I can only compare this contraction to the surprising sense of release I felt during the unequaled moment of my death. Yes, I instantly understood that the wretch wanted to kill me when he unexpectedly struck me with a stone and cracked my skull, but I didn’t believe he’d follow through. I suddenly realized I was a hopeful man, something I hadn’t been aware of while living my life in the shadows between workshop and household. I clung passionately to life with my nails, my fingers and my teeth, which I sank into his skin. I won’t bore you with the painful details of the subsequent blows I received.
When in the course of this agony I knew I would die, an incredible feeling of relief filled me.I felt this relief during the moment of departure;
my arrival to this side was soothing, like the dream of seeing oneself asleep.The snow- and mud-covered shoes of my murderer were the last things I noticed. I closed my eyes as if I were going to sleep, and I gently passed over.
My present complaint isn’t that my teeth have fallen like nuts into my bloody mouth, or even that my face has been maimed beyond recognition,
My troubled soul is anguished that my family and intimates, who, yes, think of me often, imagine me engaged in trivial dealings somewhere in Istanbul, or even chasing after another woman.
Enough! Find my body without delay, pray for me and have me buried.
Above all, find my murderer! For even if you bury me in the most magnificent of tombs, so long as that wretch remains free, I’ll writhe restlessly in my grave, waiting and infecting you all with faithlessness.
Find that son-of-a-whore murderer and I’ll tell you in detail just what I see in the Afterlife—but know this, after he’s caught, he must be tortured by slowly splintering eight or ten of his bones, preferably his ribs, with a vise before piercing his scalp with skewers made especially for the task by torturers and plucking out his disgusting, oily hair, strand by strand, so he shrieks each time.
Who is this murderer who vexes me so? Why has he killed me in such a surprising way? Be curious and mindful of these matters.
You say the world is full of base and worthless criminals? Perhaps this one did it, perhaps that one? In that case let me caution you: My death conceals an appalling conspiracy against our religion, our traditions and the way we see the world. Open your eyes, discover why the enemies of the life in which you believe, of the life you’re living, and of Islam, have destroyed me.
Learn why one day they might do the same to you.
One by one, everything predicted by the great preacher Nusret Hoja of Erzurum, to whom I’ve tearfully listened, is coming to pass.
Let me say also that if the situation into which we’ve fallen were described in a book, even the most expert of miniaturists could never hope to illustrate it.
As with the Koran—God forbid I’m misunderstood—the staggering power of such a book arises from the impossibility of its being depicted. I doubt you’ve fully comprehended this fact. Listen
Listen to me. When I was an apprentice, I too feared and thus ignored underlying truths and voices from beyond.I’d joke about such matters. But I’ve ended up in the depths of this deplorable well! It could happen to you, be wary.
Now, I’ve nothing left to do but hope for my thorough decay, so they can find me by tracing my stench. I’ve nothing to do but hope—and imagine the torture that some benevolent man will inflict upon that beastly murderer once he’s been caught.
After an absence of twelve years I entered Istanbul like a sleepwalker. “The earth called to him,” they say of men who are about to die, and in my case, it was death that drew me back to the city where I’d been born and raised.
When I first returned, I thought there was only death; later, I would also encounter love. Love, however, was a distant and forgotten thing, like my memories of having lived in the city.
It was in Istanbul, twelve years ago, that I fell helplessly in love with my young cousin.
Four years after I first left Istanbul, while traveling through the endless steppes, snow-covered mountains and melancholy cities of Persia, carrying letters and collecting taxes, I admitted to myself that I was slowly forgetting the face of the childhood love I’d left behind.
With growing panic, I tried desperately to remember her, only to realize that despite love, a face long not seen finally fades. During the sixth year I spent in the East, traveling or working as a secretary in the service of pashas, I knew that the face I imagined was no longer that of my beloved.
Later, in the eighth year, I forgot what I’d mistakenly called to mind in the sixth, and again visualized a completely different countenance.
In this way, by the twelfth year, when I returned to my city at the age of thirty-six, I was painfully aware that my beloved’s face had long since escaped me.
Many of my friends and relatives had died during my twelve-year exile.
I visited the cemetery overlooking the Golden Horn and prayed for my mother and for the uncles who’d passed away in my absence.
The earthy smell of mud mingled with my memories.
Someone had broken an earthenware pitcher beside my mother’s grave.
For whatever reason, gazing at the broken pieces, I began to cry.
Was I crying for the dead or because I was, strangely, still only at the beginning of my life after all these years?
Or was it because I’d come to the end of my life’s journey? A faint snow fell. Entranced by the flakes blowing here and there, I became so lost in the vagaries of my life that I didn’t notice the black dog staring at me from a dark corner of the cemetery.