The trip was short, but there was a completeness that I loved in those five blocks that were almost a microcosmic city, a self-contained cycle of humanity. Once you broke the enthralling spell of the current and got far enough away to cross the street, the hospital welcomed you into the first line of city blocks. White walls towering over the fragrant jacaranda trees, swallowing broken beings and regurgitating them fixed or out of service forever. Fate had a sense of humor, and a funeral parlor had been there half a block away since the dawn of time, perhaps before the hospital. A halfway house for worn-out husks, empty sculptures of flesh that were already rotting, oblivious of the trail of tears they left behind. Of course, there was a florist up the street, though I had never fathomed why a dying plant was considered an oblation. Why would the departed want a scented diorama of the miracle of death?

My doomy musings stopped when I reached the green gate of my building. There was still natural light outside, so I made some mate and sat on the balcony. Pondering, remembering the moment time and again while looking at the hotel across the street and the carousel of cars and colors. Weighing the random talk, her wit, and her mighty details. Then it came back. I knew there was something else. I had seen her with someone in one of those shows, a tall punk guy. Didn’t quite remember his face, so I made him up an unpleasant one, somewhere between Tom Cruise and Matthew Fox but meaner. I started obsessing about it: the “see you Friday,” the “is it a date or not?”, the contempt for the guy who I’d never even met. I saw a her that was not her about 4 times between Tuesday and Thursday on the streets. I walked past the bookstore once, but she wasn’t there and I moved on.

The anxiety bomb detonated on Friday evening, a couple of hours before the show. Changed my T-shirt thrice, settling for one with the Carcass’ Heartwork logo. Cult enough to be cool, but not too obscure. Tried to imagine what she would wear. Got to Teatro Mueca too early, went to the bar in the corner for a beer and drank only half of it. I had avoided my friends with surgical precision, even discouraged Quique, telling him that we could see Cúmulo next time. We had already seen the new material live. I went in before the support band finished their sound check – they were good but average. Stood on a corner, vantage point won. She got there minutes before Cúmulo went on stage. By herself, no despicable man in sight. The show was flawless as usual, their talent had always been off the charts. When they finished, she approached the stage to say hi. I went outside and lit a cigarette that died after two puffs, ember turning paper and leaves into aerial debris. When she came out, I stood like a statue across the street. Nadia walked towards me, with no hesitation.

To be continued…

 

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Javier Gómez

The Canyon Inside Us – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Uncharted Bliss – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

The Way of No Way – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Emblems and stories on Argentina

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Armenia and other countries

Credits

Cover photo: Buenos Aires – Headed down – Camila Flores Uccello (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

My head drifted off and I went straight ahead instead of turning right. Onwards, to the riverside, the comfort of the open space right next to the city’s heart. Two guys were kicking a ball absent-mindedly, one of them smoking a joint. The usual dog walkers did their rounds, a few teenagers mangled Ramones and Nirvana tunes with battered Spanish guitars and creaky, overeager voices. I stopped right in front of the railing, eyes caught by the immensity of water.

It looked calm, but was raging beneath the surface. Brown water carrying tankers, cargo ships, a small white fishing boat, silt. Whirlpools, currents and counter-currents below where the drowned disappeared among the camalotes. I liked staring at it for hours, a river that fed the city and was in turn fed by it. The abandoned shipyards from back when the port welcomed you into the hustle and bustle, at that time a collusion of brothels and bars and rough sailors who became immigrants in time. It had been moved out of town now, out of sight, the current stories hidden from the common people and thus insignificant. I let my eyes wander and took it all in. Close to the other shore, a fisherman seemed to be asleep in his boat, water lapping at the worn white wood. I looked down the gully and dropped a twig I had picked up on the way there. The poor little branch floated downstream, blending into the brown.

“This is a suicide spot for dogs.”

A voice to my right brought me back to reality. The girl was somehow familiar. The blonde hair with blue streaks, the nose ring, the Smashing Pumpkins pin on her jacket.

“What?”

It was my most articulate answer.

“They come here and jump, ten dogs last year. I read it in the paper. Thought it was shit, but I’ve asked around. It isn’t.”

“I guess they sometimes feel like people, then.”

“Maybe worse. They can’t do a lot of stuff we can.”

“Yeah, but they don’t have to work for anything.”

“Say you. They’re expected to obey, behave, and be good? That’s a ton of work if you ask me.”

“Never thought of it that way.”

“Nobody does. That’s why we have them as pets. Cats too, but they say fuck off without the need to speak. We do ruin many animals’ lives.”

“Are you vegan?”

“Trying to. Veggie. You?”

“Nah. Don’t have the patience.”

“Have a name? I’m Nadia.”

“Leo.”

“What are you doing?”

“I was looking at the river. It tunes me out.”

“I meant every day. For work. Are you someone’s dog?”

She was quick. I laughed out loud.

“Retail. I work storage, the till sometimes. We sell overpriced Oxford shirts and khaki pants to rich old farts. You?”

“Also retail. Chain bookstore. Full of self-help and best sellers. Your 50-year-old divorced neighbor’s dream.”

“Sounds like another day in paradise.”

“Well, Phil’s voice is there every single day.”

We both laughed out loud. I felt clever for dropping the reference, happy because she got it right away. Yes, I knew how to do this.

“You smoke?”

The words brought me back.

“Sometimes. Can I bum one?”

“Shit, that was my line.”

“I guess we’re out of luck.”

“Wait.”

She headed over to a woman who was walking a poodle. Her clothes looked expensive. She could have been one of the customers in the shop. Maybe she was, so I avoided eye contact. Natalia came back with a lit cigarette, blew the burnt tobacco on my face.

