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150 ECG - 150 ĐTĐ - HAMPTON - 4th ED.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011



My father, an Anatolian village boy, came to Istanbul at the age of thirteen. My mother, from another Anatolian village, also came to Istanbul as a very small child. They had to make this long journey, meet in Istanbul and get married so that I could come into the world.

The choice was not left to me, so I was born at a very unsuitable time--the bloodiest and most fiery days of World War I, in 1915. Again, the choice not being in my hands, my birth occurred not only at an unseemly time but also in an unfavorable place, on Heybeli Island. Heybeli lies offshore of Istanbul and was the summer residence of Turkey's richest people. And since the rich couldn't live without the poor--they had such a great need for them-- we, too, lived on the island.

I don't mean to imply with these remarks that I was unlucky. On the contrary, I consider myself as being quite fortunate in not coming from a rich, noble and famous family.

They named me "Nusret." In Turkish, this Arabic word means "God's Help." It was a name entirely fitting to us because my family, destitute of any other hope, bound all their hope in God.

Ancient Spartans killed, with their own hands, offspring who were born weak and puny, raising only the strong and healthy. This process of selection for us Turks is performed by nature and society. When I disclose that my four brothers died in infancy, unable to endure their hostile environment, you will easily understand how stubborn I was in surviving. And my mother, unable to endure beyond her twenty-sixth year, died, leaving this beautiful world, so worth living in, to those who were strong.

In capitalist countries the milieu is excellent for merchants, in socialist countries, most favorable for writers. That is, a man who knows his business must become a writer if he's in a socialist state, or a merchant if he's in a capitalist one. How contrary a man I was going to be was already evident in my childhood, for even at the age of ten, in a country like Turkey--a capitalist scrap pile--I'd determined to become a writer though no one in my family could read or write.

My father, like every good father who gives thought to his son's future, advised, "Forget this silly idea of writing and take a good honest job, one you can make a living at!" I was beyond listening to him.

My obstinacy didn't stop there. Although I wished to be a writer, yearned to take pen in hand, I entered a school where they would thrust a rifle in my hand.

During my early years I couldn't do what I liked, and didn't like what I did do. I wanted to become a writer, but became a soldier. At that time, the only schools where poor, penniless children could study free were military schools; therefore I was forced to enter a military boarding school.

In 1933 when the surname law was passed which directed every Turk to select a last name, people's secret feelings of inferiority surfaced: Some of the world's stingiest became known as "Eliachik" (Openhanded), the greatest cowards named themselves "Yurekli" (Stoutheart), and many of the laziest took the name ''Chalishkan" (Industrious ) . One of our teachers chose the surname of "Cheviker" (Dextrous) when he could barely sign his name to a letter. The rampant racism present caused people with mixed blood to grab for surnames which signified they were Turks.

Invariably I came last in any kind of scramble; I was no different in this one for nice surnames. No surname remained that I could take pride in, so I assumed the name of "Nesin" (What-are-you?). I wanted to think of what I was and pull myself together whenever anyone called "What-are-you? "In 1937 I became an officer, you know, a Napoleon. Well really, I was merely one of the Napoleons. Every new officer thinks himself Napoleon. Some of them never recover from this sickness; it lasts a whole lifetime. Others are cured after awhile. ''Napoleonitis'' is a dangerous and contagious disease. The symptoms are these: The victims think only of Napoleon's victories, never of his defeats; they are prone to tuck a right hand between jacket buttons; they stand before a map of the world, drawing arrows with a red crayon and, after subjugating and occupying the entire world in five minutes, regret that the world is so small. Victims of this disease rave as in a high fever. There are other dangers. In later stages, they may fancy themselves Tamerlane, Ghengis Khan, Attila, Hannibal, Moltke, even Hitler or others such as these.

As a fresh young officer, twenty-two or twenty-three, I conquered the world a few times on the map with a red crayon. My Napoleon complex lasted only a year or two. However, even during this malady, I never leaned toward fascism.

From childhood on, I desired to be a playwright. In the army were infantry, cavalry, artillery and tank corps, but no military playwright branch, so I looked for a way out and was discharged in 1944.

Even after becoming generals, some officers still had an ache in their craws to be poets or writers and wrote poems or novels, much to the amazement of everyone but themselves. Yet how nonsensical and comical it would seem to them if a fifty-year-old poet should want to become an army commander.

I began storywriting during my military service. Since in those times a soldier who wrote for the newspapers was looked upon with disfavor by his superiors, I didn't write in my own name but under my father's, Aziz Nesin. My real name, Nusret Nesin, was obscured by this first pseudonym and forgotten.

In those times they referred to me as the young writer. My father was a graybearded old man. When this graybearded old man had business in a government office and introduced himself as Aziz Nesin, nobody believed it and they gave him a hard time. My father persisted in trying to prove his identity as Aziz Nesin in various official bureaus until he died.

Years later, when my books were translated into foreign tongues, in order to collect my copyright royalties which had come to the bank in the name of Aziz Nesin, I fought to prove that I was Aziz Nesin although "Nusret Nesin" was written on my identity papers.

Like many others, I started my writing by composing poetry. Nazim Hikmet, while staging his hunger strike, advised me to give up poetry, that I wrote it badly, and that I should confine my writing to stories and novels. From these remarks I concluded that Nazim was jealous (!) of me. To those who've asked why I gave up poetry, I've replied that I abandoned it because one doesn't make money in Turkey as a poet. The truth of the matter is that, due to my great respect for poetry, I dropped it.

These days, many of those who claim the title of poet continue to think that what they produce is poetry, because they have no respect for poetry. I believe that poetry is a great art because many writers, being unsuccessful as poets, are pushed into becoming successful, famous writers. I'm not saying this about myself, for I won great popularity by showing just how badly poetry could be written. The large amount of interest shown in my published poems was not due to their beauty; it was because a woman's signature appeared at the bottom. My poems were published under a female pseudonym and stacks of love letters poured in addressed to that name.

From childhood on, it's been my ambition to set down words that would make people weep. I took a story, written with this intent, to a magazine. The editor-in-chief, who should have been sobbing as he read my story, showed such a lack of understanding that he laughed long and loud, then, wiping the tears of laughter from his eyes, said "Bravo! Very good. Write more stories like this and bring them to us."

This, my first disillusionment in writing, continues: My readers laugh at most of the things I've written to make them cry. Even when I became known as a writer of humor, I didn't know what humor was. I can't say that I really know now, but I can tell you as much as I do know. I learned humor by doing it. Often I'm asked what humor is made of, as if it were a recipe or formula. In summation of what I've learned about the subject, I'll give such a formula: Humor is a very serious business.

In 1945, when those in power incited several thousand reactionaries to demonstrate and demolish the Tan Newspaper, where I worked, I was left unemployed and could find no work with any paper. They would not accept any writing under my name. Thus it was that I commenced writing for newspapers and magazines under more than two hundred assumed names. These were writings of all types including editorials, anecdotes, reports, interviews, police novels and stories. Upon a newspaper owner's discovery that a pseudonym was mine, I invented a new one.

Many many mix-ups occurred because of these assumed names. For example, I published a monologue children's book under the name "Oya Atesh," a combination of my daughter's and son's names. Those in power were unaware I'd penned these monologues, and they were used in almost every elementary school in addition to being recited at evening entertainments. "Oya Atesh" was listed as a woman author in the "Bibliographie of Turkish Women Writers'' which was published later on.

Another story I wrote, which was published in a magazine under a French pseudonym, was accepted in an anthology of world humor as an example of French humor.

Still another of my stories, which I published under an invented Chinese name, later appeared in a second magazine as a translation from Chinese.

During the times I couldn't work as a writer, though I tried many jobs like grocer, salesman, accountant, newspaper peddler and photographer, I was a failure at all of them.

As a result of my writing I've been imprisoned five and a half years. Six months of those years were caused by King Farouk of Egypt and the Iranian Shah, Riza. King Farouk and Shah Riza claimed that I insulted them in my articles and through their ambassadors in Ankara had me brought into court, the end result being a six-month's jail sentence for me.

From my first wife I have two children, and two from my second--altogether, four children.

At my first arrest (1946), the question the police asked me continually for six days was this:

''Who is the real writer of these articles that came out under your name?"

They wouldn't believe that I wrote them.

Not long after this event--two years--the opposite occurred. This time the police claimed I wrote articles with other signatures. The first time I'd tried to prove I wrote, the second, that I didn't write. On one such occasion an expert witness testified that I'd written an article under another name, so I was imprisoned sixteen months for an article I didn't write.

My first wife and I were married and walked under the sabers of my officer friends as the orchestra played the tango, "Comparasita." I exchanged wedding rings with my second wife through the bars of the prison. You see that this was not a shining beginning.

I was thin. Languishing again and again in prison, I put on weight.

In 1956 I took first place at the International Humor Contest and won the Golden Palm. Newspapers and magazines which would not publish my writings with my own signature before my winning of the Golden Palm, hastened to do so afterwards. But this didn't last long.

Then once more writings under my own name were banned from the newspapers and I was forced to enter the contest again in 1957 to win another Golden Palm. After this, my name reappeared in newspapers and magazines. In 1966, at the International Humor Contest, held in Bulgaria, I took first place and won the Golden Hedgehog.

Upon the political revolution in Turkey on 27 May 1960, in my joy I donated one of the Golden Palms to the State Treasury. A few months after this event I was again thrown into jail. I'm saving the second Golden Palm and the Golden Hedgehog for future joyful days, saying to myself that they'll be needed.

People are amazed that to this date I've written more than two thousand stories. Really there is nothing surprising in this. If my family, whom I'm obliged to support, numbered twenty instead of only ten, I should have had to write more than four thousand stories.

I am fifty-three years old, have fifty-three books, forty thousand lira in debts, four children and one grandchild. I live alone. My writings have been translated into twenty-three languages, my books into seventeen; my plays have been performed in seven countries.

Only two things can I hide from others: one my fatigue, the other my age. Excepting these two, all of me is exposed and open. It's said that I look young for my age. It must be that I am so busy working I don't have time to age.

I'm not one who says, "Had I the chance to come to this world again, I would do the same things all over again." On my second coming I would want to do more than on my first, much much more and much much better.

If in the entire history of mankind had just one immortal been found, I would have looked to him for guidance and tried to achieve immortality too; but what am I to do without a model? It's not my fault--I'll die like everyone else.

I love humanity so much, so excessively, that I can even be angry with them.

This is my as yet unfinished story. I realize that readers are generally bored with long articles so I think the conclusion won't take long. The thing I am most curious about is the end of this story which I will never be able to learn.



In 1972 the Aziz Nesin Foundation was brought into being by Aziz Nesin in order to enable children in need of to get a proper personal and professional education.

Nesin's outspoken atheism often made him a target of Islamic extremists. He most recently made international news by translating and publishing in a newspaper parts of Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. Muslim fundamentalists tried to kill him in an arson attack at a hotel in the Turkish town of Sivas in 1993. Nesin escaped the fire, which killed 37 writers, poets and intellectuals who had gathered to commemorate the death of a 16th-century poet hanged for his opposition to religious oppression.



Forgive Me

Sometimes I come too soon

Like I came to this world

Or sometimes too late

Like I loved you at this age

I am always late for happiness

I always go to misery too soon

Either everything has already come to an end

Or nothing has started yet

I am at a step of life that is

Too soon to die, too late to love

I am late again, forgive me my love

I am on the verge of love, but death is closer.

Tha thứ cho anh

Có lúc anh đến quá sớm

Như khi anh đến với thế giới

Đôi khi anh đến quá muộn

Như anh yêu em ở tuổi này

Anh luôn muộn màng với những điều hạnh phúc

Anh luôn đến sớm trước những nỗi khổ đau

Có phải tất cả đã kết thúc

Hay chưa có gì được bắt đầu?

Anh ở ngưỡng cửa cuộc đời

Chết thì sớm mà yêu đương thành muộn

Anh muộn mất rồi, tha thứ cho anh, em nhé

Anh đứng ở ngưỡng yêu, nhưng cái chết lại quá gần

Cartoon: Aziz Nesin Turkish Humour Writer (medium) by halisdokgoz tagged aziz,nesin,turkish,humour,writer

I Know Before You Tell

I perceive that you will run away..

I can't beg, I can't run

But leave your voice with me

I know you'll break off

I can't hold your hair

But leave your smell with me

I understand that you'll leave

I am already ruined, I can't collapse

But leave your color with me

I feel that you'll get lost

That will be my greatest pain

But leave your heat with me

I distinguish that you'll forget

Pain is a vast grey ocean

But leave your taste with me

You'll leave anyway

I have no right to stop you

But leave yourself with me

Anh biết trước khi em nói

Anh biết em sẽ bỏ đi

Anh không thể cầu xin, anh không thể chạy theo

Nhưng hãy để lại giọng nói em bên anh

Anh biết em sẽ chia tay

Anh không thể giữ chặt tóc em

Nhưng hãy để lại mùi hương em bên anh

Anh hiểu em sẽ ra đi

Anh đã tàn úa, anh không thể gục ngã

Những hãy để lại màu sắc em bên anh

Anh cảm thấy em sẽ biến mất

Đó là nỗi đau của anh, nỗi đau lớn nhất

Những hãy để lại trái tim em cho anh

Anh hiểu rồi em sẽ quên

Nỗi đau là đại dương mênh mông xám ngắt

Nhưng hãy để lại vị em trong môi anh

Dù sao thì em vẫn ra đi

Anh chẳng có quyền gì ngăn em

Nhưng hãy để lại bản thân em bên anh

The Most Beautiful

This museum,

It is beautiful only when I go there with you.

When there is no one else in the hall,

Kissing you is the most beautiful thing.

This raki,

It is beautiful only when I'm drinking it with you.

Whoever is around,

The most beautiful thing is to kiss your mouth with raki.

This world, you see,

It is beautiful only if I'm living with you

And you,

You are beautiful only if you are with me

Tuyệt vời nhất

Bảo tàng này,

Chỉ tuyệt vời khi anh đến cùng em

Khi không có ai trong sảnh

Và anh hôn em

Đó là điều tuyệt nhất.

Rượu này

Chỉ tuyệt vời khi anh uống với em.

Dù ai ở chung quanh.

Hôn lên môi em với rượu nồng

Đó là điều tuyệt nhất.

Thế giới này, em biết đấy,

Chỉ tuyệt vời khi anh sống với em.

Và em,

Em chỉ tuyệt vời khi em ở cùng anh.


You made me wait so long, so long that

I got used to missing you

You came back after a long time

I now love longing for you more than I love you

Mong đợi

Em bắt anh chờ lâu

Chờ em lâu quá

Anh đã quen với nỗi nhớ em

Em trở lại sau thật lâu

Giờ đây, anh yêu nỗi mong em

Nhiều hơn anh yêu em.


If you hear the sound of the key in the lock

When you come home at night

Know that you are alone

If you hear a small cracking sound

When you push the light switch

Know that you are alone

If the sound of your heart doesn't let you sleep

When you go to bed

Know that you are alone

If you hear that time is nibbling

The books and papers in your room

Know that you are alone

If a voice from the past

Is calling you to the old days

Know that you are alone

If you want to escape from loneliness

Without appreciating it

You are totally alone even if you can escape

Âm thanh

Nếu bạn nghe tiếng chìa trong ổ khóa

Trong đêm bạn trở về nhà

Bạn chỉ có riêng mình

Nếu bạn nghe tiếng cạch nhẹ

Khi bạn bật công tắc

Bạn chỉ có riêng mình

Nếu tiếng trái tim không cho bạn ngủ

Khi bạn ở trên giường

Bạn chỉ có riêng mình

Nếu bạn nghe thời gian gặm nhấm

Sách và giấy trong phòng

Bạn chỉ có riêng mình

Nếu tiếng gọi đến từ quá khứ

Nhắc bạn nhớ những ngày xưa

Bạn chỉ có riêng mình

Nếu bạn muốn trốn chạy nỗi cô đơn

Và không coi trọng nó

Cả khi bạn chạy trốn được

Bạn hoàn toàn cô độc

You at Your Absence

I am not alone again, as always

I am with your absence at this far-eastern night

Twenty five thousand kilometers between us

You live winter, I live summer

You are in one half of the world,

I am in the other half

Still, your absence does not leave my hand

You are even more 'for me'

That burning nakedness of you, in flames

Is a thousand times more beautiful than your presence

And as your hands talk about the deepest secrets

I don't want to write to you without saying that

We love each other across twenty five thousand kilometers

Xa em

Anh không còn cô độc

Anh ở bên nỗi vắng em

Đêm miền đông xa xôi

Giữa chúng ta là hai nhăm ngàn cây số

Em sống trong mùa đông, anh ở với mùa hè

Em ở nửa bên kia thế giới

Anh nửa bên này.

Dẫu vậy, em chẳng rời tay anh

Em còn là của anh hơn nữa.

Bóng hình em trần truồng bốc cháy

Đẹp đẽ nghìn lần hơn khi em ở cạnh anh.

Và đôi tay em kể anh nghe những bí mật thẳm sâu

Anh không muốn viết cho em mà không nhắc tới

Chúng ta yêu nhau cách hai nhăm ngàn cây số

Remaining Silent

There is no word unsaid under this sun.

That is why I say at nights that I love.

There is no word unsaid either at night or during the day.

And I say what has already been said in new forms.

There is no form in the world not tried.

And I remain silent, hiding my love inside.

You hear how my silence screams, don't you.

There are many declaring their love with silence, my love.

But there is no one who loves like I remain silent...

Im lặng

Dưới ánh mặt trời, không điều gì chưa nói

Cho nên anh nói lời yêu trong đêm tối

Trong đêm và trong ngày, không điều gì chưa nói

Cho nên anh nói những lời cũ kỹ bằng những cách mới

Không có cách nói nào chưa từng thử trên thế giới

Cho nên anh im lặng, để che giấu tình yêu

Em có nghe tiếng lặng im anh vang vọng?

Có những kẻ nói tiếng yêu bằng cách lặng im

Nhưng chẳng tình yêu nào giống anh lại chịu lặng im như thế.

In Vain

You are not here

It's raining in vain,

We won't be able to soak together...

This river is in vain,

Its struggle and flutter...

We won't be able to sit by it and watch together...

The roads go on and on

They get tired in vain

We won't be able to walk together...

Yearning and separation are in vain

We are far from each other

We won't be able to cry together...

I love you in vain

I live in vain

We won't be able to share life together...

Vô vọng

Em không ở đây

Trời mưa vô vọng

Chúng ta chẳng thể cùng nhau rũ ướt

Dòng sông vô vọng

Trồi dạt nước trôi

Chúng ta chẳng thể ngồi bên, để cùng ngắm dòng sông

Những con đường trải dài vô tận

Những con đường mệt mỏi vô vọng

Chúng ta chẳng thể dạo bước bên nhau

Mong ước và cách trở vô vọng

Mình ở quá xa nhau

Không thể cùng nhau khóc

Anh yêu em vô vọng

Anh sống vô vọng

Chúng ta không thể sẻ chia cuộc sống với nhau.

Insufficient World

My heart doesn't fit into my body

My body into my room

My room doesn't fit into my house

My house into the world

My world doesn't fit into the universe

I will explode

The pain of my grief made me silent

My silence doesn't fit into the skies

How can I tell such a pain to anyone

My love doesn't fit into my heart

My brain into my head

Ah, my temples

I am about to crack

I understand now, I understand

I won't be able to tell anyone

Thế giới không đủ

Trái tim tôi không hợp cùng thân thể

Thân thể tôi không phù hợp căn phòng

Căn phòng tôi lạc lõng với ngôi nhà

Và ngôi nhà xa xôi cùng thế giới

Thế giới của tôi lạc loài trong vũ trụ

Tôi sẽ nổ tung.

Cơn đau đớn khiến tôi câm lặng

Nỗi câm lặng chẳng hợp với trời xanh

Làm sao tôi có thể kể nỗi đau này với ai?

Tình yêu tôi không hợp với trái tim

Trí óc tôi không hợp với mái đầu

Ôi, thái dương tôi nhức nhối

Tôi sắp đứt vỡ.

Tôi đã hiểu, phải, tôi hiểu

Tôi chẳng thể kể với một ai.

Translated by Vũ Hoàng Linh