This story is written with the Mind Maps technique. You can find the details of the subject at the end of the story.
It was a cold summer evening.
If you are one of the smart persons who think that the author made a mistake in the first sentence, I should warn you that where I live, the summers are cold. I’m not saying it’s chilly, it’s cold. It is such a region… And that coldness has touched us so deep that we look for stories to warm ourselves, our relationships. I caught such a story while looking out the window one evening.
I like prying around. It’s not like watching the street. I pry around, you know. ‘Who does what, where does she/he go, where is she/he coming from, who greeted us on our street?’; all of them attract great interest of mine. Do not think that I share the information I gathered with others to socialize and secrete oxytocin. They all flow into the pool of knowledge inside me and in the future, they find a role in a story. At least I hope it to be so.
Anyway, let me keep it short. That evening, while I was sitting at the couch in front of the window cross-legged, sipping my tea and watching the street, the garden gate of the house opposite me was opened. At this time of day, it is not opened or rarely opened. The grandmother lives there. Because she has a grandchild, they call her grandmother, but I haven’t seen a child or a grandchild until today. I haven’t seen a child or a grandchild and I have no idea who may have seen them. The grandmother hid the bag in her hand and quickly discarded it to the trash, closed her door at the same speed, and became invisible. Here is the moment I expected! I knew a story would emerge from here to me, I had never been wrong in my feelings until then. How do you think I know that the next-door neighbor’s daughter has two fiancées, not one, and her upper neighbor shakes the carpet down every day when she is not in the house, and how the two of them have a nice conversation on disrespectful and dowdy neighbors another day? I got to know people like this and created my characters.
In the following days, the strange behaviors of the grandmother continued increasingly. The grandmother, who lives alone and I guess she did not eat and shop because she was quite skinny, started going shopping almost every day. She entered her home with bags that I thought was full of food and some household items and continued the same mysterious shopping the next day, sometimes a few days later. I was a cat that smelled the liver, and I could no longer help trailing behind the grandmother. She knew me, I couldn’t follow her explicitly. Although our relationship consisted of rarely greeting, I had no intention of showing myself. I got up early on a Friday morning, had breakfast, got dressed, and started looking after the grandmother’s time of going out of the house. A little earlier than noon, the door opened when my body was about to rebel from sitting on the couch, leaning against the window. I immediately ran and put my shoes on. I found myself in almost 30 seconds one floor downstairs, in front of our miniature apartment building. I don’t know if I made a lot of noise, or if I showed my excitement, she looked up at me. I slightly bowed my head and smiled. She answered in a more evasive manner than me and started walking towards the market with determined steps.
My eyes lingered a little in my bag like ‘have I taken my key with me? is everything is okay in my bag?’. Then I started walking in the mood of ‘it is also my right to get some air’. I was surprised by myself; I was thirty-five years old. What was the reason that I seriously trailed behind an old woman with a detective mood? On the one hand, I found what I did stupid, and on the other hand, I was excited. When I was a kid, we had set up a gang to solve the mysteries in the neighborhood with my female friends, none of whom were in my life anymore, but the only mystery we could solve was to find out that the coffee seller’s apprentice in the bazaar stole money from the safe. Then we pitied the child, couldn’t say anything to anyone, and we were petrified with our mystery.
The grandmother was walking unexpectedly fast. When we came to the street, which is the only bazaar of the town, where the shops are lined up, she looked around and entered the pet shop, which I had not even noticed was there. It was the Knick-Knack Pet Shop! In our neighborhood, cats were looked after on the street, dogs were raised on farms, and animals were not allowed in the houses. When was this shop opened; who were its customers? I was ashamed of myself. What did my observation, which was limited to my street, deprive me of? Who knows; what stories was I missing? I should have gone out more. Noticing this mistake in my life numerously was still surprised but not as much as the grandmother is in this shop. One thing I knew very well about this woman was that she hated cats. I had seen neither her child nor her grandchild, but these eyes could not forget that she was chasing cats with shouting and even kicks once! What on earth was this? Did this woman start using Facebook and relax about cats after watching cat videos? I laughed at my joke. I think it was fun to imagine the grandmother at the computer typing slowly with one finger “Oh look at that beauty! My baby; I wish you were mine” under the photo of the most beautiful cat in the world. While I was entertaining myself, the grandmother got out of the shop and the second compulsory greeting of the day took place. When she saw me with a slight smile on my face, standing a little away from the shop, her face hardened on the contrary. She said “None of your business!” to me with her eyes. I swear.