“Smoke wins. Fatality.”

“Thanks.”

I inhaled.

“Too light.”

“Not when it’s for free.”

I hated Marlboro Lights and worshipped dark tobacco, thought it made me manlier, stronger. A hoarse voice gave you mystique, a hoarse voice could turn any common post-adolescent wimp into a brooding man, wounded inside and still growling like a hunting wolf. Light cigarettes certainly couldn’t do more than leave stains of weakness in your lungs and on your reputation.

“Here, kill it.”

She extended her hand, cracked blue metallic nail polish glimmering with daylight.

“I’m alright, you do it. Told you I don’t smoke that much.”

“Fine. My shift starts in fifteen minutes and I have to change clothes, so bye. See you at the Cúmulo show.”

“How do you…?”

“You’ve been to the last three. And they’re playing at Teatro Mueca, you wouldn’t miss it.”

“R-right. See you Friday, then.”

She was already on her way and blending into the stream of shoes and sneakers and souls that went up the street, towards the shops and cafés. I knew now that I had seen her without noticing her, another voice in the two or three hundred that sung the chorus of Átomos malignos or Reto temporal five or six times a year. How had I managed to do that? She was not stunning in a mainstream way, but she was a presence, eyes that gripped you and a mouth that was waiting for its turn to shut you down, make you think or tell a joke, or everything at once. And she liked real bands, people who had something to say, people who could make you feel. I tried to look at the river again, but the brown water now seemed to reflect blue streaks and a subtle metallic glint, so I started walking back home.

To be continued…

 

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Javier Gómez

The Canyon Inside Us – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Uncharted Bliss – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

The Way of No Way – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Emblems and stories on Argentina

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Armenia and other countries

Credits

Cover photo: Cordoba, Argentina – Receding – Roberto Michel (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Commuting consisted of walking five blocks at the slowest possible speed, which was never slow enough. But at least I had the key now — my bosses trusted me blindly. As a result, I felt compelled to do everything with utmost care and precision. It was all mundane tasks: stockroom duties, ordering products, following up on clothing alterations for special customers, and the till. That was the point of pressure, the reason why I had earned that trust. Counting money was a mindless task, there was nothing challenging about it and yet the bosses were delighted every time I cashed up the till and the numbers were right.

Several incidents in the shop made me realize that stealing from the till was much more common than I thought, and a couple of co-workers came and went in a matter of weeks because of that. There was one who hit me really hard, a soft-spoken brunette with a heavenly smile. I thought about asking her out, but always froze at the last second, and then she wasn’t there anymore. I didn’t even get her phone number, and I wasn’t going to ask Carina. I needed the money too much to make her question if I was reliable, and dating a former employee who got fired like that would have been uncomfortable. Or maybe I was just too afraid to admit that I liked her more because she stuck it to the man.

“Yo, are you deaf? I’ve been knocking for ages!”

Adrián was shouting from the other side of the window. The door was locked, we never opened it before 9:30. We did let some customers in on occasion, mainly when Carina was there. She never missed a sales opportunity.

“Sorry, I zoned out. It’s too early.”

“So why the hell have you been here since the Ice Age? Sleep more, come in later.”

“I like the headstart. Makes me feel like I’m on top of things.”

I knew I’d regret saying it.

“From my side, it looks like you hit rock bottom. Half an hour overtime every day for free? You’re nuts. Or a masochist.”

“I’m doing this to avoid going nuts. I’m not explaining it again on a Monday morning. Go change.”

“You have no power over me.”

Adrián’s English was flawless and he sounded exactly like the movie. He was one of the less geeky persons I knew, which made the reference hilarious. But I only laughed inside.

“Alright, whatever. I need to count this, so shut up.”

Adrián went straight to the back room, changed clothes in a minute and put the kettle on. There was no morning without mate and facturas, but Claudio was late that day. We downed half a thermos before he showed up, carrying the goods with a snarky smile.

“She’s there again, boys.”

Adrián’s face lit up.

“The Felony girl?”

“You still don’t know her name?”

“I know she works at Felony, so I’m going there. Gimme a 100, I’ll go get change. We always need change.”

He snatched the bill from my hand and stormed out, almost bumping into Lía, who had an exhausted look and muttered a general hello. “You slept well last night, didn’t you, Miss San Nicolás?”

Claudio always called her that. Lía had been a pageant winner in her town last year. It was something I couldn’t picture, no matter how hard I tried. She was down to earth, gentle, funny. No self-centered aura, which was the defining trait of those contests. She had a powerful beauty, a captivating simplicity like sun rays on a meadow.

“Four hours, we’re moving tomorrow. Still have to fill some boxes. I’m starting to hate Manuel’s library.”

“Didn’t you say half the books were yours?”

“Yeah, but he’s the one who keeps buying hard covers. Huge, expensive bricks disguised as books.”

Adrián came back, 10-peso bills flaming in his right hand as a victory banner.

“Mariela!”

“What?”

Lía was not awake yet.

“The Felony girl! Her name’s Mariela. She’s from Arroyito. Single. Likes to skate, hangs out with those BMX guys in the square sometimes. You know, the hardcore band. Protesta Viva?”

Protesta Activa.” My words had a scolding tone. It always bothered me how he ignored them. They were smart, and they sounded tight. Good people too, in-tune with everything that went on in the city, committed.

“You got all that in five minutes while asking for change?”

Claudio couldn’t believe it.

“I’m inspired today. It must be the sugar, those facturas were dope.”

“You know, street slang is not your thing. Leave it to the hardcore guys.”

Lía was awake and joking now.

