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Gramophone and Typewriter, By Sait Faik

Gramophone and Typewriter, By Sait Faik

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Short story, "Gramaphone and Typewriter" by Sait Faik, translated from Turkish into English by Nilufer Mizanoglu Reddy.
Short story, "Gramaphone and Typewriter" by Sait Faik, translated from Turkish into English by Nilufer Mizanoglu Reddy.

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Published by: Mrs Nilufer Mizanoglu Reddy on Jun 05, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/24/2013

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THE GRAMOPHONE AND THE TYPEWRITER
 by Sait Faik I love these two little machines, produced by the human brain after many days of thinking, that make life so easy for us. Whoever it was (Edison?), who thought of not letting the beautiful voices of the living and the dead disappear, might havedied without ever recording his own voice. He must have said: "I have a crackedvoice, what's the use of preserving it? Let the good voices remain in the world." Idon't know who invented the typewriter. He must have been a clever seal maker.Doesn't the typewriter look basically the same as a seal? Like the seal thatdisappeared since the signature became important. The typewriter is somethinglike the signature of the letters. You put your hand on the letters and the letterssign without making any meaningful words in any language.The radio and the gramophone are not related at all. The gramophone is a
suigeneris
idea. I never needed a radio. As to the gramophone, not everybody has aneed for it, but I can say that I have. I don't even like the radio. Pardon me, butthe voice of the man in Paris talking in my room seems fake to me. He's not reallytalking in my room. Anyway, would I let that chatterbox babble in my room?Also the radio stations make me listen to what they themselves want to listen to.Maybe, I don't want what the other people make me listen to, what they choose; just as I myself choose the book I read myself, I myself should also choose thewoman with a lovely voice myself. We're not in school anymore. I should at leasthave the right to choose what I want in my own room. I simply don't love theradio; it has so many annoyances: to begin with, it is the source of disturbance tothe neighbors. Then what about its influence in stirring up ambitions to become amember of the bourgeoisie? The man is a butcher; his wife pesters him to buy aradio, but he cannot buy it. Then one day he makes a few hundred liras by sellingbuffalo meat as veal and comes home with a radio that has one green eye. In theevening, heavens, so many sounds from so many places! But the wife couldn'teven hear them because of her bragging. The radio is used in innumerable viledoings. The shameless one is a spy! You can't take one step in the world, withoutits knowledge, even if you are a state. It has made inroads into the police cars. InAmerica, they say, even the thieves have two-way radios.Moreover, that machine ruins the human imagination. For example, I used tothink that in India there was a music suitable for India; the starry Indian nights,the Ganges, the crocodiles, the temples, the elephants, the large-eyed and large-breasted passionate women, pariahs, a thousand hymns of a thousand religions,the poisonous hissing of the snakes, the jewels, the pearls, millions of enlightenedand educated men, the silks, the Lahore shawls and the tropical jungles... But thefirst time in my life I heard over the radio the slight, sluggish and lifeless music of that country of complexity, exoticism and poetry my imagination was ruined.
 
The gramophone is an altogether different thing. The gramophone is a friend, acompanion -- a modest machine. One evening, I sat on the grass near anEdirnekapi neighborhood, overlooking the cemeteries, where they still use gaslamps in their little houses, and they have never seen a radio and I listened to thesorrowful tunes of country music. I said to myself, "It must be a beautiful girlwho's playing these tunes.” A blond, bubbly girl with shiny blue eyes, a nosecovered with freckles and hair shimmering with the morning sun, stuck her headout of the window and said:"Uncle, did you like my records, shall I play more?"I was embarrassed and walked away. Then I saw another gramophone (a relic of the old days) with a red horn on the lap of a Gypsy girl. Seven workers from thetannery had bought a gramophone. They played it by the walls in Yedikule anddanced. There is a slightly hunchbacked, quiet young man who sells newspaperson the bridge. His gramophone and his records were something to be seen andheard. On Sunday mornings he used to come to the island of Burgaz with hiscurious machine. He always had a smiling expression on his face. He was alwaysalone. He used to put his gramophone under his arm. One of his shoulders wasnarrower than the span of a hand, and the other shoulder had a bone sticking outas if it were broken. His neck was bent. I always wondered where this poor fellowwent with his gramophone all alone. One day I followed him. He went to adeserted beach and got undressed. I thought, when this man was naked he wouldhave a body like Quasimodo's-- hairy and full of fat and folds in the mostunexpected places. But this man whose face looked like a cute monkey's face hada crooked body when he was naked. Yet
 
