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What The Doves Said: The Deep Well
By Mojdeh Marashi
Copyright 2011 Mojdeh Marashi
Cover Image by Ala Ebtekar 2004
Published by Mojdeh Marashi at Smashwords
Second Story In "What The Doves Said" Series
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
What The Doves Said
The Deep Well
About The Author
The Deep Well
For a while now I have been sitting on the edge of my bed, something I don’t do often, as I like to get up and go once I am awake. But this morning, and the last many mornings, this sluggish behavior has become part of my new ritual. Or shall I say it has become a tactic for delaying my day.
I wish I could blame this new behavior on my tendencies to be a night owl since I have never been a morning person - that would have been a blessing. However, I know well that this is not the case. The sun is shining, so brightly that I doubt my state of consciousness and wonder if I am still asleep after all. A sun worshiper by nature, I would have perked up instantly on a day like this. Today, however, it feels as if my feet are made of iron, weighing a ton, keeping me stuck to the ground.
In one of my great Aunt Ezy’s stories, in order to get to his destination, the hero had to pass through seven seas and climb seven mountains in his seven pairs of metal shoes until they all wore off. The hero chose to do this impossible task in order to undo an injustice that had befallen another unfortunate soul – not the hero himself. In the end, when he finally arrived at his destination, not only would justice be served, but a prize awaited the hero - perhaps the hand of a beautiful princess in marriage, a treasure that would last him a lifetime, a rich and fertile land to rule, or some other earthly reward.
In some of Ezy’s Persian fairytales, there were also many heroines who rose to the occasion - proof that in reality the Persian culture is not as unkind to women as most think. At least the culture used to be more inclusive of women when these stories were created, thousands of years ago, when Iran was in fact a pinnacle of civilization. Back then, over twenty five hundred years ago, women of Iran were engineers, doctors, navy generals, and queens who ruled their country in place of their king fathers, brothers, or husbands.
Today with my feet weighing a ton, it feels as if I know how the young men and women in Ezy’s stories must have felt while those metal shoes weighed them down - though wearing them was the best or perhaps only option since only the hard metal could endure the rough terrain of heroism they had to traverse.
I close my eyes for a second and when I open them my mother is sitting in front of me on the floor by the bed. She looks at me with brown eyes that look even bigger behind her thick glasses. I await her warm and familiar voice to talk to me but her lips are not moving. Instead she is speaking with her eyes, as she sometimes did, her light brown eyes moving ever slightly in different directions, with pauses in between, in a very precise and rhythmic manner, as if they are dancing.
Even though I am convinced everyone can speak the language of the eyes, we Persians seem to speak it exceptionally well. Perhaps all the invasions and injustices we have endured throughout the last fourteen hundred years of our history have honed this ability. After all, to speak without using your tongue can come in handy if you are to be criticized or persecuted for every truth you speak. And if the invaders call you “dumb” simply because you can’t speak their language, as Persians were called by Arab invaders, then why not play your part and act dumb to avoid the enemy’s wrath?
No doubt the language of the eyes has evolved throughout Persian history and is now used not only because of the invaders – old or new – but also for communicating with the dearest of kin, when words themselves fail you.
My mother is now telling me, or reminding me, with her eyes of her old saying:
“Life is like a sour lemon; it is you who can add sugar to make it sweet.”
Any other time, I would have taken her bait and played our game, saying something to the effect that I don’t like sweets and therefore sour lemons would be fine with me – but not today. Today, I have no patience for humor. She understands, closes her eyes, presses her eyelids together ever so gently for a second and then looks up again at me with a new twinkle in her eyes.
“You should smile at life so it smiles back at you.”
“What smile, Mom? There is no smile left in me! No matter how hard I smile life is not smiling back. To heck with it all. How can I smile when I have to witness so much ugliness in the world?” I want to scream but I don’t have to. I have voiced it with my eyes.
“You are not the only one upset about this and you can’t change it all by yourself – certainly not by sitting at the edge of your bed,” she says with her lips tight but eyes moving.
I want to tell her that I feel miserable; that I have lost all hope, and that once more I am left to pick up the pieces. But this time there aren’t even that many pieces left to pickup. It is as if I am in a pit of darkness and … “I have lost my youth to injustice and now it seems like I am losing the rest of my life to it again,” I want to shout.
“Drama queen! Even the ones in the midst of it all are not feeling this hopeless.”