Adrián was about to counterattack when Carina came in. We all said hi and got to work, focusing on our current tasks. Behind her felicitous façade was a merciless shop owner, never fully satisfied with what we did. It was a family business, and she was the youngest one but also the most demanding. And we had the blessing of having her there every morning. They owned five different stores, but she had a preference for this one and I always attributed it to the location. A massive window in a corner, where she could contemplate the city center’s movements and be admired by passersby in the meantime. She loved that.

“Nice blouse, Cari! That’s not one of ours, right?” I knew how to play the game. Even when it wasn’t officially my job, I often engaged clients with comments like this and ended up selling a thing or two.

“Thank you! No, it’s from Vidaclara.”

That was their poshest shop, three blocks down the road. My trial period had been there. The snobbery was ten times higher than in Cactus.

“Finished with the shirts. What now?”

Lía didn’t sound too industrious.

“Sort the belts again, honey. They’re a mess.”

The tension between them was always there. They hadn’t clicked since day one, but Lía was also the best salesperson they had. Carina did not care very much for her, but she wasn’t in denial. Numbers never lied.

The rest of the day rolled by with unexpected stillness, but it was not a bad way to start the week. Marina got there at noon as usual, and we had our lunch trading weekend tales. We had become friends at once, and I sometimes went for drinks with her and her guy Facu. They were boisterous new friends for me. Most of my regular crew could be loud too but in a different way. We always ended up having deep discussions, even when we were drunk or high. I loved them, but we had built a temple of intellect. There were days when I needed less philosophy and more party.

After lunch, I had little to do and I opted for faking it. I had learned it from George Costanza: If you looked worried and walked around carrying papers, people thought you were super busy. But the strategy didn’t speed up the clock, and 5:30 took a long while to show up. I rushed to the back room at 5:27, which I could get away with when Carina was not there. We all nicked a few minutes whenever we could. Come to think about it, they owed me even more time for the early mornings. I started walking home on autopilot, Warrel Dane’s voice blasting on the headphones. “They took away your freedom, but they’ll never take your mind.”

To be continued…



In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asryan

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Javier Gómez

The Canyon Inside Us – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Uncharted Bliss – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

The Way of No Way – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Emblems and stories on Argentina

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Armenia and other countries

Credits

Cover photo: Penumbra (Charata, Argentina) by Fachy Marin (Unsplash)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Oh, belleza extranjera
Fuimos caminando a casa
Conexión
— Aguas Tónicas, El expresso, 2005

Every Sunday night was a contained apocalypse. It was the contrast that killed everything, the unbridled freedom I sensed in those two hours in the radio booth versus the stone slab crushing my chest when I knew, no, I felt it was the end of joy, and it was time for sleep and then the daily dose of death. It wasn’t the kind of death I liked, which came mostly from Scandinavia, galloping over thundering riffs and triumphant melodies. That’s what I played that night in the show, a neat retrospective of a band called Dark Tranquillity.

I walked home with the lyrics still in my head, “soon the battle is over, lost to apathy.” Córdoba Street was deserted and expectant, preparing for the throng of feet that would come the next day. A homeless man slept soundly on a bench in Pringles Square, his placid face a testament to the mercy of the night’s benevolent weather. I chuckled at the irony of it all, of how freedom eluded me and not that man, who nonetheless had to pay the price of having nothing. An eye for an eye, a life for a life. Not a good deal at all, but my father had warned me about it. Sometimes with words, sometimes with small and powerful actions.

I got to the apartment quicker than I wanted. The scenery was always the same, only the food changed. This time it was cold pizza, the remnants of the previous night’s ode to slacking. The TV was on, my roommate watching some reality show about blacksmiths and weird blades. Alex loved all things medieval; he even looked and behaved like a fantasy character most of the time. A six-foot tall guy with a bushy beard, long hair, and bellowing laughter who listened to the cheesiest power metal bands. A mutual friend had said he was a dwarf trapped in a human’s body. He was upbeat by nature and had his own business, so Monday wasn’t his sworn enemy. Alex didn’t have to deal with shaving every day and building a passable smile to seem friendly to unbearable strangers.

“Hey. Beer?”

Alex raised a bottle of stout in a conquering, He-Man pose.

“Sure. Did you catch the show?”

“Yeah, I expected some Dream Evil instead of Hammerfall, but other than that it was okay.”

“Just okay?”

“You know my take on growls. You could record a dog barking and it’d be the same.”

“Sure, a dog could lay down the vocals on ‘Blackwater Park’.”

“That’s different. That guy sings too. He’s no Kiske, but he can sing.”

“Fuck off, you only like high pitched, whiny vocals.”

“And you like a thousand abominations!”

“Hell yeah. Cheers to that!”

“Cheers!”

Alex proceeded to down the content of the glass in what he thought was the way warriors did it in ancient times. He got up and opened another stout.

“Round 2?”

“I shouldn’t, but bring it on.”

“Too much work tomorrow?”

“Same old crap, same shopaholic zombies.”

That’s what was doing my head in, people. I had been thinking of quitting almost every day for a month now, daydreaming about a powerful resignation speech that would open my coworkers’ eyes to the absurdity of it all: the brand, the ridiculous colors of the polo shirts, the excessive politeness, even the unnecessary and always suffocating heating. The shop was already too warm; the non-environmentally friendly halogens took care of that. And it would be the same tomorrow, but not forever. I went to bed earlier than usual, weighing the possibility of being unemployed for a while.

