The clocks are striking 10 past 13. Well, I think you are going to stand me up.
But wait. There, she is emerging in the sight out of the sea of people. She is walking along columns of a building designed with rococo elements. It sets a soothing and naturalistic picture to this motion.
She is walking slowly, hardly dragging her feet. Her laggingly walk gives a perplexed impression. Baku’s spring breeze is bringing her towards me. That also adds a divine touch to this moment. Her long ginger hair is blown sideways over her black long sleeve top lace blouse. Her young skin is visible.
She is avoiding eye contact. She looked pale and drawn. She is slanting her sight down the ground.
She wears an ordinary sandal. She wants everyone to notice that.
I think that you are free-spirited. It shows the side of your femininity. But also you applied eyeliner. You want affection.
But why are you hesitant? You seem like you do not want to join my tour. Mimics on your face impersonate the theatrical mask of tragedy.
I manage to say, “Hi”. She barely nods her head just once and says, “Hey Joe!”
Is that all she can communicate. She is quite pensive. I wonder why?
She is standing neither close nor far but in a distance that causes discomfort. Yet, you are in eyesight that seems achievable than it really isn’t.
Behind you, small area of grassland and the short but thick pine tree blends it with the colours of your outfit and postures very well. It creates quite imagery when you grabbed your left elbow and pulled it opposite direction with your right hand. Your facial expression is enigmatic. You don’t let yourself revealed exposed much.
Despite all these inner conundrums, I know once we finish it, we are done. It ends here. Then we’ll be gone our ways departed. I’ll forget about it all burying in the depth of my memory.
Walking passed through grey Gosha Qala Qapillari, I could not keep myself but tell her little history that “once there were two impenetrable fortress walls and two entry gates, now there is a tall citadel wall with two separate gates standing next to one another.”
– “What did happen to the other wall?” she asked.
– The city was undergoing transformation at the time. They brought it down.
– “Sad!” “Why have they not demolished this one, too?” she replied.
– The wall is gone, but the entry gate has gotten relocated: the one on your left. It has been saved.
– “I already detest this wall and the gates. Which gate do you hate the most?”
– Well, I do not hate things that easily.
– “Then, you had to cross both of them under the arch to enter the city. But now, you have to choose either of them.”
– I do not really understand what is that you want to make a sense out of it.
You seem confused when you stand in front of those gates. You remain unmoved, indecisive. To you, it feels like it would make a great deal of difference for better or worse if you choose one over another to enter Baku’s Medieval Old Town. Maybe it is a matter of death and life as you make it.
I hear sounds of sorrow, whining and loathing thoughts. This is something that I don’t really need. My own dark thoughts are enough for me. I wonder if I should cease this walk talk. No, just try to give it a chance. Maybe it’ll get better. I cannot resist my inherent inner world of trying to help people because of my self-fulfilling prophecy. So stupid, isn’t it?!
But you cannot be ordinary people. As much as you do not clue about anything yet, I can read strong determination into your actions.
Regardless of my impression of her confusion, I keep talking that “there were also two moats. The moat between the two fortress walls was filled with oil to set it into the fire once enemies advance their forces through the walls.”
I survey her face to see if I have her attention and then continue that “This is a killing field. It’s a trap. It’s designed to observe enemies burnt to their death. It happened to the notorious mighty Russian General, Tsitsianov. What a spectacle that is. The likes of these events take place every day in the minds of people…Probably in yours, too. Inside a dark inconceivable, impenetrable castle in your mind. You trap people, things, places, and ideas of them in your mind, and strand them and kill them and move on to the next one. Just like me, but you do it in a style. Yours is art. Mine is rubbish.
Well then, it’d be like our walk through water and fire.
-Please don’t do walk-through. I don’t want it.
-Yes, let’s go. I’m looking forward to it.
In Ichari Shahar. Ichari Shahar wants to get back what it does not have now: the medieval and oriental atmosphere, ascending curved, narrow streets alongside flat-roof houses with low square doors and windows, within the fortress walls, above all sense of some sort of fulfilling life with less. Despite all, unpredictable massive interwoven sensations of dynamic modern life bring tumultuous changes.
This irresistible feeling brought by the change mounts pressure. It is unbearable. It requires action against detestable sounds, noise, smoke, and disturbing welcoming servants of the restaurants and cafes, obstruction caused by the increasing number of cars.
You are a person, who would not like it. I am still preoccupied with this unsettle feeling that why you are here? I don’t know. I don’t want to know. I don’t care? I don’t know why I don’t care. I just let it be. It is dangerous. What the hell are you doing?
Here is Baku’s mysterious Maiden Tower. Maiden Tower, too, has so many questions, but they are unanswered yet. However the story produces as many answers as possible, it also finds itself unhappy and taunted with a state of uncertainty.
She could not stop herself but to comment on a small red roof cat-house under the olive tree next to the Maiden Tower.
She says, “I love cats but I hate all those other people who love cats. They are all mine. You know?”
You are egomaniacal.
