Snow

Free Snow by Orhan Pamuk

Book: Snow by Orhan Pamuk Read Free Book Online
Authors: Orhan Pamuk
at me. You’re very upset. If the gun goes off, you’ll live to regret it.
    —Why would I regret it? Why would I have spent two days traveling through this miserable snow if not to wipe out an infidel? As the Holy Koran states, it is my duty to kill any tyrant who visits cruelty on believers. But because I feel sorry for you I’m going to give you one last chance. Give me just one reason why your conscience doesn’t bother you when you order covered women to uncover themselves, and I swear I won’t shoot you.
    —When a woman takes off her head scarf, she occupies a more comfortable place in society and gets more respect.
    —That might be what that film-star daughter of yours thinks, but the opposite is true. Head scarves protect women from harassment, rape, and degradation. It’s the head scarf that gives women respect and a comfortable place in society. We’ve heard this from many women who’ve chosen later in life to cover themselves. Women like the old belly dancer Melahat Sandra. The veil saves women from the animal instincts of men in the street. It saves them the ordeal of entering beauty contests to com-pete with other women. They don’t have to live like sex objects, they don’t have to wear makeup all day. As the American Black Muslim professor Marvin King has already noted, if the celebrated film star Elizabeth Taylor had spent the last twenty years covered, she would not have had to worry so much about being fat. She would not have ended up in a mental hospital. She might have known some happiness. Pardon me, sir. May I ask you a question? Why are you laughing, sir? Do you think I’m trying to be funny? (Silence.) Go ahead and tell me, you shameless atheist. Why are you laughing?
    —My dear child, please believe me! I’m not laughing! Or if I did laugh, I was laughing out of nerves.
    —No, you weren’t. You were laughing with conviction!
    —Please believe me, I feel nothing but compassion for all the people in this country—like you, like those covered girls—who are suffering for this cause.
    —Sucking up to me will get you nowhere. I’m not suffering one bit. But you’re going to suffer now for laughing about those girls who committed suicide. And now that you’ve laughed at them, there’s no chance you’ll show remorse. So let me tell you where things stand now. It’s quite some time now since the Freedom Fighters for Islamic Justice condemned you to death. They reached their verdict in Tokat five days ago and sent me here to execute the sentence. If you hadn’t laughed, I might have relented and forgiven you. Take this piece of paper. Let’s hear you read out your death sentence. (Silence.) Stop crying like a woman. Read it out in a good strong voice. Hurry up, you shameless idiot. If you don’t hurry up, I’m going to shoot.
    —“I, Professor Nuri Yılmaz, am an atheist”—my dear child, I’m not an atheist!
    —Keep reading.
    —My child, you’re not going to shoot me while I’m reading this, are you?
    —If you don’t keep reading it, I’m going to shoot you.
    —“I confess to being a pawn in a secret plan to strip the Muslims of the secular Turkish Republic of their religion and their honor and thereby to turn them into slaves of the West. As for the girls who would not take off their head scarves, because they were devout and mindful of what is written in the Koran, I visited such cruelty on them that one girl could bear it no more and committed suicide. . . .” My dear child, with your permission, I’d like to make an objection here. I’d be grateful if you could pass this on to the committee that sent you. This girl didn’t hang herself because she was barred from the classroom. And it wasn’t because of the pressure her father put on her either. MIT has already told us she was suffering from a broken heart.
    —That’s not what she said in her suicide note.
    —Please forgive me, but my child, I think you should know—please lower that gun—that even

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