Rolling to Taksim

July 21, 2019

It was difficult to teach the Republic to teenagers. Belkis’s memories of the British occupation of Istanbul or the famine caused by the cutting of supply lines by the Greek armies were foreign to these students, all princesses to their industrialist or banker fathers. “I used to know real princesses!” Belkis thought to herself. “A lot of good the title did them.”

Müjde had gone and gotten herself some nublets over the summer and now caused consternation among the other girls because even the gardner was paying attention to her. Last spring Müjde had been an unremarkable girl, quiet and unhappy. This quick change meant Belkis would have to take her aside soon and let her know the responsibilities and dangers of womanhood.

Belkis put her notes and the English language textbooks in her bag and set it on the stool. She turned off the lights and locked the classroom door and strolled down the hill to Bebek, the large buildings of the Arnavutköy Girls’ College fading into the forest above. She caught the dolmus and slid to a seat in back...she made a move to pull out the photos of Peri (her first grandchild!) to show to her seatmate and made a terrifying discovery: she had left her purse at the school!

She got out of the dolmus at Taksim and walked up to the driver who was standing with his arms on his hips, eyebrows forming a V (not that they would have been separate in normal circumstances). “Mr. Driver, I’m sorry, I left my bag back at work and don’t have any money.” Would he yell at her here in front of everyone? Humiliation waited around every corner. Belkis threw her charm into the equation. “You drive this route every Thursday, right? Can I pay double next time.” She used the ornate Ottoman words she had learned in elementary school. She could see his eyes open with surprise; he probably completely understand what she was saying! “Alright, Hanimefendi. You can pay me next time.” Belkis walked down toward the Bosphorus from Taksim, taking the shore route buffeted by the Poyraz winds.

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