with her began, with such conversations and such quarrels. What a strange girl
she was. My God! I am still amazed. Narrating her state only one day before
our arrival would be enough for you to get amazed as much as I did. Look, how
It was night. In
fact, I acted then somewhat unreasonably; or in my belongings. A weak oil
lamp was slightly illuminating the room. Somehow I felt the young girl sat up
in the bed, and prepared to say me something. Actually, when I raised my head,
I found her as I felt. She had leaned her arms naked up to her elbows against
the edge of the bed and her chin on her hands, her head was bent down, towards
me; and in the darkness of the cabin her deep, dark eyes were bewilderingly
fixed on me. With perseverance I strived to look at hers and I did.
Like two wrestlers
searching for the weak and failing points of the other before the struggle starts,
our eyes at first looked furtively and hesitantly, then at once ready to attack
and at once inclined to retreat, got in touch with each other. This lasted for
a long time or may be for one second. However this much time was sufficient
for her, and that were her eyes ended up as victor. I say it even now with somewhat
wrath; that poor Circassian girl's eyes, within one moment, penetrated into
my pompous and cruel breast with the pride and splendor of a conqueror, strolled
inside undauntedly, and triumphed over my heart…What a damage, not so? Eyes
that conquered the conquerors!…
However, at that
moment I perceived that these eyes are to become an actual threat for me, and
I bent my head and attempted to go out. The young girl, kept me again with her
weeping, pampered voice. What I was reluctant to do was to occur, we were to
look each other in the dark and speak; so we did:
we are certainly there, not so?"
That you would be with us there, even in the same house…"
"Yes, in the
you would not stay so much there; and return after two months. If so, what fortunate
you are. I wish I had such a chance, to return Istanbul…"
"Why, so strange
you are, sister!… I cannot understand you at all. Although you don't know about
Egypt, you hate there. And although Istanbul is not your homeland, you are so
devoted to there!"
Istanbul is my homeland. I came there when I was little. I found there a mother,
a father and… a sister. And now I am leaving there and those beloved for a place
unknown to me. Just think sir, how distressing it is; at this age fated to become
so forlorn, alone and miserable…"
nay alone, nay miserable!… It's as if you don't know! There, at the threshold
of a palace full with gold and diamonds, a wealthy, young man welcomes you with
Upon my words the
young girl began to sob. I had unintentionally touched a sore point, she herself
informed it to me. She laid facedown on her bed sobbing, and lamented, "Why,
you said that! Why!"
Following a few
seconds of amazement and hesitation my hands unintentionally stretched out to
her head. I could feel the cool, soft silkiness of her hair below my burning
palms. My fingers, with shaky, drunk, wild movements began strolling over the
nape, temples, ears and a part of the cheeks of the young girl. Her obstinate,
little hands could cover only a half of her face; and her head and entire body
were struggling rebelliously.
In love and desire,
however, what impels men to insolence is undoubtedly this rebel in the bodies
of women. It is that what happened to me. Clasping her vehemently in my arms,
I bent over, and began kissing her madly throughout. The rebellious body bit
by bit calmed down and surrendered. Her sobbing came to an end. Then she moaningly
said to me:
you take me, you save me! Please! I would be your concubine, your everything.
Please you save me from that country and them."
Don't worry, far
from it! These had never taken place; she had never been mine whatsoever. Anyway,
I wonder if anything asked with tears in life came true!… Likewise, this case
had followed the most miserable, most unfortunate, that is the most natural
course, as well.
The following day
we landed in Alexandria. With her first step on land, she, as if short of breath,
gasped sadly, and looking in fear and amazement at the grayish, bat-mannered
men surrounding her unintentionally said:
"What a terrible
country, my God!"
She turned her
head saying it. I saw, that prayer, aspiration was still there in her eyes;
an imploration of "Take me! Save me."
Poor child, she
was in desperate straits; and her looking for a hope and freedom in me was so
pathetic. I, the destitute expatriate of the splendid manor where she is likely
to become the lady of it…
In fact, I have
thought about getting that girl then. She could be mine in payment for an amount,
which would worry me for one year the most. Here, I was amidst these two different
states of mind during the last day that I accompanied her. I was falling from
heroic imaginations down to an inferior hopelessness, and was afraid to look
at her. Anyhow, during the journey of ten hours from Alexandria to the gates
of the palace, the slave dealer, that dark, black bearded man, with what ignoble
intention I don't know, strived to hide, to keep the girl away from me.
Sure, I will not
narrate how we have entered the palace, and how we were welcomed. But I will
only inform you that this was not my last seeing her, as I feared. Because,
Mahdur, that was her name, succeeded to come my side with a miracle peculiar
to fairies, out of that unknown and far away place, where she was sent to and
iron lace doors were locked up over her by those black eunuchs with quiet steps,
resembling those sneering, obedient hellhounds…How did she achieve to come my
side from that mysterious place where my head burned out with separateness at
the boundary? How did her feet wandered at the darkness of the corridors? Which
stairs did she go down, and how did she make those mysterious passages obey
her? How did she find the force in her hands to push those heavy mahogany doors
with irritating, metallic sounds at their hinges? I don't know. It was my first
week as a guest; I saw in my room in the late night. In my room next to the
door of harem, with my twenty-four years old heart full with affection, desire,
revenge and dreams I was lonely, desperate and crying, then I saw her facing
me. Her luxuriant, long hair was untidy, and there was the most intense fire
in her eyes; her heart beating with excitement was causing lovely tides on her
breast, and her shaking hands, resembling a wilted flower shaken by an unperceived
wind, were trying to stop its movement in vain. She approached the light; her
face was blanched.
For a long while
I felt that sounds died out in my throat choked with excitement. However, she
asked for a definite quietness:
excited, don't get afraid!" she said. Yes, it is me, Mahdur; and please
don't ask how could I came here, no, don't ask it! Because, at this moment even
I don't know anything; but the only thing I knew is that I will be no more here
I said; "so you plan to run away?"
"Yes, to run
away. And may be just at this moment."
Whom with? Where?"
