from Transvestite Pinocchio
translated from the Turkish by Erik Mortenson and Burçak Bilgin
Transvestite Pinocchio, as its title announces, is a strange book. The first half of the novel, appropriately titled “Reality,” immerses the reader in the insular world of the transvestite sex workers that haunt the late-night backstreets of Istanbul’s Taksim district. While this journey into a clandestine world few ever see would be interesting enough, Torunoğlu offers her readers more than just an account of the lives and loves of this marginalized subculture. The second half of the novel takes the reader even further, constructing an alternative world of dream, fantasy, and virtual reality that refracts and bends our understanding of the characters as well as their author. Torunoğlu does not let her readers passively consume the novel, opting instead to challenge them with a singular theme and a variety of styles.
Despite its unique qualities, Transvestite Pinocchio nevertheless belongs to a larger class of writing that emerged in Turkey in the 1990s and continues to thrive even today. Borrowing a term from US discourse, critics dubbed the strange new writing that emerged after the 1980 coup in Turkey as “underground literature,” a term meant to capture a range of novels and poetry that challenged previously held notions of what literature could and should be. Torunoğlu’s work is one of the classics from this period, and continues to enjoy a strong following. The book is underground in the truest sense—it was banned upon its publication, and sold on the streets of Istanbul in a black plastic wrapper.
Transvestite Pinocchio first came to my attention while I was researching material for a book on the Beat Generation writers in Turkey. In the focus groups and interviews conducted across the country, I was trying to get a handle on the underground literature phenomenon, and one text repeatedly came up as both the most emblematic of the genre and simply the best read—Sibel Torunoğlu’s Transvestite Pinocchio. The more I examined the text, the more I agreed that the novel was unlike any other, a true and honest representation of Istanbul’s transvestite subculture written by an author with a highly idiosyncratic outlook and writing style. This translation, then, became a labor of love, an attempt to make this fascinating, one-of-a-kind work available to a larger audience.
The characters in this novel are drawn on the real people Torunoğlu encountered during her sojourn into Istanbul’s marginalized transvestite community. Transvestite Pinocchio’s first half is perhaps more easily accessible, providing the reader with the gritty realism we have come to expect from such works. While Torunoğlu writes from the standpoint of a participant, a distinct voice emerges from the text. The character of Zeliha, in some ways a stand in for the writer herself, is both sympathetic and critical, a stance that pushes the novel beyond simple exposé or social criticism. Torunoğlu, a diagnosed schizophrenic, employs a highly-poetic narrative style that pushes boundaries, forcing us to reconsider the novel’s characters as well as the slippery border between the real and the virtual.
Transvestite Pinocchio is not a text for everyone. Its realism can be overpowering in its depiction of the real-life trials and abuses its characters suffer in a homophobic society, while its ethereal flights of imagination glide into unmapped mental territory. But for those who want their literature to do something different, to take risks, and to challenge, Transvestite Pinocchio fits the bill nicely. You never know where Torunoğlu is going to take you, and for many readers, that is exactly where they want to go. Bon voyage…
MR. GEPPETTO’S GRAVE
I created Pinocchio in the image of a boy. The good-hearted fairy made him human, then bisexual. Becoming human gave Pinocchio a million aches and pains in his heart. He forgot his previous condition. Then he became one of the souls which lose the right of death and fall into immortality by reversing reality. In other words, he fell into sin and became a transvestite.
(If one day you stop loving me, I’ll die. I’m a male lion with an hourglass figure. Didn’t I put you to bed between my silicone breasts? Didn’t I become your son in your dreams? Aziz, Aziz, oh Aziz, hear me…)
Pinocchio became an example to the transvestites that followed. Now, I beg God to forgive him for the day that he came to my grave as a woman covered in make-up. For he broke the rules…
(-What’s your name?
-My love, didn’t the almighty spirit want you to love me, didn’t he permit our lovemaking?)
The newly arrived young man still hasn’t noticed Pinocchio. They killed him with a butcher’s knife. His family offers soda to those crowded around his gravesite.
There are some visitors gathered at another grave. They just had the gravestone made for this man who died in his seventy-sixth year. He’s happy because his daughter came to visit his grave. The young man’s family also offers soda to the dead man’s daughter and wife.
