Like a Mule Who'd Lost Its Caravan

Our narrator is describing the grandfather clock that stood in his family's crumbling old konak out near Edirnekapı––the neighbors gossip that this elegant clock was stolen by the narrator's father from the old mosque where he once worked, but the narrator tells us a different story, of a grandfather who vowed to build a mosque, of money that ran short, of the only thing left of that inheritance this strange, brooding grandfather clock:
Perhaps on account of this gossip, perhaps on account of that claustrophobic view it gave to the hallway, I became the enemy of that clock. But it was a lovely clock. In its own way, without anyone interfering in its affairs, it had an absentminded kind of pace, aimless like a mule who'd lost its caravan. According to what calendar did it move, after which year did it run, waiting for what did it suddenly stop for days, and after, which secret and important event would it suddenly announce with its heavy, thick voice that filled the air? We never knew. Because this independent clock accepted neither setting nor repair and adjustment. It was a particular time-piece which went its own way, lived in a state apart from people. Sometimes while waiting it would start to ring over and over. After it would remain for months with only the coming and going of its pendulum. My mother never worried herself too much over these arbitrary moods. According to her this clock was either a saint or struck the hour, saying "Let it be a good hour!" [Ona göre bu saat ya bir evliya idi, yahut da onu iyi saatte olsunlar çarpmıştı.] Especially the night that Ibrahim Bey passed away and in perhaps almost the same waters, and after the clock which for weeks hadn't worked suddenly began to toll with its deepest voice, this worry settled inside all of us. Following that day, my mother would always talk of the grandfather clock as Mübarek [Blessed]. As for my father, who despite all of his piety thought in more human terms, he gave it the name Menhus [Unlucky]. Whether as Menhus or Mübarek, it was as though this clock had occupied one part of my childhood. [p. 28-29]

More in this Tanpınar series:
"To Clarify This Small but Important Truth"
"Unemployed Before the Founding of This Institute"
"A Poem Recited in the Name of the Sun"


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