Read Gardens of Water Online

Authors: Alan Drew

Gardens of Water

For Miriam

When the earth with her quaking will quake,

And her burden the earth will cast forth, And

man will say: “What is the matter with her?”

On that Day she will tell forth her news, Because

thy lord will have inspired her. On that Day the

people will go forward individually, that they

may be shown their works. Whosoever has done

an atom’s weight of good will see it, And whoso

has done an atom’s weight of evil will see it.

—The Qur’an, Sura 99

The enemy of the father will never be the

friend of his son.

—Kurdish proverb

T
URKISH
P
RONUNCIATION
G
UIDE

While the reader does not need to know all the subtle sound and accent differences between Turkish and English, it is important to recognize the differences in the following consonants.

c
is pronounced like the
j
in
James.

j
is pronounced like the
s
in
leisure.

ç
is pronounced like the
ch
in
child.

s
is pronounced like the
sh
in
show.

g
has no sound, and simply lengthens the vowel sound that comes before it. For example, Ba
io
lu is pronounced
Bash-ee-oh-loo.

Chapter 1

I
N THE RUSH OF BODIES TO BOARD THE FERRY LEAVING
STANBUL
for Gölcük, Sinan lost his son.

Five minutes earlier
smail had been tugging Sinan in the opposite direction, back toward the city, deep into the labyrinth of arcades and electronics stores of the Sirkeci neighborhood. Sinan suspected it was for the exact purpose of missing the ferry home and delaying the pain of the circumcision ceremony that evening. The boy stomped across the bricks in his white circumcision costume, one hand squeezing Sinan’s fingers and the other hoisting his tasseled staff in the air like a pasha leading a parade. Sinan let himself be pulled for a while, but the horn had already sounded, and, even though he, too, wanted to delay the ceremony, they couldn’t miss that ferry.

When they had reached Re
adiye Avenue, Sinan pulled
smail into the street just as the traffic broke, Sinan’s shoulders rocking back and forth in an awkward dance on his bad foot. He finally pushed
smail through the metal gate to the ferry dock just in time for them to join the throng of men and women leaving work for the day. They ran from the shade of the dock back out into the searing summer sun, Sinan leading
smail this time through a sea of elbows, shoulders, and damp backs. They climbed the thin plank of wood used as a bridge from dock to boat, the green water beneath them churning with translucent jellyfish, and they entered the smoky cabin, where
smail dropped his staff. He let go of Sinan’s hand, and before Sinan could grab his son’s arm, the boy disappeared, swallowed by the wave of bodies.

Now Sinan shoved through the crowd to get to the boy, but his foot made it difficult. He pushed against the stomachs of men smoking cigarettes, turning sideways to make himself thinner. “
Affedersiniz,
” he said to each person he touched, in a voice barely concealing his rising panic. “Excuse me.” But the more he struggled forward, the more he was shoved backward by the jostling mob, and soon he was forced all the way to the other side of the ferry, his back leaning against a rusty chain that kept him from tumbling into the Bosporus.

“Allah, Allah,” he said out loud. A man standing next to him glanced in his direction.

“Too many men,” the man said. He lit a cigarette, the smoke flying away from his face. “Too many men, not enough city.”

“My boy’s lost,” Sinan said.

The man turned around. He was taller than Sinan and he was able to see over the heads of the crowd.

“Where?” the man said.

“At the entrance.”

The man stood on his toes and yelled across the cabin in a voice so powerful it silenced the crowd.

“Erkek çocuk nerede?”

That started a chorus of echoes. “Where’s the boy?” strangers called, their voices rising above the sound of the engine straining to pull away from the dock. “Where’s the boy? Where’s the boy?” they yelled into the wind, as the ferry nosed its white hull out into the blue water. “
smail!” Sinan called, joining his voice to the chorus. The men yelled “
smail” too, and a pandemonium of concern radiated out through the cabin.

Then thirty feet away, rising above the heads of hundreds of people, came his son. At first
smail seemed to be floating under his own power, a princely ghost taken flight in the sea-whipped wind, but as he drew nearer, Sinan saw the shoulders on which
smail rested. The man elbowed through the parting crowd, a cigarette burning in his mouth, his large, hairy hands wrapped around the boy’s stomach.
smail’s white teeth gleamed against his skin and his black eyes shone in the afternoon light. The staff was clasped in his fist, and for a moment he seemed to be a king raised high above the people of
stanbul.

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