Two Works

Gür Genç, aka Gürgenç Korkmazel, was born in Paphos, in 1969. He lived four years in Turkey and seven years in Britain, resettling in Cyprus in 2003. Between 1992 and 2005 he published four books of poetry, and, in 2007, a collection of short stories. He is also a published translator and a literary editor.

Tiger Gate; photo by Katherina Attalides

Because of the Rain

“It’s raining now, where you are no more!”

In the Country of Long Winters, in a city where I no longer am, he who reminds me, wanders. The sky spumes like boiling milk, the clouds give the feeling they will pour down to earth... His right foot, more tense than his left; he wanders now, among fallen leaves, in the backstreets. Those who live there, the neighbours assuming I’ve never left, greet him. If they stop him for small talk: to ask ‘Why are you still here?’, ‘Because of the rain’ is the reply they will get.

Somehow, he wears the clothes given to me as gifts, clothes I didn’t like and gave away. All my missing books, cassettes and diaries are in his library. He stays in contact with my ex-lovers. He invites home the ones that have separated from their husbands or lovers, cooks food like caviar pilaf and chicken with plum to console them. They get drunk. And make love without using a condom... I’ve heard that even his face resembles mine. Only, his eyes are closer to each other and his nose is a little smaller. Apparently, that makes him more handsome than me. And when he ejaculates, he makes the same sounds as I do, that’s what one of my old lovers I ran into told me years later when she came on holiday to the island where I live.   

A waiter two days, guide one day, and a translator one day a week. That’s what he does. These were the jobs I did while I lived there. This can’t be a coincidence. Such a thing is not possible. This is a conspiracy! Who would gain from showing the whole city I still live there? My enemies? From what I know I didn’t have enemies who hated me so much as to go out of their way like this.. Ronee? She may have lost it, but I don’t think she would try to put somebody else in my place. And why? Who would accept to replace me? Doesn’t the person who replaced me have a life of his own?   

He reads English novels during the day, Turkish at night. He claims to know German, but only knows what a waiter needs to know to take and give drink and food orders. He finishes things I started but didn’t have the time, feel the need or have the skill to finish. Using the words I love most, he writes moving letters to my old friends, whose whereabouts I don’t even know. The replies go to him. He mends with kindness and compassion the hearts of everyone I hurt...

Vienna is my favourite city, his too. I want most to see the Barabudur Temple on Cava Island, so does he. My favourite vegetables: courgette and potatoes, his also. I have a passion for botany, herbs for example, so does he. I love long walks on wooded roads and boat trips in open sea, he does too. I listen to alternative music, he listens too. Whatever I like, he likes the same. And even more passionately than I do. Whereas the things I don’t like, neither does he. Like me, he is obsessive about order and cleanliness. Like me he doesn’t meddle with the hairs in his armpits all the year round. As for the overgrown hair in certain places like the nose and sexual areas, cutting one by one with scissors, he shortens them carefully. He grows his hair and shaves his beard with a straight razor once a month, with my method, using hair shampoo instead of shaving foam.   

Like I did once, in avenues where I am no more, he walks with untied shoelaces, defying civilization. He sits and has his noon coffee in cafes facing the street, where I used to go often; in the evenings, he always drinks shiraz in winehouses opposite the river. Even the way he holds the glass resembles the way I do. To people he just met, he always tells my story as if his own, adding some things from himself. He flirts with waitresses and as an expression of his admiration he leaves ample tips... Not in the way he sits, but he has an imposing departure.

He doesn’t take the bus. Even if it means a longer wait or extending the road, he waits for a train or tram. He is such a snob that rather than getting on a bus, if where he is going is within walking distance he walks; if not, he takes a taxi. Was I like that? It’s been a long time. I guess I was. But he doesn’t know, I have changed, I’m not like that anymore. I’m someone else... I believe in every drop of rain now.

In that flat with beige curtains, a sand coloured carpet and beige painted walls, where I was a tenant too, in a moment of midnight when being alone seems as heavy as carrying the world, a black cat jumps out from of the old misfiring clock, passed on from tenant to tenant. Scratches his face. Blood, mixes with that which is ‘black and eternal’. His wounds catch the germ of melancholy... Unscrupulous, he even imitates my conscience ‘I’m deceiving myself, I know’ he says ‘but I have no other choice.’ Passing from one room to another, or straining in the toilet, he mutters romantic lines from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Selected Poetry or from one of his followers, all in exile and dead at a young age:  Shelly, Byron, or Keats.

At least once a week, he goes to the Cornerhouse cinema that shows mostly European cinema (in the past it only showed porno films; only men who wear long black overcoats used to go in there); he goes during the day because it is cheaper and less crowded. I understand he chooses the films I would choose, if I were still there, I am amazed when I see the used tickets he posts me after he watches them. Apart from cinema and train tickets, he also sends letters and postcards in handwritting that looks like mine (apart from a and z he writes all the letters like I do).

He uses my insurance number, hospital and library cards. He does all his dirty work using my name, he signs my signature exactly the same. He evades tax. He doesn’t pay back his loans on time. He takes drugs, gambles and attends orgies held in private houses. He does everything possible that is improper, but because he agrees to live in exile in my place and has the heart to confess his crimes, he is forgiven. To tell the truth, in the Country of Long Winters, in the city where I no longer am, he is loved more than I ever was.

(He may be a good imitator and imitate everything I do, but he can’t imitate my various illnesses, such as psoriasis, dyslexia, paranoia and heart trouble. The ‘dog’ he writes, can never become ‘god’. There’s no need to be a detective, right here he gives himself away... From now on, whatever he says, even if he says nothing, it is an answer!)

Translated from the Turkish by Oya Akın

Oya Akın (b.1975, London) graduated from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, and has volunteered for animal research and ecological studies in Cyprus and abroad. She works as an actress for the Cyprus Turkish State Theatres, edits the literary magazine Isırgan, translates, writes for the newspaper Yeni Düzen and is a mother of two.

The Pull of the Moon

From the moon to the sea flows the River of Silence
From the sea fish run away to the moon,
Swimming swiftly against the current

  1. sparkling scales fall on the shores of the island facing the moon-

I have no feet
or instead of shoes
I wear the night on my feet

No matter how late I am
With dreams I always arrive early at my destinations.

From the moon to the forest flows the River of Silence
From the forest birds run away to the moon
Swirling up against the current

  1. white feathers fall on the mountain slopes facing the moon

I have no body
or instead I am stretched
between the past and the pull of the moon

No matter how far I go
Instantly I return to the beginning of the light.

Translated from the Turkish by the poet and Aydιn Mehmet Ali

Aydın Mehmet Ali was born in Cyprus, has lived most of her life in London and recently returned to Cyprus. She is an international education consultant, project manager, researcher as well as an award winning author. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. Her publications include a short story collection, Pink Butterflies/Bize Dair (2005).