The jackal’s path ( an allegory of the Iranian revolution)


An old rich merchant  left his loyal wife of fifty years and his children in exile with a small pension. He married a beautiful young girl and invited the princes of silk road to flaunt his wealth and his new bride. Jealous of his wealth and lusting for the young girl the eagle crested prince spoke to the prince of house of Jackals. Can you believe the audacity of such wealth right under our nose and in the hand of our subject, and out of selling what? Black oil lamp? The prince of house of Jackals rose his wine cup and said: would it make you feel better if this was all mine even before the bear crested king has it? Then he whispered in the ears of the Mullah who conducted the wedding and dropped in his hand some silver coins and started the conversation: So tell me Ruhollah  (spirit of God) is it true that there is an elixir that brings youth and virility to the old? Yes your royal highness, indeed. There is a tale of a golden jackal with a black tail living in a cave on the road to Samarkand. Anyone who makes a soup of such a tail regains his youth and virility, but it is also a spiritual journey so if it takes fourteen days you must take food and drinks for five days, and you must go on an unfed, thirsty horse. The jackal must be caught by your own trap, and the journey must be done alone. Eager to regain his youth the old man set for the journey thinking that he had spend a life time on such journeys. He rationed his food and water, but the horse was weak and died. He exhausted his rations for he was on foot, but as he deliriously walked towards his path he saw a gathering of jackals, and he chased them and they ran, he chased them and they ran until he had no more strength and fell unconscious. He opened his eyes with the pain of his foot being cut by one jackal and his thigh by another. Being alive but weak the jackals dared not devour him, but without legs to stand he was left with the congregation of jackals inflicting him with unbearable pain. So he looked to the sky and shouted “Allah Akbar” dear god send me a Rohani (spiritual) sign and relieve me of this pain. At that moment a pair of wide wings spread on him held his wrist and lifted him to the sky. Legless and bleeding he landed on a piece of rock. Before his eyes were plucked by the vulture, he turned his head and found the carcass of bandits, merchants and holy men alike. He sighed alas this “Rohani” sign was as deceiving as Ruhollah’s words. The vulture rescued me from jackals to make me his own prey, and I who prayed for youth now pray for a quick death, and as I die in pain the prince of jackals is devouring my wealth and my young new wife. Nature has no prejudice towards your wealth, status or spiritual cleansing, a half dead creature foolish enough to walk in the jackal’s path is meat for competing scavengers. 

Astro-Historian (flash fiction)


astro by doodle_juice
astro, a photo by doodle_juice on Flickr.

I have a confession to make: I am not human. I discovered it by accident. I came very close to death a couple of times and inexplicably survived. Like the night my parents were away and I didn’t listen to them and did not go to bed, only to find that if I had the rain would have collapsed the roof on my head, or when a carjacker in Africa tried to pull a gun on me and the gun got stuck in his belt, or being late on the train and therefore missing my usual commute which on that day got blown up by terrorists and I could go on but I won’t. Then there was the way I did and thought things and I felt I was different from everyone I knew and sometime because of this I fell low, really low like I was trapped in an abyss, but when I was having an existential crisis I figured out that an invisible was helping me. The serendipity and the chain of events that made me experience unusual things could not be random, I didn’t chase those adventures they often came to me. I was too rational to start believing in some sort of deity watching  over me; after all when you see that the world is full of horror and that there is so much pain inflicted on the innocent you conclude that there is no purpose or god. However, the coincidences were far too many to be considered random so the logical explanation was that this world was not real, none of it was real. With maturity and after living in my current form I said to myself that If I was having the best seat and going through these unusual low probability events like I was watching a movie or playing a video game then someone, perhaps me must had paid good money for this seat, and life taught me that I better enjoy the good view. One day after one of those coincidences which was yet another near death experience I decided to talk frankly with someone who I suspected was one of my guardians. There was a risk that he would think I was mad. There was also a chance that he was not real and he was merely a character designed to watch over me. Then out of nowhere and before I approached him with my mad questions the truth came to my head like a revelation and like I always knew, but deliberately kept the truth from myself. I became self-conscious that I was an observer of humanity. It was my choice to live as a human. I was collecting information about emotional experiences. If we measure time by their scale humanity died billions of years ago.  Where there others like me? I don’t know.  I was a historian and the only way I could study humans was to be one. We captured their behavior and constructed a model and I was living in that simulation. Everything that happened to me, my birth, my tragedies and happy moments, the people I met, the ones that I loved were all part of this simulation. The only thing I hadn’t planned on was that I would keep falling in love with them and that since I couldn’t keep them or take them with me I stayed here and lived with them life after life. after all, love in simulation or not is still love.

