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The Yellow Monkey





The Yellow Monkey

Sample translation of first pages

 

 

Patient Yellow Warrior

 

One glance at the cover made you giggle. As if that wasn’t enough, you pointed at it and showed it to your friend.

“Look! A Yellow Monkey!”

My yellow colour and the fact that I am a monkey are making you laugh, but I forgive you, because you don’t know my story. I’ll start from the beginning, so get your bookmark ready in case you get bored. I’ll be right where the bookmark interrupted me when you get back. I am just as patient as I am yellow. I don’t know if you are yellow too, but I ask you to be patient.

I wish I could declare “Bolivia! My Country!” But, I didn’t grow up there. I was just a seed when I came to Turkey in one of the crates of bananas that are loaded onto ships. I’m just saying that to make it easier, in fact I was a molecule. What a fancy word, “molecule”, (try muttering it yourself… molecule, molecule…) I’d like to use it again later if I can.

I would have rather come into existence and grown like most things, that is, inside my mother’s belly... Then stayed in her lap after I was born… But it didn’t happen like that, because my mother was a citrus jar! Nooo nooo, don’t think I am making up a fairy tale titled The Magic Jar. What I am about to tell you is a true story, from head to toe.

Before I got into that jar, I was in a supermarket, amongst the fresh produce. Right next to the kiwis, within the piles of yellow bananas. Don't say monkeys don’t belong in a supermarket; I was not one yet. I was just a seed, invisible to the naked eye. I must have detached from my mother, a squirrel monkey from Bolivia, while she was swinging on vines. I am not sure whether I should really call her my mother, as I never got to know her. Not even a single hair from her neck, or a flake of skin from her sole… OK, I’ll keep it short, just as your body has 30 trillions cells (it increases to 100 trillion as you grow up) so did my mother’s, and I was one of them. One that got stuck to a leave… My story begins here, pay attention.

I was inside a giant banana bunch, protected under the still green banana skins. For a while, I thought that the banana bunch was my mother.

I was aware that I was a cell and I knew something else as well: Cells can grow, multiply and change. These were the things I was thinking about among the green bananas, as much as a cell can think of course. Then, a farmer reached for the branch I was holding onto. He separated me from the tree with his sharp knife, along with the whole bunch. Another one picked us up from the ground and placed us inside a crate. They were all unaware of my presence. Even if they had noticed me, it wouldn’t have changed anything. I was unaware of all this as well, I learned later from my own seed. We were strangely embraced. How to describe it… Let me put it this way: I was inside that seed and it was inside of me. We were this strange thing, and the seed kept whispering:

“You are going to become a monkey, you are going to become a monkey…”

Living things sometimes come into existence like this, through whispers, or inside laboratory tubes. My journey of coming into the world has a little bit of this and that.

After a boat trip that lasted for days I ended up in this supermarket stall… I was not a monkey yet. Even though I was just a molecule, I knew I HAD TO BE COMPLETED. Otherwise… I could end up in the trash along with the banana peels.

I was looking for a way; I had faith in the voice coming from inside my seed. And so, when a little girl and her grandmother stopped in front of the banana stall, I knew for sure my life was about to begin.

“Grandma, if you can make juice out of citrus, can’t you also make it from bananas?”

“Yes, you can make juice from any fruit you like.”

“Let’s make citrus and banana juice then.”

I had never heard of such a thing as citrus before. The only think I knew about then was the circus. This word citrus sounded fancier than circus. Entertainers with colourful clothes, dancing elephants, jumping dogs, horses with ribbons on their tails… I didn’t think animals were happy to work in a circus but it was better than being thrown into the trash. The moment I was put in a crate, I knew I would not be as free as I would be in a jungle. But I had another priority before freedom, I HAD TO BE COMPLETED. Thanks to this citrus, I could gather my cells, my molecules, and my other parts and become a real monkey.

The road that would take me to existence was right before me. I started to move on that road to get closer to the little girl. She had to take me and put me in her bag. A hand reached for our banana stall: the hand of the old woman. A ladle covered with spots and wrinkles that said picking fruit is my job. Why won’t they let the kids do this? The old woman picked four bananas that were far away from me.

“That’s not enough…” said the little girl, “I’ll eat one on our way back anyway.”

The old fingers returned and in a last-minute move I grabbed on to the thick peel of a banana at the end of the stall. I finally got inside the bag.

Grandma –she was my grandma as well at this point- weighed the bag and an employee placed a sticker on it. 525 grams. Since their scales won’t register micrograms, those lucky two got me for free.

I could clearly see the outside from inside the plastic bag. They passed the milk and cheese shelves. The olives were quite curious; they looked like goat droppings, all black and round… I could watch people tasting these things for hours, but granny and her grandchild didn’t linger in that aisle either. They went straight to the cashier with their bag of bananas. As if… As if they were here specifically for me. The thought of it made me feel truly special.

We got out of the supermarket and the little girl –her name was Silver, no she is not made of silver or anything like that, that would be ridiculous, her name is just Silver that’s just how people sometimes name their kids–  well, I shouldn’t go off topic, things are going to get rather messy anyway, as I was saying, the little girl kept looking into the bag.

“Do you think it will work?”

“Of course it will, why wouldn’t it? Citrus juice mixed with that exquisite banana smell…”

Here they go again talking about citrus. I wondered whether circuses smelled nice? I don’t think so. They could only but smell like horse, rabbit pee or sweaty animal tamers, who smell even worse than horses… How would I know, you think, not being a monkey yet and having never stepped inside a circus even once? Because it is encoded in me. I am a seed and that would know what an entire body knows.

We finally arrived somewhere. It didn’t look like a circus, it must be grandma’s house. Actually, when we stepped into the elevator and I saw those buttons and the mirror, I thought, that was it, that I was about to see a real circus, but it all led to an ordinary house. It smelled like tea and cake, not rabbits and horses. Grandma was tired, Silver was restless.

“Come on, let’s do it!”

“Let me catch my breath, the bananas aren’t going anywhere…”

“We have to do it before my dad comes to pick me up.”

The bag rustled, grandma’s wrinkled hands grabbed the bananas, along with me, and placed them on the table.

“Go on, peel them.”

Silver giggled and started peeling the thick skins. Her fingers were almost dancing. Grandma pulled out a large glass jar from underneath the kitchen table. When are we going to go to the circus? They will probably come up with a plan after eating the bananas. To avoid ending up in Silver’s stomach, I stayed clear from the peeled fruits. After placing the jar on the table, grandma gave the little girl a knife.

“Now slice the bananas.”

She did this very easily, not that slicing bananas is very difficult, and also, what is the point of slicing them in the first place? It is fun to observe humans, but you have to be very careful because they always have something dangerous in their hands.

“You will prepare the juice on your own, I won’t touch anything.”
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Miyase Sertbarut

                                                          
Translated by Canan Marasligil