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Authors: Orhan Pamuk

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A few minutes later, due to the faint light emanating from the line of the horizon which had turned slightly more crimson, the dark clouds in the east seemed to be illuminated from below and along the edges. I realized something looking at the wondrous shapes assumed in the faint light by these ferocious clouds that had kept it raining without respite on the roof of the bus all night long: Since the steppe was still pitch dark, I could see in the faint light inside the bus my own face and body reflected on the windshield directly in front of me, and simultaneously I could see the magical crimson flush, the wondrous clouds, and the broken lines in the highway that tirelessly repeated themselves.

Looking at the broken median line in the high beams of the bus, I was reminded of the refrain, that same refrain that rises out of the very soul of the tired and dejected traveler riding on the weary bus to the rhythm of the tires going around at the same rate, the engine whining at the same tempo, and life reiterating itself with the same measure, which is then repeated by the power poles along the highway: What is life? A period of time. What is time? An accident. What is accident? A life. A new life … So that was my refrain. At the same time, I was wondering when my reflection would disappear off the windshield and when the first ghost of a tree or the shadow of a sheep pen would be visible on the steppe; it was at that magic moment of equilibrium between the light inside the bus and the light outside that suddenly my eyes were dazzled by a bright light.

In that new light on the right side of the windshield, I beheld the angel.

The angel was so close to me and yet how far. Even so, I still knew this: the profound, plain, and powerful light was there for me. Even though the Magirus hurtled through the steppe with all its might, the angel would neither draw close nor draw back. The brilliant light kept me from seeing what the angel looked like for sure, but I knew from the sense of playfulness, the sense of lightness, the sense of freedom I felt inside me that I had recognized the angel.

The angel looked nothing like those in the Persian miniatures, nor like the ones on the wrappers of the caramels, not anything like the photocopied angels or even the presence in my dreams all those years whose voice I longed to hear.

For a moment, I yearned to say something, to speak with the angel … perhaps because of the vague sense of playfulness and surprise I still felt. But I made no sound; I became anxious. The sense of camaraderie, affinity, and tenderness I had felt from the first moment was still alive inside me; I hoped to find peace in this, thinking it was the moment I had been anticipating all this time, but to allay the fear that grew inside me even faster than the speed of the bus, I wished the moment would provide me with the answers to time, accident, peace, writing, life, and the new life.

The angel was as pitiless as it was distant and wondrous. Not because it wished to be so, but because it was only a witness and could do nothing more. In the incredible light of daybreak, it saw me sitting bewildered and anxious in my seat in the front, riding on the tin can of a Magirus hurtling through the half-lit steppe; that was all. I felt the unbearable power of what was merciless and inevitable.

When I instinctively turned to the driver, I saw the entire windshield surging with an extraordinarily powerful light. Two trucks were passing each other about sixty or seventy yards from us, both had us in their high beams and were fast approaching on a collision course with our bus. I knew the accident was unavoidable.

I remembered the anticipation of peace following the accidents I had lived through years ago … the feeling of transition after an accident which seemed filmed in slow motion. I remembered the passengers who were neither here nor there stirring blissfully, as if sharing together time that had come out of paradise. Shortly all the sleepy travelers would be awake, and the stillness of the morning would be broken with happy screams and thoughtless cries; and on the threshold between the two worlds, as if discovering the eternal jokes existent in a space without gravity, we would collectively discover with confusion and excitement the presence of bloody internal organs, spilled fruits, sundered bodies, and all those combs, shoes, children's books that spilled out of torn suitcases.

No, not quite collectively. The fortunate ones who were to live through the unique moment that followed the incredible tumult of the accident would be among those passengers left alive sitting in the seats in the back. As to myself, ensconced in the first seat in the front, looking straight into the light of the approaching trucks, my eyes dazzled in amazement and fear, just as I had once looked into the incredible light that surged from the book, I would be instantly transported into a new world.

I knew it was the end of my life. And yet I had only wanted to return home; I absolutely had no wish for death, nor for crossing over into the new life.

Istanbul

1992–1994

ALSO BY ORHAN PAMUK

The White Castle

The Black Book

 

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

19 Union Square West, New York 10003

Copyright © 1997 by Orhan Pamuk

Translation copyright © 1997 by Güneli Gün

All rights reserved

Published simultaneously in Canada by HarperCollins
CanadaLtd

First published in 1994 by Ilepşim Yaymlan, as
Yeni Hayat

First American edition, 1997

eBooks may be purchased for business or promotional use. For information on bulk purchases, please contact Macmillan Corporate and Premium Sales Department by writing to [email protected]

The translations of passages from Dante's
La Vita Nuova
in Chapter 15 are by Barbara Reynolds (Penguin Classics, 1969) and that from Rainer Maria Rilke's
Duino Elegies
is by David Young (Norton, 1978). The other translations are my own, by way of the Turkish version. Neşati Akkalen and his book are Orhan Pamuk's invention.

eISBN 9781466887640

First eBook edition: November 2014

BOOK: The New Life
6.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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