“Perhaps, but I am super sensitive to these things; you know that.” I used to cry over people less fortunate whenever I encountered them even when I was four years old.
“I know. I stopped taking you shopping with me to places where there could be beggars around just because of that.”
“I can’t help it. I’m sensitive.”
I am about to say that she has no idea how much it hurts to be in my situation. Then I catch a glimpse of her face.
“Selfish woman!” I tell myself as I remember what she has gone through – so much pain, so much fear, and so much longing for a time when she could be safe and close to her loved ones – a time that never really manifested itself long enough for her to taste.
I look at her, eyes wet, lips tight, and forehead adorned with deep lines. I never asked her, really asked her about it. The very little she said here and there lost its significance by the sugar coating she added for my protection.
I wonder if it is too late to ask now. I look at her again. She is still very beautiful. I would feel lucky to look this amazing in my old age. The perfect shaped face, the complexion that never needed makeup, the pair of symmetrical eyebrows that could move up and down independently – something I never achieved no matter how hard I tried as a child; the great looking nose with nostrils that gave her away by flaring just a little whenever she got upset; the dark soft hair with the curls so well-placed you thought she had spent hours at a salon – the same hair that turned white and sparkled as if it was made of snow and reflected the sun’s rays; the smile that was never defeated despite all the hardship and injustice of a life no one could have predicted for her – the only daughter of my grandfather, a rich and respected businessman who spoke four languages and would have given all his riches to see his daughter happy; the kind hands so warm it melted everyone they touched even those with a heart made of iron; and above all the eyes that recited poetry instead of words.
“Mom, what was it like?” I want to ask her, but the words don’t leave my mouth, nor does the movement form in my eyes. It is all in my head. Of course it was painful. Asking her would be such a cliché, I tell myself.
During the last couple of weeks, I have gone from cloud nine to the pit of the earth, from being an ultimate optimist to an absolute hopeless soul. I have felt all my dreams and wishes for my birth country secure in my hand, so accessible I could taste them, only to have them snatched away from me. Words such as absolute devastation wouldn’t even begin to describe my state of being. I am a fool, I tell myself. I should have known better. After all this is not my first time facing such calamity.
I look at mom again, my heart drops, for her it has been at least one additional time, I remind myself. And unlike me, witnessing the events from the other side of the globe, she was there, right in the center of it all.
It must have been so painful to see her life break piece by piece and not be able to do anything about it. What was it like for her when Dad was caught up in the 1953 coup d'état, I wonder.
“Tell me. Please tell me and don’t hold back. I want to know everything.” I say in the language of the eyes.
“I had a great life,” her eyes say but I see a hint of deceit in their corners.
I don’t have the heart to confront Mom about her lie. She is again sugar coating, something she has done my entire life. Me, me, and me – her life has centered around me!
“If there is a true love, it is the one your mom has for you,” my uncle claimed many times as if I didn’t know. Yet, I only truly understood my mother’s love when I had a child of my own. To be a mother is the utmost unselfish act in the universe. It is motherhood that makes you forget you.
I look at my mother. Years have taken their toll but have not had an affect on lessening the twinkle in her eyes. She is teasing me now. She won’t tell the story I am really after. She wants to trick me and guide me to her side of the spectrum, the optimist’s one. I am stubborn though, have always been, and want to hear the story the way I want it, without sugar coating.
“I tell you what, why don’t I tell the story, and you correct me if I get it wrong,” I suggest.
She projects a hint of smile as a sign that she approves of my suggestion even though I know she can’t be happy with this arrangement, as it allows me to color her story with my pessimism.
“It all started when you were still at your parents’ house.” Immediately I see a sign of dissatisfaction in her eyes.
“I thought you were going to tell the story from my point of view.”
“Yes, I’m trying.” At first I think that she is not happy with my tone but then it occurs to me that she wants me to tell the story as if she is telling it, from her point of view, and in her own words.
“Okay, let me start over.” I smile.
I may have a hidden agenda but I still would like to please her as a storyteller. All the years I was growing up, she believed in me and was so proud that almost everything I did got her approval. But now I feel that I need to please her – not sure why but perhaps it is because I am playing her role and I want to bring back her memories and give them life again – for her and me both.
“We, your father and I,”I begin in my mother’s point of view, “were not living in Tehran at the time. His work took us to different cities, something that was not easy for me, being the only girl, rather spoiled and surrounded by family. I was lonely and homesick outside of Tehran. Yet, I tried hard to hide my feelings. I was not the kind of person to show them – just like you – I was tough and was going to prove that I am capable of anything life threw at me.”