Extract from ‘The pomegranate garden’ (my unfinished novel)


A small spider was trying to crawl out of the basin. It slipped. With tenacity it climbed again.
Twenty years ago she would have been terrified and would have asked him to kill it. Six months before she died she would have set it free so he tried to gently pick it with toilet paper. He knocked over a plastic container of colourful hard-shelled capsules and in the avalanche the spider was about to be sent to the abyss of the basin drain. He caught it and opened the window to let it go. Its back had the face of a woman; the face smiled and silently said my name is Arachne.
The window reminded him of the night he brought her some medical cannabis. There was no way she would try it by herself. She wanted to share it but he wanted to stay clear-headed just in case. He clumsily rolled and took a puff and passed it on then sat for a while in silence watching her smoking and not knowing how it would turn out. Smoke filled the bathroom with a thick fog so he’d opened the window. With her head shaven, skin and teeth sick-yellow she still looked gorgeous. She sat on the edge of the toilet seat and couldn’t stop laughing and tried to puff out smoke circles but didn’t know how to inhale. He’d told her a joke and she still had pain and no appetite but couldn’t stop laughing. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t remember his joke, the joke that made her laugh so much her belly hurt. Like many other patches of memory the joke was gone, lost or blocked.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (analysis)


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Oscar (protagonist) obsessed with sci-fi comic and fantasy books, has a quest for true love. He has to deal with identity issues; He is a misunderstood outsider amongst Dominican Republic low class immigrants and he is cursed (Fukú americanus as the book calls it). The plot is the quest (looking for true love) and with the mix of the curse, faceless man etc. it is a Magical realism genre.

Díaz’s style mixes elements of humour, tragedy, history and identity conflict. Here is an example of humour being used to depict a personal crisis:

“Oscar, Lola warned repeatedly, you’re going to die a virgin unless you start changing. Don’t you think I know that? Another five years of this and I’ll bet you somebody tries to name a church after me. “
(Díaz, 2009,p.25)

A life of seemingly nobody makes us realize that he is somebody and the life represents a history of a nation. The last few verses of the book’s epigraph (2009) a poem by Derek Walcott’s supports this idea:
“I had a sound colonial education,
I have Dutch, nigger, and English in me,
And either I’m nobody, or I’m a nation.”

The books narrators are Lola (Oscar’s sister) who narrates as Wildwood in chapter two, and Yunior (Oscar’s best friend and room mate and Lola’s boyfriend) who takes on the personality of “The watcher” (Stan Lee’s fictional character- an alien who observes Earth) narrates for most parts then breaks out as himself. There is also “a notes from your Author” justifying the reality of Oscar and Ybón:
“Would it be better if I had Oscar meet Ybón at the World Famous”
(Díaz, 2009,p.285)

Lola provides the female point of view and family history. We read about her mother and grandparent’s tragic end. Yunior gives us the male perspective and tells us about Oscar’s obsession with true love. There is a parallel narrative in the footnotes. Dominican Republic in the footnotes is another ingenious device used. In those compressed small print footnotes of history of “others” a country almost becomes a character:

“’party watcher’. The word came into common usage during the First American Occupation of the DR, which ran from 1916 to 1924.”
(Díaz, 2009,p.19)

Narration style is in third person. The narrators for most part have a culturally and racially biased voice. Watcher is anti-Trujillo (a genocidal dictator) and judgemental. We have inadequate narrators who carry the story from their point of view.

