This is a short film that demonstrates the power of good screen writing.
This is a short film that demonstrates the power of good screen writing.
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.
My homework for the MA creative writing course
The tainted tree (Ramin Tork week 2)
I had played underneath the tainted tree many times, but that was two years ago. I no longer played games, no not me. A thirteen-year-old girl in our village must behave like a lady if she wants to have a husband.
Ramin Tork – Pastiche exercise
Suraj was in an embroiled kurta churidar salwar. He looked like a handsome17th century Mugal prince. Doing his Saptapadi (taking seven steps around the fire) and smiling.
On the final step and behind him, holding his hand his new beautiful bride Shilpa.
Covered in 22ct gold from head to toe; one on her forehead, two earrings, three necklaces golden arm bands, rings and hundreds of bangles, hands tattooed with henna she looked like an Indian Goddess. No expense was spared. The two recited their vows:
“We have taken the Seven Steps. You have become mine forever. Yes, we have become partners. I have become yours. Hereafter, I cannot live without you. Do not live without me. Let us share the joys. We are word and meaning, united. You are thought and I am sound. May the night be honey-sweet for us. May the morning be honey-sweet for us. May the earth be honey-sweet for us. May the heavens be honey-sweet for us. May the plants be honey-sweet for us. May the sun be all honey for us. May the cows yield us honey-sweet milk. As the heavens are stable, as the earth is stable, as the mountains are stable, as the whole universe is stable, so may our union be permanently settled.”
John was nervous about giving the best man speech to the Indian men but had practiced and practiced, but he was happy because he knew the boy was happy.
Loud and clear John recited what he’d learnt. He would have done his late wife Gita proud. He could almost feel the heat of her light from above his head warming his heart like a sun and giving him courage. He could hear her mind…. Its good my darling.. You’re doing it well…
When fifteen years earlier he went round the circle of fire he was saying those words with all passion to Gita.
Gita had insisted on a Church wedding but he wasn’t having it, he knew she wanted a Hindu ceremony and he wanted it for her. Her who was everything to him, always her, everything was for her. Then he hadn’t told her that he could read her mind, just like radio waves. He kept this to himself. It wasn’t fitting for a Policeman to talk about special powers.
Eighteen years ago, on his beat, walking across neon lights of Soho, with red signs saying: “Kitty welcomes you”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, he’d heard a mind voice.
Little Suraj hiding near the dustbins, sobbing.. Hungry and bruised.
Feeling threatened by the presence of a Policeman he was hiding. John traced the mind-voice. Suraj had been beaten up by the school skinheads. He missed his dead father. He missed home but had run away. He didn’t want to go back to the same school.
John took him to the station.
“Where do you live son?”
(John knew, he could read the boy’s mind but had to ask him anyway).
“I’m not going back…He sobbed”
“Its alright son, I’m sure your Mum’s going berserk by now, lets take you somewhere so you stop shivering. I’ll give her a call, better still, I’ll take you there”.
He got a lift from his mate and took the boy to Leyton, he lived only two blocks away so it was effectively on his way and he’d finished his shift.
Gita was frantic.
(God she looked beautiful). She hardly spoke a word of English but her mind-voice was a voice of an angel. For John, it was love at first sight. For Gita, he was a strange foreign man, and he could read it. She was a bit frightened of him, but pleased.
Things didn’t start easy. Gita didn’t see him as a man, he was just a foreign blur image but he persisted. He visited, changed his beat to his local. Protected the boy and told off the local thugs.
He came to visit when Gita’s house was broken into. She’d lost her gold, the ruby earrings (her husband had bought her) and the lapis lazuli, turquoise necklace she’d worn at her wedding. They caught the man who’d done it, and she was more pleased.
She warmed up to him eventually, seeing how kind he was, how he protected them and when she started taking lessons and spoke some broken English, her family wouldn’t have an English man visit her. When she had feelings for him, nothing could stop her.
They had an Indian wedding and John was wearing a embroiled kurta churidar salwar, and saying his vows around the fire.
He was now standing at his son’s wedding. He was happy for the time he had with Gita, before cancer took her away.
Now he was seeing his son getting a new life, and Gita’s warm glow reminded him that he is the best man.
Monir looked outside the window, she was still waiting for the rain to stop so that she could go and shop for groceries. For now, she returned to the breakfast table with her favourite mug, sipped more tea, and continued her conversation with her friend Jasmine:
“I was twenty, and we were madly in love. We both studied at the Tehran University and had two years to go. It was all planned; we were going to be married after the graduation. He was training to be a Dr, and I was finishing my degree in English translation, but then shortly after the revolution they shutdown the Universities. We joined the protests and when the guards tried to pull me inside the van, he fought back and managed to get me free. I ran away but looked back and they took him into the van. Six years – Six years was his sentence. I was devastated and waited for him for two years until I was told by dad that he had word Bahram had been executed. Six thousand were killed then. Six thousand in less than a week. They even killed those who had served their time and were set free. Being seen with Bahram, I was a marked woman, so my father arranged with traffickers to get me out of the country. I escaped to Turkey and eventually ended up in a small village in Germany. I was put in a refugee camp, but became really depressed there. Then I met Armin. He took care of me, and made me laugh, we became friends, but he needed something more. We collected golf balls from fly infested ponds and in hard times would buy a bottle of vodka and drink it. Dad finally managed to send me some money, enough to escape to Sweden. I let go of my feelings for Bahram, or so I thought and started a new life. Armin and I soon married and had Sarah and Daniel. He started working in IT and I went back to University and went into teaching. He is a good man, an excellent father. Then a month ago I was shopping in downtown Gothenburg and saw a man who looked like Bahram. It turned out it was Bahram. Dad had lied; he didn’t want me to waste my life and knew I was in danger so he lied to me. I didn’t know what to do. I was confused. I followed Bahram but didn’t want him to see me, the way I was. His hair had turned grey and he looked older, then I lost him in the crowd. I walked fast and stood by the post office, and there he was standing right behind me. I turned around and we looked at each other the way we used to, I felt like I was that twenty year old again but we both didn’t know what to say. Then he kissed me on my nose like he used to, looked me in the eyes, and left.”
