A short story written by educationist and researcher Doğan Yücel, who taught Turkish in Pakistan for many years, won the first prize in the competition organized by the Germany-based website ‘eduardnet.com’. We publish the translation of Yücel’s story titled “The Needlework in Need of Light”.
Years passed. I can see the light of day for a few days in a year only after getting rid of the smell of mothballs that have been put on us for years. I yearn for the light all year. Nor am I allowed to rot away. Not allowed to be discarded and sold either. The mothballs wait on me like guards. However, there were those who knitted me with patterns and embroidery. While I was a long thin milk-white thread, a curved crochet hook pulled to the right and left to shape me into an embroidered lace. So that I can beautify the place on which I spread, and bring daisies to minds with my pure-whiteness.
I used to be a gentle dream in the pure dreams of a pure girl. Maybe I would partner in witnessing a happy meal or pay homage to the offering of a cup of coffee. I also risked being soaked in bleach from time to time. Anyway, I’m white again; rather white of all whites, but the sun’s rays do not reflect my colour in words. I am in multi-layered embroidered bundles. I’ve been in the dark for a whole year. Oh, I’m not alone here either. I have many more friends such as tablecloths, pillow covers, and woollen bootees. Together, we wait for the covers on us to be removed so that the light can illuminate our bodies and we can air ourselves while hanging on latches on a nylon rope, free from mothballs. Our lady loves us very much. When the summer comes, she caresses us, smells us, and loves us on and on.
She says to us, “I promise I will take you away from here once I have a house of my own.”
She airs us; even though we do not like them, she puts new mothballs around us. We know that without mothballs, we will be eaten by insects before we see the light of day. Later, she folds us all one by one. She places us back into our pack until the next year.
Since the house is theirs, it is okay if she lives here but, for many years, she has been here and there in different parts of the world, living as a tenant in the houses of myriad people. While she has her own house and belongings in her own hometown, her life passes in foreign lands. Summer comes, but how does it arrive? Living here and there for a couple of days until the day comes and she packs her bags to leave once again.
There are also new friends who join us in summers from different parts of the world. Their colours and patterns are different from ours, but our fates are similar. They wait for the light the same as us. They talk about themselves. There are some who come from the lands of monsoon rains or from places where the snow remains on the ground for months. Our lady purchased them with the hopes and saying, “In case I return my own home one day, these will be the souvenirs to be displayed there.” Some of those friends were gifted to her by the people in those lands. She also bought some of them from different shops. There are embroidered and hand-knitted shawls besides some cards that are sent on holidays. Sometimes it feels like we will always stay here like this. We cannot help but think, “What if our lady changes her world? What if they then hand us to someone else for nothing, especially after having waited for so long all these years!”
This is a small room. It contains a bed, a sofa and a closet. There are book friends in the closet, other friends are with the dowry trinkets next to and inside the sofa. Under the bed is I the needlework tablecloth besides other gifts and friends who beautify the place they are in. We all have a common destiny. Days, months and even years pass by telling one another how we were made, where we were taken from, and dreaming of the moments we will live if we ever see the light of day.
Anyway, she came on one of the last summer vacations. She had a daughter. The grandfather could see the baby four months later. Everyone wonders. A few days later she remembered us. She never forgets though! She took us out of our wraps under the bed once again, loved us and caressed us one by one, looked to see if anything had happened to any one of us. She spread us on the bed and we saw she had brought new friends to us, once again.
They came back today after leaving for a few days. They have suitcases with their weights carefully calculated. She visited us. This time it was a little different when we came to the light of day. Obviously, she was filled with longing. She was kind of sad that we were pushed aside this time. Mothballs and the same old routine. Our lady held an embroidered headscarf from the stack. She had embroidered the edges of that headscarf with her elder sister. She caressed it. She sat on the edge of the bed and remained still for some time. She was at a point between dream and wakefulness. She was there physically, but her spirit was roaming in the past. How nice those days were!
It was like yesterday. The days when she went to the orchards to pick cherries with his mother and sister after the school. The days when the cracked poppies were crushed in the oven and made into rolls and pastries. The days when boiled peppers were peeled and turned into paste. The days when they prepared coiled pastries stuffed with green lentils. Her father owned a small restaurant. She used to help her mother clean the tripe. How nice would it be to stay as a child? Was every childhood that good? What memories would her daughter have when she grew up? After a while, she wiped her eyes.
Her daughter has grown a bit now. She can understand some things. How quickly time passes! While she was placing the mothballs on the wraps, she called her daughter and showed her what she had done.
She said, “We, I mean your grandmother, your aunt and I, embroidered these. I used to go to the school, so mostly it was your aunt and grandmother who had embroidered or knitted these. We had knitted these bootees for you. While doing this needlework, the crocket needle had pierced my finger.”
“What is a crochet needle, Mom?” asked her daughter.
“It is a large needle with a hook on its tip. It is used for crocheting or doing the needlework.”
“Will I have my own crochet needle, Mom?”
“Maybe all of these will be yours, my dear.”
“Why don’t use these now, Mom?”
“My dear, it’s hard to carry them with me everywhere. Our all luggage has to fit into one suitcase. This is why I leave them here. Maybe, in case we come back, we may use these once again. I will gift you these when you will become a bride. I don’t know, maybe on that day you will say to me, “I don’t want these. These are out of vogue!”