The two male characters of the story Oscar and Yunior are the two opposite faces of the same coin. Oscar is direct and suffers for showing himself for who he is. Yunior hides behind masks, he is just as geeky about comic books and sci-fi but knows he cannot present himself like that but suffers in not having honest loving relationships. We know Oscar dies so having Yunior as a narrator gives a critic on Oscar’s life. Just as he was a guardian for Oscar, Yunior reaches a low point in life and a beyond the grave Oscar pushes him towards a healthier life.

To give the characters authenticity Díaz uses skaz and Spanish frequently.

“Ay, hija, no seas ridìcula.”
(Díaz, 2009,p.19)

The language written from the characters perspective has a lot of swearing. The following incidentally reveals Yunior’s secret geekiness!

“Speak friend, and enter. In fucking Elvish! (Please don’t ask me how I knew this.”
(Díaz, 2009,p.172)

There is use of free indirect style narration, which Díaz uses to add humour:

“Oscar’s moms had bought their house with double shifts at her two jobs.
Ybòn bought hers with double shifts too, but in a window in Amsterdam.)”
(Díaz, 2009,p.279)

Díaz uses upper case and fonts to create voice. It is used when a character speaks loud or wants to emphasis a point:
“Do you know that woman’s a PUTA?”
(Díaz, 2009,p.282)

I really enjoyed this book. It so beautifully mixes humour and tragedy, as well as parallel footnotes narrative that I want to borrow that. It is going to be tough to pastiche all the elements such as footnotes, sci-fi geek narrator etc. in a short story. I will try to create a biased narrator, a 35-year-old Iranian blogger (Asghar) and use skaz (he is educated in UK but has moved to New York) and create (Persian- English) skaz just as Díaz did with Spanglish. I’ll add some culturally eccentric attributes where appropriate.

 

Díaz, Junot. 2009. The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao, London, Faber and Faber.

Ground Zero (This was a Junot Díaz pastiche)


9-11
Ground Zero

Not many people know this but many Iranians mourned 9/11. Yeb you heard we stood out in the cold and had a candle vigil. We knew what it felt like to be zero grounded.
And guess what? Our friggin ground Zero keeps following our tail around the globe. Sticks to our shoes like a chewing gum. Messes with us on happiest days. Son’s birthday. The first big date. Like it’s got one of those radar-tracking systems they put on rental cars. Comes up when you least expect it and says – Gotcha.
You think I’m kidding? Just follow me to the airport and see who gets RANDOMly selected for the security check?
I don’t know what kind of Karma shit we pulled. I don’t know maybe messed up some Babylonian priests three thousand years ago and those mothers passed the curse of Babel to us. Because I tell you – when one Iranian hears another and we need to fix the country it just comes out as: Bla Bla! or maybe when we took the cursed Darya-e-Nour diamond off our Indian cousins we got all the damnation that went with it.
If you wanna hear my story, you’ll have to get your foot dirty and follow me down the rabbit hole.
Our story starts with Jeff Rohani, or Jafar Behnamloo Rohani if you want his full name. Known to his Iranian friends as Mashty Jafar . Poor Mashty did three jobs to get through college and worked his socks off for seven years. He was the first in and last one out of the office. A total whiz in futures trading (very ironic) but he finally gets time to see the outside world, goes out once and dates a cocktail waitress, balances his Chi and gets some colour back on his cheeks. Two days later he’s in the office and talking to his buddy again (that would be me) on the phone this time about another date with this new total knockout Brazilian (a BEYONCE look alike) and wham the building shakes and the tower is hit. Panic. Panic. He can’t go down and fire is coming up. He now has to make a choice. Jump or get burnt? So he’s standing on a ledge and talking to me (Mr master mind!) asks me for advice. “Shall I jump Asghar? I’m going to jump” he says. To which I answered “bache magar khol shodi toro khoda napar?” And a second later he jumps and I heard him fall!
Shit- it took me five years of therapy to get over that! The fact that I told him not to didn’t help! He jumps and ends up as one of the jumping men of 9/11 and his body never to be found, except that being Iranian they chased his tail back to his family and tried to stick it to him beyond the grave!
After his funeral I went home and for four weeks cried like a baby. If I hadn’t cancelled our fishing Holiday we would be watching 9/11 reruns and would say: “shit Mashti that was almost you” but that didn’t happen. Did it?
Walking in a daze for weeks, I went to a Zoo. I saw a Chimp on her own and she had her finger in her privates. You see in the wild Chimps keep doing each other to get reassurance, like hey one chimp does it and says I’m here to protect you. The poor thing on her own didn’t have that so she had to stick her finger in there herself. That’s how I felt. Iranian in New York after 9/11 walking late in Central Park like I was a chimp, like I had to hold my jewels as nothing else made me feel alright! I guess finger in our privates equivalent for us humans is belief in God! Any such illusions disappeared after that episode.
What is really sad is that Mashty who was raised by an aunt had lost his parents in the Iranian ground Zero.

