It Is Just a Painting!

m. Cevik ARIKAN

For the book, "My name is Red" by Orhan PAMUK

Jonathan was a young Ph.D. student in a Molecular Biology Department and he rode his bike to school every day. That morning was a very ordinary morning.  He awoke at six am, put on his special bicycling pants, a shirt with bright colors, snow white soft cotton socks and his special shoes for cycling as every day, got his breakfast, a bowl of corn flakes with milk, ate very fast, and made his lunch bag.  He chose a banana, uncooked corn, two boiled eggs and a cup of mixed bean soup and a bagel.  He liked to eat between the lessons too.  He doesn't like to spend more money and especially more time to do anything.  He never had enough time to do everything.  Time was very expensive for him.  He was going to work every other weekend and also doing some painting for extra money.  It was a fun job he thought. And he should make more money to support his wife and his two lovely daughters during his education.  But he was happy with his responsibilities.  He was a hard worker and eager to learn and find new discoveries for his career. Bicycling was his favorite activity every day. Even though he has a genetic risk for hemophilia, he liked the risk of cycling.  He also put his regular pants and T-shirt to change into at the college into his backpack.  Now he was ready to leave. Before leaving the house he went inside and kissed his sleeping wife and daughters.  He put on his helmet carefully with serious movements and put his backpack on and left the house. 

It was May and it was a sunny morning after a heavy rain last night.  The outside smelled very fresh air and like spring flowers.  He jumped onto his bicycle, clipped his special shoes to the pedals and started riding very fast. He felt that the road was still wet and very slippery and tried to be careful. Like everyday he turned to Newbury Street when suddenly his bicycle slipped to the side and he fell down.  His shoes stuck to the bicycle and he felt the pain from his legs.   He took off the shoes and stood up but his legs were bleeding.  He stopped and looked around to find a place to get help.  He saw the front yard of an apartment with a couple people outside.  Walked to them and asked for help for his bleeding legs. It was a retirement house.  There were two old ladies in the front yard of the apartment. They were carrying some yard sale stuff to the garden.  One of them went inside and brought some antiseptic and bandages for his legs.  He felt better soon and started chatting with the ladies. They told him that one of their friends died suddenly last week and she didn't have any relatives to give her personal items from her room, so they were going to have a yard sale with some of them. He became interested in the sale stuff on the table.  He saw a painting.  It was a lime green house.  The old lady said: "We were very good friends.  She moved here 4 years ago. She was fun! She had a little short memory problems.  She was retired from a biotech company because of her health problems. She disappeared yesterday then we called the police and checked her house.  We found her on her praying rug.  She was dead.  She just had a heart attack when she was prostrate, I guess.  She was a Muslim woman. We didn't know she was practicing.  We never saw her with a scarf but she had her scarf on her this time.  She was a good human being though."

Jonathan looked at his watch and also wanted to have this painting. Suddenly he didn't understand why but felt himself close to these colors or the house! He asked the price: How much is this?  One of the ladies replied: "Ten dollars!"  "OK I would like to buy it."  He paid ten dollars. He tied the painting to the backpack and left, riding his bicycle with pain but he was in a hurry as usually and didn't feel too much pain!

Jonathan finished the day's experiments.  He was a very talented and careful researcher in the lab.  He never became tired when he started thinking and doing overlapping things at ones, because he was very curious and ambitious to see the truth and tell the truth to everyone.  But, the truth was hiding.  He was running after it.  Just as he felt he could see the truth, the truth would run away again, before he could catch it and tell the others.  It also was very difficult for him to believe the truth!  Was it the truth that he observed?  He never believed, so he would test it again and again.  This challenge was his reason to live.  But he always believed himself.  He believed he would find a truth that he could believe in, and have time to tell his own truth to the others!  He said ahhh ahhh!  The others!  They never understand!  He looked at the clock on the lab wall and decided to go home.  He tied the painting to the backpack again and read the painter's name that sounded so foreign! Guner!  She or he seems like just an ordinary, amateur painter.  He thought he would never be interested in the pictures of an amateur painter. Actually he was just going to get help for his injuries to his legs from the bicycle accident, and then to pay back for this help he became interested in the paintings.  Maybe his wife Mary Kay will like it, he thought.  She always liked to have real paintings on the wall of their little lovely house.