As the daughter left, she put her handkerchief on the grave of the young man. The young man trembled in his grave. It was as if the girl said, “Rise up and follow me.” Transvestite Pinocchio took advantage of the awkward atmosphere and went over to the young visitors. He tried hard not to ask them, “Do you find me beautiful?” Putting his hand suggestively on his hip, he said, “May God rest his soul, he was such a young kid.” There are so many beautiful things in life to experience. “Well, it’s a pity,” he preached, tugging at his skirt and playing with his hair.
Given that our experiences are important for the education of our souls, will Transvestite Pinocchio’s death be any different? I don’t think so. Death has arranged itself in such a manner that it will not allow for difference.
When Transvestite Pinocchio dies, he will understand that he must report all the things he has done and experienced in this universe to God, and then will be assigned his place. Thus, he will understand why all the toys we have come across, such as mermaids, tin soldiers, ballerinas, lambs, lions and all the dolls with their beautiful faces, are intentionally left scattered. Transvestite Pinocchio is a boy, but after all he is a toy who has been given a soul! He became human when he understood divine inspiration. All of us will come to know that all life’s roles are cast by a puppeteer named Sheref.
Plane tree is glad to be near the red brick houses. While red brick chimneys puff smoke, plane tree is the holy slave of a power continually experiencing the past; I notice that all this is important.
Plane tree also wants a well by its side. And ice cold water in it.
Everything is ready for the future to come. The future is a friend with an uncanny face waiting inside everything. In the meantime, branches of grapevines are waiting for summer to give birth to black grapes and dark eyed children. You always come across this uncanny friend of life under the plane tree. You look it in the eye, you smell it. The friend says, “Me, the one who is able to hear but unable to speak, misses you, the one able to see but unable to touch.” That’s all the chance you have to understand the uncanny friend of life. They fill a syringe with the friend, inject it into life’s veins, and out comes something called a human. Most of them see, touch and speak.
Life and its uncanny friend give birth to the human. Their child is bisexual. Later, he becomes insane. He says to a woman, “Bel ma.” In other words, “I’m beautiful.” He says, “Muhammed.” In other words, “My Ahmed.” He says, “Ta mara.” In other words, “Your mother.” They ask the woman and she answers, “There is the Aleph before me. I am not, but it is.”
Plane tree. The great plane tree. Full moon. Mother earth. The sun makes no sound at all. Ever since the human, the son born from life and life’s uncanny friend, arrived.
The woman who pulled her skirt up to her waist was male. It was a sin to know about her masculinity and express it. She was thinking about how little she had been loved in this country. She was living on the possibility of loving and being loved.
(-How much do you want?
-Thirty bucks is enough, my dear husband.)
She was creating a universe made of apple, grape and lime, a universe from men’s shoes and blackened tin tubs for boiling laundry, a universe which nobody could touch.
When her lover asked for something, for food or water, her chances of being loved increased. When anyone asked for something, she was overwhelmed with joy. For she was like a crazy fly which accepted the invitation of the spider. Even if she died through a deception, death was at least real. Both the spider and the fly knew this reality. Even if half of it was a lie, the other half was real. It was a good bet. Half opposed to life and the other half in favor of the uncanny friend of life. They would win with every two, three, and five.
They were tossing watermelons and bottles of raki into the well to cool them. Plane tree wanted to say something good: “The two male names engraved upon my trunk are my past eternity and the well is my eternity to come.”
The woman who pulled her skirt up to her waist and showed her smooth legs was male. It was a sin to know about her masculinity and express it. And this woman began to gnaw on the moonlight. She left the full moon in the well by severing all ties with its reality up in the sky. When the full moon is nothing but a mere vision of itself, a simpler reality shines forth: A transvestite!
Transvestites will reach eternity through the nakedness of their inner beings, souls and wounds, not through their appearances. They will reach it with a few contrary equalities that exist in mathematics, are in contradiction to all mathematics, but are nevertheless true.
Plane tree said: Every summer they come and stay. A man, a woman, and a transvestite. That is one of the dreams I’ve had. One of them becomes a woman, she lies down in a bed with her new born baby. The baby and the woman are starving to death. They vanish and another dream begins. Both a woman and a man take an oath in an old giant’s giant spoon. Or one of them becomes a marten, and with its sharp claws tears the sainted one into pieces.
He looks into the mirror, and sees himself as a woman. And he is the lover of that woman that appears in the mirror as a man.
All the things they said seemed like a lie to me. They said they saw my son dressed like a woman. They said he had his lips injected with silicone, and had breasts like a woman and waist-long hair. Oh my baby, my son, he is the divine light of Allah for me. He is my grape-eyed son.