You might ask what Iranian ground zero?
So you only care when it happens to you! Right?

Back in 78, the religious nut jobs under the order of mother of all evils the original anti-Christ (I am talking about the very famous one and only A.KH. like voldemort I dare not repeat his name or he may pop up like an evil jinny from beyond the grave!) ordered his thugs to barricade the doors of a cinema in the lovely city of Abadan, Iran and burn 400 people alive. He did this to ignite the Islamic revolution by blaming it on the King’s security service. It worked. Poor Mashti Jafar’s parents who thought they were lucky for getting Gran to baby-sit got melted to the carpet and had to be scooped out. The Islamic fundamentalists then took over the country. A week earlier Jimmy Carter, Dennis Healey, and Giscard d’Estaing (The French bloke) decided hey let’s get rid of the king he is getting too cocky in OPEC and do it before the Russians take over with their lefties (they still had the cold war) so they backed this mother of all antidotes his holy A.KH.
Its like having chemotherapy because you don’t want hair on your ass!
Two years later they realized they seriously messed up and backed Saddam to attack Iran and got Mashti’s cousins killed. Ten years and a million lives went pufffff in the air.
After the revolution every ass-hole who was digging tarmac for the city folks because he couldn’t add one and one together put their two and two together and turned religious and started blowing things up for the fundamentalists. All over Middle East they thought “This is fucking great”, we could take over a country just like the Iranian nut jobs. That is how (with some CIA funding of course against the Russians) the world ended up with Osamas in every city.

I could go on forever. Jeff’s family were like hitting the Euro million lottery of bad lucks. His uncle, a lefty gets ordered by his thick-glassed mentor that they are now going to support this Goddamn Mullah A.KH. And never mind that he’s a backward moron, it’s for the greater good, the Mullah will go back to his prayers and they’ll rule the country as worshipped Gods of proletarians! Boy, were they seriously stupid and got screwed. Six month later they were both hanging off a noose, alongside another six thousand of any other kind that wasn’t a A.KH gooney!
His noosed uncle had turned lefty when the Americans send the CIA and did the Operation Ajax in the 50s. That’s when they threw an elected Government because the Prime Minister Mossadegh wanted the Iranian oil money for Iranians! How cheeky!
His uncle watched his uncle get shot. In Iran every uncle has an uncle!
But if you ask me, I’ll say we sit on ground zero. It’s the ground where the curse of oil is. You would think there wouldn’t be anything more blessed than just pumping out money out of the ground. You’d be wrong. It’s no blessing at all when generation after generation they hold a country hostage and have some thugs doing the dirty on you. And if you think we’re just a bunch of peasants who can’t think for ourselves remember this, before the revolution we had the works, good writers, scientists, mini skirts, and Vidal Sassoon hairdos and money in our pockets. When those guys took over we were forced from that to woman looking like black crows, Ak47s, hangings, torture, War, poverty faster than a Bugatti does naught to sixty.
You remember that next time you pump your SUV and think about the price of OIL!


Shipping Forecast And Gale Warnings (short story)


Humber, Thames.