"Well I don't
know how. Perinaz, that girl on board with us in the steamer has organized this
runaway. She is waiting in the garden now. Should we succeed and go out from
here, we will directly go to the house of a slave dealer whom she knows, to
…effendi at …"
but, this is to change nothing… they would sell you again."
Looking through my eyes at a point in my soul where even I could not arrive
and added: "They would sell. But, to you… you would come and take me there,
Saying these, she
approached me closer; I could hear her warm breath and melody of her breast…
There was that drought of cruel fire of the deserts in her mouth. Before the
power and beauty of her eyes, wicked smile, I felt all my youth and all my virility
were shaken with a dizziness and I, powerless and shaking, were submitting her;
she had came closer. Her body touched mine. It was as if one of those hellish
siroccos of Africa was blowing in my breast. My mouth was dry, and I was not
able to utter a word; and the girl, in haste, was waiting for my reply.
she said, "what will you say? Perinaz is waiting downstairs. We don't have
any time. What'll you say?"
I slowly put my
arms around her and between my endless, crazy kisses I said with an incomprehensible
language that I would certainly go to the slave dealer the next day and call
her. She thanked me and left happy and joyful, and disappeared silently like
a body of heavenly light.
The following day,
in contrast to my guess, escape of the two concubines has been regarded as an
extremely important event. Mother of the Pasha, who was an exceedingly wrathful,
harsh woman, has considered it as a severe blow to her dignity and pride; so,
news have been sent to everywhere immediately and town criers have shouted out
the incident; the governor, informed of the event, charged all forces with this
duty and naturally the escapees were caught by evening and sent to the palace
I was in a very
agitated state. However, the Pasha seemed unaware of all these events and annoyed
me with his usual indifferent, tranquil manners.
In the evening
we have waited at the dinner table for a long time for the arrival of the chief
eunuch, that terrible and authoritative chief eunuch of the palace. He stayed
in the harem this evening more than as usual. Everybody attributed it to that
incident of escape. I asked:
be the relation between the escape and the chief eunuch's staying in the harem?"
They answered me:
decides on the punishments to be given to the concubines. Whether whipping,
beating with stick, imprisonment, or starving? Always he decides which. And
sometimes he beats up on with hand. So we can attribute his lateness this evening
to it only. May God have mercy; he was so harsh this evening…"
My heart was filled
with fear and uprising. Should those right next to me were careful enough to
see my face yellowed and eyes wide open, they would immediately point an accusing
finger at me concerning this incident of escape and find me guilty; however,
they were having a deep conversation on the subject, each was narrating his
recollections about the chief eunuch's such cruel deeds. I was trying to busy
myself in thought with other things so as not to hear these stories. But it
was impossible!… Mahdur being whipped, Mahdur in the terrible solitude of the
damp and dark prison, Mahdur deprived of bread and water, Mahdur injured; Mahdur
as the surroundings of her eyes hollowed, darkened, and color of her eyes faded
away, Mahdur as writhing in pain…Thus, my mind while trying to get away from
those narrated, was being attacked by such hellish imaginations and exhausted.
The silence occurred
upon the coming in of the chief eunuch woke me up from this nightmare. When
we sat down for dinner, I looked at the face of this black man with excitement;
he was calm. He even apologized me for awaiting us. Then he sat down immediately
opposing me; and began filling his cheeks resembling two pouches made of bright,
embroidered thick leather with a wild crunching sound. His jointed, curved fingered
hands were scrolling between the white dishes over the table like an evil beast,
and red veined white parts of his eyes were frightening me.
The silence that
lasted until the end of the dinner was interrupted suddenly by his incomprehensible
growls. One of us ventured:
"What is the
problem agha?" he asked, "What happened?"
He replied slowly
uttering words with care and desire:
to me for the first time…" he said. "I got irritated beating a concubine.
I had always made some of them writhe, cry out under my whip; however, I was
always cool-headed, even thinking on other things when doing it. But this one…God
damn her… This one! One of those escaped, the one for the Pasha. That one with
auburn, long hair had outraged me! Harlot… each time I whipped her, she cried
out: 'You rascal Arab!' But did not put an end to with 'rascal Arab,' and swore
at my masters and all Egyptians. I didn't leave any place in her body not swelled
or bruised. I don't know how many beats. Fifty? Hundred? However, she did not
shed any tears. Such a tough harlot!" Chief eunuch told many other things
about her, and when leaving the dinner added: "Anyhow, I told my lady formerly,
I have said that as a warning to all, these should be done away with before
all the public of the palace."
dark man, whose previous nonsense words caused my fists clench and turned my
mind into an extremely agitated heart, that man whom I wanted to attack, by
his last words hit my breast like a heavy fist disarraying my being. At the
same time, as if an invisible hand pushed me to the emptiness, and I began falling
upside down in a silence that lasted for a time unknown to me. Who knows how
long! May be one second only! May be eternally!…
When I opened my
eyes, I found my table fellows agitated around me. Some was sprinkling water
at my face, and some massaging my arms. That dark man was among them. When I
opened my eyes I saw him laughing.
he said. "I didn't know so lily-livered you were. Hey, why for fainting
like a woman? You are not the one got a beating, or to be hanged or to be beheaded,
eh, what is it to you? And turning to others said: Here you see the gentlemen
of Istanbul, their hearts always skip a beat, always…"
I felt a wild,
savage blood circulating through my veins burning with revenge and fury. I,
with my hands closed tightly and head burning, jumped up and attacked the dark
creature guffawing to my face displaying his white teeth. But one opposing me
was such a beast, and such soulless and dull that he gave me the impression
of an inanimate object only, and my arms spread to him got numbed and slowly
That night I learned
very important things from a young Circassian concerned with the subject who
accompanied me in the dark and lonely way through the garden to my room. This
young Circassian expressed regret for my fist that came to naught and the chief
eunuch's being got off beating, and then he said:
By God, he is a
real pain, nuisance for all in the palace. He is as mischief-maker and trickster
as a fox and as wild and bloodthirsty as a hyena. When he walks around us, our
hearts are filled with fear and aversion. May God protect from his wickedness!
