Dark Journey

Irfan Orga

Dark-Journey.jpg
Dark-Journey.jpg

Dark Journey

Irfan Orga

12.99

Dark Journey is a disturbing, fast-paced story of a young Turkish woman’s descent towards moral annihilation - one part Maupassant, one part One Thousand and One Nights. In the early Turkish republic, the options of an impverished widow with a child are few, and the choices made by Kamelya lead to her estrangement from her son Murat. But blood ties, secrecy and fate bring them back together for a denouement that smoulders like a Greek myth, with pent-up love and its exposive crollary, deep seated hate. Dark Journey Springs from a sombre understand of the ambivalence of human nature, a metaphor, perhaps, for the exiled Orga’s Turkish republican homeland.

‘... an enthralling dramatic tale of passionate love and its corollary fierce hatred. But it is also a beautifully crafted morality tale.’ Marion James, Zaman
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Dark Journey: The legend of Kamelya and Murat
ISBN: 978-1906011-63-5
Format: 220pp demi pb
Place: Turkey

Author Biography

Irfan Orga's official birthday was March 1st 1908, though even he did not know the actual date, once suggesting that it could be as late as 1909. He came to England in 1942 on a three year posting from the Turkish air force. While there he became romantically involved with a young Norman-Irish woman, Margaret Veronyca. Living with a foreign woman was a crime in Turkey at the time, and Orga was stripped of his rank, forced out of the air force and, eventually, forced out of the country, leaving for England in 1947 (he was convicted in absentia in 1949).

After Veronyca's divorce had been finalised in 1948, they married. While his wife began working her way up the hierarchy of publishing, Orga pursued several menial jobs. He also began writing, and published books on many areas of Turkish life; cookery, history, children's books and a controversial biography of Ataturk as well as the autobiographical story of his family (Portrait of a Turkish Family, 1950) and a work on the Yuruk nomads of the High Taurus mountains (The Caravan Moves On, 1958). Irfan Orga died in 1970

 

Extract from Chapter One

THE YEAR WAS 1915 and the boat-station at Eyüp Sultan was a raw place on a chilly spring morning with dawn barely established in the sky. The dusty jetty, heaving on the water, was empty save for the figures of a woman and a boy of about five, who stood listlessly with the first of the morning sun pouring over them emphasising their shabbiness and the thin white face of the child.

The woman moved, shifting her position so that the sun shone full on the black çarşaf covering her face and the child moved aimlessly after her, his hands clinging to her skirts.

‘I’m hungry,’ he said.

‘So am I,’ said the woman and twisted herself from his grasp. ‘But we’ve no money for food – not yet anyway.’

She started to pace up and down the jetty, for despite the sun it was cold with a sharp wind blowing from the Golden Horn. At such an hour of the day spring was an illusion.

‘We came too early,’ she said aloud.

‘Hungry,’ said the child in answer.

‘Yes, but you’ll be better presently when we’re on the boat.’ The smell of freshly baked simit came from a baker’s shop nearby. She could see through the low doorway to the blackness at the far end of the little shop and now and then she saw flames leaping when a man opened one of the ovens to take out a tray ofsimit or put in a tray of dough. The warm smell made her ache with hunger and she moved away from the shop and wished the boat would come. But the cracked notes of a clock striking in the distance told her there was still another half hour to wait.

‘Can’t we sit down?’ the child asked and peered up at her trying to read her face through her veil.

Without replying his mother put down a parcel she had been carrying and sat down herself. She made a space for the boy.

He huddled against her for comfort, a careless little animal wanting nothing more at this moment save food and warmth. He was thin to the point of emaciation and the old felt slippers on his feet were an apology for shoes. His dark eyes stared outwards to the Golden Horn slightly myopipcally. He looked drugged, only half conscious of where he was and now and then he shivered when the fresh sea breeze blew too strongly. Kamelya, his mother, leaned against him, her mind going back to yesterday and the days preceding yesterday; further back than that too, 

Chapter 1

THE YEAR WAS 1915 and the boat-station at Eyüp Sultan was a raw place on a chilly spring morning with dawn barely established in the sky. The dusty jetty, heaving on the water, was empty save for the figures of a woman and a boy of about five, who stood listlessly with the first of the morning sun pouring over them emphasising their shabbiness and the thin white face of the child.

The woman moved, shifting her position so that the sun shone full on the black çarşaf covering her face and the child moved aimlessly after her, his hands clinging to her skirts.

‘I’m hungry,’ he said.

‘So am I,’ said the woman and twisted herself from his grasp. ‘But we’ve no money for food – not yet anyway.’

She started to pace up and down the jetty, for despite the sun it was cold with a sharp wind blowing from the Golden Horn. At such an hour of the day spring was an illusion.

‘We came too early,’ she said aloud.

‘Hungry,’ said the child in answer.

