About 27 years ago I took part in a play. I took these pictures but they were lost until I accidentally found the negatives.
1 INT. PATIENT’S ROOM, NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL.
BLACK. The SOUND of an old man murmuring.
67-YEAR-OLD CYRUS KUSHA is in a bed in a corner of a dark
Forgive me! I should had saved
A faint light illuminates the screen. A female
hand reaches old CYRUS. She covers his shoulder with the
blanket. She kisses him on the cheek.
EVELYN is that you?
SOUND of VOICES.
SILHOUETTES in the dark.
Blurred figure of DR. AZIZI with NURSE O’CONNOR shutting
the curtains between the cubicles.
DARK. ELECTRONIC SOUND of life support equipment.
Abrupt close up of DR. AZIZI’s face looking down.
NURSE O’CONNOR slowly elevates the back of the bed using a
control. She raises CYRUS’s back on bed and makes him sit.
DR. AZIZI comes closer and examines CYRUS with the
I killed her. I was too late…
My Name is DR. AZIZI. I’m just
going to do a quick examination.
Is that OK? This is going to feel
a bit cold.
Then pulls out an ophthalmoscope.
A piercing light moving left and right.
Good man… You are in the
Nottingham University Hospital.
You’ve been sleep for three
days… When you fell, you
bruised your head. Your daughter
was anxious to see you.
I don’t have a daughter.
NURSE O’CONNOR gently puts CYRUS’ head back on the pillow
and lowers the bed with the same control.
View of the room’s white ceiling as the bed is lowered:
Keep him on the same medication.
2 INT. PATIENT’S ROOM, NOTTINGHAM UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL. DAY.
SOUND of breakfast dishes followed by SOUND of a rotating
floor washer fading to the distance.
Abrupt close up of NURSE LEE with a piece of cloth and
bucket, and her name badge on her tunic.
Do you feel any pain?… I’m just
going to clean your dressings.
Cloth covers CYRUS’ eyes and blocks the camera view.
3 INT. 1940S BATHROOM. IRANIAN EMBASSY IN PARIS. NIGHT.
SOUND of water dripping.
Cloth over 27-YEAR-OLD CYRUS’ eye is uncovered. EVELYN and
CYRUS are in an opulent bathroom. EVELYN is leaning
towards him in a full bath tub and cleans his face with
the cloth. She smiles.
Did SARAH ever wash you like
No we never… We didn’t. We were
Did you love anyone else?
Other than you? No. How about
you? Who was your first love?
Mine! I was six. His name was
Chen. We met in music lessons.
CYRUS kisses her. EVELYN laughs.
I bet no one has pampered you
Not since I was four. My Mum took
me to a women’s public bath. My
aunt was telling us about her
honeymoon arrangements. Then I
pointed between her legs and said
auntie can I have your mouse when
you go to Paris?
What did she say to that?
She said my new uncle would miss
his pet mouse if it’s not there
with him in Paris… She said
I’ll have my own pet mouse when I
CYRUS’ hand moves goes under the water and out of view and
caresses EVELYN. EVELYN is tickled and splashes water on
him. She giggles then she is aroused. She kisses CYRUS’
cheek and opens her mouth in ecstasy, looks in CYRUS’ eyes
she reaches climax.
4 INT. PARIS OPERA HOUSE. NIGHT.
SOUND of EVELYN singing the Cio-Cio San aria of Madam
From a private box, CYRUS is in his tuxedo and white tie.
He watches EVELYN sing.
5 EXT. FRENCH BELGIAN BOARDER. NIGHT.
SOUND of EVELYN singing continues.
Slowed scenes of battle between German and French troops.
French soldiers falling and Germans going forward with
6 INT. INSIDE THE EMBASSY CAR. NIGHT.
SOUND of crowd leaving the opera house.
CYRUS and EVELYN in the back seat of the car.
