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kağıt kesiği

Ağustos6

öyle sessiz ve yavaş söyle ki sözlerini
heceler kıymık kıymık batsın yüreğime
yılların yorgunluğundan patlayıveren
cam tartı misali
paramparça olsun
çelik yelekli kurşun geçirmez sözlerin karşısında
yüreğim.
o acınası
zayıf
senden yoksul bedenimde
senden yoksun yüreğim.
söyle
söyle ki sonunda fark edeyim ben de
incelikle seçilmiş
leş gibi nezaket kokan
böylesine sözlerin,
öfkeden,
masaya indiği gibi çorba tenceresini titreten
heybetli bir yumruktan,
ya da avazı çıktığı kadar bağıran
asabi bir haykırıştan
çok daha şiddetli
acımasız
günahkâr olduğunu.
hele o gülüş
alaycı gülüşün
kağıt kesiği gibi
öyle derin
öyle sessiz
ve her zamanki gibi
melodik.

Sevde Kaldıroğlu
28.07.14

Yeri: Edebiyat, Şiir | kağıt kesiği için yorumlar kapalı

Felaket Tellali

Temmuz28

“Kastamonu’nun bir köyünde bir çiftçiye ayı saldırmış, adam ölmüş!’

Annem bu sözleriyle şenlendiriyor sahur soframızı, “akıllı” telefonunun ekranından gözünü ayırmadan. “Ee peki” diyorum, “n’apayım?” Bunun üzerine duyarsızlıkla suçluyor beni annem. Benim, diyor, annem babam Kastamonu’da, endişelenmeyeyim mi?

Peki ama anneciğim, sen şimdi bana her zamanki gibi felaket haberini yetiştirdin de ne oldu? Huyum kurusun, annemin bu sözünün üstüne işi cıvıklığa döküyorum iyice.

“E iyi o zaman ben hemen bir dilekçe yazayım, Kastamonu Belediyesi ayılarına sahip çıksın. Olmadı, çiftçilere sahip çıksın. Hatta olmadı, dağ köylerinde ayı tehlikesinden dolayı yerleşim yasağı koysun.” Annem ters ters bakıyor; her zamanki gibi sarkastik yorumlarım hoşuna gitmedi. Gözlerini deviriyor bana.

“Ya da” diyorum, daha mantıklı bir şey söyleyecek gibi, “anneannemleri arayayım, köyden dönsünler, bir daha da gitmesinler.” Annem de tıpkı benim bu sözleri söyler söylemez fark ettiğim gibi dilekçe fikrinin buna kıyasla daha gerçekleştirilebilir olduğunu anlıyor ve devirdiği gözlerine ek olarak bir çizgi halinde kıstığı dudaklarıyla fikrini açıkça belli ediyor.

Ben de sonunda alaycılığı kenara bırakıp ani itirazımın nedenini açıklıyorum. Şimdi ben bu kötü haberi öğrendim de ne oldu? Buna bir çözüm getiremeyeceğim apaçık belliyken bir de bu çözümsüzlüğü fark etmemin üzerine ölen adamcağıza bir fatiha üç kulhüvallah mı okusam, yoksa üzerime çöken bu olumsuz haberin olumsuz enerjisinden kurtulmaya mı çalışsam ya da aklımda beliren, ayının masum, ufak tefek köylü bir adama saldırması görüntüsü eşliğinde duygusal destek amaçlı hafiften abandığım tahin helvayı rahat mı bıraksam, bilemiyorum.

“Olumsuz enerji” diyorum en sonunda. “Felaket tellali gibi olumsuz enerji yayıyor işte bu kötü haberler.” Annem, “ne duyarsızsın ya!” anlamına geldiğini adım gibi bildiğim bakışlarının eşliğinde “peki” diyor yalnızca.

Ve ezan okunuyor. Hadi bakalım, ayı derken, çiftçi derken, su içemeden sahuru da geçirdik, iyi mi?