7.30 AM. Beep, beeeeeep. Fuckin’ hell. Even Phil Anselmo on the wall seemed pissed off by the alarm. But he always looks pissed off. I poured coffee in the last clean mug, making a colossal effort to avoid looking at the kitchenware leviathan rising from the depths of the stainless steel sink. The monster had been fed by us three official tenants of the flat with Martín’s brother occasionally collaborating when he turned the sofa into an unofficial fourth bedroom most weekends. But there was no one there now, only the crumpled blankets and a full ashtray struggling to be Mount Ash.

I sat down in the middle of the wreckage, coffee cup in hand and slightly burnt toast on a plate. Turned the TV on by force of habit, trying to reach the music channels before the news anchor even had a chance to utter a sound. The average chord progression of a post-grunge band filled the room, and I turned it down a bit even though no one in the house would mind. They slept like mummies. Mediocre music had an unpleasant ability to drown out my thoughts, and I needed them on a Monday morning. Breakfast was always quick, as I had noticed that leaving earlier and getting to the shop half an hour before it opened cushioned the blow of eight hours facing the tedium. I got up and left the house, mug and dish added to the heap of chaos.

To be continued…



In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asyran

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Javier Gómez

The Canyon Inside Us – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Uncharted Bliss – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

The Way of No Way – transposing emblem by Javier Gómez

Emblems and stories on Argentina

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Armenia and other countries

Credits

Cover photo: In the Dark (Argentina) by Elsematter (Shutterstock)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

The UnReal in Real

Finally, Julie once again moved out of her house. But this time she had a teacher, she had a friend that was inside her. And she had a load of history that she wanted to leave in her old house.

In her new place, everything was a little bit strange. The windows were strange, the little dog that she took in was strange, and the scene outside of the window was strange. Julie was a bit confused, but every time she felt weak, she uttered: “Nare should live.” And kept on working, doing her regular job and living in the new house as if nothing had changed.

She enjoyed taking her dog out for a walk. People in Armenia don’t like when daughters leave their families when they are not married. And they looked at her with strange eyes asking why are you walking alone when your family lives down the block. Julie wished that she would not notice these looks, but they made her even more persistent. They made her believe in her dream of the unreal in real, which had nothing to do with their looks. They made her think that her whole life was a struggle to be whole, to be one and to ignore anything that stands in the way of that wholeness. She was sure that she deserved her separate life for which she had struggled a lot.

Yet the panic of laziness still chased Julie. But there was much Nare inside her. She was more persistent and much more like her teacher. She knew her like her own self, and she could notice the elements of the valley where she lived with Nare in her house.

That was a house of peace and gratefulness.

Gradually, her life started changing. She met people much like the ones in the communities where she was with Nare. These were kind, cheerful people that would share a piece of bread with you. She liked sitting with them and chatting and laughing. There was some Nare in all these people. She was present in every woman and child. Julie knew that, and that made her love these people even more.

The only problem was her old family. They did not like to see Julie separate and happy. For a very long time, they told her that she wouldn’t be able to live on her own. And today when Julie was not only overcoming mundane challenges but was also happy, this made her family somewhat mean.

Julie would visit them, and she felt sad for these people who wanted to control her all her life. She was sad because these people did not do that out of evil but because they thought that they were doing her good. They wanted to decide her fate. They wanted to live her life instead of letting her live it. They wanted to breathe instead of letting her breathe. That had cost Julie a lot. That had driven Julie into depression and caused many many years of suffering. Sometimes the greatest evil arises from goodwill. Julie knew that they had not wanted to hurt her, that in their heart they knew what was right. And they had wanted that right to become hers. It had cost a life, a whole life.

Julie did not hate them. She had forgiven them long ago. Her mission was not to gain revenge for the lost years. Her mission now was to be faithful to Nare. And every day when she woke up, she would look out of the window and see the valley, the valley where she lived with Nare. In fact, all she saw were shops and people passing by, but there was so much beauty that it reminded her of their valley of people and happiness.

Nare was her secret, her inner teacher, her self. She was the lessons learned through tears, and she was the secret hope that one day she would be the one that is capable of magic even in this world. Her new life was part of this magic. Her new life was the beginning of a new story where the queen was Nare inside Julie.

The New Life

Julie could notice more joy and slight moments of pleasure in her new life – ones she had not known before. That was unusual. She enjoyed most of the moments of her being. But she also withered attacks from the old life as well. Sometimes she would feel too lazy to even stand up and look out a window; sometimes she wouldn’t want to take the dog out. But the lesson was written everywhere on the walls of her new house: DO WHAT YOU ARE LAZY ABOUT. It took power, it took willpower to overcome the attacks of laziness and boredom, but she overcame them much more easily.

Was it the beginning of a new start? She did not know. All she knew was that she would not let the misery of the old life conquer her again. When she recalled the days, she was horrified. All the horrors were left in the past. She was not going back.

One day an old man came to her house. He was a beggar. He asked for money, but he did not ask for free money. He gave her a bracelet that had a letter on it. There was a little “N” on it. Tears streamed from Julie’s eyes. She understood that Nare makes her presence felt. That she was not alone. That the unreal life where she traveled with Nare was giving her signs. She held the bracelet in her hand and looked into the eyes of the beggar. They were cheerful, and a happy smile spread over his face as he said, “Keep it. You deserve it.”

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asyran

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Nane Sevunts (Armine Asyran)

From Uncertainty to Newness – transposing emblem by Nane Sevunts

An Era to Close – short story by Nane Sevunts

Emblems and stories on Armenia

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Armenia and other countries

Credits

Cover photo of Yerevan, Armenia by Levon Vardanyan (Unsplash)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

First Lessons

All the time that Julie lived in the real world, Nare was whispering in her ear. She taught her to do what she really wanted.

