Sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture during times of war. And I can completely understand why.
I would be willing to divulge any and all information right now in exchange for some sleep.
Obviously this means that I must avoid my mother at all costs; particularly as she has yet to interrogate me about Jake. I am praying that she isn’t home. But I can hear the shrill tones of her gang even before I open the door.
All I want is some peace and quiet so that I can sleep. Is that really too much to ask? I close the door quietly behind me, remove my shoes and start to tip toe up the stairs.
Then I hear “Kitty! We’re in the kitchen. Come and join us.” Damn it. I’m really not in the mood for them. I try to ignore her and continue up the stairs.
But I’m not fast enough. Her head appears around the door “Come and say hello to Afet”. Great, her little club has a fourth member today.
She observes my bare feet. Then reaches into her slipper box and hands me a pair of high heeled fluffy red slippers.
I tell her that they are a little too boudoir for me. And a size too small. But she insists I squeeze my feet into them.
“You’ll get a stomach ache walking around with bare feet”. I’m too tired to challenge her village 'wisdom' so I decide to just do as I’m told.
Then she leads me into the kitchen and puts a small cup (decorated with a map of Cyprus) in front of me. I hate Turkish coffee but the quicker I drink it, the quicker I can escape.
They turn their coffee cups upside down onto their saucers as soon as they’re finished. I follow suit.
The saucers are also decorated with a map of Cyprus. And there is a framed map of Cyprus on the wall (lest we should forget where we’re from).
My mother takes Meyrem’s cup and starts ‘reading’ the coffee residue “I see a bird. Oh, that means you will fly, far, far away. I see a crescent. You will go back to Cyprus, for a visit, not forever”.
She claps her hands happily “Oh good”. Afet isn’t impressed “But you go back to Cyprus every year”. I seem to recall that there is some sort of friction between her and my mother.
Meyrem insists that she didn’t know if she would be going back this year. Afet scoffs “You told me you already had the tickets“. She shakes her head furiously “Fatma has just seen it in the cup. This is the first I knew of it”
My mother’s pursed lips are a warning sign. She clicks her knuckles. Then abruptly rounds up the reading “I see a tree, a tree bearing fruit, you will eat plenty of fruit. I also see sunshine. There will be sunshine in your life. Everything is good for you Meyrem”.
She puts her cup to one side and takes Afet’s. “I see a goat. A goat brings prosperity and wealth” Afet’s cynicism is quickly replaced by excitement at the mention of money "Am I going to win the lottery?"
My mother shakes her head as she looks in the cup “Oh no wait. It is a bad sign. The goat only has three legs, this is not good”.
Afet leans over to have a look at the cup. She moves it away from her and continues “I see tears, not of joy, but of shame and sadness. You must pray to Allah to forgive you for your sins”.
She is getting very upset “No, you are mistaken! I haven’t sinned”. My mother snaps at her “Yes you have. I see a figure of a woman, she is missing her hand. It has been chopped off for stealing”.
Poor Afet is very red in the face “Show me. Show me where you see this”.
She lunges for the cup. My mother clings to it and they tug at the cup between them. “Oh, you’ve ruined it. The coffee has moved. It’s just sludge now”.
Afet glares angrily at my mother whilst making a few choice hand gestures. Hatice grabs my mother’s monitor “Let me measure your blood pressure. I think it is dangerously high right now”
She shakes her off her arm. Then Afet gets up and storms out of the house. Hatice immediately asks if she really saw that in the cup. My mother shakes her head “No but I will never forgive her for what she did back in Cyprus.”
Apparently she stole loquats from her garden. “She’s always denied it but I saw her selling my loquats at the market and she didn’t have loquat trees in her garden, she had fig trees”.
I shake my head in exasperation “That was over thirty five years ago. Just fucking let it go”. She slaps me around the head in response. I take that as my cue to leave but she pulls me back into the chair. “Wait. I will read your cup then you can leave”.
She picks it up and stares at it for a while. “Hmmm...I see entwined hands. You will get married again to a dark haired man” I roll my eyes at her predictability. “I suppose he’s a Turkish Cypriot?” Correct.
Then I look down and realise that we are all wearing matching slippers. And somehow this image symbolises my future. My vision starts to blur.
She continues with “I see a stork”. I take a closer look at the cup. It really does look like a stork. “You will have another child. A boy”. She puts the cup down satisfied with her vision of my future.
Unfortunately it's a vision that is supported by the quartet of slippers that I can't stop staring at. My head is starting to spin.
Then she suggests I join them at the bingo hall this evening “We go every Friday”.
And it suddenly feels like the walls are closing in on me.
I can hear my mother shouting after me as I run out of the door and straight to the nearby river. The water usually has a calming effect on me. But all I can think of when I look at it now is the flooding that forced me out of my home. And back into my parents.
We’ve only been there for a few days but it feels like so much longer. And I’m scared the repair work will keep dragging on and I’ll be stuck there forever; wearing silly slippers and drinking coffee with nothing to look forward to except Friday night bingo.
That is not the life I had planned for myself. But I had never planned on being a single parent either. When I got married I had expected it to last for the rest of our lives. I had wanted someone to grow old with. I still do.
But I’m in love with a man I feel I have to stay young for. And what’s even worse is that despite being insanely pre-menstrual for a week, my period never actually arrived.
Apparently that is a relatively common occurrence with the type of pill I’m taking. But I have to consider the possibility that I may be pregnant. I know. I should just take a pregnancy test. And I will. Just as soon as I have prepared myself for the worst case scenario;
The options are simple. If I am pregnant then I either continue with the pregnancy or I terminate it.
I can’t continue with it.
Jake isn’t ready for that sort of responsibility and it’s not something I want to do alone again. In fact, right now, it’s not something I want to do at all.
So I have to terminate.
Then my hand instinctively (and protectively) moves to cover my stomach. I always said I would terminate an unwanted pregnancy. But I have never been tested on that. And I’m not sure I could bring myself to do it.
I would forever be thinking “My baby would have been crawling around about now.... My baby would have been starting school now.... My baby would be graduating now”. It would become a stick to beat myself with for the rest of my life.
So the options are actually anything but simple. What the hell am I going to do? And why is there a dog licking my toes? I pull my feet away from it.
Then I notice that the red boudoir slippers are covered in mud. And that means they no longer match the others. I stomp around in the mud to make them even dirtier.
But the scary symbolism is still visible in the remaining traces of red. So I take them off and throw them in the river. Then I feel much better. I also feel a little delirious.
I really need to sleep. And no canary and its radio or mother and her cronies or worries about babies that may or may not exist are going to stop me.
I walk barefoot back towards the house (hoping I don't get a stomach ache).