I Sit in the Light


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104 in stock


By Fatma Durmush


ISBN: 978-1-84747-028-7
Published: 2006
Pages: 137
Key Themes: ethnic minorities, short stories, schizophrenia, homelessness, strength, recovery


‘I Sit in the Light’ is a collection of short plays and stories written by a successful artist, playwright and former schizophrenic. They chart 20 years of life experience and are clearly influenced by the vast tome of emotions which Fatma has been through. Her years as a ‘down and out’ and her years as a dishwasher have inspired her to write about some of the struggles of life.

About the Author

Fatma Durmush was born in 1959; after years spent suffering from schizophrenia she has finally achieved her ambition to be a renowned artist and now has an art degree. She will be going on to study an MA in art this year. As well as an artist and successful author, Fatma is also a playwright. She found a modest niche in America where two of her plays have been performed, one of which will soon be published in an anthology. In the UK She has been published by The Big Issue as well as books and pamphlets. Her artwork has featured in over sixty exhibitions at, amongst others, the Tate Modern and The National Gallery.

Book Extract

It was Istanbul on the night when it whirled round at precisely 3 am on the 17th August. This was when Ceylan found herself at the very bottom of the stairs. The building was on top of her. She was not awake yet and thought that she was in a nightmare. But she was wet with blood and this terrified her. Ceylan called her children, but they did not answer her. It was only later that she realised, she was on top of her child.

She was thirsty, she wanted to pee. She realised it was morning because she heard voices outside. Then someone called, “Is there anyone there?” “Yes,” she croaked but they did not hear her. She was buried alive, she tried to raise her voice, to scream but could not.

She heard a male voice “Is there anyone there?” His voice was raised so that she had to answer back, but when she did, he did not hear. She was house-proud, and did not like her household to be viewed like this. In fact the house was a mess. She was also a nurse, her job was to bring relief, and now she was in need. She has a good for nothing husband who did not come near her unless he wanted something. He drank, you see.

A terrible tiredness overtook her. She was on something soft and tender, maybe a cushion. She could not move to feel it. It felt soft when her skin came into contact with it, whatever it was it felt cold. “Why is it cold?” She asked herself. She refused to know. She was a trained nurse that was why.

Whatever this was, she could not think about it. She moaned as she felt the pain in her legs. She could not move them.

She heard one of her children scream and thanked “Allah. Allah the merciful. “Janim!” what could one do without God? She was about to pray but realised that she would wait because she was dirty. One had to be clean to pray. “Janim!” she screamed to the child and the child stopped crying. “Janim, don’t cry.”

What was it that touched her like a ghost. “Ahmed.”No sound. “Mehmed?”
“Why does Ahmed not answer?”
“Mehmed, do you hear me?” She had asked that for the whole of the night and got no reply. Maybe the children were asleep.
“Yes mother. It’s too dark. Only dead people have things on top of them. Does it mean now that we are dead?”
“No. Stop talking. You are wasting your energy.”
“Where is baba?”
“Where can he be? I guess he’s at the cafe drinking raki.” Then they ceased talking and dreamt of water.
“At all cost, don’t waste water, tears spill water.”
“Is there anyone there?”
The repetitive voice woke them up from their dreams.
“Yes,” she bellowed suddenly, with full strength coming from her not realised before. They had heard her. She knew they had, because they answered back. After twelve hours of waiting she had a confirmation. Her inner world became chaos. She was glad for herself. She could not think about the children or about her patients. She thanked them for herself.

There was a gigantic noise out there and as the man came and asked again, “Is there anybody there.” She answered, “Yes.”
Mehmed hadn’t cried for hours now. She was hungry and the thirst had become unbearable. Her leg hurt and she did not know what to do.

Two hours have dragged on. The shadows in her mind had begun to take over: long and short shapes of people playing. She did not look forward to when the shadows would stop. That would be a kind of death for they had kept her alive.

She feared for her children, for herself, mostly that something had come at her and she was a woman prey to stings and blows, “Oh Allahim what right do you have to give us this earthquake? Why Istanbul?” And she waited. She was buried deep under rubble now. Where were her patients and would she lose her hands and feet? Her leg hurt but it became numb which was a blessing. She only wanted water.

“Mehmed? Janim are you all right?” Mehmed did not answer. “Answer, Mehmed!” and Ahmed, only two years old!” No answer – she had lost the power of her own authority.
Her boys- would they grow up? The dead skin was so thin and tender she felt the bones scrape her hand. She realised that it was Ahmed. He was awfully cold. She blinked away her tears. She must have fallen on him and the impact had killed him. Softly she cried. She felt her damp hair on her scalp.
“Mehmed, Janim?”

She had murdered her own child, “Allah I’ve been punished enough!” Then light entered again, she blinked away tears. “Get the child,” the men said. Her eyes glazed, “My leg.” she began but they were more concerned for the child. She knew that he was dead. Then they got her out. She blinked and rubbed her eyes. She saw ruins where once buildings stood. It had taken eight seconds to do what it had done.
“Yes,” the man answered.

“Where is Mehmed?”
“Is there another child?”
“Yes. He’s alive for Allah’s sake, he’s alive.”
“Yes he is,” said the man and the child came out with only his pants on.

They had lost everything and her husband who had got out was found very much alive but with no fingers. Ceylan could not have a man without any fingers, so she threw him out of the tent.



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