January 12, Blast in Sultan Ahmet part 2

January 13, 2016

January 12th blast, part 2

A95

After absorbing the news of the terrorist attack, I spent too much time all over the internet looking for something; news, details, redemptive words, absolution of fears. Friends reached out on FB. I was kind of in a stupefied trance, time ticking by, my ears tuning to any unfamiliar sounds that arose as if to try to prevent something. Then I saw the time, 9:21 PM, Damn! I was late, I was to play that night at Jurnal. I got up, got dressed, raced out of the house with the guitar and the heavy backpack.

Outside, a few drops of rain. Hmm I hope it’s not going to pour… Up the hill in the dark night. At the top of the hill there is a traffic light I must wait. The buses race by, a street light has died, so it’s very dark, the light changes and I cross and walk into Beyoğlu. The guitar seem to weigh 100 pounds right now. The rain increases a bit then a bit more, I regret not taking an umbrella. On Istiklal I have a thought of “What if someone blew themselves up here?” that always elicits a strange feeling of the skin recoiling from the outside-in. With these acts of violence you cannot be cowed into hiding, but going out is not such a carefree affair. I slalom in and out of the heavy pedestrian traffic to finally get to Jurnal.

It’s very quiet. Two tables with customers who leave soon after I arrive and a few lone guys at the bar.

“How are you?”

“Oh I’m OK, it’s just this bomb thing… it messes my head.”

“Ah, you have to get used to it.”

“We should not have to get used to such things, I don’t want to get used to such things…”

“… well, yeah… but…”

I set up as I start, there are maybe 6 people in the place. I feel I should play anything I want. No trying to please anyone here, just play what my mind,heart, soul wishes to hear. I chose to play “Regrets” a song that speaks of a plane crashing and rain so intense the land gets covered and disappears under it. As I do that, the rain outside crescendoes into a deluge, the water makes a white wall and makes the silhouettes of the old grim buildings become gray shadows in the night. The sound is very strong. And it goes on and on and on. I keep looking outside, it is eerie, magical and foreboding. We are surrounded by this downpour, incarcerated between those water walls, isolated, purged and purified. And I play 2, 3 more songs and it continues…

“The Gods are cleaning the blood and the desecration of life that took place today…” I think to myself.

Yes out there in Sultan Ahmet, all the blood, the DNA, the shreds of flesh the bad air and the worries and the tears get washed away. All the screams, the crying, the mourning, the anger and the despair drowned in the droning sound of the rain, tapping, hitting, impacting, plinking, patting all that lies below. The place expurgated of all offensive particles be it biological or spiritual by this flood-like absolution. Maybe they will (the Gods) engulf us in anger for the atrocities we keep committing.

Hakkan joins me, he is a saxophonist. The first time I heard this man play two years ago I was flabbergasted by his brilliance. But he drinks to stupor all the time and he is slowly but surely destroying himself and his music with the alcohol. He starts really sparsely, slowly, the rain’s sounds and his long notes sometimes cut by rasping air coming out of the embouchure made an aural nest into which I settled. I continued non-stop until it felt like there was no point anymore in singing another note.

I joined Eren, he was sitting there, plunged in the depths of his phone.

“Today was horrible.”

“Yes”

“I can’t stop looking at my phone…”

“I know, I did the same, I was late getting here because of this.”

“This rain, it’s good.”

“Yes, The Gods are angry… Maybe they will swallow us.”

At the bar 5 men sitting there. No women. They all drink slowly. The voices are quiet, subdued. Hakkan came and sat with me.

“Your music is great, you have a big heart but…” (There always has to be a but) “You should play major… you play minor everything.. Everyone in Turkey plays minor, you should play major, make people happy, they would come, the place would be full… hmm my English really bad… I mean…”

“No, I get your point. You do have a point. I struggle with writing in major keys. (they make me feel madness…) You are right.”

When I left there was still a bit of a light rain shower. The streets quite empty, washed, the water runs in wide streams on the broken pavement. An ambulance rushes by, I wonder… men stand by the entrances of deserted dance clubs looking for people to hustle in. It is quiet.

Istanbul hurts quietly, in silence as it always does, no screams of victimhood or revenge or unfairness. Istanbul braces and takes the hit, as it has been doing way too many times in its history.

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