The Walls Who Spoke

Roza Kaplan

When I was a little girl, I spent weekdays at my grandparents’ house, as my parents had to work. The house was on a slope leading to the top of the highest hill on the island. In the sleepless nights, I watched the city lights beyond the dark sea, leaning against the cold walls. The cold blue walls.

I remember the day they were painted, they were once pink. Pink like strawberry candy. 

I put my ears on the walls and tried to hear the neighbors talking, a vase falling, a door creaking, a phone ringing. I was drawn to the secrets kept by the cold blue walls. I wished to be able to see beyond the walls. The hypocrite walls. Separating people and keeping secrets. 

At that time I didn’t know that I would want to have my own walls in a few years. A room with walls. My walls, my way to hide from the rest of the world. To be free. 

My grandmother talked to herself. She always had something to do in the kitchen. And she always talked. To someone who wasn’t there. To the walls. She talked about her childhood, her memories, her friends, her happiness and her sorrows. The walls had souls. They had names that no one knew but I.

I was seven years old. There were seven parallel universes. There were seven different versions of me in each universe. In those seven parallel universes, each word had seven different meanings. 

There were forty-nine different meanings of “walls.”

I knew all of them. 

Then I grew up. 

There were five definitions of “wall” in the dictionary. “Wall” had five meanings. There was only one universe, the one in which the only version of me lived.

Then I grew up a bit more.

I remember geography classes from elementary school. Turkey is an earthquake zone. 

I remember my parents, grandparents, that man I met in public transport, the elderly lady at the bakery, the neighbor of my aunt … with the bitter expression of people who can’t forget … faces buried in the past, heartbeats of terror … while they were telling me of that day in 1999. And what it had taken from them. Who it had taken from them. 

There was a huge earthquake in a little city near İstanbul. 

Thousands of deaths. Beneath the walls.

They were killed by the walls that had been built to protect them. 

When I was seven years old and when there were seven parallel universes,

I thought that the walls were liars. 
Then I grew up.
At first, I thought that people were lying to themselves about the walls protecting them. 
Then I grew up a bit more. 
I wonder if there is a simple unique reality.