“Well, tell me more, did you see him again? Do you still love him? What are you going to do?” asked Jasmine.
“Love? Love is a luxury, I can’t afford! What am I going to do? I’m going to stay the good mother and wife, and say goodbye to the love of my life. That is what I’m going to do. It isn’t anybody’s fault. It is just one of those things” Monir replied.
The kids arrived from school, Armin was away on a business trip so Jasmine was going to be baby sitting whilst Monir was going to go shopping for groceries.
Monir rushed to the bathroom and came out with a look that was particularly done up for groceries, and Jasmine sniggered. Monir wasn’t fooling anyone, it was obvious she was going to meet Bahram, she was just saying all those things about being a good mother and Armin being a good father just to convince herself or Jasmine about her character but her heart was somewhere else or so Jasmine thought.
A prehistoric looking sturgeon with its long nose, bony back and an elongated body; a body beyond the point of having an aerodynamic beauty, a fish from the age of dinosaurs was swimming near the coast of the Caspian sea when before she knew what had hit her, she was choking for air. Men with hardened hands had pulled her out of the water. All those courtships all that pick of the best male the rivalry in who spreads the best seed for her next generation was going to waste and her future babies were being stripped off her. Like a fat person going to liposuction she felt a lot lighter and now her eggs lay in a suction bottle and rubbed off her fortune she was unceremoniously dropped back in water. Her black pearls were canned and put in the market. Some human had come up with the tale that her protein rich eggs are good aphrodisiacs and let old men mate with younger females. Why can’t humans just follow the laws of nature like all other creatures? Still, she should had considered herself lucky, if the Russian illegal fishers got hold of her instead of the Iranian Caviar company, she would had ended up gutted, but today she was sent off to be harvested for a future date.
Meanwhile a middle-aged man was looking behind the shop window. The Iran-Iraq war had ended a few years ago and the economy was dismal. He had his passport ready and had booked the flight all he needed was to exchange currency.
The currency market was bad and he knew without contacts he would be ripped off, and a friend had told him he could take cans of caviar to UK and sell them to Iranian shops. These shops would then sell this luxury item to posh hotels and restaurants.
Of course what he didn’t know was that it was the Mullah’s who had a stranglehold on everything that the country produced that had spread such rumours. Still it was worth a shot, so he walked in and bought the most unexpected currency, he bought three cans of caviar. He brought them home and tucked them neatly near the bag of pistachios he was taking to his daughter and son.
As he did, he imagined the enthusiastic face of the Iranian shopkeeper, and how he was going to haggle, boy was he going to haggle. And he imagined the face of guests in their cocktail dress, a wedding perhaps with people biting into crackers with his caviar on top. He saw himself holding a conversation with this beautiful blonde woman with a shoulderless dress and a glossy lipstick. Have some caviar and champagne he imagined himself telling Louise. Yes the woman in his imagination was called Louise and she had pearl white teeth and loved caviars and talking to him in his imaginary Hotel wedding.
As he sat on the Iran Air plane, he was deep in thought as how the kids looked now. Last time he saw them was six years back and they were really kids then.
Anticipating eyes waited at the Heathrow Airport terminal three, and time seemed to have collapsed for before he knew it, they had driven forty miles and his son was taking his luggage to his room.
Two days into his trip, he had realized that he had failed as a father. The kids had grown up without him. They were courteous but it was obvious he was like a stranger.
They had blown away any hope for their future. All that hard earned cash that was send for their education, it was all wasted. The son was working in a shoe shop and her pretty girl worked in a hair salon instead of becoming a Doctor.
The weekend arrived and he finally had a chance to go to High Street Kensington. He saw a sign: “Caviar wanted”, so he walked in and enquired about the price they would buy the cans. The price was disappointing. Everyone was doing the same and the market was flooded. He sold two of the cans for the same price he had bought them. Then he went to a supermarket and bought a bottle of vodka.
They went home, and the next few hours were just a blur. He was disappointed with his life, with his son, the Government, the price of Caviar. They sat in the kitchen and opened the one can left; the pungent smell of fish filled the space. They sat, drank vodka and had caviar on toast and after a few vodka shots nothing else mattered. Here he was in good health drinking good vodka rather than the lethal moonshine made illegally back home, drinking with his grown up son and having a fatherly moment and eating luxury food. It was in fact the tastiest, most fun disappointment he had ever tasted!
My homework for the MA creative writing course
The tainted tree (Ramin Tork week 2)
I had played underneath the tainted tree many times, but that was two years ago. I no longer played games, no not me. A thirteen-year-old girl in our village must behave like a lady if she wants to have a husband.
Although I didn’t pick whom I would marry I had my dreams. In a letter I declared how much I loved Peshad and as my cousin Azar instructed me, I poured ink on the letter so it was black and only the spirits could read it and hung it on the tainted tree alongside all the other wishes and prayers. I stood back and looked at this ancient oak tree, black and white with the thousand secret wishes all wrapped in neat strings and beautiful ribbons torn from the owner’s old cloth and waving as the wind brushed the leaves.