Julie wanted simple things. She liked to put her feet into the water and stand for long hours under a shower. When Julie would put her feet into the water, she could feel the presence of Nare. When she stood under the shower, the noise of the water reminded her of the waterfall in the unreal world where they lived with Nare. She also loved music. She would put on earphones and walk in the nearby park. These were elements of Nare. And Julie knew that Nare was reviving her only through these moments. She knew that her soul was flourishing in her when she did what she really enjoyed.

The second lesson that Nare taught Julie was persistence to do things that she was lazy about. Sometimes she would be so lazy she didn’t make her bed. Nare taught her persistence. Julie knew that Nare was not like her. She had will power, and she could overcome the moments of boredom and laziness. Julie cried. She had been taught to be passive. She had been taught not to go after her dreams. She had a sense of responsibility to Nare. Only by being Julie could Nare pursue revival. And Julie cried. She was lazy and without will power. For a very long time, she lived in idleness and boredom and forgot about Nare. But there were days when she would remember that she had a sense of duty to Nare and when she was lazy about doing something, she stood up and made enormous efforts. These were simple things like washing the dishes or going for a walk or doing painting or writing a poem. Two people were fighting in Julie – the one who wanted to do nothing and suffer and the one who wanted to revive. When Julie made an effort and did simple things that she was too lazy to do, something clicked in her heart. She understood that she was in the right. After she made an effort and did simple tasks, she would feel a source of energy inside herself and a sense of joy. So, that’s it! I discovered the trick! Julie was happy, but the laziness was extreme.

DO WHAT YOU ARE LAZY ABOUT! – That’s was Nare’s lesson. Julie was not a diligent student, but Nare was a persistent teacher. Julie knew that Nare would give her a chance even when she was 80. Julie knew that Nare would not give up.

DO WHAT YOU ARE LAZY ABOUT! – Julie was confused. Her whole body wanted idleness, and her soul wanted life, energy.

Nare did not want to take Julie to the unreal world. She wanted to build the same magic in the real world. Julie knew that, but a lot depended on her.

(To be continued…)

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asyran

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Nane Sevunts (Armine Asyran)

From Uncertainty to Newness – transposing emblem by Nane Sevunts

An Era to Close – short story by Nane Sevunts

Emblems and stories on Armenia

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Armenia and other countries

Credits

Cover photo of Yerevan, Armenia by Levon Vardanyan (Unsplash)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

Travel with Nare

Nare opened up a world of unlimited possibilities to her. Everything was possible with her. She was the light in the darkness. They created a house in a valley where you could sit on the porch and listen to the songs of the birds. They had a shower under the waterfall in the nearby mountains. They ate fruit and only fruit. Apples, peaches, pears, plums were their nourishment. They enjoyed each other’s company and were grateful to live in a world without limitations.

When they were bored, they would travel to another community where people lived in families. These communities were the happiest groups on earth. They sang when they made food; they sat at long tables and ate together and shared bread with each other.

These were their neighbors.

If they wanted, they could invite actors to show them tricks, and they laughed and ran after rabbits and deer. This was their entertainment.

Sometimes they would decide to put on their backpacks and go to the mountains. Sometimes they traveled to crazily overcrowded places and laughed long hours at the cafes and bars downtown in the most famous cities. Then they would walk and get tired and go back to their room and lay down for a long, healthy sleep.

After every trip, they would come back to the house in their valley and enjoy the true beauty of nature. They were happy, and they did not regret a single moment that they spent together. They could chat, they could be silent for many, many hours, and there were so many words in this silence. It was life – in the full sense of the word, and there was a magical charm in it.

Nare and Julie were one body and soul. They could hear the song of the air, and they could fly to the cosmos if they wanted. But their enjoyment had one limitation.

It was not real…

Reality was the opposite of the world of Nare and Julie. Reality was boredom, sadness, disloyalty, fakeness, and cheating.

From time to time, Julie would leave Nare and return to the real world. She was bored and unhappy in this world, but these moments happened. Most of the time she was in the real world. The world offered nothing to her but wanted her attention and care and love. The world gave nothing to her but wanted every single element of her. And she was exhausted in this world.

She traveled back and forth. Sometimes she would sit in a park with Nare and listen to the birds singing. These were precious moments when Nare would be with her in the real world.

Julie did not know where to settle – in the world of Nare or in the real world. She felt self-realization only with Nare, but these were only fantasies. After some days and weeks of traveling with Nare, she would come back and see the same faces that were full of hatred and humiliation. She would come back to the real world.

Nare was not only a friend. She was a teacher. She wanted Julie to have the same charm in the real world. But there were so many forces that did not allow the magic to happen. Nare wanted to revive Julie. She wanted Julie to become Nare and settle on this planet and enjoy the charm that they experienced when they were together. Nare wanted to rejuvenate Julie, and there was a fight inside Julie. Julie saw the world full of hatred and could not understand how that god-like being could live in the real world. She could not understand how she could help Nare to become a member of this planet. And she was sad. She was sad because she disappointed her friend. Because Nare wanted a world where there were no limitations, a world of absolute freedom and respect inside Julie. Only then Nare could settle in Julie. Only then could they become one.

(To be continued…)

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asyran

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Nane Sevunts (Armine Asyran)

From Uncertainty to Newness – transposing emblem by Nane Sevunts

An Era to Close – short story by Nane Sevunts

Emblems and stories on Armenia

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Armenia and other countries

Credits

Cover photo of Yerevan, Armenia by Levon Vardanyan (Unsplash)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

The UnReal in Real

I noticed her when she took her first steps. She saw a strange object on the floor and crawled up close. It was a teddy bear. It was the first object with two hands and two feet, one mouth and two ears that she recognized as a being. It looked like her, like her mom and grandma, and she wanted to know what it was like and what it was doing on the floor. It was her first acquaintance with the world. The teddy bear emitted a “buuu” when she turned it on its back. It frightened Julie, and she started crying.