CYRUS holds her hands. Kisses her hands, then kisses her
Your bel canto technique was
magnificent… What do you want
I want to celebrate tonight.
7 EXT. OUTSIDE THE EMBASSY CAR. NIGHT.
SOUND of traffic.
EVELYN’S happy face through the car window being driven
8 INT. A LARGE NIGHT CLUB WITH A LARGE HALL. PARIS. NIGHT.
SOUND of live music.
A crowded night club with many tables and a stage. A
waiter approaches CYRUS and EVELYN and shows them to a
table. CYRUS and EVELYN meet other socialites and greet
them. Waiter opens a bottle of champagne and fills their
9 EXT. 1940. A CAFE IN PARIS. DAY.
SOUND of a cafe.
WAITER brings two espressos to a table.
26-YEAR-OLD JACOB glancing at a newspaper at a cafe and
sitting with 27-YEAR-OLD CYRUS at that table. CYRUS tilts
his head back and enjoys the warmth of the sunshine.
So that’s a no to moving back to
I’m not planning to give up
JACOB glances at the newspaper.
What does it say?
It doesn’t look good… Was it a
Yeh. You should join us. I’ll fix
you with one of EVELYN’s friends.
JACOB looks at his pocket watch.
I have too many things on my
mind. I have a new buyer for the
carpets… Some of us have to
How is EVELYN coping with your
party life style.
This time I’m coping with her
Ah, SARAH said she’s coming to
your office tomorrow. She wants
to know about these new
She also invited you for Tuesday.
Family dinner. bring your new
So she is cooking for ten people?
It’s twenty. Our cousins are
staying with us. Mum is cooking.
CYRUS distracted by the presence of Captain THEODOR
Well! It is a small world. That
man sitting at the last
table. No don’t look. That’s
MAX’s uncle. The German MAX in
Are you sure it’s him.
Yes. Positive. He is a Captain. I
spend a summer in their Tehran
family house. He speaks fluent
Persian. He had a taxidermy
collection that scared the hell
out of me.
What happened to MAX?
MAX died in the Polish invasion.
10 EXT. OUTSIDE IRANIAN EMBASSY IN PARIS. DAY.
SOUND of troops marching.
The French crowd is standing in large numbers watching as
the German troops parade on the Paris streets. Some are
crying. Some look petrified. CYRUS carries a newspaper.
INT. IRANIAN EMBASSY. DAY.
SOUND of boxes being packed.
The AMBASSADOR’S SECRETARY and other staff could be seen
packing cases. CYRUS rushes through the corridors and
reaches the desk of AMBASSADOR’S SECRETARY. Ambassador’s
office door is closed. He knocks and opens the door.
Don’t bother, he has left.
The office is empty.
You better start packing.
He wouldn’t leave without a
I’m afraid he has.
Has there been any word from
Tehran about this. I’m not going
Very well. suit yourself.
your promotion, new AMBASSADOR.
An assistant helps the AMBASSADOR’S SECRETARY with the
packed boxes. CYRUS walks to the Consulate section. His
five staff are sitting behind their desk in anticipation.
The AMBASSADOR has left. His
staff are leaving, but I’m
keeping the Consulate open. If
you want to leave you have to
Three of the staff get up and leave. CYRUS gives a
thankful looks at the three left.
INT. WINDOWS VIEW OF STAFF IN CARS LEAVING. DAY.
SOUND of car engines.
CYRUS looks from a top window as embassy staff board a
mini bus and leave.
EXT. OUTSIDE IRANIAN EMBASSY. DAY.
SARAH (heavily pregnant) approaches the embassy gates, but
the gates are closed and no guards are standing there. So
she turns back.
11 INT. PARIS OPERA HOUSE. NIGHT.
SOUND of Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries.
CYRUS is sitting in his balcony box. He looks around and
the seats are filled with German officers. In another box
he notices Captain THEODOR DANNECKER, GENERAL WALTER
SCHELLENBERG and two pretty french girls. EVELYN is
singing the major role.