When I was seven, I had asked my mother why the tree was called tainted, and why do the spirits gather there? She refused to tell me, but last night my cousin Azar told me. She said you are old enough to know. She said it was the village secret and if anyone retells the secret when they shouldn’t she and anyone who had told her would be cursed. I begged her to tell me, and she finally did. Marjan, she said, you must swear a solemn oath not to tell anyone the story. I said I swear, I swear.
“Many young girls are buried under the tree. Girls whose lives were unfulfilled and died young, they specially take sympathy on living young girls who are in love”.
I rushed home; my heart was pounding, fearing someone, somehow could read my darkened letter but feared most my father would see me underneath the tainted tree.
On my way I saw my Babu. Grandfather walked slowly with a prayer book wrapped in a cloth in one hand and his walking stick in the other.
He shouted: “Child, take this book home for me”. I approached and kissed his leathery hands. He asked, “Where I had been” and I said I was on my way from my cousins, took the book and rushed home.
Everyday Babu looked older since his accident. I recall when I was five he would lift me like a small sack of hay and throw me in the air and catch me, and then kiss my cheeks and I would kiss his white beard.
He stood so tall, taller than my father the tallest in the village. Babu had been the village chieftain for many years. Renowned for his integrity, he was left in charge of people’s will and their property. If they wanted to form a bond and borrow money Babu was their witness. My cousin told me that when he was young he had fought five strangers with his machete when they tried to rob his barn.
One day the son of a man who had left the village forty years earlier appeared from nowhere. The father had been forced to leave the village in disgrace but he left his piece of land in Babu’s care and now he had died. When the son came to visit, not only Babu gave back the son his father’s piece of land but also gave him a lot of money for selling the wheat that was cultivated, and every cattle, and offspring of cattle that the man had. He did this even though the son knew nothing of the land.
Babu was a great hunter and his horse was a saffron coloured horse that he named Attash (fire). He had bought Attash from the prize money when he won the game of Buzkashi against ten other villages.
He loved that horse, and would not allow anyone groom it yet ride it. Then last spring, in the next village a careless hunter had not marked his trap. Babu, galloping across the bushy forest, riding Attash fell into a bear-trap. Attash broke his leg and his body pierced with a pike, collapsed but he lifted himself so that he would not injure his rider. Babu broke his hip and fractured two ribs and was left unconscious. When he came round, he saw Attash in pain and he shot his beloved Attash in the head.
A search party found Babu, but after that accident, he was no longer the same man again. He now walks with a stick, and his body is coiled. The pain has made him short tempered and the fear of death more religious.
I went home, but broke my promise to Azar. I told my younger sister the secret of the tree even though she is too young to understand. Perhaps it was because of this that the curse passed to Azar.
A few days after telling my sister, Azar on her way to school, passing an alleyway, saw a few kittens in a box next to an open door. She had waited but no one had come. All of the sudden someone with a dampened cloth had grabbed her from behind. She had struggled but something on the cloth had made her faint.
She was missing for two days, and when she would come round she had found herself naked on a dirty bed, and the strange men made her unconscious again. The neighbour’s wife had become suspicious of noises from next door and the men ran away.
Azar was brought home, and she was very badly bruised. She was bleeding none stop, and shaking with a fever.
Her mother was tearing her hair out. Her eyes had become black with tears. When they brought Azar home, and we saw her in that state we all cried.
The men were known but had escaped. They were men from the next village who had come to trade cattle.
Babu was furious. He murmured “the shame of it. The shame. How can we live with such a shame? She has been tainted we must now clear our village of this taint”.
The village elders gathered in our house. Babu looked very stern and his hand was shaking squeezing his stick more than ever.
They spoke for two hours, and I sneaked by the window to find out about the fate of my dear cousin.
Led by Babu, the elders had decided. Babu deepened his voice and declared: “The girl has been tainted, it is a dishonour for our village to have a tainted girl living among us. We cannot let her live, but her father must clean the stain. A tainted girl is like a rotten apple. It would infest the whole cart. She cannot bare healthy fruit nor can she warm the bed of a husband, she is the fruit that has been spoiled and so she must be destroyed”.
I held my mouth and gasped in fear and my body was shaking. I loved Azar more like a sister than a cousin; she was the dearest friend to me. Azar was innocent. She had been violated. How could they punish the victim? My Grandfather was commanding the execution of my dear Azar, his own grandchild how could he do such a thing.
They were going to kill her; yes they really were going to kill her for old stale, crooked honour.
Azar’s father was summoned and was told the verdict. When he left the room he was shaking, but he had no choice he had to save his honour. He had to conduct this act as the head of his family.
Babu’s word had to be obeyed. The village elders had spoken and Azar was to be killed. “My dear cousin, forgive me, it was me who broke my promise and passed the curse to you” I thought. I wanted to save her but I was paralysed with fear. If I defied Babu, I could have the same fate. Azar disappeared, and no one dares to speak her name anymore and I am still mourning her loss. When picking crop, I quietly stand in the wind and call her name. From what I heard, she was hit with a bat on the back of her head, and then her body was burnt and buried underneath the tainted tree. I want to take flowers for her and lay them by the tree, but I no longer dare to visit that place.
