Meryem at the Beach / Meryem à la plage

I have heard this story from someone who once had enough luck to actually spend some time with Meryem on that shore. I can’t know how, but her friendship book was still with them. They dictated this story about her to me, from her point of view.

Everybody used to swim there. My parents even. Some of us knew how to swim, some did not. We would lie on the colorful sea air mattresses, gazing the baby blue above us. There was a boy named Irfan. Then the voltage would drop, poor electricity was not enough for that many people. We had to increase the voltage ourselves. I was the one who gets on the chair to boost. Me, Meryem. The beach sand would pour between my legs when I stood up.


In other words, the events that have stuck on my throat.

In other words, my times of bliss.


My wrists were still warm when I found myself in that dreary summer place. Although my memories were not all gone: Some obscure business cards was I finding in my purse. When the night came I would cover up the lights; the same way I cover up the curtains. There was a boy named Irfan. The glow-in-the-dark switch would radiate in green at night. Some sort of solace. It was a genius invention which had changed the course of humanity. If the glow became invisible, that meant someone had passed by in front of it. From where I slept, I was waiting for the man who was on his way to cover the glow with an elegant gesture of his hand.

In this town the young at my age used to stroll along the shore, swinging their arms beside, seeming as they are all laughing at some vicious joke. Up and down. Life and time were spent at the music hall. No doubt, I was going there too. There was a boy named Irfan. I would sync my lips without even knowing the lyrics of the songs. The music was terrible for sure. Only, plaj, breaks, a heart. Young fellas who were dancing on the dusty dance floor were coming up to me, first asking my age, then my name. I was Meryem: I was to be at the age for education or seduction, next semester. From where had I come to this town? Was there anybody that I find cute or something? It was hard to tell. They would say, Holy crap! That Meryem, what a kid she is! I could read that in their eyes. How awful. I wasn’t even able to picture my dear brother’s face for some reason. How awful it is. Yet, there were four things that I was pretty certain about him:

1) My brother was serious. Just like a biometric picture, he didn’t have body parts below the shoulder.

2) One day, his friend had borrowed his brand-new shoes to wear at someplace. In a great hurry, taverns and so on. He had stepped on the back of the shoes.

3) My brother had a temper.

4) How did I pity for those shoes.

The funniest thing was that I had found myself in that summer place. I was going to gamble but never myself play. I would watch the Wheel of Fortune. It was a common roulette that used to be played with city names. A peasant would come with his tent and spin the cities endlessly, Ankara. Istanbul. Bursa. I met Mihail at that fair. He was a person to be adored; he did only want to read. It was so fabulous that it got under my skin right away. I wrote this down on my notebook in French. Il voulait seulement lire. Because the best way to learn a foreign language is by having your turmoils in a foreign language. Il y avait un garçon qui s’appelait Irfan.

We began to play cards in the afternoons with Mihail. He would easily become bored with my childishness. To him, it was good news if I didn’t have free time, for that I wouldn’t feel blue by fantasizing about him. I wouldn’t be able to rest my chin on my hand and dream. My elbow wouldn’t slip down from the table and make me look like a fool. And most importantly, I couldn’t give the planes the evil eye.

The best part about Mihail was that he had got an internal world. He would sit on the same chair all day long, reading the novels which he identified himself with the characters in. I would sit the chair next to him if he was in good spirits. He would talk to his mother’s plants on the balcony really softly. Even that I could hear his swallow between the words.

On one Wednesday, he smiled as his eyes were shut and his head turned to the sunlight. That instant I thought how pleasant this would look in a movie. He seemed stunned when I told him about this idea. Do you know what the beach is, he asked. Of course I knew. My brother used to exile me. The full brother of mine.

He waved his hand impatiently, I mean the true one, the fictional one, he said. There was a boy named Irfan. The children used to be sent to the beach if they start to speak too early. They would mention this to their dear diaries with a curvy, patient handwriting. But apparently there was a beach even truer than this, on this earth.


Mihail had got sick on that evening after I left. He had started to talk in his sleep. He had dreamt of it! He got up shouting somebody’s name. There was a boy named Irfan. At some parts he was even speaking in French! Je n’avais jamais vu sa chambre avant. What was he speaking of, in his sleep, if only I could hear, under his foreign sheets, what would this boy dream of, for God’s sake? No chances for interpretation, even under the best of circumstances, his mother told this to me in a bookish way, as we were talking in front of their apartment. She was trying to cover her breast for she was embarrassed of her nylon night robe. There was a boy named Irfan.