‘Yes, but you’ll be better presently when we’re on the boat.’ The smell of freshly baked simit came from a baker’s shop nearby. She could see through the low doorway to the blackness at the far end of the little shop and now and then she saw flames leaping when a man opened one of the ovens to take out a tray ofsimit or put in a tray of dough. The warm smell made her ache with hunger and she moved away from the shop and wished the boat would come. But the cracked notes of a clock striking in the distance told her there was still another half hour to wait.

‘Can’t we sit down?’ the child asked and peered up at her trying to read her face through her veil.

Without replying his mother put down a parcel she had been carrying and sat down herself. She made a space for the boy.

He huddled against her for comfort, a careless little animal wanting nothing more at this moment save food and warmth. He was thin to the point of emaciation and the old felt slippers on his feet were an apology for shoes. His dark eyes stared outwards to the Golden Horn slightly myopipcally. He looked drugged, only half conscious of where he was and now and then he shivered when the fresh sea breeze blew too strongly. Kamelya, his mother, leaned against him, her mind going back to yesterday and the days preceding yesterday; further back than that too, skimming fleetingly over the times when sorrow had seemed remote – a thing to talk about over a winter’s fire, an emotion to affect other people but never oneself. It was difficult now, from this harsh place, to look back down the years and see herself a child again playing in the fields about Tırnava, the Bulgarian village where she had been born. It was difficult but not impossible. Names and places once well known now only floated nebulously on the air. Her mother’s smile was no longer distinct. Strangely, only her father’s great white beard seemed substantial and belonging to the here and now even though he had been dead for many years.

With the screeching seagulls wheeling about her and the waves lapping the edge of the pier, she remembered how she had cried after her marriage. The tall man who became her husband was at best a stranger – the boy she had played with long ago had receded leaving this unknown man of property in his place. He took her to Istanbul, the mythical city of gold with its tall crown of minarets. Tırnava would soon be no more, for the Bulgarians were persecuting the Ottomans and they told Kamelya that if she stayed she would be killed. She seemed to have spent her youth in tears. She cried when she left her village and the white house where she’d been born when her father was in his prime and had been the Ottoman Governor of the province. Istanbul had seemed another world and she was glad that Kati, her mother’s maid, accompanied her. Kati’s presence seemed to take the craziness from this hurried flight into the unknown.

They had found a house in Eyüp Sultan and her husband, through influence, was admitted to the civil service and looked even more unlike himself in his severe black coat and tight trousers. From a boisterous merry youth he had developed into a melancholy man who regaled his wife with long passages from the Koran, with special emphasis on the chapter ‘Women’. Kamelya found it all very boring and chafed under his restrictions. But at other times the guise of the devout man was abandoned and he would emerge amorously, with jolly quips and a passion for kissing her hands. There had always been the two personalities within him; perhaps if he had lived long enough one would have had time to develop properly. As it was, her picture of him remained unfinished and she could never remember anything about him that was not mere incident; the main features by which he should have been remembered were missing, endowing him with an elusiveness he had never in 

reality had.

After the birth of Murat, her son, memories of Tırnava became less urgent. She might have lived in Eyüp Sultan all her life. She guessed her parents were dead and Kati never spoke of them nor of the white house where she too had been born when her mother was in bondage there. Kati appeared indifferent to everything – dour, morose and uncommunicative. To Kamelya she floated on the outside edge of existence, more her mother’s property than her own maid, and never to be regarded as anything more than an impermanence.

Those days had passed quickly. The dependent, dark-eyed baby had enchanted Kamelya and she had busied herself with him only. Her uncertain husband could alarm her no more.

In 1912 came the Balkan War, and the house in Eyüp Sultan was strangely quiet when the master was called to fight the Bulgars. Kamelya did not miss him at all; she was too occupied with the infant Murat.

Time hurried more than ever it seemed, and presently it was the year 1914 and Turkey was at war again and Kamelya knew that the stranger from Tırnava would never come back to Eyüp Sultan. She was distressed thinking of money and who would look after them now. Kati was sent away. She could no longer afford to keep her and she had never liked her in any case.

On that last day, Kati remarked, ‘It would have been better to have left me in Tırnava. What am I to do in this strange placehanım?’

‘You’ll find work easily enough.’

‘You should have left me if you knew you’d have to send me away one day.’

‘Don’t be foolish Kati! How could I know?’

After Kati there was nobody but Murat. The women of the street began to gossip. They said it was wrong for a young woman like Kamelya to be alone in the house when there was no husband to protect her. A change came over the owner of the house too. She was no longer so cordial and for a start asked for more rent. She said times were hard and looked astonished when Kamelya said she had no money. Month by month the situation worsened. Kamelya’s furniture was mortgaged for arrears of rent and for the first time in her life she knew what it was to go to bed hungry. She could think of nothing to do to save herself. A miracle was needed.