Southeast veering southwest 4 or 5, occasionally 6 later.

Thundery showers.

Moderate or good, occasionally poor.

Let me fill your glass, and make it level with mine my dear friend. Here we go. Come on drink up. This is a forty-year-old whisky. A waiter gave me a blanket and poured me some. He said it’s to warm the passengers standing outside and it’s a Glen-something. I couldn’t say no and I asked for the bottle.

Right now as we drink there must be other Iranians in some corner of the world having a drink with us.

Some could be in a Californian Hotel drinking to some newlyweds wondering how their kids grew up so fast and so American.

Some would drink in a German village in a refugee camp wondering how to get out of their limbo and how much cash they can get for the golf balls they fish from mosquito infested ponds.

Some would visit their secret jars of moonshine hidden in their cellar in Tehran, or they could be drinking from a confiscated bottle that they bought from the Morality Police; you know the sellers top the bottles up with tea and carefully put the cap back and seal it, and who is going to argue with them?

With every sip our drinking friends would be wondering how long this mad regime that is strangling us would last; how long we have to carry that bat-shaped mark in our passports; the mark that casts us from the rest of humanity as if we carry the mark of Cain; as if our God is a monster that rejoices only with the scent of burnt Middle eastern flesh; as if we killed our brother and we are not worthy of redemption.

Free drinks or not I plan to warm up and see an old flame tonight, and I should stay sober.

So with you my friend as my witness I hereby screw this cap on, and launch this bottle overboard as an important message for future posterity. Let those brats figure out their own meaning when they find a half empty bottle floating their way. Perhaps they will have a sip with us when our bones are white and dry. I’ll give them my glass too. Here you are future. Take it; take it. I don’t want it; you can have it.

That was a big drop though- I reckon it would be a drop of hundred and eighty feet from here to the propeller. I bet that propeller with those good blades would drag and slice a man before he has a chance to drown or even get salt water up his nostrils. If a man overboard doesn’t get chopped, or the fall doesn’t kill him he would die of hypothermia and disappear in the dark water in no time. I suppose the bottle made it. What do you think?

Yes, those propellers would get a man. Blades like them would turn without causing viscous friction and don’t get cavitation scars. I used to fix them you know. I was thirteen when I worked in a British workshop in Abadan. This is before the Iranian oil was nationalized.

It was a fourteen-hour a day shift. Sometimes I had a quick nap on the hot concrete floor and went back to work. One day I saw one of the old men crouched in a corner burning a cigarette, and staring at nothing. I went and talked to him. The old man was becoming retired and after a lifetime of service had nothing to show for it but he still had young daughters. That day I said I wouldn’t end up like him, and from then I joined a weekend adult education class. For each lost year I did three grades. I even did my math homework behind a lathe, cutting machine parts.

Now I am older than that old man, and today I called my solicitor to ask about the progress of my divorce. This is my second divorce. It’s like you complete a marathon but when you reach the finishing line they’ve moved it for a second marathon and you have to run another twenty-five miles.

My friend, the woman has been bleeding my pocket dry and tormenting me for forty-five years. She has left me with nothing; I’m just like that old man.

Would you believe at first she was a domestic goddess? She made this fantastic spicy Fish and Herb stew with dissolved tamarind pulps and served it with saffron Basmati rice. I wouldn’t have married the second time but my sister kept insisting and didn’t take no for an answer. I explained to her my reservations and she sneered then raised her shoulders and dropped her lower lip:

‘Are you still a man? You are not waiting for your ex to leave her lover and come back to you, or are you? Look at this widow. She is a peach…has her own kids too so she could be a good mother for your three. Don’t you want to sleep in a warm bed’, she said.

So I sat with my future second wife in a friend’s house and all we talked about were pomegranates. I took her to the cinema and she was flirty and I thought that was nice. I couldn’t figure her out. That is all I knew of her when we married.

