Istanbul Mon Amour |Metin Vardar |Fiction

Darryl adored and hated Istanbul equally, but wasn’t that the whole point with love and life? The city had changed; the mass influx of refugees from Syria had transformed it into an ad hoc refugee camp which stood in stark contrast to the row of Bentleys, Mercedes, Audis, Porsches parked at Istinye Park. But the atmosphere – the call to prayer, the sweet scent of apple tea, crazy traffic – were just like he remembered. Darryl took a sip of his Turkish coffee while his daughter, Melissa, finished her Cola Zero with peach flavor. The heat was unforgiving so seeking refuge inside a high-end café with air-conditioning seemed the most sensible thing to do.


“You hungry?” Darryl asked.


“No, not really.”


“You should eat. You haven’t eaten anything.”


“Too hot, no appetite.”


“You seem…”


“What, dad?”




“This was your idea, not mine.”


“Anyway, let’s make the best of it.”


“Why? So you can go through purgatory with flying colors?”


“I met your mother here, you know. My first gig in Turkey. She danced in front of me the whole night. I couldn’t look at her for too long because I was afraid of screwing up my set. I can still remember what she was wearing: a yellow tube dress, and sand-colored over the knee lace-up sandals. She looked really hot.”


“You told us, like a million times.”


“She took me out for some late-night kebab. Forgot where it was. Best damn kebab I ever had. Wonder if it still exists? Would be awesome if it did though.”


Melissa raised her glass and filled her mouth with ice cubes which she crushed. The sound irked Darryl. He looked away, discreetly. His gaze bumped into an elegantly dressed older lady having coffee and Turkish donuts. He thought they were at rock bottom when Melissa stole 5000 dollars from his bank account. He thought it again when he had to bail her out after she crashed his Cayenne into a pick-up truck. Darryl was certain that they were at rock bottom when she disappeared, only to be found wearing only her panties and unconscious in a piss-stained crack-house decorated with needles. When she checked into Promises, Darryl was busy telling everyone – doctors, nurses, relatives, friends – that she is a fighter, a go-getter, a can-doer, a survivor. Melissa was born prematurely, 23 weeks to be exact. Doctor Chambers said that her chances of survival were slim to none. She wouldn’t make it past 27 weeks. But she did. She did so much more than that. She’s nothing like her sister.


“How’s mom?”


“Fine, I guess.”


“Dating anyone?”


“Why don’t you ask her?” Melissa spewed out the words fast and hard.


“I should have seen that one coming. Probably deserve it too.”


“Kyle something. He’s in a band.”


”Really! As long as she’s happy.”


“They fuck a lot so she must be, right?” Melissa said as matter of fact.


“He cannot be any worse than that wannabe rockstar douchebag who slapped her around outside PUMP. What was his name?”


“Dad, I’m not E-News.”


Her eyes swept the room as she twirled her shoulder long auburn colored hair around her index finger, expressing her wish to be elsewhere. Anywhere but here. Having a viable contact with his daughter made Darryl feel a surge of warmth, and this sensation caused a lump to rise in his throat. He looked away when she started tapping her fingers on the table, and fixed his gaze on an acrylic painting of a ferry escorted by seagulls with the Bosphorus bridge in the background.


“This is such a magical city, don’t you think?” Darryl asked, still looking at the painting.


“I guess,” she answered fiddling with her rose quartz bead bracelet.


“I wrote the song, Tale of Us, here, at the very hotel we are staying at after your mom gave me a tour of the city.”


“That, I didn’t know.”


“True story,” Darryl said smiling.


“Your track record on the truth is not exactly impressive.”


“Your blue eyes baby, I wanna dive in and disappear, never to resurface, always near,” Darryl sang the lines from his first number one track softly.


“Mom has green eyes!”


“Artistic liberty.”


“Of course, mom fell for it.”


“Big time. Anyway, I thought we’d go see Topkapi Palace tomorrow.”


“Dad, it’s like 100 degrees outside.”


“We’ll go late afternoon. Come on. I promise you’ll love it.”


“Fuck sake. It’s just an old building!”


“Please, don’t be that way. I’m trying my best, Melissa.”


“Your best? We are way past that. Way past.”


“The elephant in the room. Okay. Let’s go there.” He didn’t really want to go there and had no idea what spurred him.


Melissa leaned forward on her elbows, “That’s the problem with you dad. Always have been. You’ll never change. It’s like you live in a different world than the rest of us,” she said and leaned back. She crossed her arms and turned her head to the left.


“Look, I’m here now, okay? I’m not going anywhere,” Darryl said apologetically. He didn’t want to provoke a verbal confrontation, not after what happened in Berlin.


“Now you’re here but it’s too late. It fucking sickens me the way you pour money, and this concocted sincerity into suddenly trying to matter. Truth is, you don’t. None of us do.” Melissa said, changing the tone of her voice.


“I don’t blame you for hating me. I really don’t. All I’m asking for is…”


“I have nothing to give you. Nothing. So don’t ask,” she replied.


The ensuing awkward silence was broken when Melissa abruptly got up, put her bug-eye sunglasses on, and left without saying a word. In the end, Darryl did the only thing he could: watch her leave. What he really wanted to do was to go to her, explain, and hug her.




Darryl finished his coffee and stared at the thick muddy sediment that had stuck to the bottom of the cup.

He swirled the cup clockwise three times and turned it upside down on the saucer. After having tapped his fingers on the table for a few minutes, he turned the cup upright and carefully studied the sediments which had slowly slid down inside the cup. Darryl saw something which looked like polygon patterns of dried and cracked soil in a dried-up riverbed.

Photo by Meriç Dağlı on Unsplash



 In 2016 Metin Vardar had the anthology “Culture At Hand” published through the Danish company Lindhardt&Ringhof in cooperation with editor Ulla Malmmose.  

Metin resides in Copenhagen, Denmark and combines the passion for books and art with working as a high school teacher. 


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