I worked for 15 hours on Saturday and on Sunday I decided I would do a lot of walking to make up for sitting at a desk for such long hours. So I made one of my regular visits to Kunsthaus Zürich. Today many sections were closed and there was just me and a man in a blue anorak looking like a homeless person who had cleaned up. We were looking at one of Bacon’s triptychs. The man unexpectedly engaged me in a conversation. First he started speaking Italian thinking that I must be Italian, and very quickly he switched to Swiss German but after a few responses he switched to English. “Don’t you hate it?” he said. Modern Art is the biggest swindle of our Modern times. Look at this and compare it to an Italian classic. He turned out to be rather eccentric but certainly new his stuff. He mentioned so many modern Artists and their history and sometimes he would switch to French when he started talking about French Artists. He wasn’t an academic and didn’t strike me as an Artist and I could smell alcohol on his breath but I was lost at dealing with such an adversary even though I pride myself on my knowledge of Art. It was like arguing with a homeless version of Brian Sewell! He went on about Dadaists, a few mediocre painters who had switched to photography because they couldn’t draw etc. I was trapped, I left, I wasn’t planning to stay too long as I had seen the permanent gallery so many times so I left the old town heading for Zürich lake. Passing by an Italian restaurant the man was engaged in a conversation with waiters who appeared to know him. He turned to me poked me and said hello gain! Actually it wasn’t like a horror movie I like eccentrics like this man, in fact the world is a better place for it, and if he has a board where he ticks off modern-art-lover victims he now has a tick for me!
eventually when I reached the lake I sat on a bench and watched a toddler with his young father. The kid first pointed at a little bird, then reached the sculpture of the woman ( pictured here). He kept pointing at the breasts of the female figure. He must have been hungry.
Here I thought there are so many ways of looking at Art. Art as booby-trap for knowledgeable eccentrics who make us face or question what we seek in modern Art, then a little kid who looks at bronze breasts and wants to be fed.
We were living in Shiraz for a few years my Dad was working for the Petro-chemical company there. Despite the beauty of Shiraz, its melancholic evenings used to make me sad.
Shiraz had its own light. Every city does but Shiraz evenings were very distinct. Or perhaps it was the new school, and my father’s absence, and being left in the hands of our domineering stepmother. I don’t know. Whatever it was I was waiting for something exciting to happen and one day it did.
The phone rang. It was Nemat, the driver assigned to Dad. He was a young man in his mid twenties so full of dreams. One of those dreams was to become an actor. There was a film crew in town and they were looking for extras. Nemat had a small part as a Paseban “police on the beat”. They were looking for a few kids to play as schoolchildren. The word for extras in Persian is Siahi Lashkar or “black crowd”. It was the first time I had heard the phrase so I thought they were going to paint our faces black. I had visions of playing a native in a Tarzan film. Cool!
We went and met the director. The kid who was chosen to play the main boy part had cried and didn’t want the part so the director chose me. It wasn’t Hollywood and the casting was not for Macaulay Culkin. The decision-making process took a few seconds and the crew restarted to shoot the film.
So here was the plot, as the recipe has been used so many times I’m sure you’ve seen or heard it before!
I was the rich kid; the girl standing next to me was the poor girl living without her father but with a loving mother. Unknown to us she was my cousin because her father was my uncle. Her mother had been a dancer and when the respectable husband had made the discovery, thanks to the appearance of the evil cabaret owner blackmailing her, the faithful wife whilst she was pregnant was kicked out in a storm and made homeless.We were school sweethearts, and in reality too I had a big crush on the girl who played the part. See the picture, which is from the birthday scene. Judge for yourself if you were an eight year old boy wouldn’t you think she looks cute?I had some competition though, there was a poor boy who played the part of young Beyk-Iman-verdi and also liked the girl.I have a fantastic birthday party and invite her and as I get driven off in a nice Cadillac, she waves goodbye to a world she could not be a part of.
I lose my father and my uncle (the girl’s father) becomes my guardian. The young Nazi (Fatimah Sadeghi) and Beyk hook up, and become con artists. She lures rich men, who have something to lose into hotels acting the part of the sexy pickup, and Beyk walks in acting very across, and they get all the money they can from the guy.One day, by chance she bumps to my grown up version, and we start meeting up. I’m now a successful lawyer. Beyk who loves Nazi and has always taken care of her doesn’t want to stand in the way of her happiness and the life she could have as a lawyer’s wife.But they pull one last con, and it turns up to be on my uncle who has been on the trail of the new girl, she brings the lawyer to witness for himself, and the relationship goes sour. Through various circumstances, which I can’t remember, she gets blackmailed by the same evil Cabaret owner and starts as a dancer, but when he tries to rape her after she has done her great dance, in self-defence she kills him.
So she is on trial for murder, my grown up version is her lawyer and when Nazi (the girl’s name) starts losing the case, Beyk says he killed the man. Nazi’s mother turns up and the uncle finds out the truth about Nazi being her daughter, the blackmail and with a good lawyer the truth comes out that she killed the man in self-defence and ends up with Beyk who put his life on he line for her and always loved her, or at least that is how I remember it. Anyway, we did the filming and I had to go back to my depressing life in Shiraz and after all that excitement found it difficult to adjust to reality.
Lucky for me, the kid who played Beyk shaved his head for school and we had to film the scenes a few months later with a new Beyk, and it also gave me chance to see the girl I had a crush on.Nemat’s dreams were never fulfilled; I heard that a few years later poor Nemat had died. My life moved on, a few years later we moved back to Abadan where I spend my happiest years of childhood and eventually, I came over to UK for a few years of solitude.