Should he singles out any of us, then no one can expect salvation or redemption
for him. And now what I see…he bothers to those poor girls. It is not for as
they are my compatriots or fellows…I don't know my country yet, but indeed,
I pity for them. I don't mind beating; we all grow up with beatings. It is not
so important…However, these children shall be done away with, why, wouldn't
it be a pity?
As if there was
an ant nest within my heart with ice-ants; and they suddenly conquered all my
body with their frozen legs; I asked in excitement:
what he said was true! But do you think will he succeed in executing his intention?"
the Pasha or his mother will not consent to it. I don't believe."
between us, sir," he said. "First of all don't take the Pasha into
account. He is yet too young and obeys his mother's orders. Why, for instance,
he does not go to the men's rooms in the evenings? Do you think he lives among
us, in the harem as he pleases; no, her mother hinders him. Of course, you don't
know; poor child, he fell in love with one of his cousins two years ago, and
his uncle agreed to give his daughter. Both loved each other with a great love.
The girl was beautiful, well bred and wealthy. There was nothing to prevent
the marriage. However, the marriage did not take place sir! Pasha was ill for
about one year, he was confined to bed, he moaned. Discord, enmity has occurred
between two families; however, marriage did not take place. Mother of the Pasha
is the cause to all. All affairs in this great palace are managed by this woman,
and only one, among hundreds of people in this palace has won her confidence.
He has become her majordomo, even her intimate, like-minded man, and her boon
companion. This is the agha, the chief eunuch! They resemble each other; even
this woman, it is not an exaggeration, is more wild and cruel than this Arab."
He said these and
then stopped, and examined the surroundings carefully. It was dark. Among some
stubby amber-scented globe trees, there was only a pool a few steps ahead with
its boundaries disappearing from sight in the reeds, and the reflections of
starlight were flickering over it. Young Circassian drew near me, and with a
very low and even incomprehensible voice:
"Sir, I came
here when I was ten years old," he said. "Father of the Pasha was
then alive, and the pasha was only a child of three or four. Those who ruled
the palace were these two persons even then. The Lady and the chief eunuch…The
son's present position before the Lady is exactly the same that of the husband's
in the past. That is, he was her slave. For example, although he had great interest
in hunting, he couldn't go hunting without her permission; and the permission
was only twice a year. Those who could visit him were selected by his wife;
and even his going in and out hours were determined by her. No need for further
details; in summary, the great pasha, Harin of Egypt, with his appearance and
outfits, was a worthless, laughable plaything of this woman. I was only a child;
they were talking beside me, and I heard all. They said, ah, where did this
woman come, she came and how changed our pasha! She has put the pasha in this
state; she made him such stupefied, abstracted and fool!
"No need to
be long-winded; finally sir, this woman caused the death of her husband in a
very distressing way." He spoke more quietly. "Actually, it was an
unbelievably, unimaginably cruel event. However, it occurred sir, it occurred.
Just look how; one day this deceased pasha gets up from table. There was said
to be a new bought beautiful concubine with long, blonde hair; and he calls
this girl to pour water at his hands. The concubine comes, she was said to be
a very shy, inexperienced girl; she kneels down and takes the ever, but just
when she was to pour water, her braided hair releases and some gets into the
washbowl. The pasha, since he was a modest and good-hearted man, feels compassion
for this silky hair getting dirty in the washbowl, and holds them with his hands
and puts them on the concubine's back. That is all…However, Lady sees it; and
what do you expect to happen the next day? Pasha and his Lady were said to be
at the dinner table sitting facing each other. One of the housemaids comes with
a closed, large, silver dish and puts it on the table; and contrary to the customs
she doesn't open it and goes. Pasha, filled with curiosity and amazement stands
up and opens the cover of the dish. Guess what he sees Sir! Guess! A head with
long silky hair in the dish…And it brings about Sir; the next day Pasha vomits
blood and passes away. Well then, think, in comparison with this, slaying of
these two concubines is inconsequential."
It was the end
of the narration. We were already before the door of my room. I requested him
to stay with me all night, till morning. "I am so nervous. I am afraid
of myself. Please, I request, if it does not put you to ant trouble, don't leave
me alone tonight," I said. This kind man did not leave me alone that night,
and in the morning he went for gathering news concerning the event for me. However,
I could talk with him only towards evening. As we have went on a long coach
trip somewhere with the Pasha all day long. Late night, I found him awaiting
for me before the door of my room; wrinkles on his face seemed complicated to
me. His eyes were full with tears. He came close to me, said this and then quitted:
has been passed. Tomorrow morning, by dawn, the concubines shall be thrown into
These words dealt
a severe blow into my head. Then what happened to me… don't ask. I was as if
out of my mind; my mind was away burning out in a far, unknown hell. The only
thing leftover from me was an apparition, a dejected apparition of me… An apparition
fluttering like a shadow in an insensitive, perplexing world. Much later, this
apparition, wretched with longing and sadness caused by an indefinite and obscure
thing, disappeared in the shadows of the evening and went back to his room.
There, I suppose, with an old habit inherited from that lost mind, he sat down
beside a great many cigarettes, then like a creature living on fire and smoke,
he began smoking. How many did he smoke? Who knows, within one hour, twenty,
thirty, may be forty? They called him for dinner, but he didn't go; he didn't
know what meal was. What he needed was only smoke and fire. However, at one
point he felt distressed and with the need of breathing fresh air he went out.
He met a black man outside; this black man approached him like a dark cloud,
and with a rather faraway and indefinite language he said something with a meaning:
"I was coming for you. Sure, you know about the rumors going around in
the palace. Don't believe in any of these. The concubines shall never be thrown
into the Nile," he said.
didn't understand anything at that moment, and went on wandering in the dark.
However, these words became the source for thinking to him; he began talking
to himself and said "He wants to mislead me, foul! He wants to mislead
me," he was laughing in a wild tone, and looking backwards in every single
step. He felt that the dark man was following him, and ran into the darkness
and disappeared. The silence around him was so deep that it didn't break the
ringing in his ears.
