At this point I’d found a job teaching half days at one of the newly opened nursery schools. It didn’t pay much, but the conditions were good. What I had to do was sing with the children, paint with them, make up stories, and knead coloured clay with them from morning till noon. At one thirty we had our lunch break. Our cook prepared different meals each day according to the weekly plan given to him by the parents’ association. But it seemed to me as if we ate köfte and potatoes every day. Sometimes the köfte were made of meat, sometimes of chicken, sometimes of fish, sometimes of cracked wheat and sometimes of soya. The potatoes were always the same. And we always drank glass after glass of milk. The children snickered openly at the way I drank my milk. Every day we had a different kind of pudding that passed for desert. When lunch was over the little ones would take their afternoon nap. Then after I’d gone back and cleaned up my classroom, I’d turn my post over to someone else. The director of the nursery was always calling me in and telling me that the parents wanted me to work full-time. According to him the parents loved me. The parents wanted it to be me they saw when they came to pick up their children in the evening.
Anyway I wasnt any better than any of the other teachers. I was
just much much fatter. My appearance gave the parents confidence. While
I was in charge, they were less worried about their children falling
and hurting themselves, or being rough with each other, or playing with
sharp instruments. Like an enormous balloon filled with dreams that
had the taste and consistency of strawberry pudding, I softened all
movement around me. When I was there, modelling knives were a little
less sharp, the corners of the desks a little less pointed, the pushing
and shoving less harsh, even the slides in the playground were less
slippery. When I was around, the children were secure. Perhaps I was
even cut out for this kind of work.
But I had such a hard time going to the nursery in the morning. Indeed,
I didnt want to do anything that involved leaving the SHADOWPLAY
(Hayalifener) Apartments. As soon as the front door opened I was seized
by the desire to go back home. I didnt like the outside.
Outside was the land of appearances. The children at the nursery were
competing with one another to remind me how fat I was. When I got home
my hair smelled of the letters F-A-T-T-Y the way someones hair
smells in the evening when theyve been around people puffing on
cigarettes all day. Indeed the first thing I did when I got home was
to wash my hair. The letters would wash off me and swirl away down the
drain. But no matter how much I shampooed my hair, some of them wouldnt
come out. Theyd stick to me like burs. Then, B-C would come help
me: hed pick out the Fs, the As, the Ts, the
So one day I decided to dye my hair. It was clear I couldnt get
rid of the letters F-A-T-T-Y. But with the right hair colour I could
make them invisible; like a sweater that doesnt show stains.
ak (love): A widow in the arms of her lover, This thing called
love should be forbidden, she muttered to herself, and what
is forbidden should be kept from prying eyes.
However, the young man wanted everyone to see him make love to the widow.
He had to prove to others that he was growing up. For this reason he
always kept the window open. But no one ever passed down that street.
Then one day as the young man was wandering around the house, he managed
to open a door that was always kept locked, and that hed never
once touched before. My God! he shouted. Is that why
youve locked everyone into this room? Did you do this so no one
would see us? As he stood waiting for an answer, the widow locked
the door on the callow young man and left.
The widow met a caterpillar on the road. Will you be my secret
love? she asked him. Why keep it a secret? asked the
caterpillar. If someones in love with me I want everyone
to see her love. Then Ill be thought less ugly. For a while,
the widow watched the caterpillar gnaw on the leaves. Then she locked
the whole wide world on the ugly caterpillar.
She came across the cosmos and asked it the same question. The aged
cosmos answered, If someones in love with me I want everyone
to see her love. Then Ill be thought younger. The widow
shrugged her shoulders. In any event she had a huge ring of keys in
her pocket. She locked the aged cosmos in on itself.
In order to continue on her way she had to step off and fall into the
void. As she fell she took a new key out of her pocket, but there was
no lock in sight. Are you an idiot? What would a lock be doing
drifting through the void? Theres nothing here but nothingness,
grumbled the void. The widow looked at the void with great admiration.
In that case please let me stay with you. Youre the one
Ive been seeking.
Thats completely out of the question, said the void.
If you stay with me, youll fill my void, and then Ill
no longer exist.
Go on back now, said the void in a sweet voice, as if wishing
to ask forgiveness for having been rude. Go back and open all
the doors. Let them out. You need them.
The widow did as the void asked, and opened all the doors shed
locked. When they saw that their captivity had come to an end the prisoners
rushed out pushing and shoving; as they ran around dazed by their freedom,
some of them were injured. The widow was surprised and angry. As
if things were any better now? she was heard to have said. She
locked herself in her house in order not to have to witness any more
of this tumult. And after this she forbade herself love.
The colour catalogue they thrust into my hands at the hairdressers
was wonderful. There were curls of all colours, but I was more enchanted
by the names than by the colours. For instance the caption for a copper
coloured curl was Farewell to the Train at Sunset:, for
a loud reddish tone Also known as Seduction, for an
ash coloured curl, What the Fireplace Knows, for a yellow
curl, Natural Blond, for a dark, chestnut coloured curl,
Roasting Chestnuts in the Evening. I stroked the curls again
and again with my index finger. If it were up to me, Id give each
of the coloured curls names that had to do with food. Since I was little,
colours have always evoked food for me. As I thought, I looked carefully
at my index finger. My cuticles were torn and chewed away, and in horror
I hid my finger so no one would see it.
After hesitating for some time, I decided on a curl with silver glitter
in it. It was called Coal-cellar Black.
It will suit you very well, said the hairdresser. It
will make your face look thinner.
I didnt say anything. I didnt return his smiles. I looked
at him in the wide mirror in front of where I was sitting. He grew uncomfortable
and avoided my eyes. I hate those who think fat people are stupid.