I went to the tea garden and began to write a letter to Mihail immediately. I do recall that I have spent the day with a sense of rumor as if that very day had already occurred sometime in the past. There was a boy named Irfan. It was being said that they had broken the windows of the music hall. They had murdered Spaghetti and buried him in concrete, stolen his golds. It was even told that there were people who had done all these just for the devil of it.

The letter was more or less like this:

Dearest Mihail,

I heard that you’d got ill, you’d been confused. Is that a reason to part? I think there was a time that I’ve confused certain things as well. Dogs look only at me in that way, no glory for me. Mihail, you see, I don’t remember what I forgot. The novel that you gave to me, now I began to use it as a coaster. Because love is more than doing book analyses.

I am kind of dreading. It might be my birthday today. I may be older than we suppose, Mihail. What about going to the beach to celebrate? See it as if we are going on holidays together. Get out of your bedroom Mihail, come on Saturday.

Mihail responded to me on Friday. Despite ignoring the bleak future depicted by the coffee cups, daily fortunes in the chewing gums and the bad friends, waiting was the worst in any case.


Dear Meryem,

Last June I realized that I didn’t feel for my sweetheart anymore. Then I began to read, then I began to make love. Love this way has begun. My world has changed when I learned forty words from foreign languages. Because the language means to be stuck. Then such things happened that I lost respect for my mother in the end. It’s a chance that we’ll never know what has happened in the period that you can’t recall. Anyone would fear like dogs in such a case. Whoever is telling otherwise is a liar. Anyone would fear to say, ‘it seems like I am a loser.’ Anyone would fear to say, ‘so I smoke these cigs because they’re real cheap.’ I am telling you, anyone would fear like dogs. I give what you’ve written in your letter to your age Meryem. You are yet an 18-year-old brilliant kid. We shall go to the beach, as we have talked: On Saturday.

Mihail seemed truly different when he got out of his room. There was a boy named Irfan. We went far from the town as we walked to the beach. We saw a man who was extending his casted leg to the stool in front of him as we passed by the pharmacy. He told us that he had broken his leg last week at the same beach but he would never give up swimming there because he liked rocky beaches: “It’s a marvel, all is worth it. The pharmacist is an old friend of mine.”

You made me happy the same way, I said. There was not a single day that I felt happiness since you entered my life, but you make me happy forever. There was a boy named Irfan. “The guy is content Meryem, what can you do?” he replied. I saw the sign pointing to the beach at the end of the path. Only “BEACH” was written on it with straight letters as if it was the only beach on all earth. I regretted telling that joke immediately; it felt like I had thought about it many times before. We went down the pathway without uttering a word. How many courses had I taken in a foreign language? Had I repeated what I listened from the cassette tapes? How did I conjugate the thing that had happened before it all happened?

First heartbreak that has caused by a beach. Il y avait un garçon qui s’appelait Irfan. First heartbreak that has driven someone to study grammar books. First heartbreak that has caused by a toy I cherish so dearly. There was a boy named Irfan. I couldn’t figure out where the beach ends and where the sea begins. All the quirk of it was on the tip of my tongue. There was a boy named Irfan. There was a boy named Irfan. There was a boy named Irfan. I asked Mihail at last, barely articulating the name of his. “No, the real sea begins right there,” he said. “When the administration changed, that has changed as well. There isn’t a boy named Irfan any more.”

“There was a boy named Irfan,” I talked in a peculiar voice. “He was single. Exactly 18 years old at that time. How good looking he is. Our tenants. Having fun with friends on the beach. He came and borrowed it from me. Then fell asleep on it. He takes off too far from the shore. After all, he gets a sunstroke, you see? The land is out of sight when he wakes up. They kept searching for him; nothing, none, none. My thing is gone, the boy is gone. We couldn’t know if it has flipped upside down or something. Is it possible to know such thing anyway? They couldn’t diagnose at that time. He was found on the shore across after 23 working days. The boy was, obviously. The other one was already blown out.”

And it all occurred to me. It was the summer before the last year in high school. I was loathing myself; I was wondering love. Wondering about that a lot. My hand writing was still like a child’s.

When Irfan disappeared at sea my brother had called me something in front of everyone on the beach: “I wouldn’t guess you are this cheap Meryem.”

It was my birthday.

Mihail finally found my face, “Accident. You must take this as a pang of love, Meryem.” He finally figured out where he recognized my face from.

The day after his missing, all the things about me, in other words about Meryem, were already gone old. Because I was thinking of him so much and I had no idea of what to do without him. I was turning the music on but never listening to it. I was sensing that I would step the sun with my bare feet someday again without guilt. Now, as the season comes, I remember him.

Perhaps I am a fine person after all.