It was a cold winter
night free of winter, and a great many images of a bright and starry sky were
reflected on the pools at the garden. The apparition was sometimes standing
and looking at these reflections; and then in a swivet of a person late for
his work, he was running over the stones, the plants, the soil and the sand,
hitting to the trees, and walking and walking. However, sometimes a great stone
wall or a marble barrier, or the iron fence -through which was seen the silent
Nile, resembling a great muddy, mysterious way- at the end of the garden, was
obstructing his windy, crazy motion; and therefore the apparition was confusedly
going and coming back on the same course for many times. This winter night was
like an interval in my life. It was such a blank moment unconnected with the
past, present, and my nature; maybe it was a painful, black sleep with nightmares,
a sleep! Yes, yes… It was such a sleep that I woke up with a terrifying, frightening
dream. I suppose it was towards morning; I was rather tired, I fell on a barrier
wall unconsciously. There were all trees, shadows and shadows everywhere. These
were not the same shadows, I noticed; what I saw before were black, dark shadows
covering everything; but these were fading away, flickering moment by moment,
and in a defeated and scattered state abandoning their places to the forms of
real things around. The garden, which was captured by the darkness recently,
was now awakening and animating with all its inhabitants in an imperious, threatening
manner. I raised my head and looked around. Opposite to me, among all these
animating nature, there was an enormous, gigantic, white spook being materialized
and with every moment it was widening, expanding and covering all my sight.
I looked at it carefully: It was like a colossal creature with four heads, a
great number of eyes, and a nacreous color. It had a chiseled crown, and harsh
features; and it seemed to approach slowly with its blank, obscure, evil eyes
fixed at an unknown point. Being extremely terrified, I moved backwards and
waited. Suddenly the blank eyes of the giant began to burn with an internal,
odd fire, and some humanlike appearances became visible there. They looked like
some women in white clothes with unkempt hair; these women, with their faces
more yellow and flickering than the lights of candles at their hands, came one
by one and leant their foreheads against the transparent, mysterious pupils
of the giant. In a petrified, amazed state, I fixed my eyes at this supernatural
scene. The numerous eyes of the giant with a nacreous color were getting crowded
with a great many women heads. There were faces crying, worried, biting their
lips in agitation; and all these shadows, which grew, extended in the light
of the candles, were flickering terrifyingly. I found out; this spook was the
palace, and the eyes were the windows of the palace and these women were the
female slaves; they should have been gathered at the windows for something extraordinary!
And it should be… I wanted to run away. But suddenly, I heard some footsteps
nearby; I stopped and waited. The footsteps were approaching. With an animal
instinct, I hid myself behind the thick trunk of an old tree and stood there
and waited. At a distant point on the road opposite to me an indefinite fire
was brandished, and it was coming towards me flickering and slowly; and four
persons dressed in black were following the fire. One of them was thin and extraordinarily
tall; beside him, the other two seemed short and small like a child; and the
one coming in front, close to the fire, was vivacious, wavering and flickering
like a shadow. Steps of these four people caused irritating sounds on the sands
of the road. In fact, if I didn't hear these sounds, I would imagine that they
were only some curious plays of shadow and light caused by the daybreak; they
were so silent and black. They were black; I saw this, as they were right opposite
to me. One of them, the one leading was a fat black man, holding a heavy and
big lantern at his hand. Two women were walking in the middle, resembling two
large birds trapped in the net of a hunter. And the tall man behind was that
notorious chief eunuch; he was straight and tough forwarding with broad steps,
and his arms at two sides were swung like two queer instruments of torture.
When they were just in front of me I acted more carefully; I laid facedown.
I was too excited and pulling out the weeds, flowers with my hands; I felt my
eyes were wide open terrifyingly.
They passed by;
I followed them on all fours. Truly, I was anything other than a man at that
moment. A fox, a hedgehog, a frog, or a hound… there was nothing in my soul
other than fear and an animal pursuit.
The wounded birds
between the two black men were walking draggingly and her feet were sobbing
on the sand. As for me, I felt howl-like sobs at my throat many times. Each
time, I hid my face in the grasses and bit my fists to stop them. I suppose
we have gone quite a distance in this way. Then they suddenly stopped. I saw
that they were before a small door. The fat black man put down the lantern and
took out a heavy iron bunch from his pocket; these were keys. The man with the
lantern, like a man who finds out the loftiest melody in the sounds of the chain,
jingled these keys at his hand for a time. Then I saw the door opened slowly
and they disappeared one by one.
I ran to the door;
it was solid and the wall was rather high. Behind the wall there was the sound
of water, roaring. I listened and waited; I heard the sound of irons jingling
at the hand of the fat black man, and then heard two bodies fell into the water
with an interval of one second, and heard the sound of glass broken. Yes, yes,
sound of two bodies… I heard it evidently; and began knocking on the door with
my fists and cry out like a wounded animal, then I ran away, ran for… I suppose
so. My memoirs regarding this era are not clear. However, one should rely on
them, as they deserve it. As I have said you before, since the moment that afternoon
when I was informed about Mahdur's punishment, my conscious, which thinks, sees,
and feels, that my true conscious has abandoned me.
We could come together
with my conscious only one month later, in an untidy bed in a room occupied
with the sharp smell of medicines, in my uncle's house. I was pale and rather
weak. And it seemed tired and wounded as if came from a difficult, long way.
Our hearts were full with a compassionate mercy for each other. It was feeling
compassion for my sunken eyes and weakened fingers, even the nodes of fingers
of which were seen under light; and I was feeling compassion for its hopeless
My uncle was often
coming to console us with a rather faraway and indefinite language of an alien
creature of another world. One day we even found him next to my bed, trying
to open up an old wound with his incompetent hands. He was looking at me with
inquisitive eyes and saying:
You have devastated yourself in vain. You have endangered your life for no reason;
you were grappling for your life when she was alive, when she was happy."
I looked at him
with in amazement.
"Why do you
look as if not understanding anything?" he was saying. `Don't you believe
in me, that girl is alive, she did not die, she did not die."
