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Nektaria Anastasiadou’s writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, Al-Monitor, Daily Sabah, Mashallah News, Panoply, East of the Web, Sixfold, The Shanghai Literary Review, Eclectica, and The Eastern Iowa Review. In 2019, one of her short stories was included in the American Fiction Anthology and she won the Zografeios Agon, a prestigious Greek-language literary award established in Constantinople during the late Ottoman Empire. She also received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train’s Spring 2017 New Writer Contest and in Ruminate’s 2015 Short Fiction Contest.

She lives in Istanbul and A Recipe for Daphne is her debut novel.

A Recipe for Daphne

Nektaria Anastasiadou

This electronic edition published in 2020 by


113 Sharia Kasr el Aini, Cairo, Egypt

One Rockefeller Plaza, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10020


Hoopoe is an imprint of The American University in Cairo Press


Copyright © 2020 by Nektaria Anastasiadou

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

ISBN 978 977 416 979 3

eISBN 978 164 903 001 6

Version 1


Preparation for an Encounter

What the man in white called cerebral arteriosclerosis and vascular dementia, Fanis called preparation for an encounter with divinity.

“You’re just a little confused,” said the man. He withdrew the icy metal thing he’d been holding to Fanis’s chest. “That’s common after a syncope. You’re going to be okay.”

Fanis took a deep breath: the place smelled of iodoform and humiliation. He could hear restrained murmurs, offensive beeping, and somebody emptying his insides. It wasn’t what he expected of Hades. His vision was still blurry, but he was able to make out a golden caduceus on the man’s lapel. “My God,” he said. “Is it you? And why are you speaking Turkish?”

“I’m sorry,” said the man. He had the deep bass voice that Fanis had always wanted. “I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Dr. Aydemir.”

“A doctor? But that staff belongs to Hermes, not to doctors. Asclepius’s staff—with just one snake—is the symbol of medicine. Which makes you an impostor, sir.”

Dr. Aydemir glanced at his watch. “Do you know where you are?”

“Of course I do. I’m in the City.”

“Which city?”

“There’s only one. Istanbul.”

“And just where in Istanbul are you?”

Fanis looked around. He saw a nurse’s foot—in an ugly white shoe—peeking out from beneath the flimsy yellow privacy curtains. “The German Hospital,” he said.

“Good,” said Dr. Aydemir. “Do you know what day it is?”

“June 4, 2011. The day I was supposed to meet a god.”

The doctor smiled. “It’s true that some people think of me that way. But I’m human after all.”

“That’s not what I meant,” said Fanis, suddenly aware that they had dressed him in one of those awful paper gowns.

“Did you mean,” said the doctor, “that you thought you would die today? It’s not time to worry about that yet. Medications can treat your condition.”

Fanis, however, did not believe that multicolored pills could cure anything. Apart from sporadic aggravations such as erectile dysfunction, that was.

The doctor took out his mobile phone. “Perhaps I misunderstood. Maybe you’d like me to send for a priest?”

Fanis rolled his eyes. He knew the fellow was only trying to be considerate, but the question irritated him. Everyone had noticed the Greek name on Fanis’s chart and the religious classification on his identity card: Christian. Those were his minority tags, his marks of non-Turkishness. And so, when he had mentioned an encounter with divinity, the doctor had assumed that he was referring either to death or to churches. Yet Fanis had seen the cause of the illness in his dreams, and he knew what it meant: it was time to unbind knots, loosen tongues, and release what had been kept hidden. The divinity who would help him was neither Christian nor Muslim, but Hermes, the god of transitions and boundaries and the patron of shamans, travelers, thieves, storytellers, and liars.

Still, Fanis realized that this young pup would never understand. So he said, “That’s not necessary. Just give me your side of the story.”

“Excuse me?”

“The prognosis, the treatment, and all that ho-hum.”

“Right.” The doctor sat on a rolling air-lift stool and crossed his long legs. “Let’s start with the arteriosclerosis. The risks are ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke—”

“Death, you mean.”

“Yes, as well as vascular dementia. Thank God, you’ve managed to avoid a stroke so far, but from the symptoms—confusion, difficulty making decisions, restlessness, agitation, memory issues—it seems you’re already in the early stages of vascular dementia.”

“So it’s all over?”

“Not necessarily. I suggest you reduce your fat intake—”


“Then you’ll at least have to take these medications.” Dr. Aydemir tore five prescriptions from his pad.

Fanis was unable to read the snake-track writing. “What are these?” he asked.

“Just a few things to lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and help prevent cognitive decline and a potentially fatal stroke.”

“Can I take them with Viagra?”

“You take Viagra?”

“Didn’t they tell you? That’s why I came. I want a prescription.”

“At seventy-six?”

“Why not?”

“You mean you still—?”

“Of course.”

“Shouldn’t you be spending time with your grandchildren?”

“I don’t have any. My late wife—may God give her rest—couldn’t conceive. But I’m going to remarry as soon as I find a beautiful woman of my own kind. Rum, that is.”

The doctor stared at Fanis. He probably didn’t even know that the word Rum was a Turkified version of the Greek word Romios, which meant Roman. At best, Dr. Aydemir thought of Fanis in the terms of the rest of the world, as an “Istanbul Greek,” which implied that his forebears hailed from Greece and not from Istanbul. Aydemir surely didn’t know—because almost no one did nowadays—that many of Istanbul’s Greek-speaking Rums were descendants of a native population that had lived in the City since well before AD 330, the year in which Constantinople became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire.

Fanis explained, “The Patriarch says we should all have three kids to perpetuate our race.

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