12 INT. GRAND HALL PARIS OPERA HOUSE. NIGHT.
SOUND of crowd.
CYRUS approaches EVELYN. EVELYN is standing at a corner
looking for CYRUS. COCO CHANEL stand with her lover HANS
GUNTHER. GENERAL WALTER SCHELLENBERG is speaking to
THEODOR and the Vichy Police Chief RENÉ BOUSQUET. The two
Germans are in SS uniforms.
I thought you never come.
I still have to maintain a public
COCO approaches EVELYN.
That was a wonderful performance.
It is good to see you again
Good to see you too. How is your
father? Does he still go duck
Yes, hes does.
Thanks for not blowing my cover.
I did see you at the cafe.
A German officer scouting for an
invasion is not of my concern.
Iran is a neutral country… Did
you enjoy the performance?
Yes it was a good performance,
but I expected someone Aryan to
sing the role of Freyja.
He looks across his shoulder at EVELYN and laughs. EVELYN
overhears him and she becomes upset. CYRUS is also upset,
but maintains his composure.
General. allow me to introduce
the Persian Ambassador. CYRUS
KUSHA. We are old friends.
We call Persia Iran now Captain.
GENERAL WALTER SCHELLENBERG
Ambassador… I’m delighted. Tell
me. Why did your king change the
name Persia to Iran.
General… His majesty wishes the
world to use the name we’ve
GENERAL WALTER SCHELLENBERG
And what does Iran mean?
It means the land of Aryans.
GENERAL WALTER SCHELLENBERG
The General laughs. How very
amusing. So the king thinks we
The King is quite fond of German
technology. My brother was
responsible for establishing the
Trans-Iranian railway going from
Persian Gulf all the way to the
GENERAL WALTER SCHELLENBERG
How convenient. It looks to me
like your king like our friend
RENÉ has placed his bets on the
But General we would like to
think that the French are also
GENERAL WALTER SCHELLENBERG
You see my Persian friend. You
don’t need a tuxedo and a white
tie for a party. All men try to
be your cousin when you roll in
with a convoy of tanks and army
They all laugh.
We must go duck shooting like we
used to. I use Chateau de Janvry
for my weekend residence.
I would love to.
(Quietly to CYRUS)
Can we leave now, darling.
13 INT. CYRUS’ CAR. NIGHT.
Did you hear what the General
said? “I expected someone more
Aryan to sing”. I have to leave
Paris. Many people are leaving
for South of France.
No, you’ll be safe here with me
in the embassy compounds. Carry
on as normal, and if there is any
danger we’ll move to South of
France. I promise.
14 EXT. CHATEAU DE JANVRY, SOUTH OF PARIS. DAY.
CYRUS and THEODORE in country jackets and holding
shotguns, and walking.
Do you remember those hunting
trips with you, MAX and your
Yes. That was in our Mazandaran
estate… I’m sorry about MAX.
Yes, so am I, but he didn’t die
in vain. Soon the rest of Europe
would be ours. We are finding
allies in Middle East too. If we
persuade your king to cut the
Persian oil the British navy
would shut down and the war would
SOUND of two shots.
THEODORE shoots two shots hesitant shots and a duck fall.
You have one Captain… We are a
Iran is not powerful enough to be
neutral. You are not Switzerland
with a strong army and the
world’s gold in your banks. Soon,
you’ll have to take sides or one
side would swallow you. I’ll be
frank CYRUS, we need our own
Iranians. People with contacts
and influence… Perhaps like you
and your father.
I am my father’s son, and a
servant of my people and the
King, but I am my own man
SOUND of two shots.
CYRUS shoots two rapid shots and two ducks fall.
15 INT. SARAH’S HOUSE. PARIS. NIGHT.
SOUND of a crowded house.
