INDIFFERENT – An About-Life Distance Story

❝Atay had experienced a situation where the recipe was inadequate several times in his life. His knees buckled, his hands began to tremble, and he had bitten his lips until he thought he had lost color. He thought he was ready to give everything he had to turn back time, but he had never been given this opportunity.❞

Thanks to Enes Talha Coşgun for the translation.

There are moments that a chill runs down one’s back . It might be the first moment that a bad news received or the perception of a fatal mistake made; the reasons vary, but the feelings don’t. Denial would seem like a savior, but turning back from the truth couldn’t change it.

The only thing a person wanted at that moment is to turn back time. Not much, just a few seconds. It was enough that they not to hear that sentence, not to know that information.

And the secondary response varied from person to person. Some would find a corner and cry, and some would try to hold back the tears that suddenly fell, even though they could not find a place to be alone. Just as a five-minute earthquake destroys a huge skyscraper, so too can the life that a person has built by wasting years collapse on its head.

A person who feel the pain thought it is endless. It despaired, as if condemned to carry a stone destined to roll down a hill. However, nothing lasts forever, especially emotions, and there is a time of death written for every living and non-living being.

Atay had experienced a situation where the recipe was inadequate several times in his life. His knees buckled, his hands began to tremble, and he had bitten his lips until he thought he had lost color. He thought he was ready to give everything he had to turn back time, but he had never been given this opportunity.

The first was when his father saw the bad grades in his school report. Thirteen years old little Atay tried to run away from home but he was petrified on the threshold of his room, scolded for half an hour, and during that summer vacation he deprived of his bicycle.

In the autumn of the same year, his temper had changed. He got bored of computer games early and made it a habit to study every day. Not because he likes school… Not because he fear of not being able to ride a bike or play in the street on vacation… He had begun to open the covers of the books just so wouldn’t experience that nightmarish moment again.

The law degree he received eleven years later was the reward for this habit. However, Atay got excited and started to drive a little faster than he should. So he lived through the second of those moments. He hit the brakes but he was late, he stopped after a blow to the front of the car, and got out. He hugged the injured dog, which was lying all along on the asphalt. Luckily the dog survived and Atay hasn’t broken a single traffic rule since that day.

He made a habit of observing and reflecting on his every move as if he watching from the outside so that the third moment would not happen. He prided himself on being someone who could learn from his mistakes. He was measuring and weighing his every move and calculating the result. Thus, he believed that he closed the door to bad surprises.

When a virus emerged from China and spread to the world, Atay had taken precautions from the first day. He actively took the mask and disinfectants into his life, reduced his contact with people to zero and took care of social distance. He also warned his acquaintances and advised them to follow the rules. The young lawyer, who was not married yet, was also on the phone frequently with his family.

But there was a problem. His father, who had raised Atay in a disciplined way years ago and talked to him for a long time because he did not study regularly, was getting old and no longer caring about the rules. He was going out saying that he was suffocating between the four walls. He went into crowds, did not wash his hands when he returned home, and did not use a mask.

The young lawyer could not stand his mother’s complaints any longer. He decided to close his office and have a break for a while. During this time, he would stay with his family, keep his father at home, and protect his family from danger. He had the savings to live without working for several months.

When he returned from work in the evening, he sat down at his desk and made a fine plan.

He would be in quarantine in his own home for two weeks. If there were no signs in his own body, he would get into the car and go straight to the streets of his childhood, under the protection of a mask and gloves. He remembered that he thought “There will be no problems. It’s all right. There will be no problems at all.” For some reason, he wasn’t at peace when he said that. He tried to suppress the strange fear in his chest.

On the eleventh day his phone rang. Meanwhile, Atay was lying on the sofa and watching the smooth grayness of the ceiling. What could he do? He was bored with series, he left all the movies unfinished. He couldn’t focus on the books, thinking he saw the letters holding hands and playing on the page. Hoping for a change in this intense, suffocating mood, he sat up and brought the phone to his ears.


“Honey…” said the voice from the device, tearfully.

“Mom?” he said with a shudder. “Why do you sound like that, what happened?”

“Your father…”

That familiar old feeling ran through his veins like poison, again. After taking a few deep breaths, Atay found the strength to ask his father what had happened.

Four days earlier—on the seventh day of the lawyer’s personal quarantine—the father had begun to complain that he could not taste the food. Two nights later, coughs interrupted the father’s sleep. Afterwards the ambulance, hospital and tests… Then it turned out that the virus had entered the father’s body. A few hours before the mother called her child, the old man was taken to the intensive care unit due to shortness of breath.

Three days more… Atay waited for positive news from his father until the quarantine period in his normal plan was over. He couldn’t go to the hospital and see his mother, because there was a possibility that he still had the virus, and his mother was also isolated due to the possibility of contracting the virus.

In the past years, the moment that the chill ran down his back used to get over within an hour. This time, that feeling was always alive. While Atay was sleeping, the dark feeling was lying on his bed. He felt his breath on the back of his neck as he stood. He had almost turned into a vengeful ghost.

Moreover, this was not due to a mistake of Atay. Despite his best efforts, he was scorching in the fire of anxieties just because he could not prevent his father from acting on his feelings. At the end of the long wait, when the sad news came, Atay experienced the last and most severe of those moments. He tangibly felt the dark ghost grab his throat and left him breathless.

The past seasons have taken this epidemic away as well as every crisis. The outside world has gradually normalized, albeit by adopting new habits. Atay also followed the steps of the world. He had returned to his profession, continued to wear a mask even though it was not as tight as before, and did not neglect to use disinfectants.

But he was empty now, he was emptiness. The concept of emotion was unknown to him. Unable to be happy or sad, he lived his life as indifferently as the surface of still water. He remembered his loss like the first sentence of Albert Camus’ famous book The Stranger:

Mother died today. Or maybe it was yesterday, I don’t know.

Albert Camus – The Stranger

He knew that he did not choose this state of his own, the vital distance that goes beyond social distance, voluntarily.

But he didn’t care anymore. He was an indifferent.

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