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Part 37
New York, Monday August 15

God, I am so goddamn SCREAMING MAD at Peerooz, at Ali, at all men!

After I extricated myself from Peerooz's slimy arms, I tried to run after Ali but he had disappeared as magically as if he had a flying carpet waiting for him outside on Eighth Avenue.

I couldn't leave my parents of course and just made an excuse on Ali's behalf. I could see mAmAn wanted to probe some foozool questions but a look from bAbA dissuaded her.

Finally yesterday, I just dropped by his house after he failed to show up on our usual jogging route. I had the security guard call him up instead of buzzing him myself because I had a weird intuition that he would hang up on me but he wouldn't want to embarass me in front of the guard. Funny enough, it worked!

I didn't have to knock on his door as he had left it open for me. After looking in some rooms, I finally realized he was sitting outside on his balcony, smoking. I plopped down beside him and took the cigarette from his hand. I took a long drag from it then crushed it in the ashtray.

-- "Okay, let's talk."

-- "I have nothing to say Nazanin... And you don't owe me any explanation so..."

-- "Okay first of all let's cut this bullshit ice treatment... Since you have met my mother, you know I've had to put up with this passive aggressive crap for ages and I can't stand it any longer."

Ali remained silent.

-- "Why did you run away like that last night? You disappointed my parents, but what's more you disappointed me."

At this Ali finally turned to look at me. His eyes had become so cold, they could have been throwing ice bullets.

-- "Disappointed?... That's rich, Nazanin, coming from you..."

He got up and went inside. I followed him.

-- "A-hAn! That's better!... Show some emotion at least instead of shutting me out! How exactly did I disappoint you? Did you even stay long enough to grasp the meaning of what happened last night? Or were you too busy passing judgment on me to stop and ask?"

But I had given up my plan and Ali had sufficiently regained his calm to retreat behind his fortress of ice once again.

-- "Nazanin, you really don't owe me any explanation... We are nothing to each other. It is none of my business that you are back with Peerooz. But it is my choice to stay away from... that... (And here he momentarily seemed to lose his control again)...that piece of human garbage!"

I felt my ears getting hot. So we meant nothing to each other? So I meant nothing to him? Well fine, I had expected that all along. How could he possible feel anything for me, I was so beneath him. I decided to hurt him the best way I could.

-- "Wow Ali! You really enjoy passing judgment on others don't you? You really feel like you are above the rest of us don't you? Did you feel the same way when that girl killed herself over you in Switzerland?"

As soon as I said those words, I regretted them. Ali suddenly turned around and the anger in his face made me think he was actually going to hit me. But the expression passed like a lightning and the anger in Ali's eyes was replaced with another expression, one which chilled me to the depths of my heart: It was a look of immense pity. Without saying another word, he turned and walked out of his apartment.

Tuesday August 16

9:00 a.m.:
I am never EVER going to speak to Ali again. When he calls, I will simply hang up the phone.

Wednesday August 17

5:55 p.m.
Rehearsal went okay...Warbled over some of the lines...

Ali hasn't called... Good! Maybe I shouldn't have said those harsh words, but then again I don't mean anything to him so why did he get so mad? I guess he can't act all haughty and morally superior anymore now that he knows I know about his past...

Thursday August 18

10:32 p.m.
Damn! Just finished a big bowl of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia. Derrick chewed me up like a piece of gum in front of the whole cast and crew. Couldn't sleep well last night and missed one of my cues at today's performance. Fortunately the other actors covered up and the audience didn't notice but Derrick was really mad and let me have it after the show. I didn't feel like going to the cast dinner tonight.

Ali is so stubborn! I can't believe this... After all these months of friendship, we were practically joined at the hip! And he doesn't even bother to call me: What if I had been in a horrible accident? I guess he doesn't care at all!

If he thinks I am going to call him, he has another thing coming.

Sunday August 21

11:02 p.m.
Oh Dear Dear Diary! You must be so tired of the taste of my salty tears on your pages. Why, oh why does happiness elude me? And by my own fault? I am not worthy of it I guess, I am not worthy of ANYTHING.

Tonight after the performance, I couldn't stand it anymore, I went to Ali's to work things out. I mean, I didn't want to lose him as a friend over something as stupid as Peerooz and he never even got to hear what really happened... Not that he would believe me after the way I have been acting!

Well, when I showed up at his lobby, the security guard told me he was gone. Gone? What do you mean gone? Had he left on vacation? The guard would only tell me he had broken his lease and moved out for good. He didn't know of anything else and he hadn't heard of any forwarding address.

In complete denial, still thinking this must be some kind of mistake, I hopped into a cab and floored it to Nance's house. Her husband Hossein would tell me the truth behind his cousin's moving out.

When I arrived there, it was already around 10 p.m. but I took a deep breath and knocked on their door. Fortunately, they were still awake, staying up to watch some TV before heading for bed. One look at my face and Nance tried to make me sit down. But I was like a crazy person. I refused to sit and just kept apologizing and asking them to just give me a quick answer as to where Ali was and I would be out of their hair. When Hossein finally told me Ali had decided to take the Time magazine job in the Paris office after all, and had left before the weekend, I finally sat down.

Nance went to get me some tissues as I sat there on their couch, at 10:30 at night, crying my eyes out.

"It's... all... my... fault...," I managed to utter, in between sobbing fits, "I... shouldn't... have told him..."

Hossein took my hand into his and patted it sympathetically.

-- "What are you talking about Nazanin jAn?... Of course it's not your fault, he just got a good job offer... How has that anything to do with you aziz? I am just surprised he wouldn't have said good-bye to you, he is usually not rude... Mazerat mikhAm az tarafesh...

-- "Naaaahh... (sniffle, sniffle)... Mazerat az maneh.... Taghsseere maneh... I drove him away..."

-- "Oh hush hush Nazanin, how could you drive him away?

-- "Because... I told him..."

-- "Told him what aziz?"

-- "Told him I knew... about Switzerland..."

I felt Hossein's hand suddenly harden its grip.

-- "What do you mean Naz joon... How could you possibly know about that?"

-- "Peerooz... he told me... everything..."

-- "Peerooz???...Told you what?"

-- "He told me... when Ali and him were classmates at Le Rosey... about Ali seducing that... poor girl... and... she killed herself... I threw that in Ali's face!... And now he is gone!"

My sobs doubled in intensity. I felt Hossein release my hand and stand up. I looked up at him. He had his face in his hands.

-- "Oh God... Oh God... Nazanin..."

-- "Hossein?...What?"

-- "Nazanin, Peerooz... I can't believe he would do that... Peerooz lied to you... You got it all backwards..."

-- "What... do you mean?..."

Slowly, a feeling of horror was beginning to creep over me.

-- "Nazanin jAn, this is so hard for me to say... It wasn't Ali who got the girl pregnant when he was a schoolboy in Switzerland... It was... Peerooz..."

Hossein sighed. I looked at him, the horror slowly sinking in, like sand at the bottom of a swamp.

-- "The girl was Parvaneh, my cousin, Ali's sister... She was 15 years old... When Ali found her, she was already cold..."

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