I know this about her. When she came to visit us here in the U.S., she was the only mother who didn’t cry at the airport. Years later, I found out that she cried all the way to Tehran on the plane once we were not around anymore.
“When we came back home to visit, everyone was asking when we were going to have a baby. It got to be really embarrassing. At first we said it was too soon but that got old after a few years. Those days most couples had a baby soon after they were married.”
My dad couldn’t have children. Back then almost no one endured a childless marriage. If it was the woman who was barren she could be replaced in a heartbeat. If it were the man’s fault most women too would flee and remarry – especially if they were as beautiful as my mom. In general, it was difficult for women to get a divorce but if the man could not have a child, then divorce was easy. For most women back then, a life without a child felt empty. Additionally, a childless woman would be more vulnerable if she ended up a widow. Not only were the inheritance laws unfair towards women in general, the women who didn’t have children were often in risk of not having someone who would take care of them in their old age.
But my mom stayed with my dad – against wise people’s advice – they were in love and he begged her to do so.
“If you leave me I will die!” he had cried.
Funny it was he who ended the marriage after 35 years and remarried, to everyone’s disbelief – no one in our family had ever committed such a crime.
“My dad was eager to have a grandchild,” I continue in my mom’s voice. “It was as if he knew he would die young, before seeing his first grandchild. He was too decent to ask about it or insist on us having kids. Others weren’t as polite and not only asked multiple times, but also gave themselves permission to offer suggestions and remedies for us, the poor barren couple. At first we didn’t know whose ‘fault’ it was. Then we visited a specialist who had come highly recommended and he ran some tests.
‘It is you!’ he pointed at your dad.”
Dad’s face must have turned white – that was not what he had expected. He was certain it was Mom who couldn’t give him any children.
‘“There is a surgery.” The doctor paused. “It is, however, very dangerous. We can arrange for you to have it. There is a great chance the outcome would be successful – if you survive the surgery.’
‘You don’t want me to have the surgery, do you?’ your father asked me. ‘I could die.’
His brown eyes had turned shinny with the water that gathered in them.
‘But I would do it in a heartbeat if you decide to leave me otherwise’ he had cried. ‘Don’t leave me. I will die without you.’”
She, my mom, was young and in love. Above all she was too decent to divorce him, especially now that he needed her so badly. She didn’t even think it through long enough. She made a promise, which she kept forever.
“‘No, it’s okay. We don’t have to have kids. We are happy now – together, just you and me. We will stay together. I won’t leave you. I promise.’ Everyone told me I was crazy and that he will betray me – as men often do.
“But I didn’t believe them. None of the men in our family betrayed their wives. They were great men, decent men. They stayed with their women, no matter what. They looked down on men who cheated or remarried.”
Mom has a point. The men in our family are sweethearts, angels almost, who worship their wives and before that their mothers and sisters. In our family, women are special and treated like princesses. My family goes back a long way. You can say we are almost ancient. Perhaps a little bit of matriarchic blood still runs through our veins. A little of the same blood that ran through the veins of the Persians 2500 years ago, when women were head engineers for Persepolis, the Achaemenidian castle. Twenty-five hundred years ago, these women were paid as much as the male counterparts and even had maternity leave. My own grandmother was a feminist before the term was even popular. Her husband, my grandfather, and all my great uncles and the men before them treated women as their partners, nothing less. My poor mother’s vision and understanding of men was one that didn’t match the majority of the species.
“I had no children.” I continue in my mom’s voice. “So I had a lot of time on my hands especially with your father gone so often. I would read all the magazines that were published back then. I read novels, short stories, and all the ‘good reads’ of the time. When your dad came home from trips, we went to parties, lots of them. I spent a lot of money – I had a lot of it from my own dad – on clothing, purses, and shoes.”
That is an absolute understatement as my mother was among the best-dressed women in the city. It took me years to realize that the high-heels I wore as a kid when I was playing grownup, and the purse I dragged around the house with my doll shoved into it, looked exactly like the ones Hollywood stars of the time had. Over the years, before I was born, my mother, had spent enough money on her amazing accoutrements to buy a couple of houses – something she regretted years later when she no longer relied on my dad for a living as she was too proud to accept alimony.