She takes a deep breath and says that “One’s love for cats is unconditional. Cats are at the receiving end of love. I give all my love to a cat, as such scratching her head down the jaw, touching her soft fur, feeling her purr and vibrations, looking into her half-closed eyes, smelling her deep breath, and then she gets up to leave to proclaim her independence. This is what I like the most, though it hurts so much. Because I meet many people like cats.”
After a short pause, she says, “I do not understand it.”
You are becoming more trustful. You talk to me.
Now, you sound like the Maiden Tower. You attract a great deal of attention. You are such a mystery. You cause so many questions.
Presumably, I have answers but they are incomplete. That kills me like the Maiden in the Tower, who was unwilling to marry her father, leaps of the top of the Tower to take her life by suicide as per se some legends.
Today they built transparent glasses at the top of the Tower to prevent people to commit suicide. The suicide is so apparent, real and imaginable through the glasses, yet it cannot be achieved regardless of countless attempts.
You aside, “Where do I get this keen power of observations? Why am I interested in you? This is not me. Because I am timid and became so mistrustful recently and more strikingly I shun people.
At this moment in sheer contrast to what I thought just a moment ago, I stand very close side by side of you and feel induced moment of intimacy. Although I seemed unaware of your nearness, I was secretly glad.
I offer her a thoughtful glance and whisper to myself, “I like you being wistful.” I become self-aware of my state of mind. Suddenly, I am struck by cold reality and get weak in the knees. What the hell are you feeling?
The streets of Ichari Shahar seemed audacious in a timeless space that we have only two of us and got nothing else today by wandering around aimlessly for just random talk. It felt that we are so united and soaked up in the flirtatious motions but so departed in our thoughts that did not come out of our mouths.
Unconvinced I was, my sensory feeling still troubled me about worthiness our converses. I could say a word with an underlying meaning that could never be meant to be understood rightly. When I asked a question of seriousness, I’d received a fulfilling answer in the same way I would have done in case she’s seeking truth about a situation of importance to her. I could not really understand the kind of game that we are entering.
At the same, we are mesmerized with the things we are walking passing by. Her explanation of a painting on a window captioned as “Women of Absheron” and depicted a group of women in their norm dresses and standing on barren land. She holds my arm and drags me backward, “hold on a minute, look at this painting.” She awkwardly takes a pause looking at it silently.
This is a moment I’d never get tired by observing the scene.
She abruptly breaks silence, “I like this disassociation, I mean, how the artist achieves dark shades of different colours attributed to their clothes, faces, postures over the background of the fruitless desert ground and the Caspian Sea, without emulating depressive artistic impression. It is not just the women and their emotions, but also time comes to stand still in this painting. I’m touched with this particular moment on the painting when no deeper contemplative meanings are searched. It is as simple and ordinary as they look.”
Or nearing Siniqqala Mosque, the narrowing street, and towering walls inundate human souls. For some there stood hope, a Minaret that would scrape through this enclosing space.
I point at the top of the Minaret, “I have not told you about this mosque. It is known for the Minaret damaged by shells fired from warships on the sea when the city was under the siege by much superior power. Although it has been repaired, the damage is still recognizable. This is a place where scars of the city are hidden no longer.”
This mosque and minaret shed metaphorical light on our lives as it is where everyone’s scare is a spectacle for careful observers. You’re damaged in some way and I am damaged in some other ways. Beyond our capability to explain why it has overtaken us. This where we are the weakest, the inexperienced, and become delusional as useless people. This is what unites us.
These exchanges of thoughtful expressions invigorate our feelings and climax joyfulness of this walk. Of her head and of my head that we speak, we thought of speaking the truth of the moment if not our lives. Was there any truth in what we said? It scares me how self-absorbing our causes would be?
This coming and going of altering, interwoven thoughts set my felicity in this isolated state of mind back a while. With all questions piled in my mind and not being able to find answers nor seeking help to get them, I’d collect as many faces of myself being different personalities. Nonetheless enjoying the very and every bit of this pleasure weighs heavier than acting upon the righteousness of it. What the hell am I feeling?
I find myself at conundrum and those tumultuous voices inside my head. Contrary I have daring outlook towards. Meanwhile, I am daydreaming of retelling a poem about drinking wine, yet against all odds I find my voice uttering completely unexpected.
Walking up to the hill, where the Shirvanshahs Place situates, took her breath, but she is at ease moving alongside the grey-limestone wall of the place in solitude and salience. Yet, she does not seem alone. The presence of my physical existence next to her came to be ghosted. I can sense her countenance on her face that she’s been abstracted from immediate reality. She is cherishing the idea of the person, who is walking next to her, in her mind.
“Hey, that place with tall bold Doric columns down to the Governor’s Garden is a new coffee shop. To be honest, all the restaurants and cafes started there to shut down soon in a couple of months. The location is one of my favourites, though this coffee place soon will be replaced I’m sure. Before it closes, would you like to sit over a cup of coffee there? I asked”
“Yes, please, I love coffee. I like it dark and bitter” she said.
When I pulled to let her enter, she swung right under my nose and stepped inside. I smelled her hair. Then I remembered how Turgenev finishes “Fathers and Sons”, “But the heat of noon passes then comes evening and night, bringing a return to the peaceful haven where sweetly sleep the tired and weary…”
photo credit: instagram / sattartati