Bodies (6)

After some miles, Hazim leaves the main road and drives toward the still and sparkling sea below. It’s a bumpy ride down a narrow path that cuts through the lush vegetation. Low branches glide over the car’s metal. Dust and sand are billowing around us, drifting in through the open windows, making my eyes burn. I switch off the music, and for a while, the whizzing song of the cicadas and the scrunching of tires on dry earth are the only sounds I hear.
Even though Hazim drives carefully, trying to avoid the deepest potholes, my shoulder collides with his more than once. Each time, he flinches as if I was contagious or something.
I’m glad when our rough excursion comes to an end. We reach a valley with a settlement of some sort, hidden in the midst of nowhere and scrub. An empty parking space, little wooden huts, and quaint houses nestled in the trees. As we get out of the car, stretching our stiff members, I have to admit that I’m surprised. I expected Hazim would show me a typical mountain village, or another non-descript and ritzy tourist resort, or at least an archaeological site.
But no. He brought me here. To this odd flower-powery kind of place. What bewilders me most is the sense of peace and carelessness it gives off. It doesn’t feel like Turkey, it doesn’t reek of mass tourism, it doesn’t even feel to be of this world, to be honest.
Hazim talks rapidly to a young, Turkish guy who has come to greet us and who is wearing nothing but faded tracksuit pants. The guy lays a hand on Hazim’s shoulder, smiles a lazy smile at me, and leads us to one of the tree houses.
I ogle the young people who stroll around without any discernible purpose and listen to their joyful chitchat. There are suntanned Australian girls with dreadlocks, and chubby, red-faced English boys carrying packs of bottled water to one of the huts, and chummy girls from Chicago in ample dresses, and blonde, bare-chested Swedish boys with unnaturally white teeth. It’s already quite hot, the cicadas fill the deep blue day with their chants. Green vegetation and brown, dry earth surround us, the endless sky above smells of summer and freedom.
The tree house is round, with a high, wooden ceiling, and only holds a low table and a round bench covered with dusty carpets. The young, Turkish guy seats Hazim and me side by side on the bench, then disappears, still smiling to himself. A minute later, a girl in a bikini top and pareo brings Efes beer and köfte and bread.
We start to eat and drink in silence.
When we’ve finished, Hazim reaches into the breast pocket of his black shirt and takes out cigarettes and a small plastic bag with weed. Without saying a word, he rolls a joint, lights it, takes a puff, hands it over, closes his eyes.
I don’t smoke but decide to make an exception. I take a drag and look around. The landscape I see through the door of the tree house is bleached by the heat, whitewashed. The present becomes blurry at the edges. Reality a wish, a possibility.
And suddenly, from somewhere behind the tree house where I guess the kitchens are, comes the sound of music. At first it’s just a regular bass booming seven monotonous notes, then an eighth, one note higher. The hollow bass notes are repeated, joined by discreet percussion. I recognize Massive Attack. “Angels”. Unnatural, sublime, falling out of nowhere, coating the trees and flowers and houses and the dirt and the sand and the sky with sadness and regret.
Then the male singer starts to sing in his strange, high-pitched voice that he somehow manages to keep calm, longing, loving. “Yooooooouuuuuuuuuuu…,” he sings. “Are my angel… Come from way above… To bring me love…” The bass shifts slowly from hollow to sharp.
I take another drag and hand the joint back to Hazim, who has opened his eyes when the music has started. He sinks his gaze into mine, smokes, a tiny, sad smile creeping up on his face. Then the first climax is reached with the anguishingly vague “I love you love you love you love you…”. The electric guitar chimes in, and I feel the hairs on my arms stand up.
“This is…” I whisper. ‘… happiness at last’ is what I want to say.
Hazim lifts a finger to his lips and closes his eyes again.
Alright, he prefers to suffer my presence in silence.
And yet, I’m not so sure anymore that he suffers. He seems quite content. Yes, I’m positive: he is smiling. And his bare arm touches mine. It feels hot and sweaty and alive. I can even guess Hazim’s pulse.

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