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  • Writer's pictureŞarkılara Mektuplar

Does life fit in the house?

The view of life that fits in my room. One curtain.

“No geraniums, no cats, no notebooks”

Dear professor,

Today is Sunday. It is the last day of May and the last of the curfew weekends. For now. We are heralded that tomorrow a new period will begin. It is said that the swings will rise to the trees, the fish to the fishing lines, and the merry-go-rounds will return. So, I thought, "as a period is closing", we can now look at the last three months with peace of mind. In order not to exceed the limits of the letter, I limit the subject to "staying at home" as you suggested. Did “life fit in the house” as promised, was it tight, or did it overflow? What was it like to leave the street and take shelter at home?

I think it would be more correct to start by digging into my own "stay at home" experience. Because I am an exemplary "stay at home Turkey" volunteer with all the connotations of the word, my teacher. Considering that I have been living in our house where my mother gave birth to me with sudden pains for almost thirty-odd years, I have a "stay at home" situation as much as my age. You know, as they say, "Every writer tells about the room in which s/he was born". Emphasized by this is undoubtedly our first childhood and youth experience; first encounters with the world, first winks. During this period, the windows of my room opened to the past, like most of us. To the days when all friendships and friendships consisted of the neighborhood you live in or even the street you live on. In fact, the view from my room was always looking over there. There were shining opportunities there, but I didn't see them. For example, we have a neighbor who knew me from infancy. It turns out how far we have distanced ourselves from each other by voting for two or three parties of the country that never come together. He became my best friend during this period. As you know, we live on a hill where most of the houses are single or two-story, with small breathing areas suitable for gardening in front of them, where everyone knows each other almost from birth. Every day, we flew our two thousand-meter-long kites designed by our neighbor on that hill. We planted rose, honeysuckle and jasmine vines together. We went to collect the lark. We gave flowers to the neighborhood people who were enthusiastic about our garden and sang folk songs. (Even while I was writing these lines to you, they threw stones at my window, saying, "We are flying a kite, come".) There was talk of the past, about the ordeals, the children being educated in difficult conditions, the thirsty days of the neighborhood, the luxury estates and malls built on the mountains around us, of being fed up with the mud splashed by the white jeep of those living in those luxury houses "oh my dear, how they got stuck in their balcony, wealth doesn't pay", after the deceased elders and everything was better in the past. When we learned to speak with words free from politics, I think we took care of each other's most fragile and most sensitive points. There are years that I can't remember a holiday day as beautiful as the last holiday morning when everyone gathered in our garden. The young people who decorated the neighborhood with balloons were rewarded with the plums of our tree, and children were given colorful begonias planted in tiny pots as holiday candy. On that day when curfew was forbidden, a corner game was played with the police patrolling. Well, of course, the children's kites were also free. I guess I don't even need to mention how a solidarity network has been established to support young families with babies, newlyweds, many of whom are unemployed in a landscape like this. This was my favorite: "You can pee with peace of mind, Baby, your three-month diaper money is on me".

I know that life does not go this easy, it's not like flying a kite on windy hills. There are years I know how we climbed that hill despite rain, mud or snow, most of all. And that our relationship with the house is not always like this, flowery. It is not my intention to present you with a nostalgic, thoroughly happy neighborhood picture. Now I think about it, all the conversations that refresh the past, and all the flowers that color our homes, what is it but to cover with compassion the troubles and pains that we think would change if they came out? Actually, thinking about home and family has always been an obsession for me. Especially when you live in a house full of memories of things older than me. The pandemic didn't trigger this obsession, it just peaked.

The view of life that fits in my room.

One curtain.

“I could not do with no geranium, no cat, and no notebook”

Is the house a home, a refuge, a hole, or a ghostly place full of dangers, secrets, silences? Does your house have a gender? As the saying goes, is home a place of dreaming that we miss returning to all the time? Has the already broken, fragmented and troubled home life become more fragmented in these quarantine days, or have the wounds healed? Does our home scene undermine our trust in each other and in the world, or does it renew our strength of resilience and solidarity? Does the house really have the power to be a balm for its own wounds? I think a house can only be a crust on wounds and it bleeds every time it pierces. This time I did my share of homework without difficulty, without whining or procrastinating. A little forgetting, a little forgiving, and a little reconciliation. Most of all, without bleeding the shells. I don't expect appreciation from life, enough if I get a passing grade.

While asking these questions, I thought a lot about a friend you know. When she learned that her mother had a brain hemorrhage during the quarantine days, she hurried out of the city. The mother is in the intensive care unit, the entrance and exit of the hospital is not comfortable due to the danger of the virus. They can do nothing. And other wounds were also opened. Years later, when my friend returned to the first childhood home she had abandoned, she realized that all the traumas, troubles, and nightmarish experiences were waiting for her there without any age. Apart from the feeling of closure caused by the epidemic, being kept in the mother's home, where she no longer felt belonging and wanted to escape, in the absence of her mother, created a double claustrophobia. I know this feeling well. In the games I read and watch, I have been swept away by his call. This is one of the reasons why I always read Ibsen, Chekhov and their successors with privilege.

