|in front of the corner market|
Because of the steepness of the area, children are forever scuttling downhill chasing after a runaway ball rolling and bouncing its way down to the Golden Horn.
|from my window|
In my new neighborhood children play football (soccer) ceaselessly all the summer day. In the narrow street the older boys gather in one game, the younger in another. Around the corner, girls fiercely kick the rubber imitation soccer ball in another match. The families are too poor for real soccer balls, instead the children buy watermelon-designed balls from the corner market. Walking through the dirty street, I dodge the flying watermelons, carefully try to edge my way around the darting children too intent on their game to pay any intention to the foreigner making her way up the steep backstreets.
On my way to the other world that lays just on the other side of the boulevard at the top of the hill.
Wash flaps on the lines outside the apartments. Street cats rummage through bags of garbage left beneath the sign that reads: Don’t throw trash here. Scarved women call across the streets to one another. Everyone in this neighborhood knows everyone else. It’s like living in a little village.
|my new neighbors|
In the evenings women gather and sit together in doorways adjusting their headscarves, tucking recalcitrant strands of hair under their covering, cracking sunflower seeds and tossing the shells about them.
|fresh cut sheep's wool drying on the corner|
For the last two weeks women lay sheets on the ground and dry fresh-cut sheep wool. Where they get this wool from remains a mystery to me. The friendly man who owns and works at the tiny corner market tried to explain it to me, but I couldn’t catch the exact drift. On one street on my way up there was a cloth with fresh clumps of cotton drying on it.
“Nereden?’ I asked where it came from.
“Acraba,” one of the women answered. From my relatives. Then she launched into a long explanation in her heavily village-accented Turkish.
Toward the top of my walk there is an old woman in a wheelchair. When it was still cold someone would push her out into a patch of sunlight for a short while. As the days have grown hotter and sunnier, she's left to sit in her wheelchair in the shade. Whenever I pass she sits there. Each day her silver-gray mustache grows longer, slowly obsuring her lips.
"Merhaba," I said to her one day as our eyes met, not knowing if I'd receive a reply or not.
"Merhaba," her lips mouthed in a barely audible whisper as the mustache lifted.
Then for a few days,we'd greet each other each time I'd pass.
One day after our exchange of greetings, she lifted a creased index finger and motioned for me to come closer.
I wondered what it was she was about to say or ask of me.
She indicated I should get close. I bent close to her lips.
"Saat kac," she asked me. What time is it.
"Saat bes." I answered. It's five o'clock.
She nodded. I waited a moment but no further words were spoken. I continued my trek up the hill.
A few hours later, making my way down the hill to my flat, we again exchanged hellos. Again she raised her finger and motioned for me to come over to her.
"Saat kac," she again asked.
It's 8, I told her.
and so it continues. i walk by. we say hello. she asks me the time.
And what does it matter to her I wonder. What time does she hope for? The time someone comes and rolls her back inside. The time for a meal. The time to die?
I wonder if our conversation might someday go beyond the time. What stories could she tell me.
For now, she only sits. Her mustache growing daily.