I felt that my
wound, which was tried to be treated with these small and ordinary lies, that
my great, proud wound was rebelling in my heart. With a painful laugh:
"Why do you
talk about these things?" I said; "did I ask you anything?"
And then I lied
down in the bed turning my back on my uncle. Thank God, due to my convalescence
period it was possible for me, to a certain degree, to escape from such an annoyance.
Each afternoon I was going out and wandering aimlessly in the city till evening.
I was walking slowly following the awnings of the boulevards, sometimes standing
at the squares at the crossroads and walking around in the gardens decorating
these squares, sitting on a bench and looking at the water spouting out from
fountains for a long time. Everywhere I found a new blue beauty. Air and light
had a sedative affect on me.
the days when I felt myself better, I was going to the more crowded and noisy
places of the city. For instance, sometimes I was letting myself lost in the
flood of the streets extending from Uzbekiye to the bridge, and then, mixed
in the crowd of the bridge, I was walking to Algeciras; and there, I was intermingled
in the lively harmony of the evening strolls, evening entertainments; and thus
I was taking my heart, high with the return of its power and desires day by
day, on a tour in front of the windows of the harem phaetons -which fill up
the roads like red-hot wineglasses, and look like wheeled big jewelry cases
covered with crystal- framing the faces of the most rare, most noble women.
One day, towards
evening, I was strolling again around these phaetons; suddenly I supposed that
I have seen Mahdur's face in one of these frames. I turned backed and looked;
she was walking towards the phaeton. I ran towards her and looked again; she,
as well, was looking at me carefully. She was wearing tulles, crepes, and silk
clothes; at the night of her hair, below the clouds of her headdress were seen
stars made of brilliants. Mahdur! Impossible… Mahdur! But this was the same
sad and mysterious face.
The same evening
I have narrated the incident to my uncle laughing: And he, after listening to
me laughing loudly, and asking me several questions on the shape of the phaeton,
on the appearances and clothes of the groom, driver, and the eunuch, in a very
serious and solemn voice said me that:
have opened the subject of Mahdur again, then I should say it: That one you
have seen in the phaeton was really Mahdur. She is now… the odalisque of the
Pasha. That matter of death sentence two months ago, which weakened your health
seriously, was in fact only an ordinary deception organized against the public
of the palace. Such incidents in palaces, which should be a lesson to the slaves
and subjects, are mostly concluded with such deceptions."
I myself saw it, I heard it."
you see, and what did you hear?"
"I saw that
they went into the door opened to the Nile; then I heard two bodies fell into
the water with an interval of one second…"
went into the door opened to the Nile. But it was to board a small vessel waiting
there… You heard something fell into the water, but why do you relate it with
the concubines… It was the second measure taken against anybody who would like
to see the incident closer. This was the second deception… What a pity! All
these measures were in vain. Now everybody knows that… what was her name… Mahdur,
yes Mahdur is alive. And the slave dealer is responsible for this error. Cause
the slave dealer was not to sell the concubine here; they have decided so. But,
he didn't. I don't know exactly, maybe somebody offered him a lot of money?
I don't know why… So, the girl is really fortunate, that is happiness wait for
her in everywhere; the place she is present now and her husband…"
Then she is owned by another person hah, is it so uncle?"
This was an involuntary
voice directly coming out of my heart, which made my uncle laugh loudly. But
indeed it was not anything funny. It was a very perilous voice. This was the
voice of jealousy, ambition, real love, and real fire; it was a wind taking
away and scattering all will, reason and deliberation of a man. In fact, death
of a woman whom we love but deprived of is, somewhat a consolation for us. Mourning
for her is great, hallowed and poetic. This is a black flower on the heart that
releases a poisonous wine; but this wine is somewhat a sweet thing, in that
flower you may find that dead woman, and also in that wine you may find the
soul of that dead woman. Therefore, there you find a reunion in the death of
a woman who would never be yours. You feel that the dead is with you, she is
not owned by anybody else, she is eternally yours without any perils or worries;
but when the woman is alive and owned by somebody else, it makes you obliterated,
first of all you know that what you search for is existing; the goal of your
dreams is on the globe you live, breathes the same air with you, under the same
sky, surrounded with the same horizons; she is far away from you or nearby you,
she is here or there. All these information drives you into involuntary, continuous
attacks, dashes, and flutters. Attacks in vain, dashes and flutters that leads
Imagine an unfortunate
man at the bottom of a cliff that finds his liberation in the rocks and thorns
covering this cliff. Imagine him holding the thorns with his hands, leaning
against the rocks with his knees, with his breast; and just as he climbs up
a little, the thorns are uprooted and the rocks fell off, and he falls down
again, covered with blood, and his breast and knees badly wounded; and this
continues to occur in each trial. Till no wild thorns or tearing rocks exist
around… That is how I lived and moaned for months being fluttered, dragged and
wounded to reach this conclusion. There were moments that I was afraid of myself,
and there were moments that everybody around was afraid of me. Caused I was
turned into a strange being which has no human feelings. There were tears in
my eyes and screams in my mouth, but my hands wanted to harm everyone around.
He was a man inclined to commit suicide or homicide easily. Every night I was
wandering in the bars miserably and vagrantly and when I came back home, I was
crying out like a wounded animal. One day at dawn they found me in a drunken
stupor beside the wall of a house where I imagined as her domicile; and one
night, an arm held me on a bridge as I was throwing myself fatally to the Nile.
My uncle was tired of following me day and night. And in the house, I was quarreling
with her wife exceeding the limits of good manners and politeness. Some respectable,
sedate men were coming to my side to give me advice and send me back to Egypt.
But I was not going to my uncle's house anymore. From morning till night, I
was waiting before the doors of big houses, following splendorous carriages,
but, how strange, I couldn't meet her anywhere.
