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Memories

Behind Amjadieh
Part two

By Hooshyar F. Naraghi
October 16, 2003
The Iranian

The following story is about playing soccer in the the middle of the streets of Tehran. The original text was written in Persian for a high school composition class in 1971 in Iran. Amjadieh is the name of the oldest football stadium in the heart of Tehran. It is no longer in active use because most soccer games are now held in the 100,000-seat Azadi (Liberty) Stadium. Here's part 2:

We were generally happy and content despite the minor limitations of our makeshift football field. The games continued day in and day out, until one day, in the middle of the school year, we learned that our superintendent was replaced by a certain Mr. Tabrizi.

Mr. Tabrizi changed the general mood in our school from the first day he took over. He was an extremely overbearing and intimidating figure. He started flexing his muscle by banning our football games on school premises altogether. This of course meant that balls were not to be permitted inside the school.

Mr. Tabrizi established various disciplinary actions against those who dared to disobey his orders. His argument for this drastic measure was the fact that he considered football a dangerous sport, likely to cause injuries. He feared that we might fall and hurt ourselves.

Of course the real source of his fear was potential law suits that might result by such injuries, involving the school and the Ministry of Education. It was ironic that Mr. Tabrizi did not consider basketball and volleyball dangerous sports. In fact, he was in favor of them and would constantly encourage students to enjoy them.

I will never forget Mr. Tabrizi's arrival at our school. That day started with our usual early morning game. It was only a few minutes later that a man in a well-cut three-piece suit and a tasteful tie arrived.

His hair was glued to his scalp with so much brillantine oil that it shone even regardless of the weak early winter sun. He seemed to be somewhere in his early forties. He was tall and commanding figure with broad shoulders. After having shot a glance toward us, the unknown man began inspecting the school compound as well as the main building.

That particular day, I happened to be playing in the defense position. In fact our team was ahead in the game. For reasons unknown to myself, my eyes were fixed on the stranger and I was following his every move. I guessed him to be the father of one of the students who had the misfortune of having his father summoned by the principal, in order to discuss poor grades or discipline problems.

I was engrossed in those thoughts, when I realized the man standing by the teachers' lounge and staring intensely at our game. My unsuspecting and naive mind interpreted that as a sign of envy. Too bad that he could not join us. Perhaps his darting eyes suggested a desire to play too.

I was busy dissecting the newcomer when I suddenly came face-to-face with a player from the other team. The ball had landed right in front of me! I reacted quickly by kicking the ball away from him. But since it was not a strong enough kick, it shot the ball toward the teachers' lounge. I ran after the ball while being tailed by the opponent.

I must have been too intent on protecting the ball from my opponent, to have noticed that it had landed right in the middle of the newcomer's feet. Both my opponent and myself were furiously engaged in kicking the ball. With our heads bent, we were attacking the poor ball with non-stop kicks so intently, that we were unaware of the fact that the man's feet were being kicked in the process as well.

Finally, the ball rolled to another direction. I ran eagerly after it. I noticed I could not move. It seemed I was being pulled by an invisible force! My body was positioned for running, my feet firmly planted on the ground ready for a take-off. But what was holding me? I could not move!
This strange sensation was incomprehensible to me until a few seconds later, I was able to hear a voice from behind. "Hold on you miserable animal! What's the rush? You're behaving like a mad cow?"

I turned my head back. I came to the shocking realization that the sweater I was wearing was being pulled from the back by this newly-arrived person. I felt like a dog on a leash. The man kept my collar firmly in his grip. He would not let go of me. The verbal abuse was not over either. "Your insolence knows no boundaries. You're so shameless, you're not only playing in front of the school superintendent, but also kicking him in the feet?"

I could understand his anger and frustration at being kicked, but why was he picking on me? Why was I singled out? He had been watching our game since early morning. He knew I was not the only player!

To make the long story short, I spent that day "bonding" with our new superintendent. The bonding ceremony consisted, but was not limited to, a few right and left slaps by him, followed by a long and painful sermon by the principal. The latter preferred playing the "good cop" and sent me to class shortly afterwards >>> Part three
>>> Part 1
>>> Part 3
>>> Part 4

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Behind Amjadieh
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Part four

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