“When I came to Tehran to visit, I would go to Berlin Street, Tehran’s answer to today’s Rodeo Drive or perhaps Paris’s Shanzelize Street. It was the place to find the best shops. I’d spend all day going from boutique to boutique to buy a pair of shoes and then I spent days, sometimes weeks, to find a matching purse.”
Even after she had me, Mom still had difficulties curbing her appetite for the best of everything. I remember going back and forth to many notion shops with her to find the perfect buttons for a new outfit her tailor was making for her.
“Lady, this button matches perfectly with your swatch,” the shopkeeper would claim.
“Thank you, but it is not the exact shade I am looking for,” Mom would say after taking the button and her fabric swatch to the front of the store where she could examine them under natural light.
Once we left the store and the not-so-perfect button behind, and before we hit the next button shop, my mom often took me for ice cream. I still remember the big bowl of Persian ice cream, with its rich flavor and creamy texture, the pieces of emerald green pistachio mixed in, and its fabulous rose water aroma. While eating ice cream, she would ask me what I thought about the buttons and show me the fabric swatch once again. During the process she taught me to value my own opinion more than anyone else’s. She always treated me in a way that fostered confidence in me. She was, without a doubt, a master in child psychology. After my mom had found the perfect button, we would get a taxi and go to her tailor to deliver our finds. Her tailor was a kind man who kept a big bowl of candy for kids just like me accompanying their picky moms.
I look at my mom. She is smiling and looking at me with those big, bigger even behind the glasses, brown and kind eyes. My childhood is filled with stories of her, or better said, my childhood is my mom. She is everywhere with her kindness, support, and above all her unconditional love and positive energy. All of a sudden I realize Mom has been successful in derailing the story and turning it to my story instead of hers. I knew she would try to do that and thought I was going to be prepared for it.
“But wait, I want to hear the story about the coup d’etat. I thought we agreed you would tell me the whole story, all of it,” I protest.
“Didn’t the two doves tell that story already? What’s the use of hearing the same story?”
“But I want to hear it from you, Mom.” She is slick but I am slicker – even though in reality “gullible” is a much better adjective for both of us.
“Velesh kon,” she says, tossing her head up with a slight turn to the left.
Loose translation would be “forget about it” or “let it go”. She is so good at pretending to be strong that it is often hard to know if she really doesn’t care about something or if she is trying to avoid more sorrow for both of us. The tiny sparkle of a newly formed teardrop in her eyes gives her away this time. I am thinking I will ignore her “velesh kon” and go back to the story, or perhaps jump to that awful summer afternoon in 1953 where so many people’s lives changed forever.
“It is a scorching afternoon, mid-summer,” I say in a broken voice, as I am not used to ignoring her wish.
“All of a sudden the floor of the kitchen gives in and Golabetoon falls into a deep, dark well.” Mom interrupts my story in her warm voice that falls and surrounds me like a waterfall.
She is speaking, finally with her voice instead of her eyes. It no longer matters what story she tells as long as she is using her voice. I keep silent to take it all in. I have been craving security for a long time.
“Golabetoon falls down and down for hours until she hits the ground.”
Mom is reminding me the story of Golabetoon. Her voice takes me back to my childhood and the house on Gorgaan Street where I remember hearing this story for the first time. Between 1953 and late 1960’s my parents moved a lot. Only recently have I been able to draw a link between their constant moves and my dad’s political history and the coup d’etat. The Gorgaan Street house is where we lived during the time I was three to five years old. It was a charming house with a yard, which had a small turquoise pond in the middle, full of little red and orange goldfish. As customary with most Iranian homes, the bathroom was separated from the toilet room, or the water closet. It was a large room with no windows – to help insulation – and that made the bathroom dark unless you turned the light on, but the switch was out of my little arm’s reach. Our bathroom had an air of mystery and a hint of spookiness, a quality that made the space rather exciting, as it was a place where my imagination could run wilder than anywhere else in the house. And perhaps Mom’s stories were triggers for making me feel excited about the bathroom. After all, my first memory of hearing the Golabetoon story is in the same bathroom while my mom was washing my hair.