However, I often
met with him, her husband, in the public entertainment places; and I was sitting
down facing him or walking after him; I was watching all his movements for hours,
cause he was a man comforting me with his old age and displeasing manners; moreover,
being close to him was giving me the impression as if I was close to her as
Really, this is
a very strange feeling; such undangerous rivals are attractive for us as much
as our beloveds. This man was a freak of nature aged forty-five, and rather
short and plump; one of his eyes was loosing sense of balance and closed when
looking around; he was dark, quite dark; he seemed short and shabby when walking,
but tall, big and grand when sitting in his carriage. In fact, when he got in
his carriage, I would hate him. Gentleman, after this incident I became an enemy
of the rich and richness. I still nurse a grudge against them; I consider money
as harmful as the arms. Anyway, let me continue. I guess, I've already tired
you. However, these are all old sorrows!… When narrating you all these, I really
feel the state of mind of forty-five years old. Do not believe in those who
say everything is forgotten by time. Our present soul is the consequence of
the events of the past.
My companion, after
a long silence that worried me if it was the end of his story, continued to
narrate in an altered manner with an entirely different voice:
Now this custom
has lost its old importance and magnificence; however, then, even ten or fifteen
years ago, celebrations resembling fairy tales were performed in Egypt in the
months of mevlit. The squares before the holy buildings such as the mosques
of 'Elesti Zeyneb', 'Mehmed Ali' and 'Hasan Huseyin' would become marvelous
squares of display with the thousands of rare goods that the wealthy men of
the city brought from their houses and heaped up in these squares. For instance,
silk tents in various colors with embroidered skirts were pitched everywhere,
and crystal chandeliers were hang at their gilded columns, and expensive rugs,
in various sizes, were laid down. Ears would be high with the harmony, and eyes
would be overjoyed with the lights. The entertainments would continuously follow
each other. In such evenings, peoples from all classes in Egypt would find a
place of pleasure and delight for themselves. The worst fellah markets that
you can't pass through in ordinary days without closing your nose because of
their bad smells and annoying swarms of flies, would change their nature in
such nights and would display a pleasant aspect. Anything, such as the colorful
Chinese lanterns suspending from the wires stringed out between the roads, or
the ruby-colored candy dolls placed on the benches of the shops, or the dark
colored holders of these shops in green and blue cloths would be sufficient
to change these places.
In such an evening,
I went to one of these celebrations like everybody. I could see around quite
well; as my eyes were fixed on the most insignificant things more than necessary,
they were got tired. For instance, when passing through the markets, I was looking
at the ruby-colored candy dolls with a childish amazement. I suppose these dolls
are entirely unknown things for you. However, among the characteristics of the
month of mevlit, these dolls had a rather important place. These were some transparent
statues made of candy, always in the form of a small-headed woman in a long
skirt. They had large, medium and small sizes. Though their original places
were the benches of the Arab candy-sellers, they could be seen anywhere. For
instance, some would go into the most magnificent tents, get on the marble tables,
and wander between the Chinese porcelain and the cups on these tables in the
same splendid posture as they display on the benches. And some would jump into
the arms of the children of the poorest fellahs, would give up the ghost in
an indifferent manner, and would take pleasure only in dyeing the black, dry
lips of their strange lovers with their sweet bloods and being exhausted slowly
and bit by bit. These dolls were so adventuresome. It is imagined that the month
of mevlit is only the festival of these candy dolls, or that they are some deities
that make such a religious festival necessary.
That night I was
thinking about such things, and entirely occupied with them. It was in such
a degree that, then I noticed that I wasn't thinking about her for a while.
I was amazed with the fact that the crystal-covered carriages passing by me
were not drawing my attention; then, in a swivet of a man forgotten his work,
I rushed into a place where I surmised she would be, to the 'Hasan Huseyin'
square. There was an extraordinary crowd there. All the carriages of Egypt were
as if gathered there, and people coming from all directions were standing here
and the crowd was increasing. It was impossible for me to walk into the center
of the square. Cause there was the risk of being choked or run over by the carriages.
I asked about; I said that:
"What is the
reason for all this crowd?"
really know," they said, "so why did you come here? Move ahead, move
ahead! You'll be amazed with the thing that you will see." And pointing
out, above a large crowd of people waving hither and thither, a tent only the
ternary white top could be seen in the light of the torches, they continued:
"Do you see it? This is the tent of Sheik (.....). Everything shall take
place before it. Now a white bearded saint shall go out of that tent and ride
on a white horse waiting at the door, on a rebellious, wild horse; and on this
horse he will ride through a great many men lying facedown on his way, but the
horse shall harm none of them! It is a miracle, do you see? A miracle…
I have worked hard
to reach at the tent of the Sheik. With great difficulties I could find a narrow
place on a stone in front of the mosque door, and I could watch the show from
this point. A line of torches were placed beginning from the tent of the Sheik
to a distant point. In the wild lights of these torches, it was seen that many
people acting like dead people were lying facedown on the road without any movements.
In front of the blue silk curtain doors of the tent, a haughty headed, great
white horse, with a silver embroidered and fringed saddle at its back, was moving
slightly, pawing the ground, and gnawing its silver bit that a groom, wearing
a fine shirt, was holding, and shaking its head towards the crowd looking in
amazement and appreciation. A voice next to me said that:
now, how this wild horse shall stand calm and obedient under the Sheik!"
I was occupied
with the interest and curiosity of the public as well. I have forgotten about
the dolls and the necessity of finding her. I was looking at the men lying down
in resignation and at ease, looking at the beast pawing the ground and neighing,
looking at the curtains continuously moving lightly, and waiting impatiently.
At that moment,
a carriage drove slowly pushing the people beyond, and stopped just beside the
stone I was standing on. A harem carriage with its groom, agha, and plays of
colors and diamonds inside its windows… The people annoyed were grumbling in
front of the carriage. Some fought with the groom, the eunuch with his high-pitched
voice swore at the people, the driver with an angry hand moved his whip above
the heads, and the carriage stood in an imperious manner in the emptied place
comfortably and lonely.
I couldn't notice
who was inside and what. However, due to the curiosity about these carriages,
which has occupied me for a period, I started to examine it as well. The first
thing I could see was, two indefinite silhouettes of women sitting opposite
to each other. Although the lights of the torches, which enlighten the square,
were enlightening the carriage as well, I couldn't perceive their faces since
they were sitting at the corners and their heads were turned to the opposite
direction. However, I don't know why but my curiosity about them was increasing.