27.07.14

Yeri: Deneme, Edebiyat, Öykü | Felaket Tellali için yorumlar kapalı

The Father-Son Relationship and The Representation of Imposed Masculinity in Çoğunluk (Majority)

Haziran17

–A critique on the movie Çoğunluk (Majority)

The father-son relationship in Çoğunluk (Majority)—a 2010 Turkish movie by director and screenwriter Seren Yüce—plays a significant role in portraying the “imposed masculinity” prevalent in Turkish society and its negative consequences in shaping men’s identities and lives as well as women’s. The definition of masculinity—as the father puts forth, not exactly by his words but by his actions and expectations from his son—is branched out in three ways: being aggressive, unemotional, and superior to the other sex, therefore, women. By acting in a manner that embodies these three characteristics, the father supposedly represents the ideal “manly” man, and obliges his son to become the same—a violent, stoic and authoritarian being.

The first scene of the movie gives the spectator an initial yet crucial view of the father’s way of raising his son. The movie begins with a view of a forest as the father enters, walking with fast and firm steps, and turning to the camera to yell demandingly at his son, “Come on son!”, who is struggling to keep up with his father’s pace. As the camera focuses on the little boy, we see his plump cheeks red and sweaty, and hear his panting as well as his slow and exasperated footsteps. His slightly twisted eyebrows that give his face an about-to-cry look and his arm on his hip as if providing him with support to make it to the end both add to the director’s efforts to create an atmosphere of exhaustion and struggling right at the start of the movie. In fact, this scene, which lasts for 1 minute and 11 seconds, can be considered a metaphorical summary of the movie, and hence, an important foreshadowing since—for the rest of the film—we observe how the father expects his son to follow his footsteps, constantly shouting at him to catch up with his expectations, specifically the ones regarding how to be a “manly” man.  The son, on the other hand, continuously lags behind, obeying his father’s orders yet certainly not trying his best to accomplish them. As the movie moves on from this initial scene, we still hear the echoes of the little boy’s panting as he grows into a young man only to try and constantly fail to grow into what society—as well as his father—deems a “real” man.

In the second scene, as the father and son come home, they both undo their shoes exactly in the same manner—the way they sit, and pull their legs up on their knees; the way they look down on their feet and unbuckle their shoes are all identical. The fact that director and screenwriter Yüce chooses to present us this particular image of identicalness of father and son right at the second minute of his movie points out his willingness to introduce us as quickly as possible to their relationship: As some may consider commonplace regarding Turkish families, the son mirrors his father, applying whatever he sees him doing to his life, without even questioning but merely imitating him. This is particularly relevant to Mertkan’s relationship to his father because—as can be seen in the rest of the movie—his father expects full obedience from him, giving him orders and dictating him what to do with his own life. This controlling attitude can be seen in many occasions such as when he orders his son to take some construction material all the way to Izmit for no reason, to go to the sauna with him, to break up with his girlfriend, to drop out of school or to go to work at the construction site in Gebze. The father rules the son’s life in multiple ways—physically, romantically, academically and financially.

Ironically, although the father dictates his son to comply with his decisions, and requires full obedience, he also expects his son to conform to the ideals of masculinity put forth by the society, which involve being an independent decision-maker. As a male member of the household, of the society and of the Turkish Republic, Mertkan is implicitly assigned three different roles of masculinity all of which highlight the same main traits deemed “manly” by others, and all of which are emphasized primarily by his father, and by his friends and acquaintances at different times and occasions. To begin with the first role, as a male member of the household, Mertkan is almost never expected to help with household chores. A cleaning lady, Şükriye, comes (during Mertkan’s childhood years) to clean the house, and the mother deals with the rest—cooking, shopping, and many more burdening household chores.

However, not only is Mertkan not expected to contribute, as is the father, but also he is allowed to openly despise and express hostility towards women who handle those chores instead. The scene following the shoe-undoing scene, for instance, is an appropriate example for this claim: “What the hell is this doing here today?” the father asks his wife angrily, pointing to the cleaning lady by choosing to say “this” instead of “she” as if she is an inanimate object or an animal. With this conversation in the background, we see the little boy, young Mertkan, walking past Şükriye carelessly, unplugging the vacuum cleaner, and throwing the cord at her. “Mert’cim stop it” Şükriye responds in a soft yet pleading way, shortening Mertkan’s name and giving it an affectionate tone with the Turkish suffix “’cim”. The father intervenes at this moment, not to condemn his son’s behavior but to implicitly endorse it by scolding Şükriye instead: “His name is Mertkan, not Mert’cim!” To understand the implications of this “correction”, it is appropriate to talk about the meaning of the son’s name. “Mert” means brave, and “kan” means blood, indicating that the braveness comes from his blood, that is, his older generations the first member of which is his father. As courage is societally considered one of the main “manly” characteristics in an individual, the idea of its being inherited brings to mind the idea of the inheritance of “manliness” and masculinity. One can say, at this point, that the reason why the father defends the use of his son’s full name, which was given most probably by himself, is partly due to the idea of the inheritance of masculinity from father to son and partly due to the unwanted emotional association made by the adding of the endearing suffix “’cim”. Endearment and any kind of emotional attribution, after all, exclusively belong to women, and certainly not to men.

