I first noticed her in a sea of faces, radiating differently, smiling at almost everything that came in the periphery of her sight. Her gaze was dreamy and filled with tentative hopes and fragile wishes. And the visage, it was something otherworldly- absolutely naked, flawless, and truthful like a baby. She floated through the crowded rooms of the town-hall as if her mind was constantly searching for the source of a distant melody, which was obscure and barely audible to others.
In the warm afternoons, when my folks would retire to their rooms for their precious two-hour siesta, I would tiptoe out of the house and cycle down to the town-square and watch her from a distance walking out of her red-brick house across the street. For an hour or so, she would aimlessly saunter about our sleepy little town, as if lost in a daydream, sashaying down the narrow dirt tracks next to the sunny blue waters in her silk satin dress, leaving lingering traces of her lavender perfume in the sweet-salty air.
The first time when she walked into my Pa’s patisserie asking for fresh crème Chantilly, I was awestruck by her pleasant demeanour. The unexpectedness of her presence, the close proximity where I could almost smell her sweat mixed with the distinct notes of her floral scent rendered me motionless. It took me a reproachful glance and a loud playful whack at the back of my head from my elder brother to return to senses.
Men in our touristy town adored her. Women, including Ma, not so much. To them, she was a devious little creature descended from a faraway land. They firmly believed she was here to steal their men away with her hypnotic charms. Some of them even talked about her bewitching and enslaving men for some ancient devilish practice.
But she was none of that. When she left our town it was as quiet and uneventful as she had arrived those four months ago in the end of summers. I came to know about her departure a week later, after fruitlessly waiting for her for days to appear at the town square. My 17-year-old self could never fathom why Ma and the other women hated her. Even four decades later that delicious fall season, I don’t know anything about her- from where she came and where she went. Once the owner of the red-brick house she lived in told my friend that she had come to our town in search of a man who had promised the world to her but never showed up. Maybe that’s why she always went to the harbour and longingly looked at the ships that arrived in the afternoon.
I am not a young man anymore but I know a thing or two about disappointments in love.
Art: Aykut Aydogdu