Excerpt from Nisyan (Oblivion) by Murat Gülsoy

I completed the English translation of Murat Gülsoy’s novella Nisyan a while ago. I like the book very much and I loved translating it. Nisyan is a powerful little narrative about a writer suffering from dementia. Will it ever be available in print? I don’t know. So, I wanted to share some excerpts:

First published in 2013

Now I’ve become their plaything.
After all the sounds withdraw begins the fear. There’s someone seated by the window,
knitting the time; I can feel her presence even without turning my head her way. I
think she’s tired; her movements are slow, the knitting needles are clacking like loose
false teeth. I roll from the right to the left. My bones mount on top of one another, rub
against each other; limp, as if they may crumple any second. There’s an acrid odour, a
yellowish cloud that envelops me, composed of piss, sweat, rheum, and spit. The
sheet’s humidity is pervading my body, the slowly rotting flesh. Persevering life.
Growing cold. I’m an old man now. Been old for a very long time. Still, the fear is
like the heart of a child. I can’t sleep. I hear the sound of the thread. It’s hissing. The
ball of yarn is dwindling away. I try to cheer up when allusive sentences come to my
mind. Once upon a time, I whisper in the darkness, I used to command the words;
now I’ve become their plaything.


The blood of writing.
I close my eyes, they think I’m asleep. They’re walking about the house rustling. In
my rooms. Searching. Thieves. Beetles, buzzers, arthropods, hissers, squeakers. I
open my eyes, when they realise I’m awake, they immediately scurry around. Under
the carpets, in between the wooden floorboards, underneath the doors. I must get up
and look around the house. I’m walking holding on to the walls. Once again there’s
stormy weather. The boards of the ark are creaking. A drawer full of black, navy,
green. They couldn’t find them. I’ll be able to finish the book. I caress them. The ink
bottles. The blood of writing.


I don’t like writers!
There are two of them. Young. The boy remains quiet the whole time, pen in hand,
writing. The girl is asking me questions about the life of someone else. Apparently he
is a writer, he has books, then gradually he has changed. I’m getting bored. I write,
too, I say. I show them my little papers. I continue to live when the woman doesn’t
throw them in the bin. They look at one another, then at the woman who brings the
coffee. It’s not her fault. There are excavators down below, it’s all because of them.
And there is also my shadow. Then there are the rooms. Full of records. Their faces
grow long as I speak. The eyes of the girl well up. Suddenly I get cross. Go away now,
don’t ask anymore. I don’t know him. They’re liars. I don’t like writers!


Where’s the light?
The promises of a new day must be interesting. The windows are misty closed. The
woman is wiping the old tree with wet clothes. Mouldy encrusted. The birds are
gurgling on the sill. A very old feeling burns my throat. If only I knew what it is.
Joyful but partly painful sad. A union a coming together and a lost loneliness at the
same time. The woman is asking. What’s happened to you why are you crying? I try
to smile. I haven’t been in command of my face for a long time. I drop my head on the
pillow. It will slowly touch the earth, gentle. The rain will patter down. Giant mass.
Where are the workers? Where’s the light?

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