CYRUS is sitting on an armchair and talking to JACOB and
SAMUEL and DAVID(SARAH’S husband) smoking and speaking
quietly. Door is half open, SARAH and EVELYN and JACOB’S
MOTHER are talking laughing.
All Jews now have to wear these
yellow stars. It is going to be
like the rest of occupied Europe.
SAMUEL takes his star out of his pocket and shows it to
CYRUS, and puts it back again.
Then I would suggest you all make
arrangements for going back to
Tehran. You’ll need to come to
the embassy, be photographed and
I can get you the new passports.
JACOB please organize this so
that all the Iranian Jews come in
but in small groups, otherwise we
might raise the attention of the
Having Iranian passports won’t
give us any protection. We need
to transfer our savings to you…
In case the Germans confiscate
I can’t accept such a
Think about it. You are the only
one we could trust with this. If
they confiscate it we’ll be
He is right, and yes, having some
paperwork could be better than
none. What about non Iranian Jews
like me. Can you help us?
I think that could be too
True. I wouldn’t want SARAH to be
stopped for forged documents.
SARAH (heavily pregnant) approaches from another room and
holds her husband’s hand.
Did you call me?
No dear. We’re just talking.
CYRUS. Can I show you my papers.
I have them organized in the
CYRUS follows her to the study.
16 INT. SARAH’S STUDY. PARIS. NIGHT.
SARAH has placed the papers on a desk and CYRUS is
examining them. She feels a kick inside and becomes
slightly disorientated. CYRUS holds her and helps to a
I felt the kick.
They say if it’s two kicks then
it’s a boy… CYRUS. I’m not in
any position to ask for favors,
but I need a passport for DAVID.
If I give DAVID an Iranian
passport illegally the Germans
would suspect all the new
passports. We need a different
The CYRUS I knew would go to the
end of the world to help the
people he loved. He wanted to be
a Doctor not a champagne popping
Come on that’s not fair SARAH.
I couldn’t leave DAVID with the
Nazis no more than you would
leave EVELYN behind. Your new
girl is lovely by the way. I saw
the way she looks at you.
I’ll do whatever I can to save
you and your family, but I have
to find a safe way.
17 INT. BEDROOM. IRANIAN EMBASSY IN PARIS. NIGHT.
EVELYN is in a dressing gown. She is sitting by the
dressing table and brushing her hair.
They are so nice. How did you get
to know the HAYAMs?
JACOB was my schoolmate.
Then you fell for SARAH with
those blue eyes… She looked a
Yes they are all worried. I’m
worried for them too. She wanted
an Iranian Passport for DAVID.
Are you going to help her?
I’ll do what I can, but I’m not
going to issue forged passports
and mess up my rapport with the
Germans in Paris.
18 EXT. SAME CAFE FOR EARLIER BREAKFAST SCENE IN PARIS. DAY.
SOUND of operatic music.
CYRUS is sitting on his own and with little appetite sips
coffee. Next to him is a newspaper with anti-Jew
propaganda. He looks at it with disgust and throws it
further away from the table. He leaves a tip and leaves.
INT. DAVID, SARAH AND HER MOTHER IN A SUBWAY. PARIS. DAY.
SOUND of trains.
SARAH is holding DAVID and her mother’s hand tightly. They
are now wearing the yellow star of David badge. They come
to board the train. A French Police officer forces them to
walk to the end of the platform. SARAH is in agony. She
squeezes DAVID’s hand. We see them get up and leave rather
than board the arriving train.
INT. CONSULATE OFFICE. IRANIAN EMBASSY PARIS. DAY.
SOUND of camera flashgun from next room.
Inside the corridor a Consulate staff checks the paper
works and people go forward.
We see the recurring bright light of a a camera flashgun
from the next room. CYRUS is nervously walking up and
Most of them are Iranian Jews.
Sir, but some are not Iranian.
For now put the non Iranians in a
The Jews in the queue take off their yellow star. One by
one they stand and pose for their passport mug shot.
