I woke up at around 2:30 feeling rather disoriented, number 1 because I was sleeping on the floor, (any sleep disorder specialists out there? This started about a year ago. Go to bed on bed, wake up on floor.) and number 2 because… what the… what the… is that… JESUS CHRIST THERE’S GAS IN THE APARTMENT.
Hannah’s asthmatic so I ran to wake her up so she could close her windows, and then I found my glasses and put on a dress and a jacket, found a scarf and ran outside. People with what I call maalox eyes, (antacid solution being a reasonably good antidote for gas-burning eyes) were gathered at the end of my street looking dazed and grim. Popping sounds were coming from Bahariye so naturally I went there.
It was not good.
There was so much gas.
The police were gathered by the bull. I wandered down to see if I could count the buses and tomas, but they stretched down the street, and I couldn’t get closer without endangering myself, and then there was a pop-pop, canisters fired directly at people as usual, (the reason for the protest and the civilian anger in the first place; oh, the levels of absurdity in this chapter of history make my heart hurt) and a man grabbed my arm and jogged me to safety while another grabbed the canister and threw it back, which of course led to more pop-pops. I knelt in the street to get my breath back and just give in to the sting, and was lifted up again. Solution was sprayed in my face and I was taken by the elbow again, amid much shouting, into an apartment building and up a flight of stairs into what turned out to be a restaurant of some kind. The proprietess bathed my face and gave me water and fussed over me. The others who were recovering at my table looked at me solicitously and asked me if I was all right.
I grinned and thumbsed up.
“Super,” I said in Turkish. “The gas is delicious tonight, and the police are just great, aren’t they?”
We all laughed, perhaps a little hysterically.
When I felt better I went out again. The air was stingey but not unbearable. A small boy, bearing the look of great injustice that only small boys can wear and which in an ideal world would be reserved for losing ball games, was standing alone at the end of the road, quite near the police, sweatshirt open, making the gesture that universally means “what, you gonna hit me?” to the impassive row of riot suited men. I went down and fetched him. He resisted me and another çapulcu grabbed his arm and marched him back. A moment later he was marching back down the road again.
He was quickly fetched back and it was time to run into an alley again.
After the third or fourth dance I knelt down and could not catch my breath, and coughed so hard I puked on myself. I plunked down at the cafe next to my house, where others were resting, and made chitchat.
They headed back to the fray, and I regretfully said goodnight and we promised to see each other tomorrow.
I put the fan in the window to keep gas out, and lay down. It took me a long time to fall asleep. I listened to the gas guns and the shouting, and sometime later, shock grenades, I and as the adrenaline drained away I felt a deep deep weariness about everything in the world.
Naturally, I overslept.