Fear. The first emotion she experienced from interaction with the world was fear. She simply assumed that the world was not a safe place. Later, fear would guide her in many different aspects of her life. A naïve toy like a teddy bear became the start of a journey where fear was a part of something bigger – bigger than the teddy bear, bigger than herself.

I have known Julie all my life. I know what she is like, how she feels and what it means to be Julie. I know it because…. Pardon me, I am the self of Julie. I have been with her since she was a child.

Julie will cry in her bed when no one watches her. She will pretend she doesn’t notice your rude attitude, but her tongue will freeze in her mouth when you are disrespectful to her. Julie will not say anything. Her body will shrink, and she will become a tiny little girl if you upset her. Mentally she will disappear and…. Yes, she will start killing herself bit by bit.

I remember one day she was playing with the other children in the yard. Julie wanted to be with them. She wanted to be one of them. But she was separate. She did not feel part of the group. The other children knew that, and they treated her specially. They gave her specially bad or specially good treatment.

Julie enjoyed the feeling of being special, but being special comes with a lot of hardship. Most often you are alone. You are not like others, and other people will try to prove that you are worse than them. Julie was used to that, but it hurt. She enjoyed being separate and being special and at the same time she suffered.

This is how it continued until the day when she met me, her self.

“Julie, you should be strong,” I kept on saying. She listened to that and made herself determined to overcome all emotional barriers. But her body kept on shrinking every time she saw a violent face or brutal treatment. She became small.

And one day she decided to move away from her family and house and settle in another place. That was a courageous decision, and she knew she was right. She left everything – her job, her place, her family and wanted to start over from scratch. She began teaching English to kids and adults in her new house and earned money for living by teaching in the capital of one of the smallest countries in the Caucasus Region – Armenia. People here were friendly, but they lived in their separate boxes. They could be nice to you but not more than that. Her problems were her problems.

At night she would think of little demons that would visit her here and there. She was idle most of the time and kept on reading different books. The demons became bigger and bigger. They started visiting her more often and even during the day. Sometimes she would shout at them and tell them to go to hell. Things were not right anymore.

The signs of depression were already there. She thought she was being watched and that made her mad. The person who was watching her was someone she did not know. She decided to go to neighboring Georgia to meet that person. Things were not right anymore.

When she was traveling on the train, the people in her carriage knew she was not healthy. The only thing she was doing was reading the Bible. When they asked where she was going, she said she did not know.

But she did not reach Georgia. They found out that she did not have an external foreign visa that you need when you cross the border of Armenia. She stepped off the train on the border somewhere near Georgia and went to the church in the little town of Spitak. She met the priest there. He arranged so that she could stay with a family that lived in a train carriage. They had a daughter that she liked very much and spent time with. She was disabled and the most courageous person she had ever seen.

Soon she was back at her mom’s house and ended up in a place where she was supposed to be – in a mental hospital. They gave her pills, and that made her a little bit peaceful. She was grateful for the treatment and did as they told her.

Years passed, she had phases of depression and phases of health. And this is where she met me – her self again. She called me Nare – someone she adored and wanted to be like. Nare became her second “me” and she started a new life where Nare was the queen.

(To be continued…)

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asyran

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Nane Sevunts (Armine Asyran)

From Uncertainty to Newness – transposing emblem by Nane Sevunts

An Era to Close – short story by Nane Sevunts

Emblems and stories on Armenia

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Armenia and other countries

Credits

Cover photo of Yerevan, Armenia by Levon Vardanyan (Unsplash)

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

By Seyit Ali Dastan

After returning home, I told my mom that I was not being very helpful with reminding my father of the past. All night we discussed what to do and, in the end, I suggested that we take a trip through Cappadocia, to the shore of the Mediterranean in Turkey, and ending in Antalya. On the trip, we could make stops that might trigger some memories in him.

After some discussion, we decided not to do it. My mother said that foreign tourist prices were charged for the Cappadocian sites. If the three of us entered the Ihlara Valley, a beautiful, historical area in the middle of Anatolia, which we regularly visited in the past, we would need to pay more than the cost of travelling there. Even the sight-seeing area was subject to a charge, she added. I didn’t insist on the trip since I knew that it might also be full of disappointment. We could no longer visit Burdur Lake or many other smaller ones that were bird sanctuaries, as they had completely dried up. The beaches in the Belek district of Antalya, where we went swimming, were allocated to hotels and no longer open to the public. The forests around them had been converted to recreation areas, with many trees being cut down to open up golf courses.

Rather than making visits, I spent a few more days at home with my father. We took walks during the day and spent the evenings talking about the past. We looked at the photo albums from more than ten years ago. The photos from the more recent period were stored on some flash drives and CDs. The CDs were not readable now, and I was not sure where to find the drives. It was enough to return to our childhood photos when my father was much younger. In one of those photos I was reading a book – probably The Old Man and the Sea. Then my father asked:

“Do you still want to be a writer?”

Did I want to be a writer? “I’m not sure,” I replied.

He was right, but I just didn’t want to say “Yes.” Yet I didn’t want to give him an incorrect answer and continued talking about it:

“Do you remember I once asked you how I should start writing a story; I mean the first sentence…”

“Let me show you something…” he said, and started to search through the bookshelf. Soon he found a notebook of mine from many years ago. He pointed to my handwritten words on the first page. It went exactly like this: He was walking down the cobblestone-paved street to our home. But it consisted of only this sentence. The rest of the notebook was completely blank. He continued with sympathetic self-confidence: “Maybe, I didn’t completely lose my memory.” We laughed together. Then my mother intervened:

“Son, never write on political subjects! Never!”