Therefore, I decided not to watch the miracle that was to occur a few seconds
soon, and abandoned and sacrificed my place on the stone and slowly approached
the carriage. What I saw there suddenly, sir, was an astounding miracle above
all other miracles.
One of the women
in the carriage was Mahdur.
I suppose you don't
believe in me, so? I, as well, couldn't consider it to be likely. However, this
was really Mahdur herself. At that moment all my relations with anything else
were disappeared. The people around me were no more existing for me. Within
an empty and shining field there were only Mahdur and I.
or of her soul,
changed her. Yes, I could be nothing for her, only a stranger." I was thinking
about these and looking at her again in a strange appearance. I suppose at this
moment the Sheik was coming out of his tent and riding on the horse. Cause I
felt that, everyone around was all ears, and the crowd was shaken with
excitement. She has moved in the carriage as well like everybody else, and wiped
the window with her hand, she turned her face to the right and to the left and
at that moment she saw the man who has leaned his forehead against the window.
Her first reaction was to display an evident fear and agitation; it was so
evident that even I noticed that I scared her with my strange appearance, and
slowly moved backward a few steps; I was so regretful for my behavior that I
wanted to run away at once, pushing and shoving the people. But at that moment a
second miracle took place in the carriage. She suddenly changed her manners, and
for some seconds gazed at me with calm and abstracted looks; and then without
taking her eyes off from me, she leaned forward and pointing at me with her hand
said something to the other woman in the carriage.
At the point I
was standing, for a long second I felt as if I was swinging, revolving, turning
over and over, and falling down. Then as if seeing a dream, I saw that she slowly
opens the window and makes a sign of 'approach, come here' to me. I was standing
at the same point as though incapable of speech and not able to move anywhere
as if petrified, and was looking around stupidly. Now with the sounds of prayers,
all heads were fixed at the white bearded man riding forward slowly on his white
horse. At that moment all those hundreds of people at the square were probably
seeing nothing else other than this scene, hearing nothing else other than these
sounds of prayers, and imagining about the miracle to take place in a mad, tranced
mood. I was feeling and aware of the fact that what prevented me from approaching
the carriage was not the people around me, or the groom, driver and eunuch who
have forgotten their duties and were occupied with the common emotion. However,
what was the reason then? I don't know. I was still standing at my place petrified.
Finally, upon her calling me plainly with my name, I have found the courage,
energy and motive to take some steps and approach the carriage. I approached
her, my legs under my body being bent and feeling dizzy; but my eyes could not
see anything and my hands were holding the edge of the window incapably. I felt
my tongue was getting heavier and bigger in my mouth, and the words that could
be said to her were one by one going backwards and disappeared.
She again put an
end to this silence that was overwhelming me, with the pure and warm melody
of her voice that I remembered very well. She quietly said that:
"If I didn't
see that you were looking so carefully inside the carriage, I would conclude
that you didn't recognize me; why were you so abstracted sir?"
on the contrary… But I felt remorse for terrifying you…" I said.
She laughed, and
really terrified me. I don't know what I supposed. If I knew that it was you…"
And we remained
silent again. The other woman was watching me carefully with penetrating looks.
In order to escape from these looks, I was looking down at the steps of the
carriage, my hands still at the window.
Again she spoke:
Didn't you amaze at my being alive and this my new life?"
I raised my head
and looked at her in a way as if I was seeing her the first time, as if I was
trying to examine the signs of her new life, but in fact since I was not able
to find anything to say her… I fixed my eyes on her. She was wearing a white
satin coverall, embroidered in the collars and in some parts with big pearls,
and as tight to exhibit the most secret lines of her body. There were the glitters
of a locket with gems wore on a fine golden chain revealed on her breast covered
only with the edge of a thin tulle veil. In the gloom, the flickering glitters
of her earrings seemed like two strange fireflies gnawing the ears of this beautiful
woman. And her hair below the clouds of her headdress was covered with jewelry
in lights. With a low and miserable voice hardly heard I said that:
life is a miracle. And you are a miracle as well. You make those around you
live miracles; did you know that? I could not put my life in order since then."
With curious sparkles
in her eyes, she said:
she said, "so you weren't all indifferent, like an onlooker, to the things
that I experienced, so you were occupied with them, so you were worried about
me; thank you."
At that moment
I wanted to throw myself into the carriage and fall facedown, and with a voice
that exhibits the harmony of great fires in its accent, I wanted to narrate
her a long and poisonous story of my sorrows and crazy behaviors within the
last five, six months; but then suddenly I felt it was impossible and only nodded
my head and said:
"If you know,
ah if you know… And then hopelessly stopped speaking. With a comprehension only
peculiar to some women who understand intuitively, an evident expression of
happiness appeared on her face due to learning everything, and she put her hand,
heavy with the rings, on my hands holding the edge of the window:
So I was not mistaken," she said, and as a sign of her been relieved, she
sighed and continued:
"I don't know
if you would believe me sir. In my most horrible, helpless, and hopeless days,
I could only find some power to live by thinking of you. I was saying to myself
that, in that country which is always an inauspicious and solitary desert for
me, there was one, and maybe still there is one, always ready to reach out to
help me, and whenever I was out for a walk, I would think about it, and my eyes
would search for you. I won't hide it from you." And pointing out the other
woman she said, "here, ask her! Isn't it so Felekper?" And upon her
approval and consent, she continued, "I would always talk about you. Cause
both of us suffers from the same problems, sir." She laughed with a cheeky
and meaningful smile. "But mine was a bit different… Both of us are disgusted
with this country and those around us. Our daily live consists of pouring out
our grievances to each other. Ah, I was almost forgetting about it. You didn't
ask Perinaz. Do you know what happened to her, sir?" And as if informing
about an extremely important event, with a shivering voice she added, "they
have taken her back to Istanbul again. She was a so lucky girl; really, what
a happiness for her, isn't it so, sir?"
