If you lean forward a little from the beginning of the street to see its end, you can see the one-story house with cracked walls at where the street meets the sea. There is a rusted water pump in the small garden of this house and there lives a woman called Zofinka with her seven cats, she claims that nobody else but merely she has this name on earth. Zofinka is forty-two years old, she has been living alone in this one-story house inherited from her mother for seventeen years. She has strong arms and a wide stomach, her orange hair is always made bun, she has always looked down on others being 1.80 centimeters tall. The thing you are going to read in a little while is a simple report-story on an ordinary day of Zofinka. It is requested from the readers that they must never tell what they read to anyone, especially to Zofinka – if they run across with her somewhere.
Zofinka opened her eyes with the murmuring of cats. She observed the light beam near the window for a while, tried to recall her dream. She couldn’t. She closed her eyes again. When she opened her eyes, she saw the same light beam and an old varnished console, a worn mirror and a tabby cat on the console. She straightened up, called the cat and kissed the mouth of the fur ball jumping on her lap. As if they felt, the other cats invaded Zofinka’s bed, wanted their morning kisses by meowing. Kissing the other six cats as well, Zofinka got up and wore her slippers which smelled like cat’s pee. She spitted out the cat hair in her mouth into the half full glass of water on the nightstand.
Wearing her morning gown, she headed to the kitchen. Cats got in her way.
“Okay, okay. The breakfast is coming.”
She quickly made a bun from her waist length hair, filled the black bottomed teapot with water. She let the old teapot boil the water, opened the refrigerator. She put some nylon bags on the counter. After yelling at the cats meowing more with the smell coming from the nylon bags, she took a basin from the closet above.
At first she poured the chicken liver from the green bag, took the pestle waiting to be washed for a few days and mashed the livers. She cleaned the blood splashed on her face with the back of her hand and yelled at the excited cats.
“Shut up Greedy! I’m preparing, don’t you see?! I don’t have ten hands!”
Thinking the livers were mashed enough, she took some calves’ eyes from the blue bag and added to the basin. When she poured some ram’s testicles from the pink bag, she started using the pestle again. She finally poured the powder from the black bag, mixed them with her hands. She silenced the whistling teapot, washed her hands and turned to the cats.
“Breakfast time!” she warbled.
She put the basin and tea glass on the ground in the middle of the living room and waited for the cats to line up around the basin. Then she crouched down on the empty place set for her. She smiled at the cats waiting her to take the first bite and initiated the meal using her two fingers as a spoon. They quickly ate the food without leaving a bit. Zofinka finished her tea as well and grabbed the basin.
She chased the cats, “Come on, get out of the way!”
Zofinka refused going to the university after graduating from the high school. She already learned enough, why would she fill her mind with more useless knowledge when she couldn’t even use what she already learned? She could hardly convince her father and moved in the house of her mother known as the mad wife at the small coastal town. She lived with her mother for fifteen years without uttering a word. A year after her father’s death, her mother died and Zofinka was secretly pleased by this. Her mother never let the cats in the house, but she could let in as much cats as she wanted after she died. Being so happy, she gathered seven cats from gardens, dump sites and under the cars by wandering the streets under the curious glances of town dwellers. She ignored the rumors of the mad daughter of the mad wife and forbade herself to talk with the dwellers except for essential shopping. She could repel the mischievous children who sometimes followed her and she turned away from the young women who tried to be close with her.
Zofinka paid strict attention to keep the number of the cats fixed on seven. The cats were not allowed to go out, not even to the garden and at the breeding season they went wild. Three female cats always got pregnant. Zofinka looked after the pregnant cats carefully. During their births, she got into sweet rush. She took a deep breath when the kittens started grumbling with closed eyes, put them in a sack and threw them in the sea beyond the house. If one of the adult cats died, she separated one of the kittens and threw the others in the blue sea along with the dead cat she kept in the fridge. She took off her morning gown, wore the green silk dress. She slapped the yellow cat watching her instead of licking paws when she was naked.
She laughed with pleasure, “You are such a womanizer. Watch your eyes!” It was the laugh of a woman aware of her beauty and praised. She took the basket and wore her patent leather shoes. She chased the meowing cats trying to follow her as she was leaving the house and locked the door. She headed towards the market.
She ignored the women sitting before the houses, children playing in the streets and the shopkeepers who observed her from head to toe. She entered the butcher. She sat down on the wooden chair, tried not to have an eye contact with the butcher who maintained the silent agreement between them for years. She watched the hands of the butcher preparing her order as usual without uttering a word. He put her orders in nylon bags of different colors, put them on the counter. Zofinka put the money she prepared on the chair, took the bags and left.
After finishing her routine shopping from a few stores, she caught the glimpse of a store selling underwear for women. She stopped. She had been frequently shopping from that store lately, she doubted. She stood there for a moment, then entered. Two women were sitting with their legs crossed and talking, but they kept silent in a minute. The blonde one looked at the brunette and gesticulated there she is by pointing Zofinka standing on the threshold. The blonde shopkeeper tried to encourage Zofinka.
“Welcome, please come in.”
As Zofinka entered the store with quaking steps, both women made grimaces. The brunette whispered to the other “Oh, she stinks like pee.” The blonde hushed her and turned to Zofinka, “What would you like?”
Zofinka opened her mouth but she didn’t say anything. She observed the bras, panties, slips; she was enchanted by the photographs of women wearing garters. The shopkeeper felt Zofinka’s excitement.
Asking “Is it a special night?” she paid attention to look serious. Neither a man nor a person was seen near her besides her mother. She made everyone laugh behind with her ridiculous orange hair, by stinking cat’s pee and leaving cat’s fur everywhere she went. People even saw her with her mother eight or nine times during fifteen years. That’s why the shopkeeper tried not to disturb Zofinka and artificially smiled.
