Beyoğlu, My Love

I was a university student when we first met. I admit I was timid as much as I was curious about your main artery, İstiklal Avenue. I can picture my young self vividly, wandering your streets, gazing at the centuries-old buildings as autumn winds blew.

The more intimate we get, the harder I try to connect with all those past lives that still haunt you. The shrill voice of a seasoned Genoese sailor mixes with the inner voice of a reed flute player searching for his heart in the Galata Mevlevi Lodge. All around me, I can hear the voices of the people who once felt the profound love I feel for you now. From one of your back streets, I hear the whimpers of your desperate lovers taking refuge in the chortle of a seductive damsel.

Seagulls take flight from the roof of that building with the depiction of a woman holding an ear of wheat on its façade. They hover, squawking loudly over İstiklal Avenue. A young woman looks up to the sky and greets the seagulls. She is excited, her hand over her heart. Because the boy has kissed her on the neck for the first time. A victorious smile is plastered on the lips of the teenage boy who saw her. Everyone on the avenue can tell the girl he loves has said yes.

Hold on. I’m suddenly confused. Did I really fall in love with you for the first time when I was a naïve nineteen-year-old? Or was it before that? Medusa smirks as she watches İstiklal Avenue from the façade of the Botter Apartment. A drop of her noxious blood falls on the avenue. Beyoğlu is both a poison and a cure, she tells me gloriously, staring in another direction.

The sweet sound of a piano spreads along the avenue from one of the abandoned buildings that boast the splendor of the past. Newcomers will never notice the sound of the piano because Beyoğlu has secret doors. Those who miss these doors won’t tune into the true sound of the avenue. A young girl steps out onto a balcony of Narmanlı Han. Grasping her violin, she joins the piano melody heard from the abandoned building. Carrying red roses in her arms, Madame Matilda stops in front of a building with broken windows. Perhaps, a century ago, she was the one who played the piano, and the melody was heard all over Beyoğlu.

The passing of time in Beyoğlu is as magical as love. Time has its own rhythm here, one that transcends space. Love is timeless in the hidden corners of İstiklal Avenue. The doors of love will only open to those who can comprehend it.

I’m only at the beginning of my infatuation with you. I’m yet to discover those secret corners. Many more doors await us to be opened. See that red-haired woman walking past Markiz? Beyoğlu and I look each other in the eye. I feel it holding my hand calmly. I hear it whisper into my ear… “Our love will flow forever on its own course. It may gush or flow quietly, but it will prevail forever.” I smile…