Fortunately, my elementary school friend ‘Lightheaded’ Fuat plunged into the scene saying “Hey Selda, what are you doing here, do you ever leave home?” and the nervous glance between me and the grandmother suddenly ended. While I was trying to answer Fuat, I did not forget to look at the bag in the hand of the grandmother.
Was it cat food?
Although my detective work that day seemed to be over with the prolonged, juicy conversation of Fuat and the grandmother’s attack and removing her trace, it was just starting. As a person who had not succeeded even a little and who had waited thinking ‘what should I write?’ for days at an old writing table, I certainly would follow about the story after smelling it. There was also a little madness … The neighbors can use heavier terms about me but I see myself as a harmless nutcase. There are other worlds in me, yes, I want to write to them, but yes, I cannot do it properly, and I can be a little obsessed with other people’s lives. All of this comes from my creative side. That’s it. They say crazy, you call me saint, so what?
The next few days were calm. I don’t know if the woman became uneasy about me or she did not need to go shopping but she stopped going out. However, still there was a difference behind that door. I almost smelled it; I saw its light. I said the fragrance thing figuratively, but I am very realistic about light. I started to see a warm light on the upper floor of the grandmother’s house – which was a two-story but tiny house. I was guessing that she didn’t use the top floor much. I would see cold, dull windows whenever I looked up. For a few days, a warm light had started coming from the heart of the house. I did not master the plan of the house, but it was as if there was a hallway in the middle of the upper floor and there, a yellow light bulb was on. This warm light, leaking out of the ice-cold glasses for years, was also illuminating some places in me.
I don’t know if this light had an ice-breaking effect or it was because of the distraction of a new story idea that came to my mind, I left the grandmother alone for a few days. I can even say that she forgot the role of a dark woman who was hiding information from me and I forgot my crackerjack detective role chasing her. But this situation only lasted until the grandmother acted once more to arouse my curiosity. That morning, a truck approached in front of her house, a single bed and a mattress dropped off, they were taken into the house and as far as I could tell from the shadows that wandered inside, they were placed upstairs. While the mover guys were moving fast with the haste of finishing their work, I watched the grandmother watching over the white bed. Why would a person buy a new mattress after this age? Ok, you get a new mattress because its shape is distorted, it hurts your back but what is the new mattress for? If she bought a new one, why didn’t she send it with the movers? Shouldn’t she had said, “Kid, please discard the old one somewhere; how can I handle it?” I found myself fascinated by the story of the old woman again on the couch and suddenly something very logical came to my mind: Why didn’t I directly ask her, “I hope nothing is wrong, you are very active these days, did you decide to renew the furniture, are you feeding a cat?”. It was not easy for me to communicate with someone I did not know, but there was a feeling that I could. I could pretend that we met by chance, ask after she and I certainly would manipulate the conversation. As far as it went … I was sure I would catch a clue. What would I do if she said “it is none of your business kid!”
I would play for sympathy saying “Excuse me, you’re right, mine is curiosity due to loneliness” and that would be it. It’s not a lie, you know. I was alone. Just like her…. Two women living alone in the neighborhood. One is old and one is young… One has a child and grandchild, the other has no relatives. But looking from the outside, both are equally outcast. Please forget what I said a little while ago, I wrote to keep it stylish, I’m not a lonely thing, my preference is loneliness.