The story of Golabetoon is about a girl who saves herself from a Deeve, an ugly and frightening creature, among the beasts common to Persian tales and mythology. Golabetoon is a beautiful young girl, as the girls and boys in stories often are – though my mom never emphasized beauty. Golabetoon is in the kitchen or in the bathroom, I don’t recall which, and suddenly she falls down a well, which miraculously opens to the underground and a paradise-like garden that belongs to a Deeve. Despite being frightened by the size and ugliness of the Deeve, the little girl, who is very polite – or perhaps this was my mother’s addition to encourage politeness in me - gathers her courage and says hello. The Deeve in return is surprised and rather delighted that a human being has said hello to him. He informs the girl that because of her politeness, he will spare her life and won’t eat her. Instead he asks the girl to come forward. The Deeve then puts his big ugly and heavy head on the girl’s lap and asks her to clean his head of fleas.
Here my mom had to explain to me what fleas were since I had never seen these creatures and didn’t know what it meant to look for them among the dirty hair on the Deeve’s head. Golabetoon becomes the Deeve’s slave, in charge of his fleas. For months she endures the messy, heavy, and smelly head on her lap and keeps quiet. She has no choice since if she protests the Deeve will devour her in one piece. But Golabetoon is smart and she pays attention to everything during her captivity. She learns about the Deeve’s habits and routines, including his daily naps. As time goes by and Golabetoon gains the Deeve’s trust, she begins a series of experiments to find out how fast the Deeve falls asleep and how deep is his sleep. According to Persian mythology, every Deeve has a bottle in which he keeps his life. The only way to kill a Deeve, as they are virtually indestructible and naturally immortal, is to break his life bottle (shish-e omr). Like every other Deeve, Golabetoon’s Deeve is very protective of his shih-e omr. He has hidden it carefully and wears the key to the hideout around his neck.
One night Golabetoon tricks the Deeve into believing a human being has entered the garden and is about to steal the Deeve’s treasure – all Deeves by default have a lot of money and jewelry, perhaps because they have been stealing from human beings unfortunate enough to cross paths with them. Golabetoon’s Deeve gets up to investigate the alleged robbery and that is when Golabetoon, who is following the Deeve without his knowledge, learns about the hideout of the Deeve’s shish-e omr.
One day after months of captivity, when the Deeve is sound asleep, Golabetoon takes the key from his neck and runs to the hideout. She finds the Deeve’s life bottle and smashes it into to the ground, breaking it into a thousand pieces. In an instant, the Deeve, who has woken up and is now chasing Golabetoon, turns into smoke and evaporates into thin air.
Golabetoon finds the master key and unlocks the cells freeing all others whom the Deeve had kept as prisoners. She then carries all the Deeve’s riches up the well to her own house.
Her family, who had assumed Golabetoon was dead, is beside themselves to see that not only she has survived but is now rich. They throw a huge party and invite the entire neighborhood. They celebrate for seven days and seven nights – a common custom in Persian culture.
At three or four years old I was not aware of all the interesting symbolism and references to issues such as gender and power in the Golabetoon story. For me the story offered pure excitement and a world of possibilities. I know of kids who hearing the same story were not comfortable in the bath or the kitchen for fear of falling into a similar well and facing a Deeve. Due to my mom’s storytelling technique – mixed with her gift for psychology – I had none of those fears. On the contrary, I wished that the floor of our bathroom or kitchen would give in on me one day. I couldn’t wait to fall into the well, which to me sounded like a gigantic slide. The possibility of outsmarting the big Deeve made the trip even more exciting. If Golbetoon had outsmarted the Deeve, I would have no problem doing the same thing I thought to myself. The only thing I had difficulty with was the Deeve’s dirty head, which I knew I would be disgusted by – my mom was super sensitive about cleanliness. Yet, I suppose the excitement of the adventure won over the disgust for me since at times I would walk around the bathroom or kitchen, my small heart beating like a bird, anticipating the floor giving in. I bet I would carry a set of doctor’s examination gloves with me to the kitchen or bath if I knew about them back then – they would make searching for flees among the Deeve’s disgusting hair less revolting.
“We still need you to be that courageous and excited...” Mom’s voice brings me back to the present.
“We? Who is we?” I ask Mom in the language of the eyes.
My mom’s eyes turn to an artwork on the wall next to me. It is one of my son’s works, referencing a story in The Shahnameh (the Book of Kings). The epic of Shahnameh by the poet Ferdowsi tells the mythical stories, as well as the history of Persia. It was written in1000AD in the form of poems in the Persian language. The Shahnameh was pivotal in reviving the Persian language, which was on the verge of extinction and being replaced by Arabic as a result of the Arab invasion of Persia a few centuries back.
