Şule TÜZÜL / From Image To Words (Issue #51)

A STORY TRYING TO OWN A FORLORN PHOTOGRAPH

                (The photo was taken from Cengiz Engin’s family album.)

She is looking constantly at the photo on the dresser, an old photo of her from previous years. Tired. Her days numbered. People come in and out of her room upset. But she is grateful, very grateful. She remembers that night and the following day in all its details.

On that day, when the photographer knocked at her door, she walked towards it with all her freshness left from the previous day although she couldn’t sleep much. She wasn’t very sure about her feelings. As long as she knew herself, an undefined feeling existed deep inside, which could not be put into words because there was an equivalent in real life: a wordless, soothing feeling.

She has always been happy, never had an unhappy life. She couldn’t say that she is free because she is as free as how much it means to be free for a woman, you see. She was born into an educated and open-minded family with all its conveniences… She lived the way she wanted and got what she wanted. Nevertheless, somewhere deep inside, there was something indescribable; an emptiness, something missing inside, a hollowness.

The photographer she met at the reception touched that void.

She knew very well that she was an attractive woman, and of course she was a source of inspiration and a unique opportunity for photographers. How many women like her could you find in that region anyway?

In the middle of an uninspiring and ordinary conversation, the photographer asked whether he could take a photograph of her. She loved the idea. That was the first time she intensely felt that hollowness. Until that day, she had never had a photo of herself, so the idea of being in a photo was great. For her, it was more the result than the experience that was exciting; to be a part of a photo, to live in it forever, to feel the looks of those hundreds or even thousands of people she knew and didn’t know. Now and forever. Those looks would never end. After her death, some would still look at her. For the first time in her life, she felt content and pleasure deep inside.

When they entered the studio, the artificial set-up made her smile. The room was full of furniture and objects that must have been used in many photo shootings. She was there with all her presence, lying on the floor, in front of her was a hookah, which was not firmly placed, playing cards, and on her there were golden necklaces. She didn’t care. Yes, she was thinking to herself, “Here, that’s me. Here I am.” There couldn’t have been anything more beautiful. The time was not the place she was in, not in that real world, not the breath she took, but in the photo that she was a part of. During the photo shooting, the only thing she could feel was her own presence. She had never felt like that before.

After that, for years, she has kept posing for photos. But this one is different, special, like her first love. She is now looking at herself in a thick black frame. The delight that filled the emptiness deep inside has never vanished. It has always been there. She is looking at herself, her face and feels pleasure despite all her years of exhaustion. She knows that she would continue living as long as the photo was there. People she would never encounter would look at her photo, talk, write and create stories about her, compare her to and find similar traits with their acquaintances, find her attractive or even dislike her. But that wouldn’t make a difference. She would always say the same thing: I am here…I am here… I am here…