Windows and balconies

Door are the mouths of houses. Windows their eyes! And balconies? Balconies are drawers left permanently open. Opened once and stuck in that position. There are houses without balconies, but who would consider a house without windows?

Who loves windows best? The flowerpots lined up on their sills? Plate glass merchants and window framers? Old people who lower baskets for the grocery boy to fill? And what about balconies? The laundry hung out to dry on a line stretched end to end? Diners at evening on balconies with a sea view? The bicycles that wait there for spring to come? Or the housewives who spread corn and peppers out to dry in the sun? Think a little about these questions while we delve into some lines of verse.

Whatever anybody says, it is poets who love windows best. Windows are the eyes not merely of houses but of poems, too, indeed the apple of their eye. “Peace,” says Yannis Ritsos, “is whenever the sky comes in through  an open window.” Nazım Hikmet, one of Ritsos’s favorite poets, expresses love and anger in one of the ‘9-10 pm Poems’ he wrote to his wife Piraye: “And immediately/flying up from my place/clutching the iron bars at my window/I must shout out what I’ve written to you/into freedom’s milky-white azure.” Turgut Uyar writes to his beloved in a poem titled, “The ‘Don’t-Look-At-The-Sky’ Bus Stop”, one of the gems of Turkish poetry: “You had countless windows I closed them one by one/One by one I closed them that you might not return to me.” Cevat Çapan follows the Istanbul city ferryboats with his eyes from a window. One of them is about to scrape against the Maiden’s Tower. In another poem he sees from his window the deserted streets of a seafront quarter with fishing boats setting out in the darkness. Orhan Veli was another poet enamored of windows: “A window, best of all a window;/At least you’ll see the birds flying by/Instead of four walls.”

What all cannot be seen from a window... Lovers tossing flowers high in the air, fathers returning from work laden with shopping bags, school children trudging home with schoolbags on their backs, the house cat out for a stroll, the rag-and-bone man’s cart, cars parked at the curb, sailboats on the sea, sunsets. Windows are eyes on meetings and  leave-takings. On people passing down the street and disappearing from view. Every windowpane harbors a few hidden tears. Every day grannies in old houses in the provincial towns wipe the glass on the photos of their children gone off to work in the big cities and wait hopefully at the window for the day they will return. As they wait, the flowers in the garden, the apples in the orchard, and the babies in the wombs of the faraway brides grow bigger. And the trees in the paintings in natural pigments that hang on the walls of the houses fade gradually away.

“Any house the sun doesn’t enter a doctor will,” goes an old saying, and there is a window concealed there as well. For the window is the opening through which the sun’s rays drift into a house. There is a well-known story that I like very much. A patient lying in a bed next to the window in a hospital room tells everybody what he sees out the window: “Look, the girl with the floral-printed skirt is walking hand in hand with her sweetheart!” “The grocer’s son has a brand new bike!”, “The school kids are going to a play in clown outfits!” His descriptions are the bedridden patients’ joy of life. But the patient lying in the next bed is very jealous of the patient in the bed by the window. One night he knocks the other patient’s medications on the floor. The next morning he is being moved to the newly vacated bed. But when he raises his head eagerly to see the thousand and one wonderful things outside the window, all he sees is a black wall. There is no street, nor are there any people! Then he realizes the truth. The neighbour’s power of imagination had sustained the joie de vivre for the patients in that room. And the window was a mere instrument for that joy.
A window is a place of joy. The fragrance of jasmine, lilac and honeysuckle in the garden enter the house through the window.

In Mediterranean coastal towns, water cools in the jug on the windowsill. Parakeets let out of their cages escape to freedom through the window. 
If a house were a camera,  the window would surely be the shutter.

We can think of a window as the place where a house ends. This is exactly where the balcony comes into the picture. Unlike the window,
it is three rather than two-dimensional, and no mere protrusion. The balcony is the house’s open-air room, puffing up its chest to show itself off. Feeling suffocated indoors on hot summer days, the people of the house step onto the balcony to seek happiness, a breeze and the light of the moon. Poet Melih Cevdet Anday has a house and a pigeon look at each other. And just prior to that he describes the pigeon’s wingbeats as “applause breaking out at the window”!

If you ask who loves a window best, you don’t have to think very hard. Burglars! It’s no doubt due to them that architects and contractors have begun leaving the balconies off the new buildings going up today. Changing the subject a little, I would like to conclude by asking them to please give us back our balconies: Let alone our windows and balconies, when you started converting our gardens into parking lots you took away all our happiness. Give us back our gardens, too.