Regarding the idea of emotions and being unemotional, one can easily say that overtly expressing feelings such as love, sadness, fear or affection is societally condemned for men. This imposed stoicism is the main reason why the mother is unhappy about her life and often complains about it: “How did I raise you as such unemotional persons?” she asks Mertkan, but mostly to herself as she realizes that the way the society taught her to raise her male offspring in a “masculine” way led her children to become stoics hiding and repressing their emotions, and being ruled by their lack thereof. She also complains to her husband about how he never asks about her feelings or how he never even smiles—symptoms of lack of emotional expression—in response to which she gets an order of silence.

As the father is the male role model for his son, his concealment of his feelings, and his always firm and put together attitude influence the son’s character in a way that teaches him to hide and subdue his emotions and look firm all the time. However, Mertkan—as a male member of the society in interaction with other members—struggles to do so. Even though he tries hard to ignore his feelings for his girlfriend whom his friends and parents despise because of her socioeconomic status and ethnic background, he finds himself saying, “I love you too”, and calling her early in the morning just to hear her voice. Although he pretends that leaving home and going off to Gebze to work there does not affect him, we see him crying hysterically on his bed when he is alone, and when he sees the taxi driver and hugs him, bursting into tears. Because as a man Mertkan is expected to “keep it cool” and look strong, he is forced—by his father, his friends and the society he lives in—to repress whatever he feels and to replace it with a sense of authority and anger, which often tends to turn into perpetrating violence on others.

Related to the claim about the inheritance of “manliness”, one can argue that Mertkan’s father was probably raised with the same patriarchal mentality that enforced masculinity as a set of fixed rules to be obeyed. In this case, the father’s aggressiveness that often results in vulgar use of language and perpetration of violence is likely to have come from a similar “masculinity-imposing” son raising style. This inference adds to the validity of the previous inheritance claim that what is considered “masculinity” is imposed not only horizontally (so-to-say) as in the same generation by a society at a particular time period but also vertically through a series of generations at different times with slight changes in the definition of “manliness”, yet with the main patriarchal and dominant core being preserved.

Not very differently, Mertkan’s role as a male citizen of the Turkish Republic resembles his role as an obedient son, and as a stoic and firm member of the household as well as the society. This time, however, he has to keep up not solely his family name and honor but his country’s honor and national pride. He needs to hide his “weaknesses” by suppressing his feelings of empathy and sympathy for the other human beings to be able to fight, and fight mercilessly. At this point, the discussion of serving in the military comes into play, especially since Necmi, one of the father’s friends, keeps bringing it up. Different from many European countries and the United States of America, Turkish Republic requires all of its male adult citizens to serve in the military for a limited amount of time (with a few exceptional occasions). Although with the establishment of the Turkish Republic, the Ottoman monarchy based on national military power has been replaced by a democracy, due to the fact that military service is still an obligation and not a choice, and that Turkish military has had many battles especially with Kurdish groups in the Eastern part of Turkey, being a soldier has remained as the symbol of masculine power defending national pride and unity. In this sense, serving in the military is perceived to prove a sense of masculine strength both in a physical and metaphorical way.

As Necmi keeps asking the question “When is Mertkan going to do his military service?” either to Mertkan’s father or to Mertkan directly, the tone of his voice as well as his facial expressions put forth the implied idea that this young man’s “avoiding” military service by pursuing a degree in Open University shows his weakness and lacking masculinity. The sauna scene is particularly relevant to mention at this point: After Necmi compliments Mertkan by calling him “handsome” and “koç gibi delikanlı” (which literally means “a ram-like young man”, referring to a man’s courage and strength), all of which serve to flatter his so-called “masculine” aspects and male ego, he asks him to give him a massage (hence the reason of the compliments). As Mertkan involuntarily begins the massage, Necmi complains: “Squeeze a little, boy, how are you supposed to defend the nation?!” This seemingly unimportant comment, in fact, refers to physical muscular strength often considered essential to being a “manly” man, and therefore essential to being a good soldier, which—as Necmi implies—is missing in Mertkan.

