Snails – Gökçek Uzuner

There was a place I did not go for a long time, this is a resentment with a dead. It is strange; if you are hurted deeply right through your left rib by loved ones, you can’t forgive them even if their existence vanquished.

I opened up the window as fast as I could. I hate closed windows, I never understand that why humankind needed it at the first place, why our kind need unseen boundaries between nature, every other living creature and it self. I leaned my head on the half open car window. Let me tell you that there is a huge difference between leaning your head on loved one’s shoulders and leaing on a car window. One is an act of love, the other is an act of despair. As the car turned around the giant square park in the middle of the village I breathed the pine trees; fisrt pine trees and then bitter smell of olive trees, basils and mints bursts from sidewalks and roads as a declaration of nature; the war declaration that nature forge against human, on sidewalks, on roads. For me, the roads to my home; for others, roads as a travel path…

And then, these beautiful roads ended. We passed beyond the industrial area and saw it, there lay the solemn forest of cemetery full of cypress trees with goldfinches and sparrows on top of it like a cloud singing the most gentle thunder. I always felt that this forest has a way to welcome strangers. I greeted it back with a little bow gesture with my head. The cypres tree forest of cemetery has a cold and tall emotion that can terrify you from distance. As we move into it, I came across with olive trees and then lemon trees, bitter orange trees… The cold and tall air started to shatter. If you live in this village you started to become friends with these peculiar olive and bitter orange trees which popped from everywhere.

In the middle of cemetery road my mother stopped the car to buy mrytle. I felt the urge of leaving the car and run to the opposite side, like I run for my life, the biggest escape of my life to the opposite direction of the earth, from my father.

 

I left the car and bought two bouquet of myrtles. The weather was different here. The stress of air was different. It felt almost like another realm. I got back into the car, as I hugged the big mrytle chunk I closed my eyes. The car was shaking on the cobblestone road. I was hugging mrytles firmly. Nobody in car was shaking, too many times passed since his death. Noboy was shaking anymore. We learned how to ignore it.

Mother parked the car near grave. We walked on earthen path. I arised on my toes to touch tree branches and leafs with my forehead as I always do. After forty foots we reached to his grave. Whenever I came here this place took forty foots. Forty foot is too short. I stepped on marble and poured the water we brought with us. As I poured the water snail shells started to come up to surface. I remembered my childhood. The times I played in Jewish cemetery near our home. I remembered that there were people came to collect snails after rain. As a child I came up with a story to explain these peculiar job; for me, they were picking them up because snails had memories of deads and they had to be collected. I thought that these people collected them for collect memories for loved ones. I remembered the story of mine and felt the smell of the rain on my tongue. I felt like if I collect those shells and capture snails in a jar and take home with me and forgive these shells, I could forgive my father too. For the bitter childhood he handed down to me, for every broken inch of my body, for the day he beaten me to death for paintings I did, for let my mother to carry all the burden of my sickness and the childhood I spended in hospitals, for his death before I learned to love him… I picked all of them. It was clear that I came here to forgive my father. And after ten years I faced to reality for the first time, that he never will be back.

Blaming him was a safety branch for me. I let go the safety branch I holded on too long. I took snails to home, I forgave him.

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