He was going to school. Mornings he would come to me in the kitchen after having just woken up, and when he would say, “Good morning mother,” light would shine down not just on our house, but on the whole street, and angels would descend. The last time I saw him he had on a dark blue cotton coat. When you look at him, you can see that he is just a little boy. He used to love animals. He used to sleep with the lambs.
They sent me a photo of him. He was wearing a ladies’ fur-collared coat. His brother can’t stand it. He says, “We should kill him.” Oh my little lamb! When his father got sick, he sent us money. His father didn’t know how he earned it. We didn’t tell him. He passed away not knowing what had become of his son, thank God.
I broke up with Zafer. It has been three months. I kicked him out. My friends were stunned—our relationship was going so well.
Sometimes I think that I behave more like a man. Last year, I had a guy from the neighborhood as my customer. His name was Bedri. He was very thin, like a skeleton. After a while, we started to exchange greetings. Bedri was only average-looking and lacked culture, character, and of course money; but he considered himself very important. Sexual attraction, however, is something else entirely. Transvestitism is like that too.
We made love together; it had been a really long time since I had taken this much pleasure in anybody except Zafer.
I have a small white toy horse. It represents my death. A toy feeling. I just feel so bored. In fact, I’m afraid of my past troubles returning. I have to remember in order to know who or what I am. Who am I? Who was I when I was born, who am I now, who am I from time to time, and who am I always? Actually, they made me forget who I was by insulting me. They don’t remove the masks from their faces. My condition doesn’t make their hands shake anymore.
Hello Hoshyar, I will recreate you. In a manner that will make you happy—as a woman. If all the songs lock you up with the troubles inside you like spells cast against one another, I’ll pull you out of that human filth.
You didn’t know what hostility was because when they insulted you they quickly forgot about it. They were just looking down on you and thought that they had the right. Because you weren’t like them. They forbade you the word “lover”, but look, I’m using it again. Like they did, without any meaning. So take your corpse out of that refrigerator, my love. You didn’t enjoy the tragic feast properly.
No corpse is to be eaten raw. You should weep when talking to God. Unlike a woman, you cannot spread your legs while wearing an orange teddy and holding a rice pot in your hand. You have to bend over. It all comes down to the nail of God’s little finger. Your loving kiss went for nothing; that was such a pity. You shouldn’t have jumped so suddenly.
You are inside the present tense of humiliation once again. All the improvement you’ve shown in recreating yourself and the energy which has been pumped into you went for nothing. In fact, you stood outside the photograph where you pretended to be the painted billygoat, you looked out the window of life where you were a transvestite, and you saw that there was nobody else besides you. You were filling your plastic bucket with water to prepare for a possible fire. You realized you didn’t need to fill it, and relaxed. You knew that a city founded on your childish lies couldn’t work anyway.
-Okay okay. I’m good. I’m not going to make somebody take any photos. Because the entire city adjusts itself and poses for my unsuitability. If we remove the unsuitability, who am I? I wonder, if I leave, will my unsuitability remain?
-It will, the unsuitability is not in you. There is fly shit on the lens.
A foamy sea is not your brother. A sparkling sun didn’t create you. Mountains gave you no answer. Don’t feel sorry for the trees. They didn’t dream about you having a lover. I only thought that you could love me one day. Now hello Hoshyar! Otherwise known as Selchuk. Hello my sweet. What do you mean by “Hello”? Be quiet! I don’t want to say hello. Social behavior is an undiscovered planet directing a herd of living creatures battling inside me. I ought to be quiet and wait for a sound. Perhaps it could even be a slap.
I wish they would feed me yoghurt with a little silver spoon. But what would change? I was going to meet my mother and photograph everything again. Those looking at the photographs would understand that time had passed, but they wouldn’t know that I was already dead.
Which me is the reality? I’m myopic, so is that why I suppose myself a Goddess?
I put my head on his chest. It was like a mountain. Pure water was flowing from the peaks with a clinking sound. As if my male self was someone like him. Powerful, handsome. My hair should have been curled like his when I laid my head on the pillow. My forehead should have sweat like his. I was forgetting all the disasters of my life. As if he was my mother, my father. I felt like a four or five year old child, not a twenty-one-year-old transvestite.
