Issue 153, Winter 1999
As the army prepared to set out on its homeward march with my body, leaving behind only my blood gathered in a leaden vessel, I felt for a while that the world had fallen silent forever. But then I heard the rumbling of the iron chariots and the trampling of hooves growing fainter in the distance, and I realized that I had been left here on my own.
I had heard my father say, as he had heard his father say, that all aberration, memory, fury and vengeance are imprinted in a man's blood. And yet it seems that I was the first monarch whose blood was so violently pressed out of his body on these cursed plains.
My corpse—limbs, crowned head, hair, my gray chest with the wound in its center—was carried to Anatolia, taking nothing with it. Everything remained here, and I have come to believe that my viziers had done this to elude the shadow of my blood.
Thus they left, abandoning me here in this tomb, with an oil lamp above me burning day and night. I thought they would be quick to return, to attack Europe, now that the road lay open, or at least to pay homage to me, to show that they had not forgotten me. But spring came and went, as did summer, and then another spring, but no one came.
Where were they, what were they doing? Three years passed, seven, thirteen. Here and there a lone traveler stopping at my tomb brought me smatterings of news from the world. I wanted to shout—“Serves you right, Bayezid my son!”—when I heard that Tamerlane had battled his way into Ankara and locked him in an iron cage like a savage beast.
So this was the reason why they had stayed away so long.
My curse had struck my son who had killed his brother, Yakub, and perhaps even me, to seize my throne.
When there is no hope, time passes so much more slowly than when hope exists. Blood does not lose its power as it congeals. Even dry, powdered over the walls of the leaden vessel, it only grows wilder.
A curse upon you, people of the Balkans, who charged me to set out in my old age and lay down my life on these plains! Above all, a curse upon you for my solitude! The twentieth year passed, and still there was no news.
The twenty-fifth year. The fortieth. I had begun to believe that all had been lost forever, when I heard a familiar rumbling clatter. It is not difficult to tell when incensed men are about to charge. “Here they come!” I said, “Here come my Turks!” New commanders will have risen, new viziers and, needless to say, a new generation of men. I was ready to offer my death to my people, to give them my blessing, when I realized that these were not Turks approaching.