The artwork shows a scene in which the broken Rostam, the mythical hero of Iran, is sitting next to his dying son, Sohrab. The two had never met, therefore Rostam had accepted to fight with the young Sohrab who at the time was standing with the opposite army. Sohrab falls as the result of the battle and his poor father discovers he has killed his own son when he notices an emblem, which Rostam had given to Tahmineh, Sohrab’s mother when they first met.
“This is the problem, Mom! This is the story of us, the people of an ancient land. Other nations kill the old for the new. We sacrifice the young for the old. What is the use of admitting our mistake years or centuries later – the young are dead! We have done it over and over since Rostam’s days.” I close my eyes and try not to let my anger get out of hand.
“We did it when you were young in 1953. We did it in 1979, and at least a few times more since then. The prisons are full of young people and the tombs full of young bodies. This is too high of a price for holding on to the old and their values – the price of our youth’s blood. This is not fair.” I break down.
“We need the Aahangarz,” my son’s voice fills my head.
The Shahnameh tells us that Zahhak, whose father was an Arab ruler, is influenced by Ahriman (the devil) and kills his own father to overtake his kingdom. Ahriman comes back as disguised as a cook and impresses Zahhak with wonderful dishes. As a symbol of his appreciation for his culinary skills, Zahhak grants the cook’s wish and allows him to kiss his shoulders. In an instant, two angry and hungry snakes grow where Ahriman has kissed Zahhak’s shoulders. The court’s surgeon rushes to Zahak and remove the snakes only to see them grow back immediately time after time. Ahriman then comes back, this time as a skilled physician, and convinces Zahhak that the snakes will only calm down if they are fed every day with brains of two young men. Otherwise, the hungry snakes will turn to Zahhak’s own brain and eat it instead.
For centuries Zahhak’s snakes are fed brains of young Iranian men – somethings never change – until a blacksmith by the name of Kaveh, enraged at losing his own sons to Zahhak’s snakes, starts a protest against him. This happens as Zahhak’s men capture Kaveh’s last son, in order to feed the snakes. Kaveh’s protest sparks an uprising against the Arab ruler. Soon after, Zahhak is overthrown and is left to be food for his own snakes.
A few years ago, a mysterious book was discovered, which immediately created a buzz in the Persian community. The book was discovered by an artist and is a collection of sketches, presumably by Kaveh, the blacksmith. The ancient drawings point to two very important issues. First, the possibility that Kaveh, a master blacksmith, might have planned to overthrow Zahhak for a very long time, perhaps at the time of his first son’s arrest and not after his last son was arrested, as previously thought. Second, that Kaveh, a master blacksmith, was relying on his own invention in his quest to end Zahhak, and that Kaveh’s amazing sketches are perhaps the earliest record of robot-like creatures any artist or craftsman has imagined.
These sketches, depicting early ideas for robot-like beings, are magnificent and were in fact the seed for the creation of the Aahangarz – a group of superheroes – with the mission of helping people who are fighting for justice.
“We still need you to be that courageous and excited...” I hear the echo in my head.
I close my eyes and begin to tell a new story in the language of the hearts:
“Namira wakes up. It is still dark. She tiptoes towards Asha-Behest’s cot.
“What is it Namira?” Asha says sitting up in his cot as if he has sensed Namira approaching.
“I just had another one,” Namira says as she extends her hands towards Asha.
“Close your eyes, let me see if I can get the location for us,” he says as he holds Namira’s hands in his and shuts his eyes.
This is their ritual every time Namira has a vision, which comes to her mostly in her sleep – though some come when she simply closes her eyes. In her visions she hears a cry for help, loud and clear, from a desperate soul and can recall every small detail except for the location. That is where Asha comes in. By holding Namira’s hands, he can locate the geography of her vision. This is his superpower.
“Got it, let’s go,” Asha says walking toward the rest of the cots in their humble cabin.
It takes only a few minutes to wake up the other Aahangarz and prepare for their mission. They gather in a circle and hold hands. As part of her superpowers, Namira can transfer them wherever they need to go once she gets her coordinates from Asha. It is like the teleport in Star Trek, only better.
When they arrive, the scene is crowded. There are people looking up screaming and crying. Some have gathered around a man and woman who have collapsed on the street pavement.
“Look, it is just like my vision,” Namira points to a tall building across the street.
A petit girl is hanging from the edge of a window, screaming.