Our relationship lasted three years. One day, he told me he didn’t love me, and had played me like a pawn. There were posters of communists like Marx and Engels on his walls. He talked to me about brotherhood and peace for three years. And now? I escaped from Diyarbakır and came here in order not to be killed by him. The police put me on the bus. Yes, I’m a transvestite. The third sex, they say.
My lover in Diyarbakır was married. His wife and I were living in the same house.
I got involved with some criminals. One day they told me they had a customer for me. I distracted the guy while they snuck up behind and killed him. They said to me, “Take the fall, we’ll take care of you.”
In prison they first put me in the women’s ward. I established a close relationship with Seniha, who was responsible for the ward. Then Seniha got pregnant. They said I was the father of the child. I don’t know, I can’t possibly know. Later, I was transferred to the men’s ward. They excluded me even more than the women. I really love men, but they didn’t accept me. Later, they put me in a cell. I kept finding mouse tails in my food.
Now I’m out on probation. I’m not supposed to get involved in even the slightest illegal activity.
All transvestites have experience with the brothel. I decided to work in a brothel for a while.
My older sister died when I was six years old. She was nine years old when she died.
We were in Malatya. My older sister was going to school. I didn’t go to school yet. I liked to wear my older sister’s dresses.
She was murdered by a sixteen-year-old boy who was having sexual relations with her. My parents never said anything about my wearing her dresses. That was the first time I had sexual relations with a man. After that, everything stayed the same, nothing ever changed. Always the same lovelessness.
They wanted to stop me from being a transvestite by marrying me. I escaped and came to Istanbul. I live as a prostitute.
I’m twenty-two. There is a young guy who works at the market. He’s the biggest love in my life so far, but he doesn’t even bring me a loaf of bread without me paying for it.
I want to cry, I really want to. I wish I could shed a tear. Then maybe I could find relief.
Now I’m in a totally different world. The only thing on everybody’s mind is that they’ve run out of cigarettes. There are four of us and we think only about how and where we can get a cigarette.
This world really shocks me deeply. To me, all men are really evil. So am I also evil, too? Is being a woman like playing a role, and if not, could being a moral person be role-playing? I’m not a man so I can’t be evil; I never rely on men. They try to get rid of people after they use them just like they were toilet paper. They even want to use the dry side because to them the paper must be consumed completely. Did you get what I wanted to say, my love? I couldn’t understand it myself.
Sometimes I wish that I had entered the world as a plant, chair, bird or lion. Yes, a lion. Because a lion is very wild and powerful, but this only works in a forest. What about in a city or a zoo? Every dog barks loudly in his own yard.
This attitude also works for my friend Beyza, but Handegul is different. There is no such planet called Earth for Handegul, there is only a planet of love. She just cries, complains and talks a lot. Crying gets you nowhere, but is it possible to live without crying? Even lying gets you nowhere. I don’t know why I lie but I do; maybe because they won’t accept me as I am. I think I’m slowly going crazy. When I’m alone I get bored, but what can I do? It’s either my fate or I’m an extremely terrible and evil person. I don’t get why they always do me wrong and then leave. Take Ozgur for example; why did he do such horrible things to me and then leave? They say he’s in Istanbul now but he told me that he was going to Malatya. But no matter what Ozgur does to me I can’t get angry, I don’t know why.
Unhappiness has become my name, loneliness my friend. I have never been able to understand why the world upsets and tears down a person, leaving them hopeless. It’s morning again, and once more my best friend will be my wet eyes and pillow. The dark streets have left me all alone again after I fed them my tears. Happiness is a word, love a dream.
A hand in my pocket and in my other, a cigarette. Nights are so cruel and smitten, crying at drunken tables.
On the 29th of April, a Sunday night around twelve o’clock, Aydan fell down the stairs and broke her foot. Right now she is lying by my side. It’s a coincidence that three or four days after this incident Petek was stabbed in three or four places. We got the news in the morning. These incidents happen to us all the time. Guess what happened today? They gave Ebru a black eye.
I come from a modest Kurdish family. I used to be ashamed of myself, but was it just because I was a transvestite? Of course not! So why was I spending my life in shame? It all started six years ago. It was a really nice thing to be a woman in Izmir. And I became half a woman. What does it mean to be half a woman? It means dressing like a woman without having an operation or changing one’s sex.
That’s how it was, and later I started taking hormone injections. I started to notice that my breasts were gradually enlarging and I was losing my body hair. This was a nice feeling for me. I felt like I was becoming a woman.