I got up early the next morning with the excitement of a new plan again. Sometimes I like to sleep until ten o’clock, but then it feels like the day is over, and I’m demoralized. Still, I do this often. That morning, I got up at seven powerfully, prepared, snacked, and started to wait. I was feeling; she would be out today. If a bedstead comes, you need a new bedsheet, right? Can the worn sheet look good on the white mattress and the mattress with brand new springs?
I was not mistaken, the garden gate opened about 9:30 AM. I looked inside as far as I could see. Although I thought I saw a red ball in the garden, I decided that it was the tip of the cleaning bucket. What if my imagination worked like this when I sat down to write stories?
This time I acted a little faster, as I knew the grandmother’s increasing daringness. The woman was getting younger day by day. She was halfway through until I put on my shoes and went out on the street. When I caught up with her, I was out of breath with a little excitement and a bit of walking fast. There was no turning back; I said “Aunt, good morning”. She raised her head in astonishment as if she thought ‘who would want to talk to me in this world?’. How long has this woman been so alone? Who neglected her so much that when she heard a person’s voice, she was scared? Didn’t she like people just like she didn’t like cats? Why had I never wondered about these before?
A little reproachful, a little angry ‘good morning’ came in response.
-Where are you going at this time of the morning?
-I am going to the bakery; the bread is finished.
She ignores me. Is she aware that I am following her, or is she angry that I have never dealt with her so far? Maybe it’s all my delusion, she’s just trying to hide her secrets.
I couldn’t go back from this point. I had to find another question. It had to be such a question that she had to both feel obliged to answer and give me at least one hint. I don’t know how I thought of it; I decided to have myself invited to her house.
– Auntie, I’m writing a story. Maybe you know; I’m a writer. I mean I’m trying to be. How about I come to you for a story and we chat a little?
-I am not available, my guest will come, she said.
Suddenly she seemed surprised at the words that came out of her mouth. She took a glance at my face. Had her lines softened or just seemed to me like that?
“After a while, you can come to my house,” she said and continued walking fast.
There was no point in insisting anymore. The clue I was looking for had come already. A guest would come. The bed was brought for the guest. Considering it was a somewhat fancy bedstead, the guest was a woman or a girl… So, what could I do with these materials? It was not creating excitement in me; a very important piece of the puzzle was still missing; I was feeling it.
While cold summer evenings were replaced by icy autumn, that is, in the last days of September, one evening I felt a movement in the neighborhood. As usual, I was jotting down, writing, erasing, tearing, throwing, and struggling with the complicated world inside me. That month, repairs were made at home, the salary of my father did not see the end of the month, and this situation made me nervous. I got in the mood for the unsuccessful scribbler who could not earn her own money and I could not leave it. I loved my mood of writing, which was free and creative with colorful imagination worlds, but it had been like a dress that was oversized for me for a long time. Gradually, I had become permanent on the other side. Still, I was so conscious that I was sensitive to the sounds outside, I ended up in front of the window which was left half-open. A car approached the grandmother’s house. A tall man dropped items from the trunk. A small suitcase, bags, bags, and a rag doll with long arms and legs and messy purple hair… Then I realized that the real stimulus for me was the sound of the neighbor. The cold hearts of our neighborhood were watching from the windows. I thought I was hearing the sounds of “ouch!” and I wasn’t sure if I was making it up. I never wanted to be one of them, I was trying to get away from the window, but I was also burning with curiosity about what to get out of the car.
I learned later that the grandmother had a son, who took offense at his father after his father said “I have no hope of you”, left home when he was not yet eighteen and never returned to town, a bride, and a granddaughter, the bride had a traffic accident on the road after leaving the workplace where she worked overtime one evening, she died at the scene of the accident, her son and her five-year-old grandson were left in the heart of Istanbul without a mother, woman, and compassion, her son called her and said, “I can’t look after this child here by myself,” and that his mother preferred our ice-cold neighborhood to Istanbul, she said “Send me your daughter, I’ll raise her here”, her son said, “Mother, can you bring a new cat home? Zeyno loves cats the most, we said that if we had a house with a garden we would bring a new cat, she will grow up in a house with a garden, can you find a cat for her?”, the grandmother had been feeding the cat that was walking in front of the door and I saw with my eyes that the grandmother kicked one day, she bought the cat a bed, toilet bowl, food bowl, leash, food, and even a toy mouse, waited for her granddaughter to name it, furnished the sunniest room upstairs for her guest, she had been going shopping and carrying the things that a five-year-old girl could rejoice despite all her pain, and she was doing all this by calculating the penny cent of the pension inherited from her husband.
