The Penthouse of Loneliness
By: Serkan Engin
As soon as he opened the door, the loneliness tumbled down on him like an avalanche. Standing up with the greatest effort, he shook off the dust of disappointment on him. Even though the darkness had gently embraced his body, he never paid any attention to it. A rotten yellow light spread like a curse around the room, from the lamp he had turned on with a mechanical movement. He left his ashtray on one side and his hopes on another. He took off his jacket as if he was stripping of his past. How many years have been passed since he came to Istanbul?..
“Istanbul you outdated whore!” he said as if he was spitting. He climbed the stairs with stammering steps to reach the penthouse of loneliness. A heavy scent of perfume had stuck on him on the first floor, while passing Oksan’s door.
Oksan would look at the night like a barrel. She would increase her loathsome manners on the streets with her forty-four size high heels. She would purify herself every morning with an abundantly foamy shave in the color of her childhood’s cotton candy. Her Adam’s apple which was impossible to hide would hang around her neck like a business card. She would enter her house while giving praise to God. She would shake off the purulent memories of the night at the doorstep. She would bathe for hours to purify herself from the city’s vulgarity. Gently putting on her dress, she would carefully tie her scarf on her head. She would recite from the Quran for hours, and from time to time, she was hardly able to refrain herself from swearing at life and God. Whenever a Nigde folk song played on the radio, she would return to her childhood’s purple clamp in the small town that she was born in. Her father’s face would stand in front of her like a curse. In that instant, she would draw her curved knife to open up red rivers of rage beneath her silicone breasts. Oksan knew the red only in her veins.
While brushing past Oksan’s perfume, he paused a bit in front of the second floor door. He was welcomed by a cracked greeting. Standing like a dirty handkerchief at the door, Cevahir:
“How ya doing son, how ‘s everything!?” he said in a slightly excited way, wanting to get the greeting part out of the way.
“All good, same old” he said hanging his low shoulders even more. With a broken sigh he rested his hand on the wall.
“What’d you do, were you able to visit our cafe? Anybody asking, looking for us?
“I passed by, but didn’t hear anything.”
“Ah, had my sciatica not gone wild, I would’ve gone…’ said Cevahir ashamedly of his disease. For two years he had not even got a single role.
He handed the old man a bag. He would help him out from time to time, without letting anybody know about it. The old man who saw the bag filled with two loaves of bread and a bit of food, accepted it like a student getting his report, whilst trying to hide the glow of joy in his eyes.
“Son, it wasn’t necessary.”
“Don’t worry about it. Let me know when you run out of dough… Did Emine come by in the daytime?”
(Between the dirty claws of the street, her name was Oksan; when she took refuge in the compassionate arms of the house, it was Emine)
“Nah, I haven’t seen her since yesterday,” said Cevahir while struggling to button up his ripped cardigan.
The frost coming from the broken window of the front door licked his body like a razor blade. As a matter of fact, he had not been able to buy coal for two weeks. He had left the rest up to God.
“All right, good night.”
“Thanks son, good night,” said the old man making his embarrassed glance one with gravity.
Istanbul you outdated whore, he said mumblingly. He searched for a cigarette and a lighter from his jacket that hung on the hall stand as if he was late for gradually killing himself with the symphony of smoke stored inside him. He had only tree cigarettes left.
“God damn it! We are not gonna make it through the night” he said, angry for his negligence. Yet again, he was too late for the store. He didn’t feel like walking a long way now. With the first drag the smoke sank into his dreams like a switchblade. It was in the orphanage that he had his first smoke, taking shelter in the deserted bathroom, together with his two friends, who as he, were extremely lonely. Then, as now, his lungs felt torn. He became aware of the existence of the word “Mother” while learning how to read. As for “Father”, he was a waving dark hand stuck in his blurry frame of memories. He and his friends took turns smoking a cigarette. When it was his turn to smoke, the lookout gave them a signal, while the others hid in the bathroom; he was caught in the act. The teacher on duty rolled over him like a road roller. He inherited a hearing disorder in his left ear from that night.
He reached the penthouse of loneliness… by shaking off the dust of disappointment on him…