There was a transvestite named Serap. At that time I was seventeen. Serap was a good person but she had a lot of problems. I figured that she had a childhood full of problems. She used to drink vodka around eight o’clock every evening. She used to listen to the sad songs of Muslum Gurses and cry. I was not the only one who lived with Serap. There was also a transvestite named Deniz.
The first time I met them, I thought they were women. They made it look like they had vaginas by pulling their genitals back, and it fooled me, but I was at a child’s age then. A while later they explained everything to me. Serap had a “husband” and she was his mistress. This guy was actually married to a straight woman. Serap always said that she loved him a lot. How much of this was true and how much a lie I never knew. Everybody kept saying that she was with this guy because she was afraid of him.
I sometimes watched this guy beat Serap black and blue. It really saddened me, but there was nothing I could do, and besides, Serap used to tell me not to get involved.
Serap was giving me the money she earned and I was keeping it inside the oven. One day, I checked the oven and I saw that the money was gone. I was afraid to tell Serap but there was nothing I could do. Then she told me that her husband came and took all the money. I felt relieved, but was sorry at the same time.
One day, Serap was late coming home and I stayed up waiting for her. Her husband arrived instead, and I told him that she would be home in a bit. He was staring at my face suggestively. Then suddenly he kissed my lips forcefully. He dragged me to the bedroom violently and started to rape me. Right then the door opened. Serap came in and they started fighting. I said he forced me. Serap blamed me and told me to leave the house. But later the truth came out and we kicked the guy out of the house.
People are born, grow older, and then die. What sort of nonsense is this? But I don’t want to be different; I’m already too different in everything. Plus, I’m drunk as a skunk. They put a pen in my hand and told me to go home.
They told me not to leave home anymore. I got a cat, her name is Sister Lutfiye. Who is the crazy one, me or Zeliha? She struggles to trace the number “eight” with her tiny bird brain. There is also Irmak, Sister Zeliha. It’s my turn, get away from there. You’re like a rebellious bride. You rarely put a smile on your face. Bear this mean world, my rose; only then does all this cruelty end.
Neither in this world nor in the other; your true end is in a dervish’s dance.
I’m nineteen. I have such huge brown eyes and long lashes. I’m of medium height. I’m a smart dresser.
I met a girl one day while she was hitchhiking. I pulled up in my Porsche. I said, “I’ll never share you with anyone, you’re mine alone.”
Getting her into my car resembled a metaphysical act. I talked to her about my relatives who were highly placed in the government. I said, “I love to hurt my lovers.” Then I twisted her arm. I kissed her lips. I grabbed her hand tightly.
I’m the son of a Fairy Sultan. My lover lost his virginity to me. I was the one who caressed him in the barn and made him feel like a woman.
This was when we were eight. He slept in my lap all night. I was the one who told him, “You’re not a man, from now on you’re my woman.”
I’m every man she sleeps with now. I show up in every place, from her neck on down, to make her feel like a woman.
I’m the prince of dreams. When I first had her, I dried the blood that flowed from her anus in my cigarette box. Later I crumbled the blood in a cigarette and smoked it, like all loving men throughout history.
I have as much hope as a mouse caught in a cat’s mouth. But I haven’t died yet. Life goes on fine with the pain of teeth sunk into my body. I’m still waiting for something good to happen.
Zeliha doesn’t like to see me without my makeup. I couldn’t even fool her with my black hair extensions.
She saw me in bed fucking my customers. She watched through the door. I told her I was doing it missionary style. What did she expect? I’m a transvestite, of course.
I’m seeing a psychiatrist. The drugs he prescribes keep me from working a normal job, and they cost money. So I’ve begun to use ecstasy. I don’t take my own medicine now.
I lived with a transvestite named Gamze for a while. I’m bisexual. Sometimes I fucked Gamze and sometimes she fucked me. But it didn’t work, it didn’t last. We got by with the money Gamze brought in alone. Later I also had to start working. I’ve been at it a year. I got my tits and nose done.
I’m in love with Zeliha, but if I have an operation to become a real woman, will Zeliha still want me? I can keep working as a transvestite for a while and earn enough to become a man again.
Five years ago I had no money. Even if I had married Zeliha, we wouldn’t have made it. Zeliha is really poor. For two years she wandered the streets, collecting things from garbage cans. We all work, so I took the lead—with part of our earnings we buy Zeliha beautiful dresses. We leave the dresses on the streets so she can find them as she wanders. Those who collect recyclables help us.
