He wasn’t even eighteen back then. He would say, “I didn’t live my childhood at all!” if they were to ask. He began his life by polishing shoes, when he was just seven years old. He worked a number of various jobs. Apprenticeship at barbershops, seasonal laborer in Adana. Legwork at a teashop and whatnot.
Yet this last job was actually profound, dear. Who would be lucky enough to get the assistantship job in a truck? He was a brilliant young man. He mastered the engine sound, being one with it. And only in a couple of months. In quite a short period of time, he managed to win driver Ahmet’s heart, but more importantly, he also earned his trust. Master Ahmet grew so confident in him that he started to let Ahmet go behind the steering wheel when he was feeling sleepy on those endless roads.
That day, in a long-haul Mediterranean transportation job, they hit the Taurus Mountains, driving slowly. There were only two of them in the truck. Müslüm Baba was on the radio at full blast. Both were a fan of his. The truck’s windows were rolled down. They were both happy with the scent of the pine trees that was so fresh that it could suppress the strong smell of the mixture of engine oil-diesel. It made them both say “Life is worth living!”
It was mid-afternoon. They were at the provincial borders of Antalya. While passing by a small town, Master Ahmet decided to take a break. A hot, bright red tea would feel good.
Master Ahmet was a religious man, performing his prayers when he had a chance. He was a weak and exhausted man in his late forties, with calloused hands. He didn’t like talking much. And when he did, he would mainly speak of his journey-related memories. Mehmet listening to him closely made the master feel valuable. As was at the soup restaurant for truckers… Mehmet accompanied his master and performed his prayers. Gaining the favor of his master and winning his heart… This was of utmost importance! As a matter of fact, Mehmet kind of grew up without a father. He almost never had a considerable communication with his father. Because his father was a porter, carrying heavy loads on his back late into the night, and when he came home, he would grab a couple of pieces to eat and then hit the bed. To top it all, he had the responsibility of six children and a wife. The father was a good man, yet as we said, they had a relationship that involved no communication. Who knows? Maybe Mehmet was seeking his father in his master, and he probably found it!
They drank the tea and left the soup restaurant, chatting. Before long, Ahmet felt drowsy. He left the steering wheel to his assistant. Mehmet took the command of the truck with a great joy. The truck was going down the Taurus in company with the hissing break sounds. The radio wasn’t on. He couldn’t turn it on. He didn’t want to wake Master Ahmet up. The Master was in a deep sleep in the compartment with a blanket and pillow placed in the stash behind the seat.
At one point, a yellow tortoise started overtaking the truck. It was as if something spurred Mehmet on. He instantly decided to play with the small car, or to have fun with it, to be more specific. Paying no attention to the load behind, he shifted the gear to neutral. The truck instantly started to accelerate. The tortoise was an old car. It was going away on holiday with five people in it and all the suitcases it carried. It was confident in overtaking the truck. Because the truck was driving really slow in second gear. But when Mehmet disengaged the clutch, the tortoise came head-to-head with the truck. It couldn’t overtake. It was a single-lane road. The old car would have nowhere to run if another car showed up in front. The car was pushing the engine, almost to the point of explosion, honking simultaneously, while a young woman sitting on the right was giving hand signals. The signals turned into begging after a while. Because when the car applied the brakes, Mehmet was doing the same. All in all, the tortoise could neither overtake the truck nor could it get behind it.
It was as if that Mehmet was gone and a monster came instead. He was having fun! He was having fun incomprehensibly! The merciless grin on his face quite disheartened the young lady. At last, they started to proceed toward a sharp turn. At that moment, the truck started to make its load felt. Mehmet was possessed by fear. Because at that moment, he realized that Master Ahmet stopped snoring as he was giving an ear to his Master in the back. “What if he wakes up?” he thought, then decided to let the tortoise stay behind at the first chance. And just when he was going into that turn, he got what he wanted. All these things happened in just a minute. But they felt like they lasted a lifetime. “What if that yellow chick intended to overtake instead of staying behind?” he thought to himself. Because at that moment, there was an oncoming bus, climbing up.
God protected him. And yet Mehmet’s knees were shaking. His entire body was shaking in horror. He almost lost his command of the steering wheel.
They eventually reached the sea. The master woke up. He had no idea what was going on. It was the evening time. They decided to take another break at a restaurant. The restaurant was right on the beach. Trying to bring his shaking under control, Mehmet got out of the truck. Saying his clothes were all dirty, he said that he wanted to go swimming. He quickly placed the wedges under the rear wheels and ran away from his master. He undressed, left his clothes under a pine tree. He let himself go to the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
It was early summer. Mehmet was still in horror, feeling a terrifying guilt. He repented. He performed a full ablution. Doing this, he thought he could get rid of this fear and conscientious burden he had.
He got out of the sea. He was completely naked. There was nobody around. Just as he started to feel relieved after his prayers, he couldn’t find his clothes where he left them. The beach was full of pine trees that all looked the same. There were no other plants. The needle leaves were slipping under his feet. The dusk was falling. The tree crickets stopped singing, leaving the place all quiet. Almost jumping out of his skin, he suddenly felt terrified. He started thinking that he was being followed!
He was alone, defenseless, completely naked and horribly frightened.
That’s how Mehmet met a spirit of panic and paranoia.