Authors: Orhan Pamuk
Tags: #General Fiction
THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK
PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF
AND ALFRED A. KNOPF CANADA
Translation copyright © 2012 by Orhan Pamuk
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Alfred A. Knopf Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Simultaneously published in the United Kingdom by Faber and Faber Limited, London.
Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Knopf Canada and colophon are trademarks.
Originally published in Turkey as
by Iletisim Yayinlari, Istanbul, in 1983. Copyright © 1983 by Orhan Pamuk.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Pamuk, Orhan, [date]
[Sessiz ev. English]
Silent house / by Orhan Pamuk; [translated by Robert Finn].
“This is a Borzoi book.”
1. Turkey—Fiction. I. Finn, Robert P. II. Title.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Pamuk, Orhan, [date]
Silent house / Orhan Pamuk; translated by Robert Finn.
Translation of: Sessiz ev.
I. Finn, Robert P. II. Title.
PL248.P34S4813 2012 894′.3533 C2012-902075-3
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Jacket photograph: © Pegaz/Alamy
Jacket design by Chip Kidd
3. Hasan and Friends Take Up a Collection
7. Grandmother Offers Her Prayers
9. Faruk Sees Stories in the Archives
11. Grandmother Takes Out the Silver Candy Bowl
12. Hasan Is Vexed by Mathematics
13. Recep Picks Up Some Milk and Some Other Things
14. Faruk Remembers the Pleasure of Reading
15. Metin Goes Along for the Ride and for Love
16. Grandmother Listens to the Night
17. Hasan Acquires Another Comb
18. Faruk Needs to Find a Story
19. Recep Serves the Quiet Dinner Table
20. Hasan Feels the Pressure of Peers
21. Metin Spins Out of Control
23. Fatma Refuses to Live with Sin
24. Faruk and Nilgün See Everything from Above
25. Metin Pushes His Luck and His Car
26. Hasan Tries to Return the Record and the Notebook
27. Recep Takes Nilgün Back Home
28. Faruk Watches a Belly Dancer
29. Grandmother Receives Visitors in the Night
30. Recep Tries to Take Care of Everyone
32. Fatma Finds Consolation in Holding a Book
Recep Goes to the Movies
inner is nearly ready, Madam,” I said. “Please come to the table.”
She said nothing, just stood there, planted on her cane. I went over, took her by the arm, and brought her to the table. She just muttered a little. I went down to the kitchen, got her tray, and put it in front of her. She looked at it but didn’t touch the food. I got out her napkin, stretched it out under her huge ears, and knotted it.
“Well, what did you make tonight?” she said. “Let’s see what you put together.”
“Baked eggplant,” I said. “You requested it yesterday, right?”
She looked at me.
I slid the plate in front of her. She pushed the food around with her fork, complaining to herself. After picking at it a little, she began to eat.
“Madam, don’t forget your salad,” I said before going inside and sitting down to my own eggplant.
A little later, she called out, “Salt. Recep, where’s the salt?” I went back out and saw it was right in front of her.
“Here it is!”
“Well, this is a new one,” she said. “Why do you go inside when I’m eating?”
I didn’t answer.
“They’re coming tomorrow, aren’t they?”
“They’re coming, Madam, they’re coming,” I said. “Weren’t you going to put some salt on that?”
“You mind your own business!” she said. “Are they coming?”
“Tomorrow afternoon,” I said. “They called, you know.”
“What else have you got?”
I took the uneaten eggplant back, ladled a good portion of beans onto a fresh plate, and brought it out to her. When she’d lost interest in the beans and started stirring them around, I returned to the kitchen and sat down to resume my supper. A little later she called out again, this time for pepper, but I pretended not to hear her. When she cried
I went in and pushed the fruit bowl in front of her. Her thin, bony hand began to wander over the fruit like a drowsy spider. Finally it stopped.
“All rotten! Where’d you find these? Lying on the ground under the trees?”
“They’re not rotten, Madam,” I said. “They’re just ripe. These are the best peaches. I got them from the fruit seller. You know there are no peach trees around here anymore.”