“Don’t worry, mom! I won’t. I won’t write at all. Today, people don’t have the patience to read more than a few sentences.”

On the morning of the day I was leaving Kayseri, while I was in the bedroom, the telephone rang. I heard my father speaking to a person on the phone. After I left the bathroom, he said:

“Wrong number. Somebody asked for ‘Seyfi’,” he said.

“That’s me!” I replied and abruptly took the phone and dialed the person who had called. After the conversation was over, I saw my father gazing at me perplexedly.

“Did I forget my dear son’s name?” he asked.

“No, dad. You didn’t. I had to change my name.”

“Change your name?”

“You may find it a bit confusing, but I had to change it a bit. The government has published my name in the official gazette, claiming that I am linked to terrorism. I can’t set up new business contacts with this name because people search it in google and see me on that list. Believe me, dad, I could not even rent a flat because of it. I emailed Google and asked them not to list my name like that, but it didn’t work. Anyway, this is not an official name change. You can consider it a nickname.”

“All right. But if you are known by such a name, you cannot get your former name back again,” he said rightfully.

“Sorry, dad. This is the only way to survive.”

“I believe you are doing what is best, son. I trust you…”

While I was packing my bags before going to the airport, my father came to my room and handed over the notebook he had shown me the day before. Beforehand, he smelled it deeply and said:

“Maybe there are not many things left worth remembering, but the scents are the exception, and the scent of the notebook is unforgettable. Take it as a gift.”

“Thanks, dad! But cobblestones are no longer used. This story would belong to period fiction, which you may not remember,” I joked.

“Yes, our lives are all asphalt, cement and plastic now.”

In the afternoon, I got on the plane to Istanbul, where my wife and son would meet me at the airport. All the way, I had mixed feelings regarding my father. His condition was not that bad, and he would get well in time. But the damage was severe, and he might not regain the health he enjoyed before. Losing your memory, whether the good or bad parts of it, is losing your life; and I had not been able to bring back any part of his life again.

As the plane descended, we passed over Istanbul, a city ten times the size of Kayseri. On each of my flights over Istanbul, I realized that the buildings were growing and spreading like vigorous plants. I looked at the city from above and tried to recognize famous spots. I saw the iconic building of Haydarpaşa Rail Station, which used to be the end point for trains coming from mainland Asia to Istanbul, but had now been abandoned without a clear fate. On the other side of the Bosporus, Gezi Park, which had been besieged by expanding areas of concrete and asphalt, was barely visible. The park was the stage for long-lasting “occupy” protests a couple of years ago when people opposed the cutting of the trees and the replacement of the park with new buildings. I understood that they were not merely fighting to save the park, the trees or nature, but more to save their memories. And temporarily, the people were triumphant.

At that moment, I suddenly had the feeling that the apocalypse had already happened, not with a bang, but a whimper; and we are now living in a post-apocalyptic world. This is not the world of Mad Max, for sure. The apocalypse has happened in such a tempting way and so slowly that we didn’t even realize what our world has turned out to be.

The plane landed a few minutes later, and I met my wife and son at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, which would be deserted in a few months as a new airport had been constructed in the north of Istanbul. Walking through the arrival gates, knowing that it would probably be our last time inside, I hugged my son and caught a whiff of the area right under his neck where I perceived his scent most intensely.

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asyran

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More work by Seyit Ali Dastan

Uncertain Waters – Short story

Polarization and the Epidemic of Extremity – Short story

Living in the Pendulum between Turkey and Syria – Short story

Emblems and stories on Turkey

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Turkey and other countries

Credits

Cover photo of Kayseri, Turkey by Attraction Art

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed

By Seyit Ali Dastan

The doctor’s comments boosted my morale. Because this was not a disease that continuously deteriorates like dementia. He might not totally recover, but he would get better in time.

As soon as we got back home, I started to think about what I could do to stimulate my father’s memory. I needed to find places where we shared the past together. The first thought that came to mind was to return to the schools I had attended. Since he had also been a teacher, education had always held an important place for him. I knew he really liked to talk about the educational institutions in my past.

Early the next day, we left home to visit the primary school I had finished around twenty years ago. My father once said that he realized I had grown up when he left me alone in the school and watched me walk in the yard. Every time he mentioned it, I could see the emotion in his eyes. With this feeling, I drove my father’s car to the school. It was at the center of Kayseri, and its name was Ahmet Paşa İlkokulu, or Ahmet Paşa Primary School. When we arrived at the place of the school, I was shocked. There was no school building. It had totally disappeared. What I saw instead was a crowded parking garage where you feel the heat of the cars and smell the scent of the tires and old oil. I didn’t understand how this had happened because I clearly remembered the metal plate on the entry gate of the school documenting its establishment in 1865. It was probably the oldest school in Kayseri; now demolished and replaced by a garage.

“Why did we come here, son? Are you going to park the car?” he asked.

“Well… I was just…” – I could not explain it to my father. “No, we won’t park here. We were just passing by,” I replied, and, luckily, my father didn’t really know why we had come here.

I then drove the car to my second school, Küçükçalık Anadolu Lisesi, or Küçükçalık Anatolian Middle School, which was between primary school and high school. My father had frequently come here to talk with my teachers. To be honest, it was a period when I often skipped the lessons and just hung out with my friends. Once one of my friends joked, “Seyit, your father is at school more than you are.” My father was actually showing up at the school to discipline me. It was a period of conflict between an adolescent and adult.

