First part of a story in progress
By Bijan Tehrani
July 23, 2003
Javad is dead. He passionately loved
Hitchcock, Mango and strawberry ice cream. Javad lived his abridged
life through other people. This should explain his unending appetite
for watching movies and counting other people's money. He
was a bank clerk, an Iranian communist wannabe that ended up as
a Bank of America employee! I am sure Lenin would not have called
him a "comrade".
Javad was a shadow. He will not be remembered by anybody. He never
suffered from what others call disaster or pain. When he discovered
his wife's farewell letter, in which she explained that she
was dumping him for a blind Japanese businessman, he just ordered
a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese and went on to watch North
By Northwest on television. His only complaint about the incident
was the disappearance of the TV remote control. Honestly, he was
relieved because Mahin, his wife, hated Hitchcock and pepperoni
pizza. She hated all the movies and all the books Javad liked.
Mahin told everyone that Javad "can not pull his
pants up" -- tomboonesho nemeetooneh bekesheh baalaa --
which means he is a good-for-nothing. I don't believe they ever
made love to each other. Javad believed he could only make love
to the women who looked like Kim Novak from behind. Mahin was definitely
not shaped like Kim Novak (front or back) and she in turn called
Javad and Alfred Hitchcock "gays". In
Farsi (kooni), this is a great insult.
In Iran, a man's posterior is the treasure
he holds dearest and it must be guarded accordingly. I remember
in elementary and high school we all kept bald heads, because we
all believed that the moment you let your hair grow, you would
start to lose your stern virginity. People could cuckold you and
that was bad enough, but if they had made it to your wife's
back door, then it was a disaster.
During the revolution, a slogan
on a wall at Tehran University read: "Carter has done it
to the Queen". This actually sounded entertaining and did
not create any uproar until it was changed to "Carter has
done it to the queen's rear!"
Javad was the only son of Raffat, a retired Iranian
army sergeant who like most people in his rank loved poetry
He spent his life yelling and screaming at his wife Razieh and
poor Javad. Raffat used to continue humiliating them for hours
by putting his head out of the window and calling them parasites,
spongers and streetwalkers. Suddenly he would feel bad and change
his mood to crying and begging for their forgiveness.
Javad's mother, a shadow with a low voice and no
say in her son's life, was ready for peace at any time. Javad however
would be out running in the streets crying and humming a melody
from Sangam, an Indian movie that was a big box office
hit in Iran. Most Iranians have cried at least once in their lifetime
an Indian movie. That is why sales of Kleenex were so high in fifties'
and sixties' Iran. (We used to call any new product by the first
brand that appeared in Iran, so all brands of paper napkins
were called Kleenex and all the laundry detergents, FOB).
Javad was not even safe in the streets. Street kids,
who were the only kind of kids we had in Iran back then, were
Javad and calling him "Javad the Eggplant". Adults
who needed attention pretended they hated something like a particular
dish, a fruit or a vegetable. You should not ever mention that
item in front of them because, if you did, it was the custom that
they should chase you. Raffat had decided to hate eggplants so
adults would tease him by mentioning eggplants every now and then.
The street kids transferred this to Javad.
Javad had a crush on Mahnaz, a ten-year-old beauty
who according to Javad looked exactly like Jane, Tarzan's girlfriend.
Not being lucky enough to see any Tarzan movies, I
wondered how Tarzan could stand a girl with two tons of booger
hanging from her nose and who cried over anything and at all times.
Mahnaz lived with her mother who was one of the two
wives of Major Ahmadi. Major was a fat, ugly man who spent
three nights a
week with Mahnaz's mother (nobody ever learned her name) and
three nights with his other wife. He called the seventh night,
Friday night, a vacation and spent those nights drinking in cheep
cabarets till morning.
Major hated Raffat and called him a traitor
to the motherland for leaving the army in order to have "more
time to use opium". Whenever he passed by Raffat's
house, he would change his footsteps into a march with long
and heavy steps. Raffat in turn hid behind a window and accompanied
Major's march with fart-sounding noises coming out of his mouth.
At this stage, Major was screaming that one day he
would send Raffat to face the firing squad. Now Raffat was putting
his head out the window and calling Delkash a
bitch! Those days
Iran had two famous women singers, Marzieh and
Delkash. The nation was divided over which to love more!
Major had forbidden
passing by his side of the street. However, this curfew was in
three days a week only! During those three days, when Major
Ahmadi was with Mahnaz's mother, Javad had to guard their house
the kids who were bribed by Major to paint eggplants and write
anti-Marzieh slogans on the walls. Both Raffat and major were
sitting by the radio impatiently waiting for the evening music
that was either playing Delkash or Marzieh songs. The winner
of that lottery would raise the volume of his radio to its
highest level to torture his enemy.
Delkash with her strong, loud
was known as the Maria Callas of Iran. Ahamdi called her
the "Major in the Army of Music". On the other hand Raffat believed
her voice spoiled opium's mellow and romantic mood and made you
reality, while Marzieh's delicate voice carried you higher
clouds and gave cheep opium the effects of Majlesi Opium
(not a brand, but it refers to
high opium's quality!)
The ten days of religious mourning were the
best time of the year for Javad. Both Major Ahmadi and Raffat joined
create a united
front against the local mosque on those ten days. The
mosque used to play mourning songs from its two loudspeakers on
its twin minarets
all day long. That was the only time both men
visited each other to plan their plot to silence the mosque.
used those opportunities to go along with his father hoping
Mahnaz. However, Javad did not dare to talk to Mahnaz.
He did not know what to say that would not make her scream
Therefore, he joined the throng of other lovers of his
age group by writing love letters to his beloved Mahnaz. All the
kids copied La Martin translations in their love letters and
so most looked the same. In those years, it was enough
to just "see" the one you loved once a month;
the rest of the time you would spend writing love letters,
singing Indian songs and crying.
However, Javad loved movies a lot more than he loved
Mahnaz. Until the age of eighteen when he saw his first Hitchcock
movie, he was
picking up the characters of the movies he saw every week. His
never-ending problem was raising the tickets money. His weekly
pocket money was five Rials, but the cheapest movie ticket was
six. And who could resist the temptation for
sandwich and a Coke?
In Iran I was known as Hassan Tehrani. Back there
I was a writer, film critic and film director. Now I am in Los
Angeles working as Digital Editor of Animation
this page to your friends