Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"What Happened to Me on My Holiday"

This is a short story by Martin Amis. I read a Turkish translation of it in a literary magazine back in 2004 and actually have been looking for the story for the past few weeks.

Tunca and I found a dead fish in the water back in Bodrum. Actually Arda saw it first, swam by it, then went surfing with friends while Tunca begged me to go and get the dead fish. So I did. I assumed he just wanted to see what it looked like. He examined it. It was missing an eye, but other than that, there were no apparent injuries (I did watch enough CSI and Bones to determine "no apparent cause of death") so I told him that the fish probably got sick and died and another fish ate his eye. Tunca thought another way - the fish had an eye injury and because he couldn't see, he couldn't eat, so that's why he died. From hunger.

We ended up taking the fish back home, so he could show it to his dad.

At home, he said, "I will keep this as a pet" just like Pablo said in Amis' story. I told him the fish stank, that he was dead, and that he could show it to his dad and then we could "free" him back to the seas where he would be happy. "Other fish will eat him," said Tunca. "They will eat his other eye as well. He'll be more hurt than he is now."
He is dead, Tunca. He is not hurt anymore.

Tunca cried. Cried and cried and cried some more. Then we made a deal. He could keep the fish until after his nap. Then he could either toss it back to the sea, bury it, or feed it to the stray kittens in the yard. So he cried some more. Like Pablo, he said he could stop the fish from smelling. He would clean it every day and put perfume on it and stop it from smelling.

I did not understand. Similar to Pablo's cries of "I'm a lion costume" Tunca has a different sense of reality from me most of the times. Probably all children do at some age. It is when I realize that I have lost that special sense of reality that I feel old.

The kittens loved the fish by the way.

1 comment:

charmofsmyrna said...

When I was a little kid, I used to be mad about lambs, and always begged my mom to buy one and naturally she never did..

I understand Tunca (empathy=). Maybe you should buy him a real fish? Huh?
(At least it seems more "buyable" than a lamb for an urban kid)