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A sleep with no answers by Faruk Ulay



She talked for a long time.
She got tired.
She tired me out, too.
She had started saying "Ah."
She finished with an inappropriate word.
She forgot words.
She was at least as tired as I was.
I said, "Come."
"Come here. Lie beside me. Maybe you can forget about your
tiredness."
She didn't come.
She said "Ah."
It didn't sound like the first one.
That was an "Ah" that suited neither me nor her.
She was more tired than I thought.
She didn't come near me.
She nestled her head against her shoulder there in front of me in the emptiest armchair
in the farthest corner.
She slept.
I wasn't sleepy.
It was because of my fatigue.
First I glanced at her secretly.
I looked at her toes.
They were naked.
Then I looked at her knees.
She had something on.
She had talked all day.
What did she have on?
She had talked too much.
I had listened to her as long as she talked.
I hadn't been able to see anything.
How nice and how long she had talked.
How nice and how long I had listened.
Now she was sleeping.
I was looking at her knee.
I wasn't able to see it.
I wasn't able to make out the upper part of the knee.
She was in a deep sleep.
How she was sleeping!
She had hidden herself in her sleep.
I said "Ah."
I said this word (being the summary of my whole speech) very quickly.
I squeezed it between two of her breaths.
She didn't wake up.
She didn't take the "Ah."
She didn't take a third breath.
Toward a death without an "Ah" she slept, breathless, silently,
deeply, and
with the upper part of her knee hidden.
How beautifully she slept.
She slept more beautifully than she talked.
She slept happily, motionless and naked as if this were her final sleep.
In the end--at her end--a nakedness without a knee remained.

I wasn't sleepy.
My fatigue had gone.
Despite this, I wasn't sleepy.
It had gone somewhere unfamiliar.
It had taken beauty along.
The armchair was empty now.
It was naked.
It was as if nobody had sat in it.
She, who had talked with me, who had actually talked to me, had fallen into
the most immeasurably endless of times.
So what had she talked about?
I hadn't listened.
At the furthest edge of sleep I had listened without blinking and moving my
eyelashes.
I hadn't understood a single word.
I had only heard the "Ah."
I had only kept in mind what I heard.
I had summarized what I kept.
I answered her "Ah" with my own "Ah."
I had spoken that summary with all of my being.
What a pity.
She hadn't heard it.
She had slept most deeply.
She had fallen asleep knowing she would die.
Everything was beautiful for her.
It was beyond beauty.
Maybe that was behind it.

I was left alone with questions without answers.
I had in front of me a voiceless nakedness.
"Maybe's" hung in the air.
Thus questions remained unanswered.
"Maybe's" were wearing answers.
I was in a tired room.
I was at the far end of a naked armchair.
I wasn't talking.
I was coming up with unanswered questions.
I didn't ask.
I was saying "Maybe."
"Maybe, maybe I can catch some sleep."
I wanted the sleep to be without a "maybe."
I was holding my breath.
I was living between two breaths.
I was sitting in an armchair almost as naked as the one before me but which
had me in it.
Everything was naked in the room.
Everything was mute.
Everything was unanswered.
Everything was filled with "maybe's," tired, maybe sleepy.
Everything was against me.
Even time was immeasurable.
What did that mean?
It was without an answer.
It was buried beneath "maybe's."
It was beyond a measure on which a "maybe" was placed.
The answers to the questions were immeasurable.
Everything in the room was without solution.
I was sitting.
I wasn't sleeping but I wasn't breathing.
I said "Ah."
I thought to myself, let me try "Ah" for a change.
I uttered an "Ah" as immeasurable as a "maybe."
Nothing happened.
Only her nakedness smiled at me.
It was her nakedness rather than the armchair's.
She smiled so "maybe"ly that it was as if nothing happened.
Nothing, but nothing happened.
Time passed neither forward nor backward.
It was immeasurable.
It was filled with "maybe's."
It was like me.
It didn't know what to do.
It was lost among "maybe's."

There was nothing to do.
She had taken away all the beauty with her nakedness.
I stood up.
I walked towards her armchair.
I saw her ugliness closely.
Then I walked to the door.
I opened it.
I entered outside.
I wanted it to be this way.
I wanted to deceive the "maybe."
I wanted to find an answer.
I wanted to have an answer without a question like everyone else.
Outside was full of orphaned answers.
They didn't seem unwilling to be mine.
It was exactly like the first outside.
I laughed.
I laughed at the fact that among so many answers my questions had none.
I said "Ah" three times.
I said the "Ah" backwards.
I laughed "hA, hA, hA."
I laughed so awkwardly as to awaken the "maybe's."
They walked towards me.
I was overrun by them.
I was stuck behind uncountable "maybe's."
I couldn't breathe.
This time I really got stuck between two breaths.
I fell asleep.
I fell into a sleep like hers.
It was breathless.
It was silent.
It was deep.
It was mute.
It was immeasurable.
It was without a "Ha."
She smiled "maybe"ly and I had "hA"s similar to a smile.
We were sleeping.
We were in separate rooms.
We were in adjoining rooms close to each other.
We were in a sleep so close to each other.
We were sleeping maybe backward, maybe forward.
We couldn't know it.
Because we couldn't get any answers.

(Translated by Meryem D. Grant and Nat Gertler)


Faruk Ulay was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1957. His first collection of stories, "Kopuk Baglantilar (Broken Connections)," was published in 1984. A book of experimental texts and cyphers, "Yazilamamis Bir Tarih Kitabi Išin Dipnotlar (Footnotes for an Unwritten History Book)," and a novel, "Iti (Impulse)," was published in 1995. A second collection of stories and another book of experimental texts will be published in Spring 1999 in Turkey. He currently lives, works and writes in Pasadena, California


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