Zeynep Oral Zeynep Oral HakkındaYazılarKitaplarErişim Bilgileri


A short story by Zeynep Oral

Five Minutes to Five

"A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets"
"A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets"
"A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets"
"A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets"
"A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets"
"A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets"
"A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets"

The woman tried to walk faster , with firm and quicker steps. At each step the voice she heard grew louder.: "A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets." As if everyone had consented, they were all shouting the same phrase in her face.

She looked at her watch. It was four in the morning

I have to walk faster. If I can't get a taxi at this corner, I'm lost... There always used to be plenty of taxis here... What are you talking about! "Always!" As if you always walk down the street at four in the morning...

O.K., O.K. I got it! We all know: "A married woman does not stay out on the streets all night!" But I did! So what! I spent the night out with someone, somewhere, somehow. And now at four in the morning I'm going back home!

The sound of her footsteps on the pavement became sturdier , more self-assured. The click of her heels echoed on the wet and empty street. Yet it didn't help to overcome the voice within her head

Her father, his eyes wide open with disillusionment rather than surprise, muttered, "You should know better my smart girl. How couldn't you know that a married woman does not stay out on the streets all night..."

Her mother was moaning: "My God! We did not deserve this..."

Her teacher had summoned her to the blackboard : "Tell me the subject, the verb, the adjective and the adverb in the sentence ' A married woman does not stay out on the streets all night... At that moment the headmaster entered the classroom : The adverb!" he roared, "Pay attention to the adverb!" I was never good at grammar. Which one was the adverb? "Night?" Oh , that word "night"! All my life I was in trouble with my nights, I mean with my adverbs!

"I am not asking you where or how you spent the night," would say her husband. "Only, you should know that a married woman..."

"This is too much," would say her friends. "A married woman..."

Come on! It's not morning yet! One can't say I've spent the whole night out or that I've arrived home in the morning. It's still dark. I've arrived late at night, that's all... What difference does it make: Twelve, two or four in the night...Why should a difference of two hours be so important...Let's say it's late at night ... Come on ! Stop fooling yourself. It's four in the morning and that means that you've spent the night out. Whereas a married woman does not stay out all night on the streets...

To start with I wasn't on the streets. I was at a meeting. An illegal one, no , no, a legal one... I mean mostly legal, almost illegal... No' I will not say such things... I won't give them any hint of where I was, with whom I was or what I was doing...

She looked at her watch. It was twelve after four. There was not a soul besides her on the streets. Everything, people, cars had vanished as if by magic. The high dark walls of the buildings made the narrow street appear even narrower. Was this a labyrinth? A trap? She had never imagined that it would take so long to walk home...

Five blocks... Five blocks more and I will arrive at the junction, near my house. Ten minutes at the most... I wish I hadn't worn these high heels. It's not that they are uncomfortable, it is the sound of the heels which scares me! Should I take them off? That's just what I need now! "A woman does not walk barefoot on the streets" would be added to "A married woman does not stay out all night." Especially at four in the morning! No, no, my mother couldn't stand this! O.K., I am married. I spent the night out. I'm returning home at four in the morning, no at four fifteen- plus barefoot! This is too much! Mother won't be able to take it! My dear girl, if you don't care about yourself, about us, please think of your children...

My children!

My God! My Children?... Do they also know that a married woman does not stay out on the streets all night... One is three and the other five... But they might know, someone might have taught them already... Mother, aren't you ashamed! Don't you know that a married woman... Shame on you mother, shame on you...

No, I am not ashamed, not at all... I mean, no, they would be asleep at this hour. All the children sleep at this hour... Nonsense! Nobody is sleeping. They are all waiting for you. The homecoming of a bad mother, of a married woman at four in the morning.

She looked at her watch. It was twenty past four. How on earth could her footsteps sound so loud? As they grew louder, the voices in her mind grew louder as well. She tried to tiptoe instead of walking on her heels. No use. This attempt slowed her down and increased her fear, anxiety and uneasiness... After all it's not the end of the world she thought... It didn't help ... Thousands of voices , shouting "a married woman does not stay all night on the streets" echoed this refrain.

I know it. Nobody is sleeping. They are all waiting for me. The house-hold , the neighbors, the whole street, the grocer at the corner, the pharmacist opposite and the butcher next door... None of them are sleeping. They will all be watching my return, watching to see a married woman returning home after spending the night out... Some are on their balconies, some at the windows, the very eager ones on the street... Some carry clubs in their hands. The butcher is guarding the entrance of the house with his huge knives. The grocer is ready to attack with tomatoes and eggs... They are all shouting "A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets."

Just a minute . Let me explain...

There is nothing to explain! Shut up! You have no right to open your mouth... We knew she's no good... Her parents are respectable people. I've told them to keep an eye on their daughter. But who cares... And I... I've told her husband not to give her so much freedom... If you knew all that I know... (This last one to speak was our porter. I never liked him anyway.)

Please give me a chance to explain everything. If you can just keep quiet and liste , you'll understand that...

It's useless! They won't hear me. They are angry. They feel offended.

One of them shouts :You'll explain it to the judge, not to us! Let the court decide!

What do you mean...What court? What judge? I'm not guilty I haven't done anything wrong.

The circle is narrowing around me. With their clubs, knives and weapons in their hands , other people from other streets are joining them . The whole city is joining the circle.

I have to run away. I must run away. Or else I'll be lynched. No! I don't want to be lynched! I haven't done wrong! I must run! I must run away, very far away! I must run faster and faster, and faster, and faster, and faster...