Amongst them the familiar faces of JACOB, and SAMUEL,
COUSINS and their CHILDREN.
Each individual is photographed and as the flashgun
lightens the screen we see the aged historical black and
white passport and the Iranian embassy stamps. CYRUS
JACOB can I speak with you for a
INT. CYRUS’ OFFICE. IRANIAN EMBASSY PARIS. DAY.
SOUND of passports being stamped.
JACOB. why did you bring non
I’m sorry I told them. CYRUS
these people wouldn’t risk
leaving without their families.
Where is your Mum, SARAH, and
We split the groups. They said
they would be here later.
CYRUS looks through the top window.
OPERATOR please connect me to the
OPERATOR (PHONE. FEMALE VOICE)
I’m sorry sir but no one is
answering on this number.
View of two police talking to German soldiers sitting in a
car. a van is behind the car. CYRUS calls the HAYAM
residence. No one answers.
(TO CONSULATE OFFICER) Don’t let
anyone leave the embassy for now.
EXT. JEWISH QUARTER. PARIS. NIGHT.
SOUND of crowd.
The French police rounds up the Jews. There is some
resistance and a young man is beaten with a truncheon. He
falls and soaks the pavement with blood. A Women breaks
the heal of her shoe on pebbled street. People are being
rounded in ranks and marched. Between the faces SARAH, Mum
and DAVID. There are trucks lined up to take people to the
Drancy Internment camp.
INT. CYRUS’ OFFICE. IRANIAN EMBASSY PARIS. NIGHT.
CYRUS peeks outside. JACOB checks his pocket watch. They
Keep calling them.
OPERATOR (PHONE. FEMALE VOICE)
I’m sorry sir but the lines in
that area are still
I’m going to take the embassy car
and find out what is going on.
(TO CONSULATE OFFICER) Evacuate
some of the rooms which are not
visible from outside and get
temporary beds. No one leaves
until I come back.
EXT. JEWISH QUARTER. PARIS. NIGHT.
SOUND of car engine.
Embassy car is driving through the Jewish quarter. CYRUS
is in the back seat being driven by his driver. The car
passes in front of the HAYAM residence. He gets out and
knocks loudly on the door but no one answers. Gets back in
the car. He spots SARAH being helped to the back of the
A police officer flashes a torchlight and approaches
Sir you cannot stop here. May I
see your papers please.
Officer, this car is flying an
Iranian flag. I’m driving the
He looks behind. I beg your
pardon Ambassador, but this
section has been closed off.
Why are these people being
We have orders to evacuate this
area and move all the Jews to the
Drancy Internment camp.
Thank you officer.
CYRUS notices the truck that has SARAH and others. CYRUS
taps on the seat of the driver, and he drives away. SARAH
anxiously looks and for a Moment the embassy car headlight
reveals that she is looking at CYRUS’ car.
INT. IRANIAN EMBASSY PARIS. NIGHT.
People are sleeping in their arranged beds. JACOB and
EVELYN are sitting by the phone in CYRUS’ office.
You’ll all have to stay here.
They are arresting all Jews
across the city. I saw them
boarding a truck, but I couldn’t
CYRUS picks the phone.
Operator can you put me through
to the Police Chief.
POLICE CHIEF (PHONE)
Good evening Ambassador. What can
I do for you?
CHIEF. I’ve just heard that
Iranian citizens have been put
under arrest and they are being
kept in the Drancy Internment
camp, northeast of Paris.
POLICE CHIEF (PHONE)
Yes but only the Jews. We have
orders to move the Jews to that
But you can’t do that to the
POLICE CHIEF (PHONE)
I’m afraid the new race law
applies to all Jews irrespective
of their nationality.
Thank you RENÉ.
CYRUS puts the phone down.
He looks outside the window, the police and German
soldiers have gone.
There isn’t much we could do
right now… I’ll visit the
Drancy tomorrow. EVELYN darling
you have a rehearsal to go to.