My situation is like a twist of fate. Almighty Allah, what kind of a fate is this?
Two years ago, I had my silicone implants removed and cut my hair. I went to Artvin to see my family. My older sister had just turned thirty-two and still hadn’t gotten married. One of my two sisters was going to become a teacher soon. While I was wandering around dressed like a man and not a transvestite, I came across a guy that I had fucked in an abandoned house nearby. He slipped me a piece of paper while shaking my hand. The note said that I should come to his family’s bakery at one in the morning. I went there. He was married and had kids. He told me in a friendly tone, “Get married, you can’t live like this forever.” I leaned my back on his chest, and we sat down. He was probably the only love I’ve ever had in my entire life. He offered me some lemonade and cake. I asked about his wife and what kind of person she was. She was the daughter of one of the hazelnut merchants in town.
It wasn’t our intention, but we made love—we couldn’t resist.
Pinocchio, the toy whose nose grows when he lies. After I became human, I got rid of my growing nose. The good-hearted fairy saved me from the moral problem my nose caused me. You must be curious as to how I became a bisexual. Being a man was like being a God. I preferred to be a human. I got bored of being a man.
The whole universe consists of two. Woman is two, man is one. Transvestite is one and a half, transsexual one point zero five. If I say it, don’t believe it. Below zero I’m a man, above zero I’m a woman.
Inside me there is a thermometer which measures the temperature. I’ve been both minus forty and plus twenty-five. When did I most become a woman, you ask? When there wasn’t anyone. When I looked in the mirror. When I became a woman, I became a man reunited with himself. When I make love with a man, I’m a man playing the role of a woman. I like this role life has given me. I consist of art, melancholy and death.
I became my own man by playing the role of a female prostitute. My woman was a whore. As if she made love only with me.
As I reunited with my woman, I became a woman in a man’s body. To be a bisexual is something like that.
There is a husband and wife inside you. Like a love living in the same body. The magic inside people is the spirit. The spirit makes real whatever it desires. It doesn’t have eyes or ears. It exists alongside righteousness and justice. It sees and hears with fairness. It accepts desire with honor—with the honor of humanity.
I made puppeteer Sheref accept my desire. He really loved me. He didn’t say no to me. His consciousness became numb in my presence. Whatever I wanted, the spirit made it real. Well, what did I want? Sometimes to be a man and sometimes to be a woman. After I died, I was going to feed my little ones with myself, like a female spider.
I discovered the strange reality of life when I made love with my own male kind. It was as if I had become indebted to life. I felt gratitude. I wanted to offer myself up like a banquet table. Like a gazelle torn to pieces by lions. When you’re dying or making love, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman.
I was looking into his eyes and telling him without saying a word that I would save him from this torment. He said that was impossible; the only thing that existed was himself, and nothing else existed, including me.
He was one and I was one and a half. I said, “All right.” You be thirty birds, in other words, a Simurgh, and let me be two, and tell me my name. Then, let thirty and two unite and become thirty-two teeth.
So let the human come and let me be real and let everything be real with me. Then pops up a man, saying “If I exist you shall exist.” So when the time comes for us to die, you can find some peace.
-This is the rule of flesh. You’ll suffer a lot.
A man with long white hair sat at a copper tray eating fried meat. They sent me in. I sat on the floor beside him. I didn’t remember him telling me to come in. He put a piece of bread in front of me. While I was trying to eat it, I broke my two front teeth. They were milk teeth. I said, with my bleeding mouth, “We want to eat meat.”
“You’re the Devil,” he said.
I squirted the blood from my bleeding teeth at him. “If I’m the Devil, then you’d better clean the blood that’s all over you,” I said to him.
Then I went out and walked the yellow dusty roads. Later I gave an old woman my word. I was going to take Geppetto’s advice. We had a well. Its water was cold as ice and the moon used to fall into it.
Puppeteer Sheref had a dusty old shop. There he created puppets. He dressed some of them in flannel nightgowns and some in nylon ones. He had a lot of puppets. Some of them were mothers, some fathers, some children, some prosecutors, and some police. He lived above the shop. But he never went upstairs. He spent all his time in his cluttered, shabby workshop.
