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Part 21
New York, Tuesday March 22

3:00 a.m.
Hmmm... an interesting phenomenon at hand... I seem to have developed insomnia over night. I kind of like it actually. At this time of the night, or morning I should say, in this big great room, staring at trees and the moon outside, in the calm quiet of a suburban neighbourhood, I actually have regained my calm. Maybe it is the lack of noise that is preventing me from sleeping. I mean, in my hole-in-the-wall in the City, I am serenaded day and night by what I like to call the New York City Egalitarian Street Symphony. Honks, obscenities shouted by drunks and junkies, the sound of a slap in the middle of a domestic argument, the fleeting siren of a fire engine, the alarm of a car broken into, the sound of bottles being smashed against the wall. It is a symphony of sounds, admission free to all, no discrimination, no queue to stand in, and it is open all year long. I guess after a while, it blends into your subconscious and you can,t fall into your slumber without these reassuring noises anymore. Here in the burbs, the air is cleaner, which has the strange effect of making me cough for the first few moments I step off the train (I kid you not!), and the deafening silence is interrupted only by the occasional lawnmower or a children's softball game during a Sunday afternoon.

I take the "free time" I now have during the night to re-discover my old room. It is amazing to re-live these faded memories still on the walls: A Poster of River Phoenix (the love of my teeny-bopper life), a School Certificate from when our soccer team won the county championships (I played no role in it, we were all riding on the coattails of our star forward), pictures of my various ballet end of the year shows (my favorite was when I played the Rose in our production of the Little Prince), a dried white rose corsage given to me by my prom date (some guy I had been set up with by Manny as a blind date, he was nice enough but no sparks flied). I have on my dresser many framed old pictures: My dad holding me as a baby in front of a mirror (All Iranian albums have at least ONE picture of someone standing in front of a mirror for some reason), My mom helping me walk among a sea of pigeons in Trafalgar Square, my grandparents as newlyweds in Iran, he holding my sweet little KhAnoom Joon in his arms, both atop a proud white horse. There are no toys, no Barbies, no stuffed animals in my room. When I was sixteen, I decided to stuff them all in a trunk and down in the basement. They are probably being eaten away by moths or termites as we speak. Tonight, I regret that act of rebellion as it would have been nice to stare into the old kind face of Mr. Lapin, my stuffed pink bunny.

On the side of my vanity mirror, I find a sheet of paper, probably stuck there at the peak of my teen-age angst years, on which I wrote, with my clumsy grade 10 handwriting, a Paul Verlaine poem. I guess I have always liked his stuff, even though I am not a big poetry fan. His words always speak to me. I decide to re-read it, and even though it was put there in another lifetime, I find it as soothing as ever at this moment.

Tears drop in my heart,
By Paul Verlaine

Tears rain down in my heart

Like the rain down on the city

Why has this gloom thus

Invaded my Heart?


O the soft rattle of the rain

On the ground and rooftops

For a heart that so aches

O the sound of the rain


Tears rain down with no cause

In this heart that feels sickened

What? Is there no treason?

This grief is without reason


There is no greater pain

Than not knowing why

Without love nor even hate

My heart still so aches.

I wish, like Verlaine, I did not know the cause of my grief. As it stands, I have too much to pick from to give a cause to the pain I feel.

First thing Monday morning, I called the office and let Nance know what was going on. She then transferred me to Grolpy so I could tell him I was taking an indefinite leave of absence. Well, he really went off on me. I guess all those throat clearings had accumulated into a giant ball of phlegm that he finally chose to hurl at me through the phone line. He didn,t let me put in a word edgewise or even ask me what was the matter. In short, if I didn,t materialize instantly before his eyes, I was fired. I thanked him for his option and declared that my resignation letter would be mailed to him as soon as possible. He hung up on me. MAmAn was hovering outside my room and came in when she heard me put down the receiver.

-- Mahale kArett chi goftan?

-- Heechee mAmAni... Everything is okay... Be man morakhassi dAdan as long as I need. No worry!

She seemed relieved, then ask me to come down for breakfast.

Yesterday was the first day scheduled for bAbA's radiation treatment. It wasn't until I came back home and checked my parents, answering machine, listening to all the greetings and well-wishers that I remembered it was also Eide Noruz.

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