The notion of being a man and defending one’s country is prevalent in Çoğunluk (Majority), yet it is never overtly expressed but subtly implied through news on TV that we hear in the background of table conversations or merely of the sounds of the forks and knives hitting the plates. Nevertheless, there are some parts where it is implied metaphorically. The dinner scene with the entire family serves as a good example. As the men of the household talk excitedly about how Mertkan is finally going to serve in the military after dropping out of school, the little boy—Mertkan’s niece—jumps off his chair, grabs his toy gun, and points it towards his uncle—pretending to shoot him on the arm. This metaphorical display of violence makes the grandfather exceedingly happy as he applauds his grandson for his already “manly” behavior. This particular scene is significant in understanding the social dynamics lying under the association of men and the military, or in a more basic sense, of men and violence. Being aggressive and inclined to fight is heavily encouraged for boys, even from a very early age to the extent that wanting to inflict violence is applauded by the head of the household.

At this point, it is crucial to point out a paradox regarding the nature of the imposed masculinity and the expectations involved within this definition. It is appropriate to say that the full obedience expected from the son by his father can be applied to a national scale where the same unquestioning and peremptory compliance is required from thousands of sons by the military. Hence, “the obedience training” in the micro level of the household serves as the basis of the military training where one is obliged to turn off his reason and to comply with the orders without any objections. However, since the definition of masculinity put forward by the society requires a man to be independent and able to stand behind his statements and decisions, this sense of full compliance conflicts with becoming a powerful decision-maker who can take initiative and plan his own life in the first place—if not anyone else’s. This social paradox can be observed very clearly in Çoğunluk (Majority) since Mertkan struggles between complying with his father’s dictated orders and establishing himself a separate and independent identity. He, in fact, is only one of the victims of this paradox: As the movie’s title suggests, the “majority” of the Turkish society—specifically the men—suffer from trying to create an individuality in between those conflicting societal demands. Although not trying to come up with a particular solution, director Seren Yüce presents us with a realistic and natural portrayal—almost a mirror—of the Turkish society and the majority of ideologies that rule and dominate it. The paradox is still there but now at least some of us are more aware of it.

Yeri: Edebiyat, Eleştiri | The Father-Son Relationship and The Representation of Imposed Masculinity in Çoğunluk (Majority) için yorumlar kapalı

I’m a woman

Haziran8

I have a beautiful soul
And worthy things to say
Lips without gloss
Eyes without shadows
I’m a woman,
happy
and beautiful.

Sweatpants wrapping my legs
Standing in thick, black boots
I have pink-lipped dreams
And thoughts in high-heels
I’m a woman,
strong
and beautiful.

Not a triangle
Nor a hexagon
I’m shapeless
and dimensionless
Ain’t got a 36
or a 24
I’m sizeless
and inch-less
I’m a woman,
prideful
and beautiful.

Weigh my thoughts,
Not my body;
Color my dreams,
Not my skin;
Judge my views,
Not my shape;
And always remember:
I’m a woman,
independent
and beautiful.

Sevde Kaldiroglu

(Şiirin Türkçesi için buraya tıklayınız.// Click here for the Turkish version of the poem.)

The Awaited

Mayıs26

One can appreciate many poems, short stories, novels, paintings, songs; yet certain works of art affect you in a peculiar yet deep way, so much that they haunt you. The following Turkish poem has had a similar effect on me. Although I put the English translation, I know that it will not give the same feeling as the original one. So you can listen to the original poem from the voice of its poet here.

Beklenen / The Awaited

Ne hasta bekler sabahı, / Neither the sick waits for the morning
Ne taze ölüyü mezar. / Nor the grave for the fresh dead
Ne de şeytan, bir günahı, / Nor Satan for a sin
Seni beklediğim kadar. / As long as I have waited for you.

