Bad Things

At nights, I used to sleep with her, my grandma. She was deaf, mute, and blind. She had no dreams. What could she dream about anyway? She would sit in the dark at the end of the long hall. She knew nothing. My grandma was not a pet we kept at home; she was a piece of furniture, unaware.

She had no teeth. My mother used to grate apples for her so she could eat. She would cook special meals for her and feed her by hand. I wanted it too, but she wouldn’t give, and I would cry.

In those years, my elder brother used to take me for a bike ride. He would roam the neighbourhood with me in the back basket. One day, I don’t know what the thug said, but my brother got angry, stopped the bike, and took me off. However, the thug punched him. My brother fell to the ground holding his stomach, writhing in pain. The thug, frightened, ran away when he saw this. My brother got up, dusted himself off, and came back. While returning home, we lost our balance and fell where the hill connected to the main road. After helping me get up, he held my shoulders, trying to find a gentle tone,

“Don’t tell my mom, okay?” he said.

I don’t know if he meant not to tell mom that the kid hit him, that he was covered in dust, or that he made me fall off the bike, but while looking at the tips of my shoes, I nodded my head in agreement.

That day, after coming home and having lunch, I was playing a game of jumping from the floor between the two sofas. Suddenly, I stopped and punched my grandmother’s stomach. She let out a ”Ufff!” I don’t know why, but I felt as if someone had hit my stomach. I felt like sneezing but couldn’t. Tears welled up in my eyes. Feeling as if I had broken some dishes in the kitchen, I ran out to the street, afraid of being scolded by my mom.

The kids were playing ”tag” on the street, as usual. It happened every evening. It was a way to decide who would bear the burden of some unwanted things that night. Nobody wanted to be caught, so everyone would chase each other. If caught, they would tap the person on the back and shout, ”You’re it,” transferring all the bad things to them.

I didn’t want to join that evening. But they still tagged me and said, ”You’re it.” ”I’m not playing,” I said, but they didn’t care and unloaded all their bad things on me. Running away into the distance, clapping their hands together, jumping and singing, ”eeny, meeny, miny, moe, you’re it!...”

I went back home. My brother had turned his bike upside down, doing maintenance. Dad hadn’t arrived yet.

And then my dad came, and we sat at the table. I looked at everyone’s faces during dinner. No one knew that I had hit my grandmother, and the kids on the street had made me ”it.” Or at least, they pretended not to know. Sometimes they did that.

After dinner, we turned on the television. My grandmother couldn’t watch. She couldn’t hear anything in the movie. As I mentioned before, she couldn’t see or hear. She couldn’t even speak. That’s why she couldn’t tell anyone that I had hit her. After the movie, my dad spread out the big mattress on the floor for my grandma and me. I took off my jacket and shirt, hung them on the back of the chair. I placed my pants neatly on the seat. I put on my pyjamas and lay down. Mom covered us with our red blanket with blue and white flowers. Turning off the lamp, she went to her room. It became completely dark. Nothing was visible.

After a while, the darkness dispersed. With the brightening of the living room, I saw my jacket spinning with open arms in the air. I shivered. I was cold. Then my shirt joined, flying with them, and they continued to spin. My pants were dancing the horon around them. Fearfully, I pulled the blanket over our heads. But I still knew they were dancing there. All of this was because of the bad things the kids left for me. Tomorrow, my first task would be to give them back. The air under the blanket became unbearable because of our breath and my grandmother’s elderly scent but I couldn’t uncover my head. I quickly curled up and jumped out from the foot of the bed. I ran to my parents’ room. I knelt down beside the bed. My father was sleeping on the wall side. I called softly,


My mother hadn’t fallen asleep yet. She opened her eyes suddenly in the dark.

“What’s wrong?” said to me exhaling towards her face.

For a moment, I hesitated. I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t expected her to respond to my first call. I was caught off guard. I couldn’t tell her that I had hit my grandmother and brought bad things home.

”I can’t sleep.”

”Embrace your grandmother; close your eyes, and you’ll fall asleep.”

And she closed her eyelashes. She left me alone with those things in the middle of the darkness. Helpless, I left the room. Trying not to look in the direction where my clothes were dancing, I hurriedly crawled under the blanket from the foot of the bed. I reached the pillow by crawling as if something was chasing me in a hurry. I wouldn’t turn in that direction, wouldn’t see them. I looked at my grandmother. Her face was towards me. Was she smiling, or did it just seem that way in the twilight? I hugged her. I closed my eyes and pressed my face against her chest. This time, her warmth, softness, and scent relaxed me. It was the first time I was this close to her and I felt this way about her.

I fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning, she wasn’t there with me. I went and asked my mother where my grandmother was. Her eyes were red. With her red eyes, she started crying. All the neighbours were in our house that morning, for some reason.

“Pity!” they said to me.

“Oh, poor thing!” some said. They patted my head. I didn’t understand anything.

My mother, ”Your grandmother returned to her village. She won’t come again.” said, hugging me.

Did she go back to her village because I hit her stomach, or because I brought bad things home? I guess she didn’t say it while she was leaving.

Mustafa Sarı is a poet, writer and translator from Turkey