First month or two she quietly cut a bit from our savings and then she would spend it on her family but I thought that was all right and didn’t say anything. After the revolution she turned religious and it was then that she became a master thief. Just like those Ayatollahs she had convinced herself that she had a license from God to steal my money. She would prey on my bank account and then go and pray five times a day. If I were God I would open my pants and piss on that prayer.

I also had a call from my son. This is my boy from the first marriage. I thought he called to make an apology but no – he answers me in his usual deadpan voice:

‘Dad I’m sick and tired of seeing you turning a blind eye and ruining yourself.’

Last time I had a drink with my boy I said the best drink is the one you have with those you love. His eyes turned red and he went quiet and started niggling:

‘Dad, why did you leave me like a cat with food in the house when I was four?’

I told him that wasn’t my fault; that, my friend, was his mother’s wrongdoing. She left me with three kids on my hands. I had to go to work and keep my job. In a city of strangers, and no family there was no one to help. Then he said:

‘Why leave the house? Why leave my sisters and I in care of that evil woman? She groomed my sisters for her dirty father; she called them whores and tore up their diaries.’

I said lucky they were smart enough to protect themselves from your stepmother. I thought we were going to have a pleasant drink and for once forget the past. I kept away from the house because of my job. This was the job that put food on the table, and when I said that he went completely berserk.

Then I said at least he is not alone, his sisters are batty too. He moaned again:

‘I scrubbed floors and built my life on my own. I don’t owe you anything’, he said.

Thanks I said; good for you. Look at you, the big professional. Earning a living was character building. Besides you know damn well your stepmother took control of my finances, and you are forgetting a little thing called a revolution, war followed by poverty?

Ok I admit that I was like a piece of clay in her hand but I can’t change things now can I? So can we drink please?

Both my wives are in my black book of retribution. Mind you, after Fariba my first ex was betrayed by her lover-turned-husband, when she stood in my daughter’s living room one day and right in front of our grandchildren dowsed her dress in kerosene, lit a match and turned aflame, I crossed her name out. She paid with her blood.

Fariba was a beautiful woman, but when I saw her in that hospital I didn’t recognise her. When they called me to go over I still had the picture of her as a young woman that I once loved. I then remembered the breakup, and the way she tore her pearl necklace in front of my elderly uncle shouting: ‘nobody gave me a choice. They forced me to marry you.’

She said that with such scorn. It was as if we never shared a life and three beautiful children; as if I never kissed her tummy when it grew to the size of a melon or smiled at her adoringly when she passed wind or threw up; it was as if we were never two young lovers embracing under a thin summer sheet. When I saw her like that I thought did she not know the sweet scent of charred flesh was not just hers?

She died a day later and I mourned her for two days, but no more.

My boy doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand my childhood. I had to stand outside my mother’s house waiting for a plate of food like a beggar. Her husband would chase me and call me a bastard like I was a stray dog.

This is what happens to orphans.

My grandfather the diplomat was shot by a sniper’s bullet and then they poisoned my poor father. Whoever did this was doing it out of a grudge, but we never found out who could carry such hate.

I would still have been all right if it hadn’t been for my bad relatives. I’m not going to tell you what they did to me. That is locked away and I’ve thrown away the key. All I say is that they left me with this lopped off earlobe.

I put my mother’s husband’s name in my black book too. The bastard used to chase me with a stick and when he was old and had cancer he came to me for help. I couldn’t stand outside his house. He didn’t call his children; he called me in his time of sickness. If I die and there is a God asking me questions I’ll throw him my black book and say: Here you are, you deal with it. Go and do your checks and balances before you judge me, but God I judge you. I judge you God.

I’ve talked a lot – so why are we here on this ship? It isn’t every day that you and I sail on this extraordinary ship. You – my other self, you the man I should had been.

Here I was watching TV in my room. You know there is only so much of watching juvenile bad singers and lunatics locked in a house on TV I could take. The singing was almost as bad as my second wife’s singing. She sang like a housefly trapped in a toilet. I told her that once but she couldn’t take a joke.

I had a Kebab take-away and a walk down Kensington, and I tried to calm the pain in my legs but couldn’t sleep. So one minute I was sleepless, and the next I am here with you on this ship and catching up where we left off.

