A day earlier in Abadan our passports and tickets were ready for collection. Dad spoke to this guy in the ticket office who dropped the word OK in every one of his Persian sentences. He had a poster of palm trees on the wall. Who puts posters of palm trees of some other city in a city full of palm trees? He was what we called Gharb-Zadeh which meant western wannabe. On that last day I was keen to keep my daily ritual and cycled under the heat of the Sun, in our city of Mahshahr. Mahshar meant moon city. I passed Mahnaz’s house and peeked through the mesh wire window. She wasn’t there, shame. Why was it that when things were getting better something always changed? Only a fortnight earlier I wrote her a note, sat next to her in the cinema and dropped it in her lap. When she saw me next she blushed. Her cheeks turned red like inside a cherry pie and I’m guessing they probably tasted the same. I knew then that if I persisted I could get a taste of her. I put my best shirt on. It was a lost cause but it wasn’t just for her I was saying goodbye to the neighbourhood. The heat melted the road and left my tyre track behind. At least the road kept a trace of me. You could fry an omelet on that asphalt but I was used to that heat even though my skin had turned deep brown and peeled like a potato. The swimming pool chlorine had lightened my hair and I thought I looked cool! I passed the market. The vegetable market had fresh coriander and the mechanic’s shop smelled of diesel and grease. My friend Ali was home. Unlike me he was a town boy. At school I hanged out with the town kids just as much as I knew the kids from our part of town. Town kids called us the refinery kids. I didn’t care much for such differences. Ali went puppy faced but kept quiet and just wished me luck. Ali’s Mum offered me lunch, smiled and wished me luck, but I didn’t stay. I passed the fishmongers and the smell of freshly backed bread further up market made me hungry so I headed home. I reached the rose gardens of the English houses of our road and circled the Helipad where the king had once landed for his visit. On his visit I’d peeked inside the Helicopter now I was going round the H three times for good luck. I had my lunch and had a short nap. The summer days were long but that day was going too quickly and I was slightly disappointed. My life was about to change and I expected a bit more fuss from friends and family. Surely someone cared that I wouldn’t be there the next day? Then it happened. Ali hadn’t gone puppy face because he was keeping a secret. He wasn’t good at keeping secrets but that day he did a good job. The kids had organised a surprise visit. They all turned up at once, or at least the best of my friends the seven of them came to say goodbye. Mohsen the eldest of all of us was a poor kid who along his education had started to be a coach driver’s assistant. This had caused a bit of interruption so he’d repeated the year but otherwise that kid was a really bright. His favourite occupation was to make bamboo shoots burn a few holes and turn it to a flute for his buddies. He was a great musician but that day he was a coach driver. He’d borrowed his uncle’s coach, picked each one of them at their homes and beautifully parked the coach in the col-de-sac where we lived. It wasn’t just for me, it was for them too. They wanted to look me in the eyes and see how it felt to be going somewhere and living a dream. I should had kept in touch but didn’t. A lot happened after that point. A war swallowed up a million kids. Rich or poor many people left the country but I hope my magnificent seven, the seven friends, the town boys that I once had as genuine friends had grown to be happy men and I hope wherever they are that they had a good life. Life did turn out to be like a dream. The thirty-six years have gone fast and nothing like what I expected.