The brunette observed the glance of Zofinka, saw the poster of a model wearing a yellow slip before the third shelf, she interrupted.
“Would you like to buy this slip? Look, it’s yellow, it suits your hair. Its sides are laced as well.”
Zofinka thought it was suitable for Yellow’s furs and nodded.
Turning to Zofinka, “I’m giving the large size again,” the woman said.
Putting the money on the counter, Zofinka hurriedly left.
An elderly crow flew far away, it flew over Zofinka. Reaching Zofinka’s house before her, it settled on the olive tree in the garden.
Zofinka woke up from her noon sleep, looked at the ebony cat on her breast. The cat was holding a half bitten small cloth ball in its mouth. She scolded the cat.
“Did you steal the Tabby’s ball again? You dirty burglar!”
The cat jumped on the ground with a bitter shriek. Zofinka swore after the cat and took her bedside book, started reading it again as she always did at every noon in seventeen years. It was the only novel she tolerated reading. She opened the chapter she wanted, started reading from there. The only hero in her life was Tom Sawyer!
She waited for someone like Tom since she was a little girl. She imagined that she could only marry someone like him and read the part where Tom kissed Becky hundreds of times in tears because of jealousy. Zofinka never met neither a boy nor a man like Tom. That’s why she never kissed anyone, never married anyone. She was never impressed by any man who liked her and she neither hated them at all, but when she saw a girl or a woman resembling Becky, she bristled with anger. She sometimes stained their laundries hung in the gardens with cats’ poop and she sometimes ambushed in front of the doors of the girls, then gathered their shoes, threw them in the sea.
Zofinka put the book back by straightening its torn hardcover. She got up, swept the floor with besom. She emptied the basins full of pee and poop to the garden. She prepared the bathroom, washed the cats one by one and brushed their furs. She especially cosseted Yellow, fluffed its fur more and looked at its green eyes.
“Do you love me?” she asked, and kissed its wet nose. The cat weakly meowed to Zofinka.
She prepared the bathroom for herself then, got into the bathtub and didn’t get out until her fingers withered. She closed her eyes while rinsing the soap from her body, used the sponge as a shield between her body and her hand, tried not to touch herself. While drying herself, she used the towel as a shield this time, then she wore her new slip and light green poplin dress which suits Yellow’s green eyes. During the sunset, Zofinka entered the kitchen to prepare the dinner.
Zofinka turned on the radio after dinner. She didn’t have a television because she was scared of televisions. When she was living with her father many years ago, she used to look at the colored screen from behind her father’s sofa and she always felt she was transgressing the life of the people on the screen – even though they were artificial. Speaking of the newscast, they did nothing but made Zofinka sad and hopeless. She didn’t care about tomorrow’s weather as well.
Zofinka felt awestruck and closed her eyes with the symphony broadcasted on the radio channel only playing classical music. She listened to her seven disciples accompanying the music by meowing. Then she pulled the huge floor cushion in the middle of the living room and sat cross legged. The cats gathered around when they saw her sitting. Zofinka touched her bun, affectionately looked at the cats.
She asked, “What did you do when I was not here?”
She turned to the white cat, pulled its whiskers.
“Where will this greed end up? You eat so much, your mouth is as red as liver. You make me sick.”
“I cannot rush liver off to you. Especially you,” she shook her finger to the white. “You cost me a lot Miss Greedy!”
Zofinka breathed deeply and shrugged.
“So be it,” she said. “I don’t begrudge. I know you always think of me when I’m not here. You would even clean up and brew tea if you could.”
She turned to the yellow-white this time, “I hope you didn’t pick a fight today.”
“Meow” said the yellow-white.
“I knew it,” said Zofinka breathing out.
She gave notice, “Don’t mess with these ladies. I warn you. Remember what you did last time. A big punishment will be waiting for you next time my dear.”
Zofinka made a grimace and moved a little.
“There are many beautiful women,” she said. “I saw at the store. Big pictures of her were hung on the walls and shelves.”
Zofinka told the details of the store. But she skipped the yellow slip she bought. She mocked the butcher by showing how his belly hopped then chuckled. She told about the colors of the blossomed trees in spring and said the wind blowing from the sea was warmer than it was a month ago. Then she felt sad, her eyes were filled with tears.
She asked the cats, “Do you think I’ll never find Tom?”
“Meow,” answered the cats.
Zofinka got up all of a sudden, “It’s late, and it’s bedtime now.”
Chasing the cats, she took them out of the living room, brought them to the backroom and closed the door. Only one of them could stay outside.
Zofinka cuddled Yellow licking its paw on the cushion.
“Oh,” she said. “Good riddance darling. I thought they would never leave. Especially Tabby! Did you see how it looked at my breasts?”
“No, no I don’t want. No need to fight. It’s a male after all. It looks when it sees a beautiful woman.”
Zofinka laughed, closed the door of the bedroom and put Yellow on the bed.
“Did you miss me?”
“Oh, me too!”
“Do you want to know what also happened at the store today?”
“You’ll like it.”
Trying not to touch her skin, Zofinka took of the green dress and stayed in her yellow slip.
“How is it?” she asked, turning around.
“Do not exaggerate honey, not that much,” she coyly smiled. She blushed. She lay down near Yellow on the bed and freed her hair. An orange wave fell on the pillow.
As it was heard, Zofinka said “Me too. So much, you never know. I’ve been thinking of this moment all day my hubby. Tom, kiss me. Please.”
As two fat legs opened, the yellow slip was torn; its sound disturbed the elderly crow settled on the highest bough of the olive tree, so it gave up watching the yellow tail disappearing between the legs of the giant woman and flew towards the sea sparkles.
Translated from Turkish by Gözde Zülal Solak
Artwork: Randy Morales