How can you think about rehearsal
at a time like this?
We have to act normal. Besides I
might have a plan. Wake Goldman
up. I saw him going in with the
others to the temporary room.
What plan? Why do you need my
Well, I’m not sure but we might
be able to use the German Race
laws to our advantage. Just wake
him up and get him to check if
Iranian Jews are classified as
Jugutis. He needs to check the
letter of the law whilst I’m
19 INT. GRAND HALL PARIS OPERA HOUSE. NIGHT.
SOUND of crowd.
THEODORE and GENERAL are in conversation and very drunk.
Standing with them are the two pretty French girls having
their own conversation.
GENERAL WALTER SCHELLENBERG
… So we had the Jew drink vodka
and forced him to sit in a pile
of wood and light his own fire.
Can you believe that? Even then
he didn’t show any resistance!
Ah CYRUS the GENERAL is talking
about pest control. Come and join
us… Where is our Chinese
She was exhausted and left after
Good, then perhaps later I can
introduce you to one of those
Captain. There is something I
wanted to talk to you about. The
Vichy police have arrested some
of our Iranian nationals.
They’ve only arrested the Jews. I
think you are smart enough to
know what is good for your
future, the future we
discussed… So why are you
worried about your Jews and spend
time with a Chinese woman? It
defies your Aryan racial purity.
GENERAL WALTER SCHELLENBERG
Purity? Really Captain. You have
such a sense of humor.
Mixed with inferior Asian blood,
but still Aryan General. Isn’t
that so AMBASSADOR?
The two officers laugh.
Wait. I haven’t finished. I hope
you completely understood me.
So. The Chinese woman?
You can rely on my cooperation,
but she or my friends are not to
come to any harm. When the time
is right I’ll send her away.
Very well. Send her to South of
France, just send her away. I
don’t want to hear another Wagner
done with a Chinese accent. It is
insulting to my ears… Come and
see me at the Drancy tomorrow.
20 EXT. COURTYARD, THE DRANCY INTERNMENT CAMP. DAY.
SOUND of crowd.
JACOB’S MOTHER and DAVID are following a Vichy Policeman
and trying to get through a crowd of other Jews all
wearing yellow stars. There are long rows of people
sitting outside in the court in their overcoats.
21 INT. VISITOR’S ROOM, THE DRANCY INTERNMENT CAMP. DAY.
SOUND of french guards speaking outside.
JACOB’S MOTHER and DAVID are sitting on a bench. CYRUS
arrives. JACOB’S MOTHER hugs CYRUS. DAVID shakes his hand.
JACOB’S MOTHER looks tearful but smiles. DAVID has a
worried look. They both look rough.
Where is SARAH?
She went into labour and they
took her away. They didn’t let us
be with her.
CYRUS. Please find out where
they’ve taken my girl.
CYRUS holds her hand.
JACOB and others are with me
mama. They are safe in the
embassy, and I’ll find out where
SARAH is being kept. Keep these
passports safe. DAVID, this one
is for you… You were born in
Yazd, memorize the details and
practice your Persian.
AMBASSADOR, the CHIEF wants you.
I have to leave for now, but I’ll
try to get you out of here.
CYRUS hugs them both.
22 INT. OUTSIDE VISITOR’S ROOM, THE DRANCY INTERNMENT CAMP.
He leaves and has one look at the tearful face of JACOB’S
23 INT. CHIEF’S OFFICE, THE DRANCY INTERNMENT CAMP. DAY.
Vichy Police Chief RENÉ BOUSQUET is present and speaking
Ah, there you are.
What is planned for these people?
They will be deported to Poland.
Do you have the list of the
Iranian Jews in the camp.
RENÉ hands over a book.
Yes, here is the list.
There is one particular woman
SARAH HAYAM… According to her
family she went into labour.
Yes, I’m afraid she didn’t make
Are you sure… Where is she?
perhaps it is a mistake?
