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Part 13
New York, Sunday November 28


10:30 a.m.
Dear dear diary,

Don't feel neglected azizam. I still need you. It's just that I have been so happy for the past two weeks. I suppose you could say Peerooz and I are an official item now. He has been calling me at work and at home, sending me kisses and cuddles over the line, and I do the same. Almost everyday, bouquets of various colored tiger lilies arrive at my apartment in manner of Bollywood movies. Manny says we act so sweet when we are together she almost wants to throw up. Let her whine. I am happy... and in love... And I got mAmAn off my back when she called to scream at me for having left her khAsstegar candidate hanging at the restaurant (Wonder if he is still there, waiting?). When she found out I was dating someone, she grilled me in her usual manner:

-- "Iroonieh?"

-- "Baaalleh."

-- "fAmillesh chieh?"

Now you have to understand my mom is more interested in family names than first names because she thinks she can figure out the "status" of a person that way. As soon as she finds out the family name, she instantly places the person concerned in one of two categories: "Payeen Shahr" or " KelAss bAlA". Without even having met the person.

This is one of the ways my mother drives me crazy. These comments sometimes make me think she is a lunatic that has somehow escaped detection throughout her years like Catherine Deneuve in the horror film "Repulsion", and it will all some day end in a bloody mess of rotten rabbit flesh and bloated corpses in overflowing bathtubs, and the neighbours will shake their hands at Jerry Springer cameras outside on the front lawn and go on about what a nice lady she seemed "on the outside". But I digress.

-- "nAzanin! Porssidam fAmillesh chieh?"

-- "(Sigh) Kia."

-- "Khob, khoobeh. ChekArasst?"

-- "Trader."

-- "chee chee??"

-- "Too Wall Street kAr mikoneh."

-- "vAlleh-Estreet? AhAn... fahmidam... khob khoobeh... Key miyAreesh shAm injA?"

-- "mAmAAAAAAnnnn!!! Yezareh sabr kon! We have just started dating."

-- "Okay okay dAd nazan saram. Asslan lAzem nakardeh heech moghe biyAreesh."

Line goes dead... She has hung up..."Sigh...

Strange thing happened yesterday. Peerooz and I had gone to Bruce's exhibit of his latest paintings in Soho. Everything was fine, crowd was happening. Peerooz and I were standing together with Manny chatting and laughing when I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I turned around and saw to my big surprise... Ali! He was standing at the door, looked like he was about to come in. His eyes scared me. The coldness I had noticed before had turned into ice, a look filled with hate and murder. He wasn't looking at me though. He was staring at Peerooz. Then he saw me standing there. "Ali!" I called out. Peerooz, startled, turned from the conversation he was having with Manny. When he saw Ali there, his face suddenly drained of color. Then, almost as quickly, he regained his composure and turned back to his usual smirky and self-satisfied expression. "Heyyy Ali!," he said, "Long time no see. Good to see you." I looked at the both of them, amazed. I knew it's not uncommon for Iranians to know each other in one community but still I did not expect these two to know each other. In what circles could they possibly have bumped into in the past?

After a moment's hesitation, Ali nodded his head to me, a forced smile on his face, and approached. The tension was felt by everyone though I could not figure out why these two obviously hated each other. After a few meaningless phrases, Manny, as always the P.R. professional, graciously took Ali's arm, suggesting a tour of the gallery. Peerooz seemed incredibly relieved as they departed.

"Azize-dellam, misheh az injA berim? I can't stand the face of that guy," Peerooz almost instantly whispered. I nodded and as soon as we were outside, asked for an explanation.

-- "How in the world do you two know each other? And what's with the Cold War between you?"

Peerooz took a big sigh.

-- "This is difficult for me to say and I hope I don't have to tell you to keep this to yourself."

-- "Of course azizam."

After another pause, Peerooz continued.

-- "This guy Ali and I were in boarding school together in Le Rosey. In our last year, he got some girl pregnant. She was a kid, you know. Anyway, she killed herself, and he was kicked out of school. Ever since then, the guy can't stand to see my face because I remind him of the terrible mistake he has committed in the past."

I squeezed Peerooz's hand and held closer to him. My instinct had been right all along to beware of those cold, cold eyes. They were the eyes of a predator.

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