The Black Book Read online
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1. The First Time Galip Saw Rüya
2. The Day the Bosphorus Dries Up
3. Give My Regards to Rüya
4. Aladdin’s Store
5. Perfectly Childish
6. Master Bedii’s Children
7. The Letters in Mount Kaf
8. The Three Musketeers
9. Somebody’s Following Me
10. The Eye
11. We Lost Our Memories at the Movies
12. The Kiss
13. Look Who’s Here!
14. We Are All Waiting for Him
15. Love Tales on a Snowy Night
16. I Must Be Myself
17. Do You Remember Me?
18. The Dark Void
19. Signs of the City
20. The Phantom Abode
21. Are You Unable to Sleep?
22. Who Killed Shams of Tabriz?
23. The Story of Those Who Cannot Tell Stories
24. Riddles in Faces
25. The Executioner and the Weeping Face
26. Mystery of Letters and Loss of Mystery
27. A Lengthy Chess Game
28. The Discovery of the Mystery
29. I Turned Out to Be the Hero
30. Brother Mine
31. The Story Goes through the Looking Glass
32. I Am Not a Mental Case, Just One of Your Loyal Readers
33. Mysterious Paintings
34. Not the Storyteller, the Story
35. The Story of the Prince
36. But I Who Write
Also by Orhan Pamuk
According to what Ibn Arabi relates as an accomplished fact, a sainted friend of his, whom spirits elevated up to the heavens, on one occasion arrived on Mount Kaf, which circumscribes the world, and observed that the mountain itself was circumscribed by a serpent. Now, it is a well-known fact that there is no such mountain which circumscribes the earth, nor such a serpent.
—THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ISLAM
THE FIRST TIME GALIP SAW RÜYA
Do not use epigraphs; they will only kill the mystery in the piece!
Go ahead, kill the mystery; kill the false prophet too who pushes mystery!
Rüya slept on her stomach in the sweet and warm darkness under the blue-checkered quilt which covered the entire bed with its undulating, shadowy valleys and soft blue hills. The first sounds of the winter morning penetrated the room: carts passing by sporadically and old buses, the salep maker, who was in cahoots with the pastry man, banging his copper jugs up and down on the sidewalk, the whistle of the shill at the dolmuş stop. The navy-blue drapes leached out the leaden winter light that came into the room. Galip, languid with sleep, studied his wife’s head which poked out of the quilt: Rüya’s chin was buried in the down pillow. In the curve of her brow there was something surreal that brought on anxious curiosity about the wondrous events that took place inside her head. “Memory,” Jelal had written in one of his columns, “is a garden.” Then Galip had thought: Gardens of Rüya, Gardens of Dreaming. Don’t think, don’t think! If you do, you will suffer jealousy. But Galip couldn’t help thinking as he studied his wife’s brow.
He wanted to explore in full sunlight the willows, the acacias, the climbing roses in the enclosed garden of Rüya’s tranquil sleep. Shamefully apprehensive of the faces he met there: You here too? Well, then hello! Along with the unsavory memories he expected, registering with curiosity and anguish the unexpected male shadows: Beg your pardon, fella, but just when and where did you meet my wife? Why, three years ago at your place; in the pages of a foreign fashion magazine bought at Aladdin’s store; at the middle school you both attended; at the foyer of the movie theater where you two stood holding hands … No, no, perhaps Rüya’s head was not this crowded and this cruel; perhaps, in the only sunny corner of her dark garden of memory, Rüya and Galip might have, just now, embarked on a boatride.
A few months after Rüya’s folks moved to Istanbul, Galip and Rüya had both come down with the mumps. In those days either Galip’s mom, or Rüya’s beautiful mother Aunt Suzan, or both, leading Galip and Rüya by the hand, would take them on buses that jiggled along the cobbled streets to Bebek or to Tarabya where they’d go on boatrides. Those days, it was the germs that were redoubtable, not the medications; it was believed that clean Bosphorus air could alleviate the mumps. Mornings, the water was calm, the rowboat white, the boatman always the same and matey. Mothers or aunts would always sit astern and Rüya and Galip side-by-side in the bow, hiding behind the boatman whose back rose and fell as he rowed. Under their thin ankles and feet that looked alike stuck out over the water, the sea flowed by slowly—the seaweed, rainbows of spilled diesel oil, semitransparent pebbles, and the still legible pieces of newspaper which they checked out for Jelal’s column.
The first time Galip saw Rüya, a few months before getting the mumps, he was sitting on a stool placed on the dining table for the barber to cut his hair. Those days, the tall barber with the Douglas Fairbanks mustache used to come to the house five days a week to shave Grandpa. That was at the time when the lines for coffee got longer in front of both the Arab’s and Aladdin’s store, when nylons were sold by traffickers, when Chevvies slowly began to proliferate in Istanbul, and when Galip started grade school and carefully read Jelal’s column which he wrote under the pseudonym of “Selım Kaçmaz” on the second page of Milliyet five times a week, but not the time when he first learned to read; Grandma had taught him to read two years before all that. They sat at one corner of the dining table and Grandma, blowing the smoke of the Bafra cigarette that was never absent from her lips, making her grandson’s eyes water, hoarsely divulged the great magic of how letters joined up with each other, and the unusually large horse in the alphabet book became bluer and more lifelike. The horse under which it said HORSE was larger than the bony horses that belonged to the lame watercarrier’s and thievish ragman’s horse carts. Galip used to wish he could pour a magic potion on this healthy alphabet-book horse that would bring it alive, but later, when he wasn’t allowed to start school at the second-grade level but had to go through again the same alphabet book with the horse, he realized it was a silly wish.
Had Grandpa really been able to go out and get the magic potion he promised to bring in a pomegranate-colored vial, Galip would’ve poured the liquid on the dusty copies of L’Illustration full of First World War zeppelins, mortars, and muddy corpses, on the postcards Uncle Melih sent from Paris and Algiers, on the picture of the orangutan nursing its baby that Vasıf had cut out of Dünya, and on the faces of the weird people Jelal clipped out of the papers. But Grandpa didn’t go out anymore, not even to the barber’s. He was home all day. Even so, he dressed up just as he did in those days when he had gone out to the store: his old English jacket with wide lapels which was gray like the stubble that grew on his face on Sundays, drop trousers, cuff links, and a narrow tie that Dad called “the bureaucrat’s cravat.” Mom said “cravate,” never “cravat”: her family had been better off than his in the old days. Then Mom and Dad would talk about Grandpa as if they were talking about those old, peeling wood-frame houses another one of