A Short Story Series
By Amir Bagheri
I am not really sure how many hours my spiritual trip lasted. It was mentally exhausting. I did not have an appetite for anything. The thought of food made me feel sick, but my body still begged for an espresso.
The space felt slightly cold. The wood in the fireplace had mostly turned into ash. The overall energy of the space, however, felt peaceful and enlightened. Everyone carried a light and peaceful aura; a lot of love was exchanged between us last night.
My body felt like the desert I had experienced in my visions earlier. I felt quite dehydrated suddenly and got myself a glass of water. That first sip felt heavenly. I could feel the water flow down through my body. The feeling gave me goosebumps.
It was around 6am. The sun-rays were shining through the glass windows. It was difficult for me to appreciate such a beautiful sight; given my circumstances. All I could think about was my bed. I wanted to get out of Ritim before people got out onto the streets to get to work. I was too mentally drained to navigate myself through the people or traffic. I finished my espresso, washed my cup, and gently said goodbye to everyone.
There was a specific coldness to the air, despite the gentle sunshine. As I walked my way out of Istiklal Caddesi, I couldn’t help but think about the visions that I had the night before. I was consumed by all that I could remember from it. I was getting stuck in a spiral of thoughts, until Ramana came to my mind, and Roya’s words started echoing in my head.
Ramana is fucking dangerous. She will leave you with nothing but her yellow-paleness.
Remembering this gave me a sudden anxiety attack. I did not want to go back home. I assumed that Ramana might be awake by then and I did not have the strength to face her.
I decided to go to a small guesthouse nearby, and I knew I could afford one of their better rooms for a day or two. The owner, Gul, was an old friend of mine. I had met her some years back – the first time I had visited Istanbul – in a tattoo parlour. I had spent some nights at her guesthouse before. She knew that I needed a change of space from time-to-time, so she would always welcome me without judgment. I texted her as I was walking to the guesthouse, and she confirmed that they had a room for me.
The guesthouse had a very minimalistic feel to it. There was a purpose for every item that was placed in the guesthouse; nothing unnecessary could be found on sight. Gul had only used two colours for its interior: black and white. Without exception, the guesthouse was always clean and spotless; almost like a Zen Buddhist temple. Beyond feeling at peace, no other emotions could ever emerge while you stayed there, as if it was a stoic prison.
Gul was waiting for me outside the guesthouse, to give me the keys. She was in a rush to be somewhere. I didn’t care to ask either; I was in no mood for chit chat. Once I got to her, she kissed me twice on my cheeks and gave me the keys.
“I will see you later tonight. I have to rush. I left breakfast for you in the fridge.” Gul said.
I unlocked my room and walked in. I didn’t have anything with me. No bags or clothes. I got naked right away and took a hot shower. I loved the burning sensation of hot water on my skin. It made me feel alive. It was slowly washing the anxiety away. I enjoyed my own gentle touch over my skin; something I had not felt before. To be honest, I didn’t want to get out of the shower. The warmth and steam felt too good to exchange for the cold that was awaiting me outside. After ten or fifteen minutes, I eventually got out and dried myself. My body was still tense, and I needed to stretch. The only space available was next to the bed, by the mirror. I started with my neck and shoulders, where I mostly felt tense. In between stretches, I’d have a glance over myself, my naked body, in the mirror. I was more alert than usual. I could feel the water droplets travel from my wet hair, all the way down to my neck and spine. The reflection in the mirror was by no means close to what the over involved media asked of me. I did not fit the conventions of this century’s ideal man, but somehow that morning I felt good looking at myself.
By the noise that was coming in from the outside, I could feel that Istanbul was slowly waking up. I was still holding onto that inner peace that I experienced at Ritim. Even though I was mentally and physically drained, I wanted to stay up and enjoy the present moment. I opened the windows and breathed in the air. It was slightly warmer than earlier, but there was still a freshness to it. I could smell the warm scent of freshly baked bread from the local bakery. This scent always took me back to my childhood summers when I used to stay with my grandmother during school holidays. My grandmother was old and unwell, so I would always try to help her with errands. Every morning, I’d go to her local bakery to collect 4 freshly baked naans. Since then, this specific scent would always take me back to those days, with a great sense of nostalgia. I was, once again, feeling grateful for everything I had in my life at that moment.
My phone suddenly vibrated with a text message from Ramana.
“I had a bad dream about you. Are you okay?”
To be continued.
To read the previous story in the Odd Journey short story series, click here.
“An Odd Journey” is a monthly series of short stories by Amir Bagheri, written exclusively for Odd Magazine. The context and characters in these stories will remain the same throughout the coming months, however, the storyline of each story will change depending on the monthly theme of Odd Magazine.