Geçti istemem gelmeni, / Too late, I don’t want you to come
Yokluğunda buldum seni; / I have found you in your absence
Bırak vehmimde gölgeni / Leave your shadow in my delusion
Gelme, artık neye yarar? / Don’t come, what good is it now?

Necip Fazıl Kısakürek
1930

————————————

I was only nine years old when my father read this poem to me but I remember being mesmerized by the beauty of the words as they came from his mouth in such elegance and with a naive yet fatherly passion to introduce her daughter the world of poetry. I remember getting my first poetry book, “Cile” by Necip Fazil Kisakurek, the poet of this poem. As I read this poem again and again over years, I began to realize that its meaning had grown deeper and greater for me. Every year had added a new layer to my interpretation; a layer I did not know existed before. Now, I will try to convey what this poem means to me at this stage of my life.

The Awaited by Necip Fazil Kisakurek is an exceptional example of poetry that tackles the theme of “waiting for the beloved” in the light of striking feelings such as longing, reproach, pride and exasperation. With its short form consisting of only eight lines, the poem stands out as a very concise yet meaningful form of literary expression.

The poem consists of two characters: “I” who is the narrator and “You” who is the addressed. In the first three lines of the poem, the narrator points out the extreme cases of the act of waiting in life, and in the fourth line, he concludes the first stanza by emphasizing the lengthiness of the time he has waited for his beloved one. The extreme examples in the first three lines serve to accentuate the extraordinariness of his commitment to his beloved. An entire night the sick spends in pain or the time the dead waits until burial or the patience and diligence Satan portrays to be able to catch a sin… None of these examples can be compared to the suffering, patience and commitment the narrator has demonstrated while waiting for his beloved: his love, longing and loyalty are all superior to the intense feelings illustrated in these extreme examples.

At this point, an exasperated and almost reproachful tone begins to take over the poem: the narrator does not want her to come back anymore because the exceedingly lengthy time that has passed since she left has gradually turned the feelings of love and longing into pride and exasperation.
The second line of the second stanza, “I have found you in your absence”, can be interpreted through a Sufi point of view. Sufism is a mystic system mainly within Islam, which has the goal of uniting with God through spiritual love and endurance. Looking through this lens, one can say that the “you” used in this line is not same as the “you” used in the rest of the poem; the romantic love the narrator had for his beloved and the endurance he has shown while waiting for her have come to such an extreme point that it helped him find divine love. Thus, he has “found (God) in (her) absence”. The subtle double meaning inherent in this line seemed really striking to me. It reminded me of “Layla and Majnun”, a very famous ancient Middle-eastern love story, where Majnun had experienced the same transition: his romantic love for Layla and the endurance he has shown had helped him find divine love, which was eternal in contrast to the mortal love he had for Layla.

Although the poem is in a form that I personally would not prefer to use while writing poetry (with its strict rhythm and rhyme scheme), I understand that it reflects a very popular view regarding poetry and form in the 1930’s Turkish literature, and overall, I still love this poem! I wonder how many different layers I will discover as I keep coming back to “The Awaited” at different stages in my life.
—————————————————–

Click here for my Turkish essay on the same poem.

Questioning the “Other”

Nisan19

A close examination of one aspect of The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer
———————————————————————————————————

“If they really had desired one another so much it had not evidenced itself before—no hand-holding or kisses, or intimate touching over clothes in titillation; probably due to him, some tradition or inhibition in him, foreign to her—she had been accustomed to playing at love-making since she was twelve years old, had had the usual quota of lovers common to the friends around their table, and took her contraceptive pill daily with her vitamins.” (Gordimer 27)

