B had a mischievous game and an enduring whimsy. He would travel on the bus wearing his watch the wrong way round just to tease other passengers and for years he fancied being the owner of a small hip flask. Hip flasks are everywhere these days, but then you could only find them abroad.
He had worked as an apprentice pharmacist. When qualified, he opened his own small pharmacy. On home visits for giving jabs and dressing wounds, he would wear a white shirt and carry a quirky bag. By hook or by crook, he would always stay a couple of hours, finding things to chat about at length.
When his cousin won two tickets for a football match in England, he joined him on the trip, but returned without a flask.
He lived in the same building as his brother. During those long chats, he would somehow always find a way to mention the music system, dating from the 80’s, that he had fixed up in his small flat there.
One day he left the flat. He must have been in his late forties then. He closed down his pharmacy. Some said he had fallen out with his brother and his business had gone downhill.
After quite some time, we began to see B again. He was living on the Anatolian side of the city with a woman he had known some years before. Early every morning, he would take a long bus journey to this side, restarting his home visits from the pharmacy his former assistant had opened on his old premises. He said he would find a flat here with a sea view and get married. He would like to have a daughter. Later on, we heard that the woman he was planning to marry wanted a separation.
One day, when she was out, he first called at a pharmacy on the way home and then bought two bottles of brandy. He sat on a chair by the window with a fragment of a distant view of the sea. After the second glass, a scene from a film he had seen when little was suddenly there before his eyes: a man in white and someone in black with hands in white gloves forming halos were dancing far away from each other in a dimly lit room. As the dancer in black came closer, he remembered a poem: You shall all die! Go to the heavens with no shame! Your souls shall desert you! You shall be buried underground, covered with earth! Worms, insects, maggots will cheerfully pounce on you. Your hands will be bare! No one will look at your picture.
He thought of kelime-i şehadet, the Islamic confession of faith, but then remembered that he was not a believer. He managed to lie down on the divan. Took off his watch. Put it back on the wrong way round.