Enes Talha Coşgun translated this story from Turkish to English.
The man with torn shoe was walking under the sun. His lion’s mane hair was wet, beads of sweat glistening between his dirty beard, and his shirt stuck to his back. Although he has recently turned his twenty, his sagging eyes and slow movements showed him like a man over his thirties. His mouth was dry. Inside of him, there was longing for two things: Color and colourlessness. The color of the trees, and the colorlessness of the water.
All directions were calling him with all their might. What would he see if he went right? If he went to the left, what would he face? Mirage or truth? He wiped the sand from his face and felt his body getting heavier. It was like a curse left from Karun, hanging around his neck, and he was destined to be sucked into the sand.
He was one of the lucky and few people who were passionate about their profession. He had agreed to leave the cold water and cool weather, and had been dragged into the deserts of Africa alone to capture stunning shots from the secluded corners of the world. His assistant got into the second car with the supplies and ran away, leaving him alone in the middle of the desert. His car was out of gas, his devices were out of batteries. There was nothing to eat but a melted chocolate bar in his pocket. Dağhan was a deserted island in an ocean called desert.
There was nothing left but a four-wheel drive left behind and tents that seemed vaguely ahead. His facial muscles were hurting due to frowning for a long time. The photographer finally sat down on the ground, he was all done in. He took a few sips from the flask he was carrying with him. Closing his eyes was useless. The ball in the sky, setting the desert on fire, was also turning the unfortunate traveler’s eyelids into a red curtain.
He asked himself where he was. He felt the sand between his fingers. Was that all a dream? Or was this desert a representation of his life from beginning to end? Was the life he left behind the dreams he saw while he was chained to Plato’s cave? Questions flowed through his mind like a river of sand. Concrete has taken the place of the abstract.
What would become of him when the water in the flask runs out? He was going to die… How? He played his own ending like a movie in the dream scene. He was going to start burning hot as fire because he couldn’t sweat. He was going to feel dizzy, his eyes get dark, and he fall to the ground. His mouth was going to dry out. He was going to double up with the great pain in his kidneys. His dehydrated spirit was going to be withdrawn from his veins as if he witnessed the verse telling that every living being was created from water. His desolate funeral wasn’t going to be covered by soil, but by the lonely night.
As he tried to step into the torment of the heat, he remembered the upcoming night as if it were a lover. Oh, where were the winds, why they didn’t blow? Why wasn’t the sun withdrawing and being replaced by the bitter cold of a desert? An awareness fell into his heart, like a raindrop on a lake. Is that why Fuzuli gave Laila her name? Was the lover who prayed for his suffering to increase at the Kaaba the one who ended up in the desert because of this? To miss the night more in the heart of that scorching day?
With one last force, he took support from the ground and stood up, he was hopeful. His body breathed with air, and the soul with hope. He wanted to get back in the car. There was no oasis he could arrive, so he could wait the end of his life on a mattress he was familiar with. Besides, there was a chance the car would have caught the attention of a caravan or a helicopter.
He stumbled along. A few desert thorns sunk in his trotters. His vision became blurred. He could only choose a black silhouette. He was trying to reach the car under the guidance of this silhouette, which was like a bending, rising, growing, shrinking candle flame in the windy air. He didn’t know how far he was from his destination. His predictions were vanishing into the desert sands. If the sky had been darkened, at least the full moon full and the stars would be his friend.
He stopped to catch his breath. In the meantime, he rubbed his eyes and began to see the surroundings clearly. He saw huge logs, dead and blackened. In fact, these were the silhouette he saw. The car he chased like a butterfly chasing candlelight, wasn’t in front of the man in the desert. Dağhan had been heading in the wrong direction all this time.
He moaned with disappointment. The idea of giving up flew by like lightning, but suddenly he realized that he was actually very lucky. In fact, he would have died if he had gone in the right direction. Because the windows of the car would cause a greenhouse effect, and the seats of the four-wheel drive were going to be warm enough to fry human flesh.
If there were huge logs in the middle of the desert, there was someone who put them there. Perhaps behind it was hidden a small fountain, a tent, or even an oasis. After a short break, he set off with a stronger determination.
He reached the logs with that power, which is called “for dear life”, and which man can only reach when his life is in danger. He was beaming with joy. He lifted his head and looked. The three logs lay on the ground, touching each other at random angles. A fourth marble log was sewn between them, some of it buried in sand. Unfortunately, there was no source of water nearby.
As he crawled closer to the foremost log, the man noticed that the log was hollow inside. The hollow was large enough for a person to fit.
Dağhan felt relieved after getting rid of the burning sun, and entered the cavity, and laid face down. This place was cooler compared to the outside. He listened to his own breath for a while. “If there are giant logs in the middle of the desert…” he thought once again, there must be someone carrying them. Maybe he or she would come back, give water to Dağhan, and save him from the desert.
Standing up on his elbows, he lifted his head from the log. He swept his hair back and looked around. He was still thirsty, but it didn’t hurt him anymore. He sincerely believed that he was going to be saved.
When he looked into the other log, which lay at an angle that he could see, he remembered a story he had read once. It was about a mirror shop that sells bronze, silver, gold and wooden framed mirrors… The protagonist of the story visits this shop, which has a feature that is nowhere in the world. He asks the seller:
“How much is bronze gold?”
“A hundred Akça.”
“Why is it so expensive?”
Because the bronze mirror could show five years of the past. The hero gets emotional, sees his younger self from five years ago. There were similar scenes in the silver and gold mirrors, each of which had the feature of showing the past ten and twenty years, respectively.
But the wooden-framed mirror was one hundred thousand Akça. The protagonist astonishes and says, “I want to look in that mirror too”. But the seller warns him. “Not everyone can look in that mirror. Your heart can’t take it.”
The protagonist insists on looking in the last mirror and collapses to the ground, breathing his last.
Dağhan held his heart, which was beating as if it were about to crash. On the “Wooden framed mirror”, he saw his own future. Inside the other log, there was a skeleton.