Waiting: Part Three
Batas stopped living for him. No, that is not true. She stopped waiting for him. On that day, she woke up early, prepared sweet tea and a plate of croissants with strawberry jam in the kitchen, and hung his pressed work clothes behind the door. She nudged him, gently, and held him until he has woken up. She washed the dishes while he read the newspaper. It was a quiet morning. On that day, they found time to make love. Her scent to clung to him. On that day, he tried to remember her.
"Do you love me?" She asked him. On that day, he held her, stroked her hair, and told her, "Yes, of course, of course, I love you."
"Do you love only me?" She then asked him. On that day, he kissed her, undressed her, and told her, "Yes, of course, of course, only you."
"Do you want to know why I was named Batas?" She asked him. She asked him as they lied in bed. Their hands were interlaced, like constellations, and she looked at him.
"He believed that everyone has a limit, and he wanted me to be someone's limit someday." She told him.
"Why does he want that?" He asked her.
"Because he never found his."
He was not listening. His mind travelled far when they talked, and he never displayed interest when she talked about her past. It was like talking to an empty room, but she appreciated the fact that at least, his warm body was next to hers, and not someone else's.
She realised that he will never rumage and acknowledge her pain and past, and he will never tell her, Don't worry, I'm here now. I'm here and I'll take care of you. He would only rise from bed, shower and dress, kiss her forehead quickly, and leave her for the day. And she wouldn't wait anymore.
She returned all of his books from where she took them and pinned back the map of his city on the wall. He was difficult, extensive, and filled with an austerity that she could not identify. He had a different kind of pain that she felt within herself. She was simple, earnest in her intentions, forgiving in her behaviour. She was prey, and he was a hunter. She looked through his collection of poetry and returned the words she couldn't understand, phrases that she couldn't pronounce, and characters that she couldn't recognize.
Then she left his city. She thanked the shopkeeper who kept his favorite cigarettes and chocolates for her to buy. She left flowers for the old ladies who sat in benches waiting for evening to arrive. She embraced the other immigrants who walked around with little notebooks, who apologized in his broken language. She attempted to search for herself within him, but the more she learned, the more she lost herself.
He did not find her when he arrived home at work, and suddenly, he was no longer quiet. He took off his responsibilities, his dedications, his worries, throughout the day, and examined his own insuffiiencies that was a burden to her. Sometimes, he would attempt to show her how far he had come, though he knew he was full of mistakes.
Our whole life consists of finding. Whether it is a person, a moment, or a force within the world to fix yourself upon, it is impossible to avoid the languorous, beautiful act of finding. Batas learnt the act of finding from her mother. No, that is not true. She inherited it. She had found for the very first time when she was born, and her mother was asleep, and her father came from his lover's house. When he arrived, he gave her a name that she would carry for the rest of her life, and she realized that it was finding, and not waiting, that she would live for. Before, the best time of the day was when she would find her father asleep in his room. She wrapped his arms around her, and told him her stories. They were stories of familiar cities with characters that had warm skin and boundless loyalties. They are just like us, she would say, they have centuries of beauty within them, and we must protect them from the rest of the world.
One afternoon, she found in him in his room, packing his suitcase, and she knew it would be the last time she would ever see him. When she turned 22, she would sit in her room and find other cities that her father has not moved to: Istanbul, Beijing, Seoul, Athens. When she was 23, she was running out of things to find, she began working in an art gallery, and found paintings, sculptures, and people that did not cause her pain. At 24, she left Frankfurt, with only the memory of her lover's back.
Batas finds his address in the last postcard that he had sent for her birthday from Frankfurt, he always wrote his own address when he sent her letters and gifts. She never responded, as if she was God himself, who only wanted to listen but not speak. The lover she left was a careful man, and she took this peculiarity as evidence that he was waiting for her. One day, he arrived at her apartment and waited for her to open the door. He waited, and waited, and waited, until her neighbor informed him that she was out of the city for several months. He roamed the city for a while; attending every exhibition in the hopes that she organized them, looking through every book in the library in the hopes that he'll see her name on a card, walking through the streets imagining that they would walk towards each other. But that is not the way the world works. The world does not grant you your wish, for it knows that your dreams are what sustains you, your desires are what holds you, your devotions are what makes you a whole person. So the world never sent her to him.
The world made him wait instead.
"Can you help me?" Batas asked. He was sitting in between several stacks of books. He was reading a book, and had not looked up.
"Is this postcard from your store?" She said. She handed him a postcard that he had sent her with the bookstore's logo printed on. He looked up and saw her. They had aged, considerably. They had changed. On the back, he wrote, Happy birthday, my love. Remember that there is always some kind of beauty in this world, and all of it is within you. Love, A.
"Yes, this is from our store but we don't sell these anymore. I bought this for you last year."
He handed her the postcard back. She looked through the books and he followed her. He measured everything by her footsteps, by the things he thinks she is fond of and things she finds distasteful, by her own perception of the world that he was unaccustomed to.
"Oh, I see." She said, "Thank you."
"What are you looking for?" He asked her. She had always hidden her true intentions whenever she was asked this question. I'm an academic looking for a textbook. I'm a curator looking for a painting. I'm an immigrant looking for a life. But perhaps it was the intimacy of the bookstore, the warmth of the heater, or the dimming lights, she felt the urge to be completely honest to him.
"I'm looking for you."