On the 11th day of Christmas: Meet Perihan, the fairy godmother


The demure, kind and loving Perihan who knows how to work a room in a difficult moment, my fairy godmother puppet (thanks to the Asian Shadow Theatre Exhibition's Flikr Photostream for this image)

When we last left you, the Karagöz puppets were jumping up and down whilst engaging in a hot debate about religion.  Leave it to religion to stir things up.  Hacivad Bey and Yehuda Rebbe had just co-recited a quote from Rumi, which posited that all Gods are really one…it was a call to unity of sorts.  Celebi, the modern lover, however, came in spouting off about religion being the opiate of the masses, et alia. Karagöz  was whooping and hollering and arguing all sides as the consistent agent provocateur.  There was such a cacophony, that the voices of the puppets actually formed a fast, intrepid and almost demonic rhythm, to which Safiye Rakkase the vainglorious dancer began to dance (you can read more about her here). Zenne, the little lady as nervous as a bowl of quivering jelly, held her hands over her ears and willed the chaos to move on (you can re-meet her here).  Sitting next to her, Tiryaki the opium addict was stimulated enough by the noise of the argument that he remained awake instead of nodding off in an opium haze.  Meanwhile, Kenne shrieked in horror and disgust, wagging her finger at everyone for fighting about God.  Honor, she was sure, was in need of major maintenance at this moment.

All of a sudden, a cooling breeze wafted in from the window, causing all of the puppets to cease their argument and turn to the wind as if to feel sunshine on their cheeks, it was such a healing breeze…and as they did this, in walked Perihan Hanım (Mrs. Perihan, pronounced hah-num)…the fairy godmother of the puppets.  Although she looks unassuming and sweet at first glance, her head bowed down, a mask of Karagöz hanging down her back.  She tends to don the mask when she prefers not to be seen.  This is a quiet lady – but an iron butterfly or steel magnolia type – who only comes out when she is really needed, so we don’t see her much of the time.  A few of the puppets gasped at her, aware that they must have crossed a line in order to be graced with her presence.

In a slight alto but crackly voice, Perihan Hanım greeted the group…”Hello, my friends, I see that a debate ensues….I encourage you to listen to one another, perhaps one at a time, and perhaps to drink some mint tea as you go, in order to soothe the soul.”

Most of the puppets began to hang their heads in shame, secretly sneaking glances from the sides of their curvy eyes.

“What I should like to say,” Perihan Hanım continued, “is that a story should help you along at this juncture.”

“Please do tell, Perihan Hanım,” Zenne said, shaking her leg and twisting her hands together, “please do tell us your story.”

Drawing up her scarf around her, Perihan Hanım gained inches in size and girth – all of a sudden a force to be reckoned with.  “Well,” she began slowly, “well…………. maybe it once was, and maybe it wasn’t…….but a Persian, a Turk, an Arab and a Greek were traveling to a distant land when they began arguing over how to spend the single coin they possessed among themselves. All four craved food, but the Persian wanted to spend the coin on angur; the Turk, on üzüm; the Arab, on inab; and the Greek, on stafil. The argument became heated as each man insisted on having what he desired.”

Clearing her throat, she turned to take a sip of the rosewater lemonade offered to her by Kenne. “Why thank you, for this….yes….so…..a linguist passing by overheard their quarrel. “Give the coin to me,” he said. “I undertake to satisfy the desires of all of you.”  Taking the coin, the linguist went to a nearby shop and bought four small bunches of grapes. He then returned to the men and gave them each a bunch.”

Jumping at the very millisecond that her voice indicated punctuation, Karagöz cried out  “What do grapes have to do with religion?” at which point several of the puppets threw him off of the laptop and into the rubbish basket where he became stuck in between crumpled papers, unable to be heard due to the rubbish insulation around him.

Ignoring the slight scuffle, Perihan Hanım continued on.

“This is my angur!” cried the Persian.
“But this is what I call üzüm ,” replied the Turk.
“You have bought me my inab,” the Arab said.
“No! This in my language is stafil,” said the Greek.

Shifting suddenly to her side –Perihan Hanım pointed her hand towards the troupe, saying “All of a sudden, the men realized that what each of them had desired was in fact the same thing, only they did not know how to express themselves to each other….so perhaps you just need to acknowledge that you will all seek your own truth – that you all need to – and that it is fine to differ.  Please do not confuse this human’s head any more than it already is – ever since Provincetown you all have been a bit mouthy and frowsy around the edges.  I implore you to straighten up a bit – but at least have respectful fun while doing so.”

Before any of the puppets could respond, Perihan Hanım pulled a magic silvery driftwood wand from her scarf – and waved it around the room – after which circles Aegean magic swirl began – the swirl consisted of blue Aegean sea confetti, lavender thyme/kekik flowers and glitter sparkles of the sun began to float around the room until they circled the puppets faster and faster – until time stopped.

Turning to me, Perihan Hanım smiled and said “I have stopped time to say to you that I will always be here for you, your fairy godmother, and before you can even eke out the words to call for me, I will be here – but know that I am always here – I am always whispering in your mind to help you along and I want you to be happy and well. So, know that you are not alone.  And,” she paused, turning her head to the side as if for emphasis, “I am the only one who can freeze this mass of crazy puppets…even Hacivad Bey cannot do this.”

Before I could thank her, the Aegean magic swirl got in my eyes – and she was gone.  But not forgotten. It’s not every day that one finds out they have a fairy Godmother, even if she is in shadow puppet form…

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This entry was posted in Introducing the Karagöz puppets, On writing about my life with the Karagöz puppets and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to On the 11th day of Christmas: Meet Perihan, the fairy godmother

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