I think of the play characters who have never escaped from their father or mother's house and carry the house on their chest like a hunchback even after they get married or run away. I even say I miss it. Those whose lives are drawn by the boundaries of the house, those whose dreams go beyond the house, or those who are always homesick no matter how far they are separated. Nora, who says, "I adopted my father's thoughts in my father's house and my husband's thoughts in my husband's house", Hedda Gabler, who is trying to solve the problem of existence with the old piano and pistols she brought with her as a dowry, Hedvig, the poor child who dreams of the food his father will bring from the party of the rich, Chekhov characters who thought they were seagulls but were always dragged into the same farm's lake, then Oedipus who brought disaster with them when they returned home, Hamlet and Beckett people who believed in the importance of waiting “even if they weren't saints”... Do you think their tragedies would have increased more if they were ordered to "stay at home"?

I remember the plays from Turkey. I've noticed that from the past our plays have mostly escaped to the house, as in the Ibsens. The Western drama house was functioning as an architectural metaphor for the decaying family and social life, in a way both as a contextual and structural dramatic material. Burnt houses, destroyed and sold farms, huge houses with slammed doors, mortgaged villas… Houses that grew secrets, sins and hypocrisy under their roof were doomed to collapse every time, and the playwright was building new houses to tell the story of a new play. On the other hand, I see that we are not talking about houses that are destined to be demolished, but about family life that is waiting to be saved somehow and the hearth must always be smoking. I can say this mostly for Republic era games. Why do we still protect the family despite all the secrets and the wounds it inflicts? This is the question I ask myself the most. I vaguely sense the reasons why those games I love seem so familiar and yet so foreign to me.

I also remember recent games, how some of them are similar to what we experience today. Finally, how is Sabriye, who lived in the "Nihanevd Makamı" in Menderes period ran away from the house despite the curfew and revived the memories of that ruined mansion, now? What would she do if she was in quarantine today, over 65 years old? I wonder if Muhsin Bey of Kim Var There finally finds a way to stage Hamlet, which is destined to always be unfinished, by writing his memoirs every night over and over again? Or is the house flooded with new ghosts every night? Could Zabel in his cell rise from the ruins of history by smilingly welcoming the women who touched his life in the theater of his memory? I'm sure he was worried not for himself, but for the young and pregnant interrogator, saying "there is an epidemic out there, be careful my child". Mari and Nvart of the Forgotten. The most difficult is their situation. It was obvious that no one would come to that remote hotel room where they were held captive in the hope that one day they would come to fetch us. Would we dare to approach the other when one was already dying of tuberculosis? Let's remember little Dirmit, whose home life turned into hell after migrating to the city, who couldn't sleep because of the troubles of the house, and who poured out her troubles to us as if she were telling us her problems to the pump in the village. If the Dirmits under the age of twenty were freed from the pressure of their parents, what would they do with the police waiting for them on the street? For example, the orphan Avzer, who was happy to share the streets that he remembers as his home with hundreds of thousands of people with the explosion of a great social uprising, how is it now when the streets were dead silent or which of us was able to take Avzer into his home during the epidemic days?

What do you think, professor? Do you remember your play and novel characters and ask their memories? How are the Lenas, Leylas, Serpils in your plays now? How could staying at home have affected the lives of the game characters we love, watch and create? Do you have characters that the poet describes as "the room is bigger than the world" or vice versa, the ones whose world is even narrower than a room? What if Serpil of the "Dream Seller" (Hayal Satıcısı) , who got stuck in a small, sunless fortune-telling room of a cafe when she said she got rid of the house, was going to set a trap for her husband, who has now replaced the violence she has been practicing for years with economic exploitation, and drive him out, if the epidemic broke out and the fortune-telling cafe was closed, that is, if the hopes of salvation had been left to another spring? would it be? Or let's heat things up a little more. If she had not been able to go abroad to her daughter after she handed her husband to the police, fortune-teller Serpil Abla - certain flights were cancelled - and her husband had come to hold her accountable - and Nuri was not a political prisoner, she would definitely get out of prison because she was not a political prisoner - then do you think a second life would be possible for Serpil?

All in all, imagining my favorite games and game characters in a common tragedy with ourselves during the epidemic days is as sad as it gives pleasure. It was as if some would be freed from the burden of the story that brought them into being, while others would remain without a story; some of them would get out of the borders of the game and “ooo, it would be a novel if we wrote it”, and some would wait to be rewritten at the dawn of a brand new beginning. I really missed meeting all of them on stage and in the audience.

I would like to end my letter with a question. What would your imagination be about the house if you had spent these days with your husband Norbert for walks in the park during the day, watching a movie that appeals to your common taste, not at your home in Cologne, but during your youth when your father was still alive and you had just stepped into writing? Have you ever thought like that? Another question. What image or images have remained in your mind the most from those few months when we were locked up at home? Is there a metaphor that will shape your story about those days? Let me answer for my part: the rice pudding my father makes every other day, missing his mother and the village, which reminds me of the color of forgetting and reconciliation, and the stray kites left by the children who escaped with the police siren. And this is how missed opportunities sometimes smile at people.

I am waiting for your good news and looking forward to your reply as always.

With love,


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