I listen to the drawled out, mournful wail of the muezzin’s call to prayer lingering in the air, wafting over the rippling, black Bosphorus (deaf silent except for the rhythmic heaving and gurgling of shallow swell lapping at its banks), floating above a million flickering lights before sailing high above the city and sweeping eastwards to the vast, barren Anatolian Plain.
Then nothing at all. The ethereal chant is gone forever, swallowed up by the rustling of fallen leaves and the pattering rain striking hard against the window pane.
9 p.m. – I look out the window.
Aya Sofya is screened by the threadlike drizzling as if through some fine silken mesh.
A bloated dome, blown up like some gigantic fired up hot air balloon, chained and anchored to its four slender minarets.
What remarkable restraint!
Drizzle to downpour and the rain now slashing across the window pane so if I cared I could while away the night tracing the random, wandering paths of meandering raindrops on glass with the tip of my index finger.
I cannot see her now –
Aya Sofya is gone, unshackled, cast away to roam free in the frigid February night.
The six-bed dorm is deserted.
The guys are out, crawling Istanbul by night or getting drunk down below in the hostel nightclub.
I can’t get any sleep.
But why should I even bother?
All Sultanahmet is still wide awake and it does feels good to be here even with such dreary weather.
Great to be young and on my road to India.
That adventure sure didn’t come free of charge –
Fifteen years ago I backpacked jobless through Balkan and Eastern Europe and across the Middle East ending up months later in the Indian Himalaya.
I had to get away fast from the nine to five crunch for a long time.
In my guts I felt this was vital.
And for a long time I had no intention of ever getting back to Malta again.
So what did I end up gleaning from my fifteen months on the road?
Images, ideas, insights.
But was it worth chucking away the day job and leaving Malta for just winning a changed perspective?
A dreadful waste of career and cash is what most of my colleagues and friends thought about the whole affair.
Images, ideas, insights might not seem to amount to much.
But to me they meant much and plenty more than material income, job security, getting settled into marriage as most of my friends had done and kept on doing.
How I detested the whole idea of settling down!
I detest this settling down business even now at forty-four after having been through malignant melanoma and I still take care to steer clear of those holier-than-thou gents who believe that for my own good they must preach down to me about my obligations and duties and how I should have long since settled down by my age.
All Text Copyright(c) David Bugeja 2016 All rights reserved