The body must be in the mortuary.
I have to see her and make a
Allow me to join you. I also have
to identify some dead Jews.
24 INT. MORTUARY WITHIN THE DRANCY INTERNMENT CAMP. DAY.
Dead bodies of men, women and young children still in
their coats and wearing their yellow stars are stacked in
What happened to them? These are
women and children.
There was some resistance.
Did they prepare my specimens?
SARAH HAYAM. She has black hair
and blue eyes.
Perhaps I can be of some
THEODOR guides CYRUS to an adjacent room.
You have to excuse me gentlemen,
but I have to see to my duties.
RENÉ leaves. CYRUS follows THEODOR.
25 INT. MORTUARY LAB WITHIN THE DRANCY INTERNMENT CAMP. DAY.
This is a dark room. There are body parts inside
containers filled with formaldehyde. THEODOR wears rubber
gloves and picks up a man’s head from a container. He
picks a research unit instrument and measures the
An untermensch judging by his
THEODOR moves to a dark corner. There is a large
container. He turns on a light. SARAH’s torso is inside
the container. Her body is half cut. Her head is untouched
but below the neck has been dissected and her unborn baby
is visible. CYRUS is shocked. His mouth trembles.
I’m adding this one to my eugenic
collection. An untermensch with a
baby boy. Would you believe, to
the last breath out of her she
begged for her baby vermin’s
life, and not for her own? With
all that pity she is a perfect
specimen of an inferior even if
those beautiful big blue eyes
deceive you to think otherwise.
CYRUS is still trembling, but keeps himself calm.
Is she one of your Jews, CYRUS?
Take her out of that damn thing.
I will not let her be part
of your freak collection.
The Ghost lovers of Lalehzar (Tulip Street)
Let us take an exclusive mustard colour taxi
and roam streets of Tehran in an Austin Maxi
Like two crazed convicts on their last day
circle the king on horseback
and pass Rostam piercing a dragon with a whack
squeeze in those narrow brick-walls leading to streets
jump over mid-road ditches
and loose stones in paved stitches
find a house, a carpet, and pillows for our retreat.
Let us shake the gravel off stone baked bread
or have tea with thick cream instead
before we swim across ocean of living dead
before we get lost in windings ahead
before we become heavy and fully fed
explore smell of cheap kebabs, charcoaled liver or lose our thread
in bazaars with scent of turmeric, fatima hands with eyes we dread.
In coffee houses men with big moustaches serve tea.
In shops women with big thighs try skirts against their knee.
Let us find lost time again and again
And indeed there will be time, time like a month of Fridays
time like a seven thousand year afternoon sleep
sleeping with eyes wide open holding hands you and me
there will be time indeed
there will be time before a king abdicates a throne
time before a nation goes mad and has it all blown
and a maniac arrives on a plane and make us disown
time for you and time for me,
time to grow long hair, be young and free
time to pass music shops
buy records and see the needle play those pops
time for you to wear that short skirt and have props
then walk in a tantalising rhythm with those flops.
Should I then sing you an alleyway or Bazaar song?
Frown, twist my greased moustache with a gaze that’s prolonged?
Should I wear a white shirt, black jacket and a velvety hat?
Wipe my neck with a long hanky and press my chin back to make it fat?
Shall we shut our ears to the implicating sound of mosque
and haunt the street of Tehran till it has passed the dusk?
Soon the dusk will come and we’ll be in neon streets
the sun will lose fury, we’ll have cool breeze that greets
we’ll pass large orange tinted posters of cinemas in wide streets
Fardin, Foroozan and Beyk will be singing,
we’ll sink in cosy red velvety back-seats.
Or shall we follow the music across Lalehzar
find a Cabaret the way we pick food in a Bazaar?
Find one with round tables and flickering lights
See a belly dance, drink vodka and have our delights?
Shall we forget that we sleep in graves?
