“Taaa uzakta bir dağ var,” he knowingly declared
his hand slicing the air above his bald, red head
indicating a bare peak in the distance above the trees.
And then he smiled, a generous keeper of secrets.
“Aradığınız evi tam tepenin eteğinde bulursunuz.”
I was about to ask him if he was sure, but demurred.
The answer was as obvious as his growing discomfort.
“Hayır, hayır,” he exclaimed when I held out a bill.
I grabbed his hand and placed it firmly in his palm.
His head tilted slightly as if to say, “Siz bilirsiniz.”
I stood there watching as he grabbed the dusty bridle,
harshly clicking his tongue at the indifferent beast.
But after a few steps he paused, aware of me again,
sensing that I had yet to move. For some reason.

“Başka bi’şey … var mı?” he asked uncertainly.
I asked him if he knew her. … Had known her.
“Babası iyi bir adamdı. Eski topraktı bizim Ahmet.”
Indeed, salt of the earth. She had described him so.
I nodded gravely, although I had never met him.
“Bırakmadı kızı. Olaydan sonra. Hiç bırakmadı.
Biri ona yan baksa korurdu hep. Öyleydi.
Biri … küfür etse dayanamazdı, tokat atardı.”
I told him what I had heard. Something of the sort.
Of what her father had endured. For her sake.
“Yıllarca durdu kızın yanında. Çocuğu ölünce
kendisi verdi toprağa, Ahmet’imiz. Tek başına.”
I asked him what had happened to the child’s father.
He snarled. Quite sincerely. “Gitti pis herif. Gitti.”

I stared at this man—this stranger—without blinking.
Just stared at him as the memories of her returned
quickly filling my heart with unbearable agony.
He must have seen the sorrow welling within,
the years of longing and regret indelibly drawn
across my aging features. Slowly he stepped closer.
Raising his arm, he opened his mouth to speak.
I grabbed his hand, brought it trembling to my lips.
He placed his other leathery hand on my head
tussled what was left of my hair and whistled.
When I looked up again, I noticed a tear in his eye.
He looked down nodding at nobody in particular.

“Hiç kimsesi yok,” he explained at last, “hiç.”
I felt it return, the regret clawing at the remains,
at whatever was left of my cold and bitter soul.
This would not have happened, I thought again.
Not if I had been there for her. To protect her.
“Sen git, oğlum,” he said, something of a smile
returning to his weathered face, his moist eyes.
“Sen git yanına. Allah huzur versin. İkinize.”
No, I thought, there would be no peace for me.
But for her… “Huzur içinde yatsın,” he said.
And I thought perhaps, yes, for her. İnşallah.


1 thought on “Regrets

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