New York, Monday September 4
Today is my birthday. From my old room, I hear the guests downstairs as
well as mAmAn's shrill voice ordering everyone around.
-- "SafourrA khAnoom, Pollo ro lotfan bekeshin... Hamid!!! Beh toot-farhangiA
dasst nazan! EshtehAtt koor misheh mAmAn jAn!
I feel so peaceful here, sitting at my table, applying the last touches
of my make-up. I have become quite an expert at it, thanks to the low budget
production of my play. I have had to become my own personal make-up artist.
No more make-up accidents. I think of Hossein's birthday party last year
I stand up and take one more look at the aptly-named vanity mirror. I
am wearing a simple blue dress that I really like. I bought it in Paris.
In August. Before taking the plane back to New York.
As I prepare to turn the doorknob of my old room and proceed downstairs,
I think how lucky I am that I will find downstairs, waiting for me, my bAbA
joon healthy and happy, alongside mAmAni, and all my friends and loved ones:
Manny, who will come and kiss me on both cheeks; Bruce and Fabrice, who
will give me the card and gift they picked together for me; Nance and Hossein,
who will come toward me but their children Layal and Hamid will outrun then
and fight over which one gets to sit next to me and blow all the birthday
candles; The Clan of Ladies, an assortment of my mom's distant female relatives
and friends, who will cackle their helloes and continue running around like
chickens with their head cut off, and their husbands, who will get up from
their seats where they have been lazily watching the football game (foot
ball, not soccer got it!) all day. This year, there will be additional space
for the entire cast and crew of my play, from the director Derrick, to all
the Actors and Understudies and technical crew, and their loved ones.
MAmAn could not be happier: She hasn't had a big party like this to plan
in ages. Impeccably coiffed and dressed as always, she seems to fit more
the part of the Birthday Girl than me, with my simple summer dress, my hair
falling on my shoulders with a simple barrette at the side. As soon as I
go downstairs, MAmAni will scream: "Naaaazzzeeeeeee... Oomadi mAmAn
jAn, Tah-dig ke soukht! Zood bAsh biyA beshin, hameh montazeran." BAbA
will smile at me and send me a wink from across the room.
But before I see all those people, before I turn the doorknob and proceed
downstairs, I will turn around and kiss my sweet love, who has been patiently
sitting on my bed looking through my photo albums, while I get ready for
-- "Ready to go and face the music azizam?"
Instead of a response, Ali just smiles and kisses me again.
Yes... Ali... The same one... The one I went to get in Paris... The one
I brought back home with me that very night.
You see the monk was right: Once I realized I had to stop searching and
simply start living, Nirvana did automatically find its way to me.
My eyes still closed, my hands leaning against the railings of the Eiffel
Tower, my lips whispering the monk's mantra, I felt a hand on my shoulder.
-- "Nazanin... Aziz... What are you doing here?
Ali had never left for the week-end in Spain. He had been on the verge
to go but had come back to the office about an hour after I had been to
see Sally, in order to pick up some papers he could work on while in Spain.
When he came in, Sally didn't even look up from her computer. But on his
way out, in the elevator, Sally was there, going out for her smoke break.
She looked at him with those cow eyes of hers all the way from the Sixth
Floor to the Lobby. Finally, as they were stepping outside the doors and
going in different direction, some wheels were fatefully set in motion in
her cow brain and a flash of recognition made her cry out:
-- "Hey!... Dude!... Are you Ali?"
To which Ali turned around.
-- "Oh nothing (chew, chew)... Just some chick was looking for you..."
-- "Who?... I don't know anyone here... Was it a real estate agent?
-- "Umm... Nooo...(chew, chew)... She was American..."
-- "What was her name?..."
-- "(chew, chew)...Beats me... She didn't leave any name... Seemed
pretty upset... That you weren't here I mean... I though you had gone to
-- "Yes I did... I mean I was... Anyway, the point is, I have no
idea who you are talking about...Was it an executive of Time ?"
-- "(Snort) Oh Hooo... No way dude... unless the big brass has taken
to carrying big fluffly pink and black appointment books around!"
Ali 's eyes widened and he grabbed Sally at the arms. He knew only one
person in the whole wide world who dared prance around cosmopolitan cities
with a pink and black fluffy diary in her hands.
-- "Tell me this isn't a joke!"
-- "No duuude..(chew, chew)... Who is she anyway, your psycho ex-girlfriend?"
-- "Where is she?"
-- "Beats me... Told ya she seemed pretty upset...(chew, chew)...
about you leaving for Spain I mean... Told me this was the only address
she had in all of Paris."
-- "Well did she say where she was going after? If she was staying
at a hotel?"
-- "(chew, chew) I think she may have gone to the Eiffel Tower."
Ali looked at Sally like she was crazy. To which she just shrugged her
shoulders, spat out her gum and stuck a Marlborough in her mouth.
It was based on this information, that Ali, against all odds, made his
way to the top of the Eiffel Tower to find me.
"As soon as I saw you standing there in your pink pumas, with your
matching pink diary in your hand", He later whispered in my ear in
the plane, "I knew nothing mattered except I had to be with you."
So you see, it did not take much convincing to get him on that plane
with me that very night.
Today, as I hold his hand in mind, and I am getting ready to march downstairs,
the only thing that puzzles me is what could I possibly wish for when I
blow out my birthday candles?
Oh well, guess I'll have to think of something. I always do...