By the way, do you remember the last time we spoke? On that occasion we had an exchange; as far as I’m concerned that’s all forgiven and in the past. The truth is I enjoy talking to you and I have always admired you. You did well for yourself. You did well with the life you stole from me. No grudges though friend.

On my last Kebab night I watched you in your world with your wife and your great granddaughter. You were standing by the Hafiz Mausoleum eating that wonderful ice cream. The one sprinkled with almonds and frosty clotted cream. I followed you as your son drove you to your state. Lovely mansion you inherited. With those apple, cherry and pomegranate trees all heavy with fruit and the roses in full bloom it looks quite a place; it was very picturesque.

Then your wife -your childhood sweetheart if I remember – yes the two of you walked along a stone path next to the evergreens.

That was a colourful feast you had with all your family present. I kept watching. Just like you I like drinking tea in a slim waist glass cup and slurping sugar cubes from the side of my cheek. You laughed to tease your daughter.

Was it the best-of-five backgammon? She almost had you. I do the same with my daughter when I fly over to Sweden.

Your wife found an old pearl necklace in a box and decided that this is one of the many wedding gifts for your granddaughter, and I think she also found old letters. She had tied them with a red ribbon.

Then your son impressed me. Your son seems like a fine boy. I saw him put large pillows and a Kelim on a wooden bed under the shade in the garden for you.

You always sleep with the SW radio broadcasting the British shipping forecast.

So… given all that…it was a shame my friend.

It was a real pity that in your sleep you had a stroke. Trust me when I say this; nothing would have saddened me more. I’m not sure how you would have taken your locked-in syndrome, so here you are for once immobilized and speechless and listening to me, to me who would not shut up. Here we both are, and once again aboard this ship. Just like when we were young. You and I, the doubles from different worlds once again meeting in the forecasting ship.

I think this is going to be a fair exchange; this will be our last exchange, and the last trip.

What do you get I this exchange? I give you these workingman’s hands, old legs and an old heart, it’s a good ticker. The right eye, not the left because that’s my lazy eye and it is still in good use. You can do as you please with the rest. Everything is as you left it but a lot older. This body can be left in an oven when it is done; who knows perhaps the eyes would finally see the light!

Why do I want this exchange? Why would I want to be motionless and just manage to shake my head for the rest of my life? That’s my business. But I’ll tell you this for free: this is not an exchange for anyone else, and I won’t pretend that it is out of compassion. No my friend, dear as you are this one is for me.

I’m sure you’ll find our world amusing. It was your world once but you were then a mere child. Apart from people riding hornless unicorns, you might laugh when you find that Ronald Reagan the B movie actor was president, or that we had a revolution in Iran and the last people on Earth became our first people, or that unlike your world the Shiraz wine is made everywhere but in Shiraz. We have TVs that show a lot of nothing, and these shiny tablets of all sizes that steal people’s glance from the beauty of the world.

If it gets cold in the apartment turn the dial on the heater anticlockwise and click the igniter twice.

Before we go just answer me this- please blink once for no and twice for yes. Does she – does your Fariba after years of marriage look at you like she still loves you?

Ok – come on; let’s not get too emotional. I don’t want to see your eyes wet. Please let us part well. I know I’ve talked a lot. Let me help you finish your drink. I shake your hand. I’m sure you have the same sentiment if you could move your arm.

The choices are just like the last time that you described it to me when we were very young boys. When this ship has circled the British Isles and it sets anchor I’ll become you, and you’ll be me and the only way to stop that is for one of us to drop the other on that propeller.  I didn’t have the guts to jump and hold on to what was mine then, but this time I’ll be damned if I stop our final swap.

Ramin Tork 2nd Sept 2013

copyright (c) Ramin Tork All rights reserved.


 

This is a short film that demonstrates the power of good screen writing.

Leaving Moon city-autobiographical flash fiction


maltabus by doodle_juice
maltabus, a photo by doodle_juice on Flickr.

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.


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