Alev Şahin – Secret

Guest: Alev Şahin
Title of The Work: Secret
Original Title: Sır
Genre: Story

She had been sitting in her adobe house at the foot of the mountain for an hour with one hand clenched into a fist, almost motionless, when there was a knock on the garden gate. She supported herself on the sofa with her clenched fist and got up softly from her seat, holding her crippled leg with the other hand. In spite of the summer day, the coolness in the house caressed her face, and the smell of the summer’s share of the molds that would return in winter permeated her. She tidied her headscarf. She went to the outer door and tried to see beyond the garden gate with her eyes that could not see very well.

Only then, “Aunt Saniye, I’m home, there’s bed linen; there’s underwear, there’s cloth,” the woman said as if humming a song.

She thought it was me again. Good, I’ll take some fabric to Kiraz. She hosted me very well yesterday, her baked goods were good, she made me eat and drink. Thank you.

She placed the piece of cloth in her hand around her waist. She headed towards the door with her hand on her waist.

“I’m here, I’m here, wait”

She was excited. She tried to add impetuosity to her movements. She couldn’t. She walked as softly as she walked at home and opened the door.

Döne the framer came in. She knew where she was going to sit, walked quickly and settled on the cot in front of the outer door.

“It’s so hot, Aunt Saniye. My mouth and tongue are dry. I’m exhausted.”

“Wait, I’ll get you some buttermilk, right from the fridge.”

This cheeky one always asks for it with his mouth. Wait, I’ll bring it anyway. Of course I’ll treat the guest, of course I’ll treat the guest, of course I’ll treat the guest, of course I’ll treat the guest, Allah Allah, she said inwardly.

She filled the iron bowl with buttermilk. She waved her hand left and right in front of her green eyes, which had escaped into the corner. It was as if it was not a small fly she wanted to fend off, but a foggy curtain of grief. She took the jug full of buttermilk and went out the door.

The framer woman had stretched out her legs and settled down. She was one of the few women in the neighborhood who had a job other than cleaning. Every day she would go to the places she had predetermined with kilos of weights and sell them. She was very good at talking.

It spread again, but whatever. Pity she was miserable on the roads, she thought. She handed her the buttermilk.

Click, click, click… The framer woman clasped her hand bones together.

How can Döne make all these sounds from these thin hand bones, she thought. She followed the hands. Now she was opening the bundle.

“Aunt Saniye, God bless you, there is no woman with a rich heart like you. Let me open these bundles. You look, like, choose as you like. There are new and new things. You’ll like them. Look, red, red, with roses.”

The old woman started to choose.

Click, click, click, the same sound again. She paused, looked at the woman puzzled.

She began to disinterestedly set aside the pieces at the top of the bundle. She pretended to pick up the red rose duvet cover that was now at the top and withdrew her hand. Then she felt her waist, her own piece was there.

She took the rag out as she did every time, examined it under her blouse and put it back in. Döne was watching her, she didn’t realize it.

She found the fabric with her eyes again.

“How much is this?” she said, and showed him the chintz she was holding.

That’s when she realized. There was something strange about the woman’s gaze, her mood, her demeanor. She was moving in her seat. “I was going to say something,” she murmured. Aunt Saniye could not make sense of the strangeness in her eyes and her situation.

“You look like you have a bean in your mouth,” she said.

The woman said, “Auntie, I learned something, I’m afraid to tell you in case something happens to your heart, I wasn’t going to say it now, but I don’t know if I should say it.”

“Just say it, whatever you have to say.”

Why is she dragging it out? Why can’t she just say it quickly, he thought.

Döne turned her head back to the garden. The lush green walnut tree was reaching up to the sky with its majestic trunk. It cast its shadow over the house, cooling the very spot where they were sitting.

Then she made her body sit. Under his chubby arm, she made a support from the pillows on the sofa.

“I don’t know how to say it,” she said with the gloom she added to her voice.

“Tell me, my daughter, I’m a strong person, I’ve endured a lot.” The old woman was getting angry.

“You know I feel very sorry for your daughter, I went recently and there is a Nafiye in Karabayır neighborhood – you don’t know her – she said that Deli Mehmet kidnapped your daughter. When she didn’t want her, he hit her on the head and threw her into the river. He himself fled to the mountains. That’s why he was nowhere to be seen.”

She slowly poured the net on the bundle, on the concrete plastered floor, on the tiny cloth hidden in the nook of the waist…

The old woman sighed a deep sigh. She put her hand and arm by her hips.

Çerçici Döne… Why did you tell me this for no reason? I already knew what happened, but I couldn’t tell anyone, Ali’m angry. She’ll go after Mehmet and get in trouble. Ahhh, can’t one not speak, she thought to herself.

Then she pulled herself together. She put her hand on her waist. She swallowed, she wanted to get up, to go. She was going to get up with support from the ground, but she didn’t. He stared at the ground for a while. She took a deep breath. At that moment his eyes met hers. In a calm, determined voice:

“Hush, my daughter, don’t talk about it. And don’t tell anyone. God knows what happened. Take your bundles and go away.”

The woman was surprised. The old man thought that if anything happened, I would be on my own, so she kept silent. Slowly she started to pack. She wanted to say, “Take what you owe, but she didn’t dare.

The old woman was in the embrace of a prickling silence. She fixed her full eyes on the mountain. At that moment a baby sparrow came from the mulberry tree, landed on the old woman’s skirt and looked into her green eyes. Then it went and landed on the branch of a walnut tree.

There was a movement inside the old woman. She took the cloth in her hand, which she tried not to let anyone see or touch. She showed it to Döne, who was tying the last knot in the bundle:

“Find this fabric. Make me a skirt. And both you and Nafiye should be mute. Don’t talk about my daughter.”