Early Saturday morning, he woke up late and heard sounds from the kitchen.  Hopefully breakfast would be ready.  He came to the kitchen.  Yes!  Pancakes and tea were ready and everybody was smiling at him. They started eating together and making the day's plan. He offered to find a place for the painting after breakfast. They chose a place near the entrance window as the best for a lime green house. The picture was 18X14 inches.  The house was two floors tall, and the second floor had a brown colored balcony with three windows. The entrance door was very much the same, with balcony style windows.  The door of the house was made in two pieces and hanging on it there were two old fashion doorbells.  The other windows of the houses were long and the top parts of the windows were cubical.  He liked the color of the house the most.  He noticed that the curtains of the house were closed.  Their color was white; they had some strings around the bottom of the curtain and were shorter than the window.  If somebody sat in front of the window, they could see outside without touching the curtain, he guessed.   The house had a rain gutter on the edge of the roof.  He liked the combination of this gray part with the lime green.  There was a tree near by the house.  Maybe that tree wasn't really there, but perhaps the painter's imagination put that tree there, he thought.  It was impossible to imagine the times when the painter was working on the painting. 

Actually, Guner was very busy in those days when she was painting this house.  She came to visit her daughter and her only granddaughter in St. Louis in the middle of nowhere.  After the two years since they moved to US, she missed them and wondered about their life there.  It wasn't fair that her daughter had moved to a new country, taking her only granddaughter far away from her.  Her granddaughter was now speaking half English and half Turkish.  Now Guner had difficulty speaking with her granddaughter.   But she was a stubborn woman just like her daughter, so she started going to the English Language School every day.  Snow was heavy and temperature was – 20 degrees Celsius.  She walked to the school everyday and found new friends at the school.  Her school friends were also immigrants, the same age as her, and some of them had moved from Russia and could speak some Turkish with a different dialect.  But during the lessons some how they found a common language in their friendships. 

Her daughter bought some painting materials for her too.  After school, she started painting her mother in law's house in "Beysehir" for her daughter and her granddaughter. She had brought a recent picture of the house with her.  She just wanted to show her daughter and granddaughter the photograph, but her daughter made her makes a painting of it.  Guner had never painted anything before, because she never had an opportunity to do this hobby.  Now she should paint this house for her pleasure as much as for her daughter to remind her she has her roots in Turkey.  This house didn’t belong to any of their relatives anymore, but once upon a time they had lived in this house. When she was painting the house, she was remembering her days in this house when she was still young.  Her husband was born in this house, and she spent one winter with her two new born daughters as a new bride with her mother in law, in the old traditional ways, while waiting for her beloved husband. He had gone to the very east of Turkey on a difficult and dangerous job as a new army officer. She missed him very much those days, but now he is gone forever.  Why did he die so young!  Only God knows!  She was thinking of those old days while she was painting. Her daughter had difficult times in US too.  Adapting to new country, having a very challenging science project in a molecular biology lab, and having a daughter with her and her husband presented many difficulties.  Guner was concerned about her daughter's marriage too.  She was talking about another woman who was attracted to her son in law for a while.  Lissette!  So life is always challenging in different ways!   

She finished her painting of the house just one day before she left.   As she painted, she thought about how she would miss her family, but she should go back to Turkey.  They had chosen their way of life.  Even though her daughter and son in law are more than 30 years old, she thought, they are still her babies, but she came to realize that they are old enough to solve their problems and they could survive in this country.  She was happy for them because life is much easier here than Turkey.  Traffic was excellent; quality of life was higher in every way.  She was happy for her granddaughter's future.  It was worth it to miss them and have difficulties now, because of their promising future. The expectations she had of their life in the US were worse than she found.  Now she could go back and have good dreams about them.  It is the most difficult job to be a mother!  She used her brush for last detail of the picture, to write her name on the lower right corner of the painting with the date: 04/04/1996 Guner!  She went into the bedroom with the double bunk beds that she had shared with her granddaughter for 3 months.  With her tears starting to fall, she began packing her luggage.  

Jonathan couldn't see these feelings, but his thoughts moved all around the painting.  He was a happy man with his lovely wife and daughters. They were together and young and healthy, sitting on the big couch together, and touching to each other, talking to each other, listening to each other, understanding each other and looking at the painting too.  They were a family!  How wonderful life is like that!  He thought that also one day his things would be sold.  Life is not forever for anyone!  But not today! The picture is just a lime green ugly looking house, maybe nowhere on the earth!   Why is it so interesting to have it and look at it!  But imaginations!

Editor for this article: Richard Pierce

m. Cevik ARIKAN'in web sayfasi: http://www.angelfire.com/ma2/merhaba
E-mail: Meltem.Arikan@umassmed.edu

BAHAR sayisi web'dedir.



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