"Stop right where you are!"
The command slashed the dawn. It slashed the woman and her fear. She stopped. She was unaware how long she had been running. She stopped and looked around. She was at the junction close to her house. A military jeep was standing in front of her. Two soldiers with their guns pointed towards her were standing in front of the jeep.

She stopped.
Her eyes took in all of this. She was shocked. What were the soldiers doing here? Wasn't it the job of the police to look after the morality of married women? Were all the duties of the police handed over to the military? Now she doesn't even know before whom she must defend herself. A few minutes ago she had heard the words "a judge", "a court"... Were the soldiers going to hold a trial for her right here at this very junction, in the jeep... No, not in the jeep, on the street, in front of everybody...

I won't speak. I'll say nothing until my lawyer arrives. I have a right to do so... Bullshit! This jargon is valid only on the American serials you watch on television. It doesn't work here! Maybe... Maybe this jeep, these soldiers are here to rescue me from being lynched... The military often speaks of saving the nation. Let the nation alone, why not save me?!

She was suddenly aware that all the voices shouting "A married woman does not stay out all night on the streets" had stopped. When she realized this , she felt like laughing, but she couldn't.

The command was repeated: "Stop right where you are!" The came an other command: "Show us your identity cars!".

She gave them her I.D. And as she was handing it over, she wondered whether it showed her marital status or not... They looked over her idendiy card and gave it back. "Where are you going?"

"To my home."... She didn't say that she was a married woman. Anyway they didn't ask...

"Where is your home?"

"Right here, " she said and added, "I'm a married woman and I have two children."

"O.K. You may go," they said.

She began to walk very slowly. Her knees were trembling, ether from fear or from running. She didn't know... She only knew that she no longer heard her footsteps. She could feel the eyes watching her walk away... I mustn't look at my feet, she thought as she walked with her head straight up.. There were lights in the windows. Everyone seemed to be awake.

They must all be watching me. They must be whispering behind the curtains : We all know you spent the whole night out. You can't fool us. We know everything... Now they'll raise their angry voices and their angry fists... They'll throw their anger out the . windows, to give her a good lesson...

She was walking toward her house. She did not quicken her steps. Her legs were trembling. Your anger is in vain I've been declared not guilty., just now, at the junction. The police, I mean the military, the two soldiers understood everything. I'm a married woman , I have two children, I told them and they let me go.

She was about to reach the door. The neighbors on the first floor waved to her. There were people at all the windows of all the houses on the street. They were signaling, waving to each other. They look worried but nobody seemed hostile to her. After all, they didn't seem like they were going to lynch her.

She reached her front door. The porter met her with a wide grin on his face: "Good news my lady." And as she was climbing the stairs he called after her: "Thanks to Allah, we lived to see this day." Instead of wondering what the news was, oh how I hate him, she thought.

She didn't need to search for her keys or ring the bell. The door was open. All the doors of all the apartments on her floor were open. There was noise in each and every one of them.

She walked strait into her living room. Her husband was there. He was looking at her, but he hadn't moved from where he was seated, next to the radio.

"Look honey," she said, "I know that a married woman does not stay out all night, but last evening..."

He put his forefinger to his lips signaling her to hush. Then he seated her on his lap, holding her tight in his arms, lovingly.

A man's deep voice on the radio was announcing:

"To the Honorable Turkish Nation... Under the circumstances, the Turkish Armed Forces have decided to carry out their duty to protect and save the Turkish Republic on behalf of the great Turkish Nation, and according to the military hierarchy, they have seized total power to govern the country.

The Parliament and the cabinet have been disbanded . The immunity of members of parliament has been abolished. All political parties have been banned. Martial law has been imposed throughout the country. Leaving the country has been prohibited. In order to assure the safety of the citizens, starting from five o'clock this morning a curfew has been impose. Nobody is allowed to be on the streets."

She looked at her watch: It was five minutes to five...

Zeynep Oral’s book
“Leyla Gencer: A Story of Passion”
Has been published by the  İstanbul Foundation
For Culture and  Arts

First English edition:  ISBN 978-975-7363-73-6
c.2008. İstanbul

contact: yayinlar@iksv.org

Leyla Gencer
(Excerpt from a biography.)


"Please, Guard Hasan, let's go to the edge of the cliff, the edge of the cliff!"

A little girl with jet-black hair, pitch-black eyes -- she is maybe four years old, maybe not -- climbed up to Guard Hasan's arms, pointing out the edge of this plain, the very edge of the cliff.

This is a game they both like and play often: Guard Hasan throws the little girl up high and catches her. The little girl flies in the sky for a while; then, while she is falling down, she finds herself in the trusted arms of Hasan. She wants to play this game, not at any place on the plain, but always at the very edge of the cliff.



They existed first.

They always existed in the most passionate loves and dreadful hates, in boundless freedom and helpless captivity, in shining bravery and miserable cowardice, in hope and helplessness, in acceptance of fate and challenge of fate, in wisdom and innocence, in intellect and emotions, in kindness and wickedness.

All the emotions of the earth could be phrased with their existence, their adventures.



Some Of Her Most Popular Books:

Kadın Olmak - (To Be A Woman)
(AD Kitapçılık 1985. )

Research on the situation of women both in Turkey and in the world. Some sections of this book are: Women in War- Women in exile- Women at work - Women in the fields - Women in cities - Women in the house - Women at Work - Women and the changing roles etc.

Bir Ses (A Voice)
(AD Kitapçılık. 1986)

The voice (biography ) of a grandmother, (Ms. Reha İsvan) who was a peace activist, jailed after the military coup in Turkey (1980) united with the voices of other women prisoners


  Zeynep Oral Yazılar Kitaplar Erişim Bilgileri