Pretending she hadn’t heard me she chose one of the peaches. I went inside and was just finishing my beans when she shouted, “Untie me! Recep, where are you? Let me out of this!”
I ran in and as I undid her napkin I saw that she had left half the peach.
“Let me at least give you some apricots, Madam. Otherwise you’ll wake me up in the middle of the night and tell me you’re hungry.”
“I’ve never been so hungry that I’ve had to eat things that have fallen off the trees, thank you.”
As she wiped her mouth she wrinkled her face, then pretended to pray for a while before getting up.
“Take me upstairs!”
She leaned on me and we made our way, stopping on the ninth step to catch our breath.
“Have you made up their rooms?” she said, gasping.
“I made them up.”
“Okay, then let’s go,” she said, leaning on me all the more.
We continued to the top step. “Eighteen, nineteen, thank God,” she said, and went into her room.
“Let’s turn on your light,” I said. “I am going to be at the movies.”
“The movies!” she said. “A grown man. Well, don’t stay out late.”
I went down, finished my beans, and washed the dishes. I already had my tie on under my apron. So I had only to get my jacket, check for my wallet, and be gone.
The wind blew cool from the sea, and it was pleasant. The leaves of the fig tree were rustling. I shut the garden gate and walked down toward the beach. Where our garden wall ended, the pavement and the new concrete houses began. They were on their balconies, in their little narrow gardens, watching, families listening to the news on TV, the women at their charcoal grills. They didn’t see me. Meat on the grills and smoke. Families, lives; I wonder what it’s like. When winter comes, though, there’ll be nobody around. Then I’ll be frightened just to hear my own footsteps in the empty streets. I felt myself shivering and put on my jacket and turned the corner.
It was funny to think how they all sat down to eat their dinner and watch TV at the same time! As I was walking around in the back streets, a car pulled up at the end of one of those that opened onto the square, and a tired husband back from Istanbul got out. He went into the house with his bag, looking upset to be getting home so late for his dinner in front of the television. When I got down to the shore again, I heard Ismail’s voice: “National lottery, six days left!”
He didn’t see me; I didn’t say anything either. He was bobbing up and down as he walked among the tables in the restaurant. One table called him over, and he went, bending down to present a fistful of lottery tickets to a girl in a white dress with a ribbon in her hair. The girl picked carefully as her mother and father smiled with pleasure. I
turned away, saying I was not going to look anymore. If I had called out, if Ismail had seen me, he would have quickly limped over to me. He would have said, Brother, why don’t you ever stop by? Your house is so far away, Ismail, I would have said, and it’s up high on the hill. Yes, you’re right, he would have said. When Doğan Bey gave us that money, brother, if I had bought property here instead of on the hill, oh Recep, if I had bought on the shore instead of up there because it was near the train station, I’d be a millionaire, he would have said, always in those words. His pretty wife would say nothing, only look at you. Why should I go? True, sometimes I want to, sometimes on winter nights when I have no one to talk to, I feel the urge and I do go, but it’s always the same words.
The casinos on the shore were empty. The televisions were on. The tea men had lined up hundreds of empty tea glasses in rows they all sparkled nice and clean under the powerful lights. They were waiting for the news to finish and the crowds to pour out into the streets. The cats were crouched under the empty chairs. I walked on.
Rowboats were pulled up close to the wall on the other side of the breakwater. There was nobody on the dirty little beach. Seaweed that had landed on the shore and dried out, bottles, pieces of plastic … They said they were going to knock down Ibrahim the coffee man’s house, the coffeehouses, too. I suddenly got excited when I saw the light in the windows of the coffeehouse. Maybe there’d be somebody there. Somebody who didn’t play cards—we’d talk. He’d ask, How are you. I’d tell him, he’d listen, and How are you; he’d tell and I’d listen. Raising our voices to be heard above the television and the general din. Friendship. Maybe we’d even go to the movies together.
But as soon as I walked into the coffeehouse I lost my good spirits, because those two punks were there again. They were glad when they saw me, and they looked at each other and laughed. But I don’t see you, I’m looking at my watch. I’m looking for a friend. Nevzat was sitting over there on the left, watching the card players. I got a chair and joined him. I was happy.