*I haven’t read the whole book yet. These are just some thoughts I cannot seem to shrug after reading the first 100 pages of Orhan Pamuk’s “The Museum of Innocence.”
“My whole life depends on you now.”
This is a line in a book that achieves more than its function, for me. Upon reading this line to myself, I imagined a dusty room filled with forgotten things in a forgotten apartment in Istanbul.
Although a stranger to the country and its traditions, I come to gain its acquaintance through the first hundred pages of Orhan Pamuk’s The Museum of Innocence. In my mind, I see the posh suburbs with wide enough roads and fashion boutiques imitating their Parisian counterparts. If I go towards the poorer parts, I see narrow streets where God fearing people live.
When I get back to the room, I see a couple- a man of 30 and a girl who has just turned 18 lying out of breath on a rusty bed, seemingly overwhelmed by their love making. They are naked. Sweat glistens on their bodies and they are taking labored breaths, trying to get their heart rates to a normal.
The girl looks up at the man with her childish eyes and says with as much innocence and purity as she can muster, the above mentioned lines.
It is that moment that I cannot read ahead off. The reality of their situations is so in contrary to the reality of the apartment where they conduct their clandestine meetings. The man is engaged to be married to another, a very ‘suitable girl’ and rational thought deems that the marriage be followed through with.
But my heart is a different question.
I know he is in the wrong. I know that this eighteen year old woman child is to be blamed also. But I can’t. I just can’t. This story challenges my morality. It challenges all my learnt notions of love. It is beyond the rational mind to comprehend.
Just as the writer searches for answers on why he fell in love with this woman child; if at all it was love or something more; I too am in a fix.
Why is it that natural law takes precedence over societal norms and why is it that we find such a scenario so bizarre. Who should we listen to when it comes to the subject of conjugal love- society or our bodies?
I cannot go beyond this point in the story- one filled with purity and devoid of the pollutions of civilized thoughts. It is in this fact that I surprise myself.