One of the main aspects of the novel is, in my opinion, the sharp juxtaposition of Julie’s sexuality versus Ibrahim’s sexuality. As two people distinctly different in gender, cultural background and race, Julie and Ibrahim also represent two disparate cultural approaches to sexuality. What struck me about this quote is that the narrator tells the reader that Julie had become sexually active at the age of twelve. Personally, I can say that the culture I am coming from (the Turkish culture) is similar to (if not the same as) Ibrahim’s cultural background in the sense that sexuality is not something often talked about explicitly and publicly—at least in an average Turkish family. Likewise, having sex at a young age is looked down upon by the majority of the society, and even if it happens, it is definitely not something to talk about in public. Having read this quote, I was surprised (if not shocked—after spending almost two months in the States) to see how a girl can start having sex at such an early age, and moreover, how this can be perceived as “normal”, considering how early a stage the girl is at, both physically and psychologically, at that age. I can understand how my cultural background affects my perception of this quote, but what is so beautiful about this quote and the novel in general is that Gordimer boldly puts forth two different views regarding sexuality, and whether the reader comes from an Eastern culture or a Western culture, he or she can still be shocked by the other point of view. Gordimer’s narration puts the same distance to Ibrahim’s cultural approach as it does to Julie’s, which makes the text partly familiar and partly foreign to almost every reader, making them feel close to the story and to the characters while forcing them to face and question the foreignness. A reader from an Eastern society, for instance, might find it easier to relate to the “some tradition or inhibition in [Ibrahim]” regarding sexuality whereas a reader from a Western background might consider Julie’s early exposure to sex completely normal and natural. Yet, surely both readers would find themselves in a situation where they begin to ponder the “other”, more “foreign” perspective regarding the subject matter.

Yeri: English | Questioning the “Other” için yorumlar kapalı

The Wild Caress

Mart31

“Quiet you!”

he shouts with undisguisable hatred, and as he does this, his belly swells up—with hatred and disgust, maybe, who knows?—so much that I can hardly breathe. As the woman continues babbling in an incomprehensible tone that still manages to be frustrating, I feel him inhale slowly—my body tenser than ever and my headache growing with each inhalation.

“All right”

I hear him say, and I know, as soon as I hear the words, that he will begin his show.

As the gloomy shadow of his gigantic hands falls on me, I know that there is no escape. He grabs me by my thigh and begins to unbutton me. No, I cry but his fingers are deaf. I won’t let you! His touch is so fervent, so inexplicably impatient that I almost feel that it is reflexive; there is no room for even a bit of hesitation or a moment of consideration; it is as if he was born to do this.

When he is done with unbuttoning, he pulls me fiercely and—without a look or a word or any sort of indication to prove him human and not a ferocious animal attacking on its prey—opens my legs wide apart. No, I cry again, desperately this time because I know that once he comes this far, there is no way to stop him. As I sense his aggressive touch going down my left thigh, my knee, and all the way through my ankle, I look for a trace of lust on the tips of his fingers. To my amazement, I find none. Realization hits me hard: This is not the usual routine that repeats every night; his fingers are not impatient to get rid of me to touch someone else but to use me to do so. To use me—“Oh, you don’t have to use the belt on her.”—as a puppet; to use me—“Do you have to use the belt?”—as a weapon.

It is only then that I see the girl’s face. Her young and almost naive features harbor feelings more intense and elderly than her frail body can bear. There is fear and shock widening in her pupils; embarrassment reddening her cheeks and something else, something inexplicable growing all over her face. Is it acceptance? Or obedience, maybe? Why? I scream at her, and I know that she will not fight back. She will remain obedient as he performs his show, her silent lips along with mine counting to infinity till the torture ends.

Holding me tightly by the ankle, he gets closer to the girl and heaves me right to her face. This is the first time we are eye-to-eye, face-to-face, and for the tenth of a second we are so close that I almost think we will kiss. And we do. I put a swift, chaste peck on her lips, and our lips fall apart as he fiercely pulls me back. He throws me again, and this time I kiss her on the cheek. Yet, coming back again, I am shocked to see her fragile lips and her soft cheeks bloating after my light kisses. I don’t want to do this anymore, I shout as I hear her scream, running away and begging him to stop, me to stop. Forgive me! Oh please, forgive me! He is deaf as are his stoic fingers, and he aims at her ears to deafen her too. And the torture of kissing continues; I kiss her on her right ear, her left ear, on her forehead, and once more on her cheeks; regretting every touch and every kiss, both of us crying at the top of our lungs at every wild caress.

Then he throws me away.

And as I hug the linoleum—my body sore, my voice hoarse and my lips bloated; her cries getting louder and louder—I let oblivion embrace me.

———————————-

(This passage is an attempt to rewrite a scene in Alice Munro’s The Beggar Maid from a different point of view. The scene takes place on pages 17-19 where Rose’s father beats her with his belt.)

 
Sevde Kaldiroglu
October 7, 2013

Yeri: English, Fiction | The Wild Caress için yorumlar kapalı
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