As I was listening
to her, despite the magnificent and heavy burden of her jewelry, I was feeling
the happiness of finding her again in her every single word, and wondering at
her living with such a fresh and light soul, and like a wild violet, with such
unaffected and virtuous eyes. With a great happiness I was saying to myself:
"My God, thanks to you. So the golds and diamonds could not change her
heart. So, despite everything, she is the same old Mahdur with her faded cloak!
And going back to Istanbul is still the greatest happiness for her."
With a sudden enthusiasm
I turned her and said:
that everything has not came to an end yet, what prevents you from this happiness;
only order me, I'm ready, ready for anything…"
I was afraid of
my own voice when saying these. But Mahdur, following my words, with an extraordinary
flood of pleasure, leaned out of the window up to her waist as if willing to
get out of the carriage at that moment, and with a voice got hoarse with excitement
'Really sir, do
you say it really?"
She has fixed her
eyes shining with sparks in a riot of colors to my eyes, and she was covered
with odd gleams from head to foot. Beside the pearls on her coverall, the rings
at her fingers, the locket on her breast, and the precious pins at her hair,
her face was shining like a big jewel as well, with the emerald of her eyes,
ruby of her lips, mother-of-pearl of her teeth; and the waves of air occurred
by the any single movement of this gleaming and fresh being were turning into
the smell of some rare flowers with unknown names.
In a manner as
if I have lost my consciousness, I repeated my words swaying in my place:
"I am ready
for anything, yes anything!" I said, "Even to death. Only you want;
rely on me…"
She stood the same
for some moments. With a pensive, deep and fixed look, she examined me for some
time. Then suddenly she said that:
me your address. I'll inform you about my decision."
After giving my
address, I stayed near the carriage for some time. But, upon her sign, I slowly
went away, and mixed with the crowd. I suppose the miracle of the Sheik was
ended. Cause the sound of prayers were not heard anymore and the people were
dispersed. I was constantly looking back at the carriage. Its place was changed
now and it seemed ready to go; the groom was trying to open the way.
I felt the need
for crying out my happiness loudly to everyone; I was like a man drunk with
happiness who has suddenly got out of a wet and cold dungeon to the sunlight
and warmth. It was as if Mahdur has given all her glitters to me. I don't remember
any night that I loved the life and people so deeply. My arms wanted to embrace
the people. I was talking with everybody that I met, joking with people that
I don't know. I went back to my house blowing kisses to the sky, stars and singing
One week was passed
after this event. But I couldn't get any news from her. I was again worried
and anxious. Finally, one day, I could never forget the date, Tuesday, fifth
of September, I received a note from her saying: "I have put everything
to rights. Please wait at the station half an hour before the departure of the
noon train on Friday. On that day, I will go out in the morning under the pretext
of visiting a friend; and then I will go to the house of a lady, whom I have
persuaded to help me, partially for money and partially due to friendship, and
then I will say that I plan to stay long hours there and send my carriage away
to come back only toward evening. I would tell the rest when we meet. However,
I should say beforehand that the person you are to search in the station shall
be a woman in the dressing of an Arab, wearing a black cloth and black veil,
and this woman is to get out of an old cab with one horse, carrying two bundles."
And as a postscript,
she has added that:
to prove that I have planned everything in detail, let me say that one hour
after the arrival of the train to Alexandria, a French steamer shall sail towards
It was an extraordinarily
hot day. I was ready waiting one hour before the determined time, and sat under
the bower a café where I could see the passengers staying in front of it, and
began waiting for the cab with one horse that was to bring the Arab woman in
blacks carrying two bundles. There were both dreams and excitement in my head
burning with the sun-lights passing through the dry leaves of the bower I was
sitting under. I was frequently looking at my watch and standing up to check,
above the crowd, the roads connected to the boulevard; I supposed there she
was in every cab with one horse that I saw; and then I was holding my bag with
one hand and making odd, unnecessary signs with my other hand to the porters
who were dozing off at the bottom of the walls. I went into the station once
and looked at the saloons and every corner. I asked everybody when exactly the
train was to depart: 'Exactly at noon?' 'A few minutes before?' 'A few minutes
later?' 'Is the ticket window opened?' 'Not yet?' 'When will be opened?' 'Why
not opened yet?' Finally, all began to reply me with cold, absurd answers. Even
one of them got so angry that he took my arm and took me under the bower of
the café again and said me that:
please, there is no need for agitation. I would inform you when its time comes;
I would even get your ticket and put your baggage in the car."
But I was like
a naughty child who couldn't stand still. I was annoying everybody; but in contrast
to it, the sluggishness, indifference and calmness of all around were annoying
Cause it was the
moment now to count for the last minutes, there were only ten minutes; I have
bought the tickets and made everything ready. But she was not present yet. For
one moment I became so excited that began to wander around the carriages in
the street under the sun confusedly, holding my watch at my hand; I even became
more stupefied and asked a driver even if he had met an old cab with one horse
carrying a woman in blacks with two bundles. I turned back to the station wet
with sweat and red in the face. All the passengers were getting their tickets
and one by one boarding. I was worrying about how she would be distressed should
we cannot find a proper place in the car.
has given the first signal of motion. I again ran to the street, burning under
the sun, wandered among the carriages and asked to all now:
"Did you see
a woman in blacks with two bundles… an old cab with one horse?"
"A woman in
blacks! An old cab with one horse!" No, no… anybody has not seen her. Some
people were jokingly saying, "Yes, we saw. There are so many women in blacks.
And all passengers have their bundles with them."
The train was about
to move. The guard blew his whistle and waved his flag. I, carrying the bags
at my hands, in a miserable but laughable state, was running to the exit door
of the station from the street, and then back to street again. However, all
these were no help for her coming. The train went away, and I stayed alone there
with all my strangeness and desperation, I was tired, exhausted, in a sweat,
and red with the sun, I was in the middle of people crowded around me and I
was the object of amazement, curiosity and ridicule for them.
After that I did
not see Mahdur any more. What happened? Why did not she come? Did she change
her mind? Was she obstructed? Or was she caught when running away, and punished,
this time, dreadfully? Is she dead? Or alive? I don't know anything. But as
a result of the examinations we carried out with my uncle, I only found out
that, Mahdur is not at the house of her owner as well…