Character development from eavesdropping

This writing is not from Fidra, but from sunny Turkey.

I am eavesdropping and conjuring up characters from my foreigner’s position of eavesdropper. Somewhere close by a Turkish woman’s voice talks very fast with high emotion, and in my experience Turks rarely speak with emotion. This woman is not known to me. She does not live in the house from which the voices originate.

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Her voice is so loud I wonder if the woman could be deaf. She could also be angry or argumentative. Sometimes she laughs like a banshee, whatever that sounds like. Then she shouts at someone. While she has been a guest at my neighbour’s house the three guard dogs that live there are unusually silent. Even they are nonplussed and have given up their regular yelping and loud barks.

This morning while we ate a tranquil breakfast of toast and coffee in the shade on our cool marble terrace we could hear the woman getting into her stride.

Everyone lives outside in the summer time and when in the house people keep windows and doors open, every sound travelling easily through the warm air.

I try to guess her age – mature, I would say. I try to imagine what she is wearing – traditional Turkish country garb, wide trousers, colourful top with long sleeves, perhaps.

I haven’t yet heard any response from other residents of the house because their voices are nowhere near as thunderous as this woman’s. It is likely that she drowns them out. I know what they wear, I know their personalities. This woman’s role in the unseen drama is unusual.

This morning she caused us consternation. We were debating over coffee about the visitor and how unusual and noisy her presence was. We heard her droning in the background as we discussed her. Then suddenly, almost loud enough to justify calling the police, the woman let out an ear-splitting high-pitched scream. The scream was one I would associate with someone whose life is in jeopardy. Like in films. I couldn’t emit a noise like that myself.

I put down my coffee cup and looked at my husband. The tranquillity of this mountain village is legendary. Sometimes a flock of goats passes by with the odd bleat or maaar, and the occasional tractor chugs noisily down the rutted road to the field. But nobody ever screams or even shouts unless a chicken is about to be run over by a motor scooter.

The voice had penetrated some distance to reach our breakfast terrace. It came from across the road and from the far side of quite a tall house. Such is the clarity of the air and the tranquillity of the environment in this little village.

Human voices are rarely raised in anger here. But we have to let people conduct their own lives. We didn’t call the police and nothing further bothered us.

I can only remember one similar occasion  – about two years ago I heard a man yelling at another man in the dark. I assumed it was a father shouting at his son. I have no idea if that was accurate or not, but it fitted the level and emotion of the Turkish words. The speakers were located in a house some distance up the hill from here and across the main road. I heard every word, such is the clarity of the air and the peaceful nature of this neighbourhood.

Every so often during this exchange a woman’s voice would intervene with practised calmness, and I decided the mother was urging the father to desist in his tirade. Eventually it sounded as if the young man banged a door and left the house, the father hurled some insult after him and the mother reprimanded her husband for his untamed temper.

The motor bike that roared away down the hill seemed to fit the facts.

Of course this is total conjecture as my Turkish might buy me bread and milk or allow me to order a decent meal in a restaurant or buy a bus ticket to Antalya, but fast, loud, angry personal conversations are beyond my comprehension. It was the emotion and speed of the interaction that spurred me to draw these conclusions.


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