Dad turned up for the last scene that I did. Later he said that the director wanted me in a few other films and even offered to pay 8000 tomans. You could buy a Yamaha cross-country bike something I dreamt about with that kind of money so I was excited, but he never accepted. I guess after the excitement of meeting a few famous people had waned off, he had looked around and didn’t think that he wants his son mixed up in such a crowd.
The confidence of all that made it easy to do small parts in the Iranian theatre in London, and I had the privilege to be once again an extra again for people like Farzaneh Taeedi, Behrooz Behnejad, Mr Khandan who was a sweet old man and used to be Arhame Sadr’s theatre buddy and even Shohreh Agdashloo do their craft, but that is a blog for another day!
Short story published Aug 27, 2002 – target audience Iranian community
The Book of Asghar
Asghar, a messenger of Ezat, writing to elect exiles of the dispersion scattered abroad in Tehran, Los Angeles, London, Stockholm, and Berlin, Who were chosen and foreknown by my Lady and consecrated by the spirit to be obedient to Ezat (The Messiah’s cousin) and to be sprinkled by her blood: May grace and peace be given you in increased abundance.
Praised be God the uncle of Ezat! For we have been born again to ever-living hope through our saviour. It has been put upon us to keep the following sacred truth, the birth and death of Ezat The Messiah’s cousin. So it is that you should put in your hearts this testimony for all eternity.
The adoption of the holy niece
It was during the summer of the year of our Lord 1981 that after Tahmineh the daughter of Nadir the peddler became the wife of Dara the carpet fitter, that she was with child and they both dreamt of the kingdom of heaven. All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had promised an old God fearing man who on his last prayer asked for God’s mercy upon his nation.
So it was that Tahmineh and Dara were carried upon the wings of an angel to the heavenly adoption agency. As God has given every man the free will it was so that their own hands upon their shoulders would carry the duty that was to be put upon them.
The reception Angel: “Do come in. Have a seat and please make yourself comfortable. Let me stamp your especial temporary heavenly visas first. If you could just stamp your fingerprints here and here.”
Tahmineh: “So this is the heavenly kingdom?”
The reception Angel: “I’m sorry about the mess. We are still waiting for Michael Angelo to finish God’s bedroom so he hasn’t had a chance to redecorate the reception area. Now let me explain why you are here. It has come to our attention that your country very badly needs a saviour and very frankly you have no suitable candidates amongst you, basically after the mess the political parties made it would take a miracle to win people’s trust and bring about unity, so that is what you are going to get; a wonderful miracle, but more than anything God is not pleased with those chaps who are masquerading as his sign of existence! What a cheek we all said over here! As if everything else was not enough for the signs. He went out of his way to choose poetic symbols for those who look for signs, like the wind that brushes the grass, or a bird feeding its young, or a father holding the hand of his child and behold! These guys insist that the sign of God’s existence has to be a couple of small minded old men in their eighties who have done nothing in their lives but lie in order to fill up the bank accounts that they will never use. They are giving God a very bad P.R. and God is really sensitive about that — well, for humanity’s sake anyway. Do you see this red gauge? That is the pain factor in your country. When the pain and misery factor reaches two units we send a special envoy. Well, I’ll be blessed! Look Doreen! I just tapped the blessed thing and it just popped to ten units. Silly me it must have been ten for a long time. It must have been stuck!”
Angel Doreen: “You better call the technician; we still have a thousand years warranty. Besides it takes about twenty-five years to get them down here. Remember the Rwanda gauge and how many calls I had to blessedly make?”
The reception Angel: “Well, sorry about that interruption! Let me see. You have no genetic disease, no history of mental illness, not that we would hold that against you, and no history of paedophiles in your family — except for your aunt who has died now!”
Dara: “So that’s why she liked to play horsy!”
The reception Angel: “You are adequately poor. God likes the poor, you know. He only chooses poor trades-men; shepherds but you will nevertheless need sufficient funds in Tehran for the baby. You will be adequately blessed for your troubles of course.”
Tahmineh: “You do realise that we are Muslims?”
The reception Angel: “Yes, God does allow mixed religion adoptions, but you do not have to worry, your daughter will not bring a new religion. She is not a messenger so this will not go against your beliefs. I think we have enough religions as it is, don’t you? So, if you just sign here and here!”
Dara: “So, why is she coming to Earth?”
The reception Angel: “She is a site manager and responsible for co-ordinating projects with remote locations and derelicts.”
Dara: “Please! We love our country. Do not call us derelict!”
The reception Angel: “The way things are going you will be honey!”
Tahmineh: “What exactly is she then? Is she human?”
The reception Angel: “She is an eternal light that comes amongst you out of Love. Some call her a muse some Bohadsovita etc. She is an immortal human who is the daughter of Adam and Eve out of the union of souls rather than flesh, the one that stayed in Heaven. A lot happened up here when the famous couple were kicked out of Eden, you know! A lot that you still don’t know. That is why she calls God uncle unlike you humans who are God’s sons and daughters.”
Tahmineh: “But we are Muslims. We do not think that God has any relatives or children.”
The reception Angel: “Technically speaking you are right because there is nothing that is separate from God, but we do like these terms of endearment so you humans are referred to as God’s children.”
Dara: “So what are we signing?”
The reception Angel: “This is just a disclaimer that you will need not use your parental control to stop her from her holy duties. God is especially worried about Iranian parents who worry too much about their kids and stop them from being the independent thinkers that they were born to be. In fact that is half your trouble. You don’t let your kids be free thinkers. They grow up and miss your parental role and as soon as you get someone who looks like a father figure, Caboom! There is mass hysteria in your society and everyone follows the leader without checking the chap’s credentials! Then after years of misery we have to send you a miracle to sort out the mess. But enough social and child psychology for today. Please just sign! And as a bonus for your unselfish service, you get permanent residency of this lovely kingdom with all legal fees and social welfare prepaid. You will have a penthouse view on the seventh floor and God as your neighbour.”
