Turkish story Ömer Seyfettin – Kaşağı
Playing in the courtyard of the barn, we would hear the sad murmur of the stream below, invisible under the silver willows. Our house seemed to disappear behind the big chestnut trees of the inner fence. Now that my mother had left for Istanbul, my brother Hassan, a year younger than me, and I never left Dadaruh’s side. This was my father’s groom, an old man. Early in the morning we would run to the stable, our favorite thing were the horses. What a pleasure it was to take them to the water with Dadaruh, to ride on their bare backs. Hasan was afraid, he couldn’t ride alone. Dadaruh would take him in front of him. Putting barley in the bags, filling the feed troughs with grass, removing the manure was more than a fun game. Especially grooming. That was the most enjoyable thing. Once Dadaruh picked up the spoon and got to work, click… click… click… click… click… like a clock… I couldn’t sit still,
- I would insist that I would do it too!
Then Dadaruh would put me on Tosun’s back and put the spoon in my hand,
- He would say, “Do it!
I would rub this iron tool on the animal, but I couldn’t get that harmonious click.
- Does it wag its tail?
- It does.
- You know what?
I’d bend down, I’d reach out, but you couldn’t see the tail through the horse’s rump.
Every morning, as soon as I came to the barn,
- I’d say, Dadaruh, I’ll do the grooming.
- You can’t.
- Why not?
- Because you’re too young…
- I will.
- So will the spell.
- When you’re as tall as a horse….
I was only good at grooming horses and stables. I wasn’t even as tall as a horse. But it was the most enjoyable, the most fun. It was as if Tosun liked the regular clicking of his spoon, he squinted his ears and wagged his tail like a huge tassel. Just when the grooming was about to end, he would get cranky, then Dadaruh would slap him on the rump, “Höyt…” and then he would start grooming the other horses. One day I was left alone, Hasan and Dadaruh were down by the stream. An ambition to groom awoke in me. I looked for the kashag, I couldn’t find it. Dadaruh had a small windowless room in the corner of the stable. I went in here, searched the shelves, looked between the saddles, nothing, nothing! There was a green wooden chest under the bed. I opened it. I almost shouted out of joy. The phonograph spoon, one of the gifts my mother had sent from Istanbul a week ago, was shining brightly. I immediately grabbed it and ran to Tosun. I wanted to rub it on his stomach, but he wouldn’t budge.
- I said, “I think it hurts?
I looked at the teeth of this beautiful spoon, shining like silver, very sharp, very sharp. I rubbed it against the stones of the wall to dull it a little. When the teeth broke, I tried again. Again, none of the horses would stop. I got angry, as if I wanted to take out my anger on the spoon. I ran ten paces to the fountain. I put the spoon on the stone of the trough, found the heaviest stone I could lift from the ground and started to bring it down on top of it quickly. I crushed and smashed this beautiful spoon that had come from Istanbul and that Dadaruh couldn’t bear to use. Then I threw it into the trough.
My father would stop by the barn once every morning on his way out and look around. I was alone in the barn again that day. Hasan stayed at home with our maid Pervin. As my father was looking at the fountain, he saw the broken spoon in the trough and shouted to Dadaruh:
- Come here!
I gasped, I don’t know why, I was so scared. Dadaruh was surprised, and when the broken spoon appeared, my father asked who had done it. Dadaruh,
- I don’t know, he said.
My father’s eyes turned to me, before I could ask anything else,
- I said Hasan.
- Yes, he came into the room yesterday when Dadaruh was sleeping. He took it from the chest. Then he crushed it on the stone of the trough.
- Why didn’t you tell Dadaruh?
- He was asleep.
- Call him.
I went through the fence gate. I ran up the shady path to the house. I called Hassan. The poor guy didn’t know anything. He came running after me. My father was very stern. One look from him scared the hell out of us. He said to Hasan:
- If you lie, I’ll beat you!
- I won’t.
- So why did you break this spoon?
Hassan looked at the tool in Dadaruh’s hand, puzzled! Then he shook his blond-haired head and said,
- I didn’t break it, he said.
- Don’t lie, I say.
- I didn’t offend him.
- Tell the truth and I will not be offended. He said, “Lying is very bad. Hasan persisted in denial. My father got angry. He walked up to him and slapped him across the face, “Shameless liar.
- Take him home; don’t let him come here again. Let him always live with Pervin!” he shouted.
Dadaruh took my crying brother in his arms. He walked to the fence gate. Now I always played alone in the barn. Hassan was locked in the house. Even after my mother came, he was not forgiven. “He’s a liar,” my father would say whenever he could. Hasan would start crying when he remembered the slap he had received, but he could hardly stop crying. My poor mother never thought I could slander her. She would say, “Didn’t the stupid Dadaruh let the horses run him over?”
The following year, my mother went to Istanbul again for the summer. We were left alone. Hasan was still not allowed in the barn. At night in bed he would ask me how the horses were doing and whether the foals were growing up. One day he suddenly fell ill. A horse was sent to town. The doctor came. “Croup,” he said. The peasant women from the farm flocked to the house. They brought some tabby birds, slaughtered them and wrapped them around my brother’s neck. My father never left the bedside.
Dadaruh was very still. Pervin was crying her eyes out.
- I asked her why are you crying?
- Your brother is sick.
- He will get better.
- He won’t get better.
- And what will happen?
- He said, “Your brother will die!
- He’s going to die?
I started to cry. I had been lying next to Pervin since he got sick. I couldn’t sleep that night. As soon as I drifted off, Hassan’s image would appear before my eyes, “Slanderer! Slanderer!” he was crying in front of me.
I woke Pervin up.
- I told her I was going to go to Hasan.
- I have something to tell my father.
- Tell him what?
- That I broke the spoon.
- Which spoon?
- The one from last year. You know, the one where my dad was upset with Hasan…
I couldn’t finish. I was drowning in deep sobs. I told Pervin with tears in my eyes. If I told my father now, Hasan would hear and maybe he would forgive me.
- He said you can tell him tomorrow.
- No, I’ll go now.
- Your father is sleeping now, you can tell him tomorrow morning. Hasan is sleeping too. You kiss him, you cry, he’ll forgive you.
- All right!
- Go to sleep now!
I couldn’t close my eyes again until morning. I woke Pervin when it was still dawn. I got up. I was in a hurry to empty my conscience of the poison inside me. Alas, my poor innocent brother had died that night. We saw the farm imam and Dadaruh crying at the table. They were waiting for my father to come out.
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