Edited by: Maggie Rosenau
Artwork by: Nuri Iyem (1915–2005)
My neighbor, who is ninety years old, tries every day at nine o’clock to run away.
In 1945, this neighbor of mine had a date at nine o’clock in the morning.
Her children told me that her name is Melek and she has lost her mind. She lives with only one remaining memory: an appointment with Ömer, her lover before she met her husband. She was unable to leave to meet him.
It was Tuesday then, at nine o’clock in the morning, in 1945.
They say she lost her mind.
But I don’t know. I’m not quite sure.
Her family asks me to close the building door tightly if I come home late at night. It is a large iron gate and must be completely closed every day at nine in the morning because my ninety year-old neighbor tries every day at nine in the morning to run away.
The gate lock must rotate three cycles, they said.
Every day, I hear her screaming in the morning. She cries out, her crutch hitting the gate, hoping that someone will help her, that someone might understand that she has an important appointment at nine in the morning.
And I – I’m a bit frightened every morning. I avoid her, sit in the far corner of the house and turn up the volume on the radio.
One morning, my ninety year-old neighbor tricked me. She knocked on my door and asked for some salt. I opened my door and she grabbed my hand, causing the salt to fall to the ground. Then she told me about Ömer.
I did not open the gate of the building for her that day. I was afraid she might hurt herself. But I was now sure that she – Melek – had never lost her mind. Quite the opposite. She had recovered it. And I no longer fear her.
My ninety year-old neighbor Melek will knock on the iron gate of the building tomorrow morning, because she will meet Ömer, her boyfriend, at nine o’clock, in 1945.