The reception Angel: “This is heaven, honey. Of course there is shopping, but not for Dara he will be pleased to hear, unless he becomes naughty and ends up in hell which is not going to happen otherwise for him there will be plenty of shopping! So, Let’s meet the golden girl! She is in the gym holding her aerobic class for the blessed ones. It is that beautiful tall blond with lovely blue eyes, over there.”
Ezat: “And, a one, two, three, four. Wings up. Wings up. Feel the joy. Feel the joy. No joy. No gain. You are in heaven so act like your heart is here! Halleluiah! I’m just changing the harp music to something more up beat. And left, stretch, right stretch and step. (The background music: ‘Angels are doing it for themselves… Now there was time…’).”
The reception Angel: “She is just finishing.”
Ezat (to her new parents): “Hallo, wie geht? Ich bin so gl’h, Ihr Gast zu sein.”
The reception Angel: “They are Iranians not German.”
Ezat (to angel): “But you told me they are Aryans!”
The reception Angel: “I said Iranian! I left you a text message.”
Ezat: “Hey Duds so what’s up?”
The reception Angel (to Ezat): “No that would be for their rap generation, they are the next appointment, not this lot.”
Ezat (to her new parents): “Hello. How are you? I hope that the strain of the long trip has not been too much. I am so looking forward to be your daughter.”
The reception Angel: “We are short for time. Their visa is running out and they still haven’t met Gabriel who will be looking after them on Earth.”
Ezat: “Must dash! See you later! I have to train harder to get my pulse down to zero. “
Gabriel: “Oh did you call me? Oh hello you two. My goodness, have you grown since you were babies.”
The reception Angel: “Oops. Your visa has run out so you have to go back now. Bye! Adios or is it Khoda-Hafiz till next time?”
It was on the same night that the king priest dreamt of the child that would come and end his earthly kingdom of corruption, and after many consultations with the evil beardless priest arranged the death of the many a young. Boys and girls alike for he did not know their gender or their age or their location. Some with war, some with famine, some with the poison of drugs, some with slavery of the flesh, some with broken hearts and some with broken minds, and some with exile.”
Tahmineh: “If you listened to me you, you would have taken the car for service.”
Dara: “We can’t afford the service.”
Tahmineh: “Well, I can’t walk with this big belly, besides the shops are closed here, and I don’t see any hotels around.”
Dara: “Let’s hope that the car goes as far as this bus station. Gabriel! Gabriel! You are meant to help out remember!”
Gabriel: “Sorry I had my headphones on. I was listening to Peter Gabriel; guess whom he’s got his name from?”
Dara: “I suppose next you’ll be telling me that there is an angel called Pink Floyd.”
Gabriel: “Yes, but we don’t discriminate against his colour!”
Tahmineh: “Well never mind all that. I think the holy child is just about to pop out so get some blessed blankets or get me to a hospital. Oaaach! It hurts.”
Gabriel: “Sorry Dearest. It is destined that you have the child here.”
Tahmineh: “You must be blessedly joking!”
And so, it was that my Lady was born in a bus station in Tehran’s Nazee-Abad. And that night all angels rejoiced for the glory of God. For let it not be said that God would abandon the needy and those who hold the love and faith in their heart and like a light this guides them through times of darkness.
Dervish Golam prepares the way
In those days Dervish Golam would preach those who had eyes to see and ears for listening.
Dervish Golam: “Behold. The day of the harvest is here. Mother nature has turned its milk and honey to the rotten fruits of death. It is only the worthy who will drink from the sap of ever lasting happiness. Say ya hooo! (The calling of almighty by the Dervishes) and search your soul.”
Dervish Golam: “I said ya hooo!”
Ezat: “Believe me yahoo would be easier to search than the soul of a woman!”
Then Ezat came forth and she drank from the wine of God’s ecstasy, and her soul was baptised with the fire of love for all sentient beings and in one instance she travelled the seven cities of Love. At that moment heaven was opened and a voice from heaven said: “This is my niece. I am well pleased. She has come to save this nation and her Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews and Bahais, and even communists and any other minority groups who I have not mentioned alike.
The temptation of Ezat
Then Ezat was led by the spirit to the wilderness of Varamin to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for thirty days and thirty nights she was hungry. Then the devil came and said if you are the niece of God turn these broken slabs of concrete into Baklava.
Then Ezat said: “Woman does not live on sweets alone for there is nothing sweeter than the words of God to feed her soul.”
Then the devil took her to the holy city of Qom: “If you are the niece of God cast a fire and clean this city from all idol worshippers.”
Then Ezat said, “My Lord God should be the judge of the good and the wicked. He gives man the free will and he will be the judge, if there is anything left of these idol worshippers after the post fundamentalist courts that is. I am nothing but the servant of God’s will.”
And the devil gave her a tour of the splendour of the palaces occupied by the wicked priests and showed her Hollywood star Bard Pit and bars of irresistible Belgian chocolate and a limitless credit card accepted at all major stores including Harrods, Gucci, Cartier and Bulgaria.”Just think about all the wonderful things you can buy in Dubai.”
And Ezat said to her, “Away from me Satan!”
Then the devil said, “Are you sure? These Belgian chocolates are so yummy and so low in Calories!”