After the good-hearted fairy made Pinocchio human, he explained his secret: Sheref made puppets so beautiful that their shadows are human. The good-hearted fairy said that the puppets were following the shadows of humans, and the shadows of humans were following the bodies of puppets.
Another secret of the good-hearted fairy was to teach the puppets how to eat. When I learned through basic mathematics that the total number of living beings on earth was two, I asked with a mouth filled with sharp teeth: So who do I eat, what is sweet enough to satisfy my mouth?
Puppeteer Sheref made us imitate his talk.
We were saying what he was saying.
I asked, “Brother Sheref, am I a woman and is the other one a man?”
He answered, “That one’s a woman but you’re not.”
The spider and his family all said that the female spider eats her man.
The scorpion and his family said that after making love the female scorpion eats her husband.
There was a pair of doves on my window that were happy and in love.
I was young. My brother was young, too. One day my mother prepared a bird trap. We were trying to catch quail, and we caught one. A lot of quail came for the bait, but only the weak one got caught. My mother gave the knife to my brother. He looked at the bird and its blinking eyes, and said to my mother, “I’m not as manly as you think.” My mother smiled. We released the quail, and it flew off.
My uncle’s wife came from the town that winter. In the end, we caught one of the doves on our window. My mother had my aunt cut it, the dove was the color of the Hagia Sofia Mosque.
I was the only one who ate the male dove, dipping bread into its dove-colored juice. It was like I ate the love inside me. I was starving. After that the female dove cried at my window for years. When they lose their partner, doves remain alone the rest of their lives. I also cried the rest of my life, waiting for my love in another world. The entire universe remained one person. Where is the other person? The puppets shouted, “Sheref!” The shadows of the humans shouted. Their souls shouted out in pain.
Sheref was quiet.
I became a homosexual, and ate dove for pleasure.
I became a homosexual for pleasure and am both inside and outside all mathematics. The puppeteer named Sheref wrote the script like this. It was set in a universe where people ate meat. We puppets set the style. We created a homosexual trend. A new supply and demand relationship.
Puppeteer Sheref died at the age of ninety-two. He put gas on his wooden leg, struck a match, and set it on fire. Puppets can’t find the puppeteer anymore. An aimless play keeps running. They all shout together, “Remember Sheref, remember.” The sound of the puppets echoes through the forest like the singing along to a sad song, and the trees are silent.
Let me be wood and the other a carpenter.
Let me be a woman and you be the other Sheref.
Cut me, and make a house out of me.
A cage out of me. A coffin out of me.
-You are a windmill Pinocchio, and the wind is you lover.
-Let me be Dulcinea, you be Don Quixote.
-You are making love with the wind, with an excitement that comes from your soul, but you’re not living.
-And you too, Sheref?
Color is the mother to blind children
Sound to the deaf
Bread to the hungry
Cats to the lonely
Good children established the universe
And the wind established mine.
I hate all the men I sleep with. After I sleep with them, I don’t want to see them again. Because they don’t give me anything, they only fuck me. In other words, I turn my body over to hungry wolves.
Men perceive sexuality as a feeling of killing. For me, when I give them my body, I become both a feast and a wolf at the same time. It is like I fuck myself lovelessly. I lie down like an ox torn into pieces and half-eaten by lions. I take pleasure in this game. In fact, I imitate nature. I identify with the savagery of nature, but I’m the one killing myself. It is a kind of worship. I feel like an angel whose wings have been cut off. I sacrifice myself. I wait for a whisper, some gratitude from God, but what I’ve done becomes immoral. Because they think there isn’t love in a silver bowl, but there is. Love—it’s like the blood that is your closest friend when you cut your wrists.
I’m eating watermelon in my dreams while thinking that I’m being applauded.
I love the color red. Red flowers… The flowers that fertilize themselves. After the bee is gone, I leave myself to the well-behaved wind like a beautiful flower.
I call and tell them to put God on the line, but all the penises I’ve taken into my mouth keep repeating the same thing over and over, like curses recorded on a cassette. God doesn’t say anything good.
God saw Zeliha in his dream. Zelika was making a tomato salad. Through a secret door you could pass through Hoshyar’s house.
Hoshyar was fucking Zeliha’s lover. He was covering Hoshyar like a soft blanket, passing through the secret door to Zeliha’s, covering Zeliha’s naked body.
The garden is blue, the bucket is blue, the water is blue, the sky is blue, my eyelashes are blue, my fingers are blue. I’m touching Zeliha with my blue fingers. I’m saying “brown tree roots.” I’m the only one who remembers all this.