That your round thighs are bones, crushed and concaves?
That I have but a jawbone and not a chin
and that my face is frozen in an eternal grin?
Let us forget, who we are, what we are
Let us live while we can living or dead who cares where we are?
Let us take an exclusive mustard colour taxi
and roam streets of Tehran in an Austin Maxi.
Note: Before the Iranian revolution Lalehzar was the main Tehran attraction as it was the area with many theaters and Cabarets.
Rastak is a very talented folk group from Iran. They are like a living encyclopedia of Iranian folk music. Professionally trained and highly versatile in being able to play many instruments and styles they travel to different regions of Iran and visit old masters and bring their music to the concert halls around the world.
Each region has its influences. This particular piece is a Bandari (port music or southern coast music) has an African/Portuguese influence. There was a lot of trade with Africa, India and the Arab regions in those ports and foreign sailors brought their mix of percussion and wind instruments to those regions.
Rastak also produce music of regions influenced by Baluch, Azari, Kurdish, Khorasani, Lori and central Asian regions.
The lyrics range from well-known folk songs to adaptations of classic poetry of Omar Khayyam.
Their music is available for sale via the following link:
Philip Larkin – Church Going
Once I am sure there's nothing going on I step inside, letting the door thud shut. Another church: matting, seats, and stone, And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff Up at the holy end; the small neat organ; And a tense, musty, unignorable silence, Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off My cycle-clips in awkward reverence. Move forward, run my hand around the font. From where I stand, the roof looks almost new - Cleaned, or restored? Someone would know: I don't. Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce 'Here endeth' much more loudly than I'd meant. The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence, Reflect the place was not worth stopping for. Yet stop I did: in fact I often do, And always end much at a loss like this, Wondering what to look for; wondering, too, When churches will fall completely out of use What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep A few cathedrals chronically on show, Their parchment, plate and pyx in locked cases, And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep. Shall we avoid them as unlucky places? Or, after dark, will dubious women come To make their children touch a particular stone; Pick simples for a cancer; or on some Advised night see walking a dead one? Power of some sort will go on In games, in riddles, seemingly at random; But superstition, like belief, must die, And what remains when disbelief has gone? Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky, A shape less recognisable each week, A purpose more obscure. I wonder who Will be the last, the very last, to seek This place for what it was; one of the crew That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were? Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique, Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh? Or will he be my representative, Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt So long and equably what since is found Only in separation - marriage, and birth, And death, and thoughts of these - for which was built This special shell? For, though I've no idea What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth, It pleases me to stand in silence here; A serious house on serious earth it is, In whose blent air all our compulsions meet, Are recognized, and robed as destinies. And that much never can be obsolete, Since someone will forever be surprising A hunger in himself to be more serious, And gravitating with it to this ground, Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in, If only that so many dead lie round.
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.
I’ve just been to a Martin Parr exhibition (Zurich design museum). He is an unlikely Magnum photographer, but certainly one who deserves this accolade. Expecting a designs exhibition and instead seeing his photographs was serendipity. With a great sense of irony, and a satirical eye Parr captures the shocking mundane existence of man. He keeps what we exclude from photos. His photos reveal that human life in its different guises is somewhat the same wherever you go. Leaving the exhibition, you could walk away with an existential crisis or simply accept that with all the beauty or ugliness, with all the loneliness of people transporting their isolated intimacy of biting to a burger, shopping or being overwhelmed by a conversation on their mobile that this is it. Parr challenges our pop culture, cover girl overdosed eyes. This is humanity; even if it is Parr’s perspective and one’s take on his work. Parr’s work continues the British satirical Art lineage of Alexander Pope’s poems and Hogarth’s prints. Parr has also collected satirical political objects such Mrs Thatcher, Saddam and BinLadin satirical memorabilia which look too good or too funny not to be seen.
Southeast veering southwest 4 or 5, occasionally 6 later.
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
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