On “being a good person” from When Pera Trees Whisper, Ahmet Ümit’s latest novel, translated by Elke Dixon. Chief Inspector Nevzat recounts the story of a young woman who ran off with his boyfriend because her father would not consent to their marriage:
“Kader ran off with that guy?” he griped, giving me a funny look. Frankly, I should have caught on to the anger he was feeling at that moment, but I was blinded by the arrogance doing them this favour had given me. “That ‘guy’ is going to be your son-in-law,” I said, making light of it. […] After a bit, he very suddenly and unexpectedly reached for my hand to kiss it, saying “God bless you, Chief Nevzat. They don’t call you Beyoğlu’s Finest Big Brother for nothing.”
Normally, I should have understood from his tone of voice that he wasn’t sincere. But you know, when you play big brother to everyone… There’s that incomparable feeling of superiority that helping people gives you. The despicable privilege that comes from being a good person. I didn’t understand; I couldn’t. […]
Yes, I was relieved. Not just relieved, I was feeling great. Once again I’d done a good deed as Beyoğlu’s Finest Big Brother. Once again I had helped people, and bolstered my confidence. […] Who could resist a favor like that from a goody-goody like Chief Nevzat? The kids finally gave in… (256)
Nevzat tries to reconcile the father but eventually regrets the move and somehow feels that he doesn’t deserve the honorific.