this was still a human-like body: white,slim and without any fat, with the ribs sticking out; an ordinary body.He used to set his gramophone on a stone ledge. He turned a brown record aroundtrying to read its label and put it down gently; he cleaned the needle with histhumb and index finger and played a ridiculous old fox-trot with a screechysound. I can now imagine him sitting on a rock farther away from thegramophone. The cigarette in his mouth is extinguished. His white hunchback issticking out. When the record is finished he would light his cigarette again andplay the other side: a tango that ends up with,
C'est votre main, Madame
!Well, what I am trying to say is this: the gramophone is nonpareil as aninstrument of pleasure for the civilized man. It heeds to the small and purepleasures of people and contributes to their enjoyment. It doesn't harm anybody.I used to adore the gramophone horns -- red, green, blue and orange horns. In theold days they made such a racket in the coffee houses; after all they wereimportant. Then, they all shut up; the poor ones, didn't even have a chance to say,"Hey, we're special, you people, you're snobbish, but tomorrow you'll come back to us. You unfaithful people, you'll appreciate us later. There won't be anymoreloud singing in the coffee houses. Those green and red horns will be gone. Therewill be an attempt to modernize the gramophone. Perhaps it won't enter into the
 
large salons anymore. It doesn't matter. The gramophone will find its properplace. The gramophone will belong to the countryside and to the poor. No matterwhat, the gramophone will be the gramophone of the single man, of the workinggirl and of the woman of a poor neighborhood."However, the gramophone went away without being able to say any of these. Itwas quite obvious that it was different from the radio; this was so well understoodthat even the radio stations couldn't do without it.Although the typewriter doesn't always claim superiority over handwriting, it hasbecome a friend, or a kind of older brother of handwriting, while declaring itsanimosity to another thing: printing. What's printing? The instrument of lies,falsehoods, blackmail, stealing, malice and vulgarities. It may say that it printsthousands, or tens of thousands of copies in an hour; it may boast, and it maythink itself big, but it is nothing more than a hysterical creature ready to jump intothe arms and the lap of the evil and vulgar people.It is possible to write something bad with the typewriter too, but only to be sent tothe printer. Besides that, the next bad thing the typewriter can do is to writebusiness letters. However, in business letters one doesn't write about matters thatmake one feel guilty afterwards. At worst what one would write about would betrite phrases. Since the typewriter has broken the rim of the circular mold calledthe seal and has thrown it away, it has no enmity against the molds; it onlyremembers them without paying much attention.When one talks with the typewriter it is tempting to ask, “How about theanonymous letters?" But, fortunately, the typewriter is a chatterbox, it doesn't hearand keeps praising itself. It talks about love letters, memoirs, good novels, poemsthat are not going to be published, short stories, and the meaningless words likeABCD, or AGHTCZ of young children that express their joys and their games.Then it proceeds to the subject of anonymous letters: it is for sure that the ano-nymous letters can be base, vulgar, dishonest and sly. Deceiving people is notconsidered an intelligent act. However, I think intelligent people are the ones whobelieve easily. Because of this, there is a need for these letters to open the eyes of a citizen. The letters make the people, who don't feel unhappy, feel unhappy. Andsave a person of honor, who was called dishonorable behind his back, from theclutches of a woman. The typewriter allows the anonymous letters to be written,only for the sake of this.We were in my friend's room listening to a Bach concerto. One of us was copyinghis poem on the typewriter, and praising the gramophone; I made the typewriterchatter. We had a great time. My friend was a good poet. You don't know hisname. His poems were published here and there, and many people liked them.But, now, he doesn't have his old fame... his name isn't well known. Yet, when hisname is mentioned among us (his friends, with the exception of a few ambitiousand jealous ones -) each one of us can recite a couple of lines from his poems. We

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