And Ezat said to her for the second time, “Away from me Satan!”
Then the devil said, “Look who is over there. It’s Bard Pit and he has just broken off with his woman. Go and get an autograph.”
And Ezat said to her, “I said away Satan! Read my lips ‘Away!’ or has the air pressure down under has done in your ears?”
Then the devil said, “Truly you are Eve’s daughter but more stubborn than she was. At least she gave in at the end!”
And the devil left her and the angels came and attended her.
Ezat begins to preach
When Ezat heard that Dervish Golam has been charged for heresy and then killed by Government agents in his visit to the city of Kerman, she stood at the top of the street and said “Behold for the kingdom of heaven is near!” But she was completely ignored by the passers by.
The calling of the first disciples
As Ezat was passing by Tehran University in Amir-Abad she saw two students — Ziba and Gisoo. They were looking at their dreadful exam results and Ezat said: “Follow me and I will make you the examiners of Adams sons and daughters.”
At once they shook the bleached strands of hair that showed underneath their scarves, and left their books, their mobile phones and exam results and followed her. Then she passed by the garage and she called me, the servant of God, Asghar, and the incredible force of my spirit forced me to leave my wrench and I became her disciple, but I called my mum on the mobile to say goodbye first.
And Ezat said to me, “One couldn’t travel very far in Tehran unless one knows a good mechanic. With your wrench of sincerity, you shall mend the broken hearts and pour the viscous fluid of faith within those hearts and put the frozen wheels of their minds back in motion again.”
Ezat turns water to wine
She turned water to wine but the crowd disappeared before being arrested by the passing Pasdar guards who would have arrested them for consuming alcohol.
Ezat heals the sick
Ezat saw that at a Doctor’s reception a care taker was standing and was giving Aspirin to all those who were suffering, some with cancer, some with psychological trauma or nervous disease, and some with the poison in the water and their food. She opened the heavenly waters and it came pouring into filtered bottles and then said, “Behold the Waters of Tehran are polluted and the food is poisonous. Take these filtered bottled and drink this and eat not the flesh of animals for it is the unwanted waste not fit for human consumption and has been imported from the CJD and mad cow infected regions.”
So it was that she cured the sick.
Now when she saw the crowds, she went and stood by the doctor’s reception and sat down. Her disciples came to her, and she began to teach them saying as it has been said before me, for the truth does not tarnish with time and the truth is the truth whatever sacred mouth it comes out of. And there is no copy right after fifty years of the publication.
And she said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted those before you.”
The crow that became forty crows and invaded the house of the Roc (See-Morgh or thirty birds in Farsi)
There was once a red Robin who kept company with the crows. In the wilderness the crows would feed on the eyes or hearts of the dead or the sting of the scorpions. The Robin became dizzy and disillusioned in the heat and became filled with self-grandeur and lust for power and saw the wilderness as a beautiful kingdom that he could rule, and to fulfil his ambition he decided to overthrow the Roc the king of birds.
He took the crow to the other birds and said: “Brothers, you were born to be free, and not to suffer in wilderness and to be slaves for food. We feel your pain, let us show you the way. Look at this bird’s black coat. It is black for he mourns for your suffering. Look at its red eyes. They are red for he has no sleep until he finds your salvation. Those legs that you see are stained in dry blood. His blood. It has poured out of his veins so as to find your way. That cry that you hear from his tongue, it is broken for it carries the heavy heart of our broken dreams for freedom. Truly, I say to you, would you find anyone more worthy to lead us towards the summit of our freedom from the tyranny of the Roc? We must set forth for the summit and take over the kingdom.”
So it was that they left for the Summit of Damavand and entered the cave where they thought the Roc lived. In the darkness of the cave, they sat and sat and waited for the Roc to come. Days and month past, and they sat and waited. The disillusioned red robin was one of the first to starve and die and out of seventy birds many others perished. Some became lost, some starved and some became prey of the vampire bats that lived in the caves. The more birds that died the more the crow flourished and it laid more eggs, for it fed on the flesh of the dead birds.
So it was that out of a lie, one crow flourished to be forty crows and out of the misery the seventy birds, only thirty birds survived. But the thirty who lived were patient, and now they had became wise. They spoke with kindness to the crows asking for relief from their lost guidance, but the crows raised their voices and used the echo of the caves to put fear in their hearts or used shadows to break their courage and scatter them.
The thirty birds together became united and transformed themselves to be the giant Roc (see-Morgh). They lifted the big rock that hid the light and revealed the crows for the miserable creature that they were. In their fear the forty crows escaped and perished in the dark of the cave where they became the new victims of the vampire bats, and the thirty birds merged and became the Roc the king of their kingdom.
What is the one thing that man desires? You have heard before “Eye for an Eye”, “Tooth for a Tooth”. What a blind nation and toothless nation that has made us? But I tell you, do not resist an evil person but remember him, not with vengeance but remember him for what he is. Also remember his father, his mother, sisters and brothers for sick trees flourish rotten fruits, so cure the sickness with healing hands of a Gardner and not with an axe. If there is one thing that man desires it is happiness. This happiness is dependent on the happiness of all. Man’s desires take many guises, But it all comes down to one thing:
It is his disillusioned mind that loses track of his happiness and his path
for better things.
Some fill the emptiness with lust for gold.
Some with lust for lust.
Some seek their happiness in misery of others,
And some fill their egos and finally turn to dust.
