Since I’ve no idea when I’ll ever mention this part of his life again in the TWiDI larger universe, here’s an except from the prose spin-off of TCM, which expands more on Zeynel/Ayse’s life in Istanbul:


After the end of his chapter, he receded quietly into the margins. Nobody knew what happened to him, or why he had left so suddenly. It was a shock, to his family and friends, and they could get no explanation from Ayse. Her lips were sealed by a sacred promise only known between herself and her husband, and it was a glue so tight, that nobody dared part the pages that follow his sudden return from an aborted business trip.

Dear reader, you’ve come this far. You’ll understand that everyone’s mistake was that they did not know how to read the language of silence. If they knew, they will see that Zeynel’s story is not completely over. It only has transformed into shadow beside the inky freshness of Ayse’s remaining decades.

In the body, as her fire grew stronger, bigger…he was away on pilgrimage. A decade (he cannot remember how long – time often loses its meaning with immortality and no true home) passed by in a kaleidoscopic blur.

Firstly, his arrival in the Sacred City. A city he originally dared not enter. It felt like sacrilege, but wasn’t he also God’s servant? Whatever else of him shouldn’t matter, if his heart was pure. With hesitation he entered, and for a long time, called it his home. That was the colour black.

Secondly, the long and lonely nights meditating and praying and fasting in caves. Those nights drove him close to madness – sometimes from the weight of his hunger, and sometimes from how much he wanted to go Home. To Istanbul. Those were the colours blue, yellow and red.

It was also where his teacher found him.

Thirdly, his brief affair as a dervish. He was brought into the guidance of an eccentric character – a wandering, carefree type, who also went to caves to meditate and pray and fast. Zeynel had seen this man many times during his excursions, and would avoid him, escaping for another cave, turning into an owl, blending into shadow. It was only a matter of time before the man caught him, and offered help. A way to manage his curse and still be with God. The man knew.

Zeynel accepted. That was the colour white.

He never regretted those years. They provided familiarity to him, in the form of studying, books and schooling. The original life he left in favour of carpets. But resuming that familiar mantle – the white cap, white tunic and well-trained voice – only reminded him why he abandoned it. It was home in a way, but it wasn’t Home.

Between his soup kitchen duties, his recitations and the long nightly rituals, he would venture into the city. He would kindly ask everyone for their stories – anything between fantasy and autobiography – and if he discovered they came from Istanbul, he would then ask about the carpet merchant. Do you know her? How is she? Any news about the workshop?

He wondered if they told her, when they returned. That there was a dervish asking for her. Did she know him?

(She did. She knew. She relished those rare instances of knowing he was well.)

Eventually, word reached his teacher. Again, he offered help. A way to manage his curse and still be with God. The man knew. He told Zeynel, not in his usual cryptic style, but quite plainly: Go home.

But I can’t go home. Not with…you know…

Do you doubt my tutelage? (a pause) Memo, I’ve taught you all that is possible. You’re my best student, and you’ll manage. All that you need now is to understand, that the answer in which you seek…it’s not with me. Not with our order. And not even in here, in this Sacred City. It’s with Ayse.

Go, Memo, go to where your heart is. Go Home.

It all made sense. Of course, of course, like all simple answers it was right there all along. He remembered when his grandfather told him something similar, that if a journey is long enough the start becomes the end. He was nearly at the end.

And so he departed this Sacred City. That was the colour orange, for the dry desert. The colour green, for the lush fields dotted with sheep. Purple for the dawn. Indigo for the twilight.

When he finally clambered up onto the roof outside her window, heart beating, limbs trembling, he recalled a quote, from a legendary poet.

You’re the road of love, and at the end, my home.

He smiled. He was Home.

That was the colour rose.

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