They pull Aziz out of the water before he drowns. He didn’t lose anything. I gave my leg to get out of the water. My husband the water cheated on me with Zeliha. I’m lighting a candle. I’m making love to the small orange flame.
The candle says “Shhh.” The water calls me. I’m throwing my bracelet into it, and going to sleep.
Ten black eunuchs and a lot of women, we live in the palace’s harem room. There are fifteen young eunuchs. I’m a woman. There’s a boy who is going to be castrated. I’m telling him that one of the Sultan’s favorite women has drowned, that’s why you should mind your own business; after your sexual organ is cut, it will be given to you so that when you die you can be buried with it.
Melisa was saying, while kissing the cold teapot, “How many faces does God have?” She was squeezing the teacup in her hands but she couldn’t draw blood.
Aziz was in vigilante group. He was going to the house of a sick girl. He was asking permission from the girl’s mother. The girl was crying, “Give me to him!” The mother was saying, “I’m not going to give you to him, he’s the angel of death.” The girl was pleading, “No, he’s my love.” Later, the girl got out of her coffin and served lemonade to the guests in her white shroud.
A carnivorous flower was melting a bug with its juice.
The flag was red, pierced in several places. A transvestite was dipping a cloth in blood, wiping Zeliha’s windows.
The rabbit was masturbating with a carrot.
The mice deemed the dirty rooms worthy for themselves. A mouse kissed Zeliha on her ass.
Zeliha died, from now on I will dream.
I am in between two mirrors. I am touching my breast to the cold breasts in the mirror. I am touching my penis to the cold penis in the mirror and I am leaning in to look at my anus.
They have painted the carpet deep red. Colorful chicken feathers are in the vase. There is green transvestite semen on the parquet floor. I am buying a packet of Marlboros from the grocer’s with my new born baby instead of money.
Zeliha died in my arms while she was dreaming one night. I killed her. I was everything and everybody.
I saw Zeliha was looking for me in her dreams. I also looked for myself in Zeliha’s dreams. She said, “There aren’t two women in this relationship, there is only one.” I killed her, and became the only one. They will kill me with a butcher’s knife fifteen days from now. A girl I’ve never met before will leave her tissue on my grave, and my transvestite body will shiver.
Two cats sniffing each other. A child looking into the mirror and crying. Another child squatting backwards on a Turkish toilet, shitting.
Two women with red bras; their arms around each other drinking a red drink.
Okshan: Sibel, I’m calling my mother in Malatya now. Imagine that the phone is ringing. Zıııırrrr… Pick it up!
Sibel: Hello? Selchuk, is that you my son?
Okshan: It’s me, mom. I missed you and I wanted to call you. How are you?
Sibel: Hoping to be better soon, how are you?
Okshan: Are you sick?
Sibel: My son, I’m really sick. It hurts everywhere. The edge of my eyebrow even, the roots of my hair.
We are laughing. Okshan’s mother is always like this.
We talked about the cloning of humans for a while. Okshan said, “If they clone me, I wouldn’t want it to be a transvestite. But she’d probably end up one anyway.
When Okshan doesn’t work at the club, we sit together until morning. She becomes really handsome when she doesn’t shave. Sometimes we play Play Station or watch a movie at night.
Okshan plays Street Fighter. She says that she knows the characters very well. Okshan was in love with Ken, but she could identify with another male character named Ryu.
Ryu and Ken began to fight. Ryu, that is Okshan, got beat. Ken, whom Okshan loved, won the fight. Then Ryu fought with a female character, Chu Lyn, and Okshan won the fight. In the end, Okshan faced my male character Honda. I wanted to lose. I suppose Okshan did too… I won’t tell you who lost.
In all these tragedies, love is layered like a cake. Zeliha, Aziz and a transvestite gnaw on the secrets of love in a mirror.
One of the transvestites was the biological brother of Aziz, his twin in fact. Money was earned, love was made, pain was suffered. Everybody became brothers. Became brides, sisters-in-law, mothers. First, a cross is written with nail polish on the fat ass of a spider, then it is smashed, and a spider woman is left without a husband or the baby spiders I spoil on my breasts are left fatherless.
Murder was not the first or last thing. You might say, if the female spider didn’t die, it would eat the babies, if it was male, the female would eat it. Nature is legal, humans are illegal. Do you understand now?