Look at you and what you have become. It is the hate that you nurture that has broken your unity. Those who use the sword of tyranny shall one day ask for redemption. Do not turn them away, but do not mend their swords. They will one day come back to live amongst you. Nurture them with kindness, not hate. For hate will turn them into serpents living next to your bosoms.”
Ezat visits the house of a Pasdar guard
When Ezat was invited to the house of a Pasdar, her disciples feared for her safety and said how is it that our Lady enters the house of an agent of the regime. But Ezat turned to them and said: “Behold for there is no joy greater than finding the pig that has been lost.”
Ezat gave Pasdar Morteza her blessings and if it were not for the fact that Morteza had offered my Lady confiscated music tapes of Andy and videos of Fataneh and smuggled Johnny Walker whiskey that she had politely refused, Morteza would have become one of the disciples.
The casting of stones
A woman was to be punished by being stoned to death. Her husband had escaped and had married a new wife and after five years had returned to find her wife with another man. So the woman was to be punished for adultery.
My Lady Ezat with all courage stood between the woman and the crowd and said: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her. But they stood there with all vulgarity and with all their might and they threw sharp rocks at my Lady and the woman. But with the will of God those stones turned into flowers and the throwers into rocks of salt and the woman went free. Then she looked at the sky and said: That was very close! And you thought dealing with the Pharisees was tough. Did you?”
When My Lady Ezat visited the poor children of Tehran suburbs, all those who out of hunger were collecting plastic bottles and paper or those who out of misery had become addicts or had become prostitutes; she blessed them all and gave thanks for the daily pizza and she broke the pizza until there were dozens of baskets left. Some with anchovies, some were fruity-de-mares, and some with Pepperoni.
Then she said to the crowd: “If you love me then love these children. When the time comes, free your sisters and daughters who were sold as slaves of flesh. Bring them home and give them the respect they deserve. For they are not sinners but victims of your sins, and heal those sons who were wounded defending their land and now have been forgotten for they are the victims of your foolishness.
The rising of the dead writer
It was at Beheshte Zahra were a recently murdered writer who was killed by Government agents was put to rest. But Ezat through the grace of God, called upon the dead writer and out of his dead flesh thousands like him arose. Speaking in every tongue and revealing the truth about the evil kingdom of the priests in every page and on the Internet.
And she said, “Let it be known that for everyone of these torch bearers of the truth that you kill a hundred shall rise until your house of cards is burnt down.”
The prediction of her death
Ezat predicted that before the corrupt kingdom of wicked priests falls that she would be arrested and be killed at the hands of Government agents and it was up to the followers of her truth to follow the path to freedom. She predicted that like many she would be beaten with cables and then be hung from a crane and be declared a drug smuggler.
Then we asked her if the crane should become our symbol, and if in the picture we should draw it with a driver or without one. And she said: “Do not let an instrument of injustice become your symbol. The crane builds and the crane destroys and the crane kills all within the different hands. Let my symbol be ‘U’ for union of the hearts and for believing in you! And my followers shall have the symbol of ‘Y’ for all that enters their mind’s eye they should think about, and it will be their duty to ask why?
The union of hearts
She gathered all those with different thoughts and said: “Is it that difficult for you to unite and free yourselves from slavery? Look at you. One is a communist, one is a Royalist, and the other is a capitalist. One is a separatist and the other kills his brother and gets plastic keys to the kingdom of Heaven! Do you all not want happiness? Do you all not want a better future for your children? Do you not want to be free? And do you have to put your brother into slavery to seek your own happiness? You call each other traitors and only see the tip of your nose when you look at world. You give each other labels and put the chains of slavery on your brother’s hands if you have the power.”
Then the communist said: “But I do not believe in you!”
And she said, “Good. So believe in yourself, and believe in your freedom as it was intended for man to be free.”
Then the Hezbollah said: “Your words are nothing but blasphemy!”
Then she said, “If it takes blasphemy to bring your hearts together and bind it in union with the truth then I shall use that tongue!”
Then the agnostic said: “But it is out of religion that we have become slaves. We must separate religion from earthly rule.”
Then she said: “Break your chains and know this that God intends you to be free from all that take away the sovereignty of your mind, and if one comes amongst you and tells you otherwise then he speaks with the tongue of Satan and is a false prophet. Then one said: How can we trust you? Others came and cheated us. What makes you different?”
And she said: “Do not cheat yourself by not trusting the truth. God has blessed you with knowing right and wrong and deep down you know well that your salvation is in unity. You do not need my words. The wisdom of your hearts has always been within you like a pearl inside its mother’s shell it shall show its beauty when the time comes.”
Visiting the mosque
When she visited the mosque she no longer could take the nonsense and lies that were uttered in God’s name. She was arrested and put to death as she predicted. She pulled the turban from the Mullah’s head and threw him off the platform. For the Mullah had killed the sacred for his pocket more times than the original evildoers.
And when she was arrested, some of us gathered in front of the United Nations and protested, and some called Amnesty International, and some went on hunger strike. And when she was hung by her neck from the crane, people stood and watched and we – her followers — mourned quietly in our hearts.
Three days later, I, Asghar, dreamt of her glory in Heaven and she said to her servant, “Remember Asghar, those who believe in the truth believe in unity and the free spirit of hearts. Spread my message like the seeds that grow within the moist earth and you shall soon become free from tyranny.”
And I saw her spirit ascend to the heavenly gym where she used to teach aerobics where one day we shall all unite. She said, “I have seen the future. Your nation shall be free. You just need to put the wheels in motion to make the present follow the path of that future. So, do not let my message of ‘The union of Hearts’ fade away. Khoda-Hafiz!”