I learned many more things about life after Zeyno knocked on my door one day and said, “My grandmother calls you for coffee”, after I walked through that door dithering with the excitement of not entering anyone’s house for years, seeing a red ball in the garden, sitting down until the evening as the two neighbors who had never touched each other, setting up tables, clearing them and meanwhile talking, after both having a bath with the light, love, and joy that a child gave out generously, after I started reading books every night under that warm light to Zeyno in the room, after I realized that when I fell asleep and woke up in the morning, I was covered at night quietly, after three of us going to the borders of the town together on Sundays, after Zeyno insisted “I want my dear Selda with me” while going to school, after crying with the grandmother hand in hand while Zeyno was walking to her classroom with her school uniform, and after learning that no summer night was cold again in that neighborhood.
After the grandmother became a real grandmother and after I become a writer who can love people and have the courage to listen to their stories…
WRITING A STORY WITH THE MIND MAPS METHOD
I wrote the story you read using the Mind Maps method within a couple of hours. I made minor adjustments later. I hope you liked it.
I learned exactly what Mind Map is, on September 26, 2019, when dear Arzu Savaş, trained us as the Pozitif team. Towards the end of the training, I do not know if we rushed to the streets due to an earthquake in Istanbul or if it wasn’t the right time, I had not been able to go through the application phase until the other day. However, I remembered that the most exciting part of the training was the Mind Map and book writing sections.
I came across with Arzu once again in online classes at Yeşim Cimcoz’s Virtual Writing House, which I had been attending for a while. This time I decided to try. I drew my mind map, wrote the first concepts that came to my mind, then I linked them together, and apart from my one-hour coffee break with my dear Nilhan, I wrote a story from scratch in 1.5 hours. Protagonists, events, and space that I had never built or even thought about…. If the Mind Map makes this stage so easy, think about how Mind Map makes the stories and novels that are ready in our minds, which we could not start writing, so fluid.
You can learn how to use Mind Maps in every aspect of life from the fun and spacious book of dear Arzu Savaş, who sends maps to our minds, The Miracle of Mind, or from her website http://www.arzusavas.com ranging from studying to daily to-do lists…
STORY OF THE MIND MAP
When it came to writing a story with this method, I had the following tips:
I would put the word STORY in the middle of the map and start from one o’clock, writing other concepts clockwise as I first thought. So, in order, the concepts were protagonist, enemy, move, fail, move, fail, explosion, solution … We were recommended to start with the phrase “It was a cold summer night”, but if you wish, you can choose any book from your library, open a page and use the first sentence of this page.
After the first sentence becomes clear, it is enough to write a couple of sentences about each branch on the map and the visual next to it, and connect the branches. After a few lines, I was writing without thinking whether it was this way or that way.
As a protagonist, I wrote “my grandmother” as you see in the photo. All of these concepts were written unconsciously, without thinking about them. Although the story does not appear to have a direct connection with my grandmother, every story turns and connects us.
Although my protagonist seems to be the grandmother, I added the narrator in the first line and never used the concept of allergy. This was what I felt; the map gave me a road, guided where I was blocked, and then the story was written in some way. I cannot say “I wrote it”.
It is almost like a game… I am thinking of continuing to use this method for new stories, but my main goal is to put the subject of the novel in my head on the paper with the Mind Map.
By the way, my map is black and white, but Mind Maps also benefit from the miracle of colors. Coloring and painting a map remove blockages in the mind. I am sure that my colored pencils will be with me for longer studies.
All hail to those who are afraid to write instead of not being able to write.