We got out of the car when we arrived. But it was difficult to recognize the place after many years. The poplar trees that used to encircle the school no longer existed. They must have been cut due to the pollens they spread during May. It was a trendy idea recently: Poplar trees should be in rural areas and those in cities should be cut. They were completely wiped out from the cities in a decade. Without them, my school was basically a naked building, however. But it was not only the trees. A new road ran straight across the yard. A newer building behind the school had also reduced the size of the yard. While looking at the school with my father, I asked,

“Dad, do you remember the middle school I used to attend?” – He looked for a while and replied:

“No, not really!”

“Me neither,” I said.

Having failed to find something that could stimulate my father’s memory on the first day, we turned back home. I thought that it would be better to go the Kayseri Fen Lisesi, or Kayseri Science High School, which was a boarding school. My father and I had a lot of memories from there because he had taught physics for more than ten years at the school and we lived in the housing facilities allocated to school staff. Furthermore, I also spent two years there and we shared a lot of memories in each corner of the school.

Early in the morning, teeming with emotion, I drove to Kayseri Fen Lisesi. The school was quite far away from the city center of Kayseri – it took half an hour to reach. When we arrived, a guy stopped us at the outer gate and asked why we had come. I said my father used to be a physics teacher in the school and we had lived here. He apologized and said that it was no longer Kayseri Fen Lisesi; now it was Kayseri Spor Lisesi, or Kayseri Sports High School. He didn’t let us go inside. He also added that Kayseri Fen Lisesi had moved to a modern building in the city center. Since we had driven quite a ways, we at least got out and looked at the old school buildings silently. When we returned to the car, I took a final glimpse at the main building, and suddenly got the strange feeling that it was also watching us beyond the walls and gates.

I dedicated the following day to past sports events and places we had some collective memory of. We went directly to the open fields in the district where we used to live when I was a child. There were areas open to everybody, places where we spent time playing soccer, flying kites, and enjoying many other childhood games. My father was just like a friend I remembered very well: We had spent hours at events together. In comparison to yesterday, I had less hope that we would find the place the way we knew it.

So I was not surprised when we arrived: The soccer fields had been converted to artificial turf and covered by huge tents. Of course, it was no longer free to play soccer, as these facilities were for-profit businesses. People were waiting outside the tents and watching the matches.

“Dad, do you remember when we played in here?”

“Maybe… I remember a bit…”

“This place was completely covered by grass. It was not a regular park, of course. We played games… Mainly soccer… There were no normal goal posts. We used big stones to mark the endpoints of the goal. And there weren’t any boundary lines. It was all in our imagination… No need to wait… Because there was enough space for everybody.”

“And the ground was not nearly as clear of small stones or pebbles… there were even cattle droppings.” We laughed. – The area was occasionally used for feeding cows, probably because of some small backyard stables nearby.

“In the late afternoon, there could be more than a hundred people in the meadow. Fathers, sons, daughters… We were all in there. If it was kite season, like May or September, you could see close to a hundred kites swirling above.”

“I remember, son; our kite was usually one of the highest.”

“Exactly, dad, it was far above the others; and once the string ripped and we had to run after it, street by street.”

Our conversation continued for half an hour. Although I could not completely lift the veil on my father’s memory of the place and period we spent together, he recalled some of what I was describing. Having seen the traces of memory in my father’s mind, I drove the car straight to the city’s sports center where the stadium and basketball fields are located.

After all, I was not very surprised to see that the city’s main sports facilities had disappeared entirely. They were right at the center of Kayseri and had a beautiful location that residents could reach. I had wanted to remind my father of the matches occasionally played at Kayseri Sports Club. The long lines we had at the gates, the sunflower seeds we ate – an exclusively Turkish snack habit –, the chants we shouted together, the regrets after defeat and the joy we shared after victories, the road we walked while going there… All had been left behind…

What I saw was a quite ugly hotel and shopping mall adjacent to it.

I googled the new place for the stadium. It was far away from the city center. As I check the search engine hits, I saw the mayor’s comment: “Not a single lira paid by us for the construction of the new stadium.” But he didn’t mention what happened to public space at the heart of the city and in turn why this place was allocated to new business owners.

“Why did we come here, son,” my father asked.

After taking a deep breath to gain time, I replied, “Mom has some orders; we need to go into the mall.” Luckily, he didn’t resist, and we did some shopping inside.

(Part 3 to follow on January 25…)

In the Middle – An International Transposition (Fiction)

Introduction to In the Middle – An International Transposition, edited by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey

January: Forgetting – Turkey, by Seyit Ali Dastan

February: The Unreal in Real – Armenia, by Armine Asyran

March: Catching Water – Argentina, by Javier Gómez

April: Unwanted – South Africa, by Sarah Leah Pimentel

May: House with a Stucco Ship – Ukraine, by Gennady Bondarenko

June: A Girl Pedaling up the Road of Life – Cuba, by Marilin Guerrero Casas

July: The Last Day – Poland, by Pawel Awdejuk

August: Through my Hands – Venezuela, by Veronica Cordido

September: Amelia’s Euphemism – Spain, by Jonay Quintero Hernández

October: Until Love Do Us Part – Uruguay, by Alejandra Baccino

November: A Journey to the Edge – Lebanon, by Rayan Harake

December: I Used to Smoke – Russia, by Kate Korneeva

Background – Context

Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)

The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)

L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)

From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)

More by Seyit Ali Dastan

Uncertain Waters – Short story

Polarization and the Epidemic of Extremity – Short story

Living in the Pendulum between Turkey and Syria – Short story

More on Turkey

Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from Turkey and other countries

Credits

Cover photo of Kayseri, Turkey by Attraction Art

Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed