The Caravel Haired Woman


Author: Aksu Bora; Translation: Senem Kaptan; Editing: Feride Eralp

Spot: Woolf wanted to kill the angel in the house. What about me? Did I want to kill the caravel haired woman? Should I have killed her? Could I even do this?

Caravel is actually the name of a type of a sailboat. This woman’s hair curls upwards like the sail of the boat; that is why this hairstyle is called caravel. I do not know whether the caravel woman boards a sailboat or not; I took liking to her at home. The caravel woman is a cartoon-like woman, a woman who seems like she has been drawn. She wears a blouse and a flared skirt and an apron winding around her slim waist. She wears an apron but she also has shoes – which must be high heeled. She sometimes has a vacuum cleaner in her hand, sometimes a tray or a piece of cloth… Usually, she wears a rubber band, she dries her laundry in a garden full of sun, and she bakes her pastries in a wide kitchen. She knows how many petticoats and bras a woman should have in her drawers, when to add baking soda to the dough of the cake, how to prevent children from lying, what to be careful about when starching blouses… She knows all of these and many more… It never occurred to me to ask when and where she had learned all of these things. It is as if she were born with this information; that was how natural, how effortless and smooth she was… You’d think that everything had a solution when you looked at her shining face and saw her smile; this would not just be the solution to stiffened soda, but also to heart ache, suffering, and betrayal… to everything. It is as if she would tell you every remedy with the same shining face and smile. It is as if everything would be alright, every affliction would come to an end, it would be clear that the problem was just a little misunderstanding, everyone would make peace, and then move on to an immaculate table complete with perfectly roasted chicken…

I do not remember when exactly I met the caravel haired woman; it must have been when I was a child. I probably first saw her in the pages on household chores in journals like Hayat or Ses, or it may even be in Tina where camouflaged caravels also existed. When I started to think about her, I was, I guess, eleven or twelve; I had already started to abandon her, moving towards ‘real’ life. Of course, at that time, I had not realized how much I had underestimated the power of this woman. I had thought that it would be easy to abandon her, easy, even, to walk away without realizing that I had actually abandoned her.

We met again much later on, in a painful and chaotic period of my life. She taught me how to make pickles and enabled me to think – while I was busy placing cucumbers into jars –  that maybe everything was merely a misunderstanding. When I realized that it was not so, I abandoned her, this time willingly, on purpose. I abandoned her and that immaculately prepared table. I thought that we would never meet again; I had wished it to be so. She just smiled without saying anything. I do not know whether I understood then, but in our later encounters I always knew that the caravel haired woman will perpetually be out there, somewhere. Much later on, when I read something about the “angel in the house”, she was once again, right there. Woolf wanted to kill the angel in the house. What about me? Did I want to kill the caravel haired woman? Should I have killed her? Could I even do this? For me, these are questions which haven’t been answered – and it is because of the caravel woman that I still beat my brains over the meaning of the house, still ponder this issue.

Our relationship with her has not ended – at times I treat her like a relative to be ashamed of, sometimes like a shelter, and at other times I just turn my back on her and walk away. But she is always there. Maybe this is where her power stems from: always being there, always being ready. While writing this article, I thought about what her name could be for the first time in my life. Only one name came to my mind: Desirée.

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