“Let’s go!” Namira says as she grabs Kasra’s hand and they disappear in a flash.
The crowd notices the superheroes at the top of the tall building and goes wild.
“Get up, get up. Your daughter is being rescued. They are here!” someone yells to the couple collapsed on the pavement crying.
“Who, who is here?” The woman, the girl’s mother, asks as she tries to get up and look at where her daughter is hanging on to the ledge for her life.
Kasra kneels down on the roof, right above where the girl is hanging from just below.
“The Aahangarz, they are here.” The crowd chants: “Kasra, Kasra.”
Kasra, the hero with super strength, extends his hand towards the girl, grabs her arm, and pulls her up in an instant. Moments later, the girl is in the arms of her mother and father.
“Don’t go. Don’t go. We still need you. They are still here, look.” a young man yells as he runs toward the Aahangarz who are getting ready to leave.
Everyone looks towards the direction the young man is pointing. A group of thugs, clubs and knives in hands, are chasing a group of young boys and girls.
“They have been at it all day. No one is safe from their wrath. What is it that they want from our kids?” protests an older woman.
“They are thugs. They don’t need a reason for torturing our kids. They are paid to do so,” replies an older man.
“No thinking allowed – that is what these Zahhakies want from us. To be blind, deaf and dumb!” cries a young woman.
One of the boys falls down, as the thugs get closer. His friends stop to help him up and then all of a sudden a group of thugs catch up and start kicking and hitting them with their heavy clubs.
“Tirzaad, I need your help,” says the Deeve as he rushes over towards the scene.
While Tirzaad and the Deeve are busy fighting thugs, Kasra puts his magical boombox down and starts playing a tune. The sound of an ancient music, the one that accompanied Persian warriors thousands of years ago, fills the street. It is a heavenly sound, familiar to the hearts of these people, and it moves them. Everyone, old and young, marches towards the thugs. It takes only a few minutes for the Aahangarz to free the kids from the fists of the thugs and for the people to reach their youth and embrace them. Soon it is the thugs who are running for their lives. Everyone is cheering the Aahangarz.
The Aahangarz have succeeded again. They gather in a circle, hold hands and disappear in an instant with the help of Namira’s superpower.
The street is still filled with the sound of music that magically has lingered even though Kasra and his boombox are no longer present. It will stay here for a long time and after that it will stay in these people’s hearts forever, the music of victory.
I remember telling stories to my son when he was little. Every night this was our ritual – for me to read or tell him at least five stories before he falls asleep. I would make up stories, like the one I just told about the Aahangarz, in order to put him to sleep. At only five he had enough energy to become an honorary member of the Aahangarz! I pick up my head and look at Mom wondering if she liked my story.
“And the story of the young stays forever…” my mom says with her eyes again.
Then I suddenly remember that the Aahangarz were my son’s creation and I just happen to adopt them for my stories. Perhaps it is time we break the cycle and celebrate the new – we don’t even have to sacrifice the old – coexistence can be a beautiful reality.
“Now, isn’t it much better?” my mom asks with her eyes again.
“I feel better, though I’m not sure how I feel about my story?”
“You can work on that. The important thing is that you are once again your positive self.”
She has done it again, tricking me to become more optimistic!
“I love you.” I say with the language of hearts as I get up and walk towards the bathroom to wash up.
It is time to embrace the beautiful morning.
This is the second in a series of five books to come. If you have enjoyed reading this story, you can find additional information about this book and the future ones at mojdeh.com.
Copyright by Mojdeh Marashi 2011
Cover Image by Ala Ebtekar 2004 AlaEbtekar.com
About The Author
Mojdeh Marashi is a writer, translator, artist, and designer whose work is deeply influenced by the ancient and modern history of Iran. Her stories merge the world of magical realism in Persian literature that she grew up reading, the reality of the world she lives in today, and the utopia she dreams about. She was born in Tehran, Iran and moved to U.S. in 1977.
She is the translator (from Persian, with Chad Sweeney) of The Selected Poems of H. E. Sayeh: The Art of Stepping Through Time (White Pine, 2011). fiction was published in the anthology Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: Women of the Iranian Diaspora(University of Arkansas, 2006).
She holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts as well an MA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She lives in Palo Alto, California.
Ср. Rieu, «De Abu L ala al Ma'arri vita et carminibus» (Бонн, 1843); Alfred von Kremer, «Ueber die philosoph. Gedichte des Abu L...