New York, Thursday April 15
Just got off the phone with Ali. Said he was gonna drop by later. Looking
forward to it actually. We had a good time last Sunday when he came over
with Nance and Hossein. After they got over their initial shock of seeing
our yoga trio that is. Well that's my family. Anyone applying for membership
in my friends' club better be aware of it right off the bat. The best was
my mom. She just got up and taarofed them inside without missing a beat.
Without batting an eyelash. You would have thought she was Majjima herself,
and that this was the normal everyday attire for her. Meanwhile I couldn't
help turning red like a cherry tomato. Nance and Hossein were trying their
best to keep serious but I could see Nance's lower lip trembling from time
to time, a sure sign that she was about to lose control. Ali had the same
bemused look on his face as he had at that birthday party so long ago (it
seems like years ago) where I came made-up like a femme fatale. Well I was
about as fatale that night as an after-dinner mint.
Anyways, bAbA seemed to be happy to have company. If only it would give
him an excuse to shut Majjima up and put an end to this gruesome yoga adventure.
As he put it later, if he wanted meditation and spirituality "Massjedeh
khodemoon miraftam: Ham varzesh mikonan ham doA."
MAmAn took things in control and designated Ali and I as her officiall
little helpers. We were to go to the neighbouring village to Mr. Amini's
bakery, the "White Rose, to pick up some shirnee irooni and fAloudeh.
I asked Ali if he would mind if I changed from my white Mu-Mu dress first.
He replied that he was just sorry he hadn,t brought his own for the occasion.
I flashed him a look that said "You just wait!" and came back
in minutes dressed in regular jeans and T-shirt. I put my leather jacket
on top and we went out.
The drive was nice. Spring was blooming in the air. It was odd because
I seemed to have noticed it for the first time. Ali put on some old school
Iranian stuff. It was Marzieh's "Bouye-Jouye Mulian". It was
nice but it made me sad. It reminded me when I used to walk in my grandfather's
house, the stereo was always playing some bautiful ancient melody and even
though I couldn't quite catch every word in these Iranian songs, the tone
of the voice and the musical notes were enough to fill me with an unexplainable
nostalgia and melancholy. Ali must have noticed it because he stopped the
-- "Sorry... This is the last thing you should be listening to right
-- "No, no... Put it back on... I don't know why, it makes me feel
sad but good at the same time."
He looked at me from the corner of his eyes, as he was driving, and he
put the tape back without saying anything more.
Ever since that day, he has called a couple of times. It is nice to hear
his voice. It gives me a sense of comfort. In fact I remember I had once
thought before how soothing his voice is.
Just now he has asked me whether it would be okay if he dropped by again
some time. He really enjoyed that fAloudeh we had last time. I am happy
that he has suggested it. Oh, I hear the sound of a car in the driveway.
Could it be him already? How could he get here so fast? He must have been
in the neighbourhood when he called...
I went to open the door with a big stupid smile on my face. When I saw him
standing there, his finger about to press on our doorbell, I felt my smile
freeze on my lips. It was Peerooz.
I instantly pressed my finger to my lips, giving him the sign to stay
quiet, and gently led him outside by the arm. I closed the door behind me
and we sat on my front steps.
-- (Whispering) "Please be quiet, my parents are upstairs and I
don't want them disturbed."
-- "Sure, sure... Anything you ask..."
He hadn't changed a bit. It's funny that I thought he would have. Maybe
it's because I thought of him now as a different person, and I expected
this change in my heart to appear on his physical traits.
As always, neat, prim and proper. One of those faux casual looks, you
know the ones. They are supposed to say "Oh this old thing? I just
threw it on and rushed out the door." But really the outfit has been
pre-designed from top to bottom on the pages of GQ Magazine. MAmAn would
be proud. I on the other hand always succeed in creating the impression:
"From what Salvation Army thrift shop did she fish those raggedy clothes
from?" No exception today: Got my muddy Nikes on, a pair of old jeans,
and an T-shirt 1 size too small that I used to wear in high school. You
know I am a child of the 80s when I wear a T-shirt that spells "Fragglerock"
in shiny pink beads across the chest.
As I looked at Peerooz sitting there, I don't know why I kept going back
in my mind to the movie Network. This is one of the great American
movies of the 70s, the best decade in cinema as far as I am concerned.
Network was taking a satiric look at how the media has completely
obliterated any sincere, real human emotion. In fact, television does not
reflect the realities of every day life, it is humans that mimic the phony
reality presented in countless game shows, sitcoms, movies of the week etc.
But I digress. (Still, it's a great movie, way ahead of its time, I can't
help getting carried away!).
So to come back to my point, as I was looking at Peerooz about to open
his mouth and launch into one of his best hearfelt performances, all I could
keep thinking of was the scene in Network where the main character
and his wife are having this huge domestic dispute after she has discovered
he was cheating on her, and finally the husband says (and I paraphrase):
"Look at us! What are we doing? Even this fight we're having isn't
real. It is as phony as a bad tv screenplay. We are not yelling at each
other because we want to but because we think we have to, because that is
how we ought to react..."
So I made up my mind. I couldn't go through with another charade. I didn't
have the energy. I already knew what Peerooz was going to say, (it just
happened, she didn't mean anything, or we didn't have any commitment, etc
etc), what I was supposed to respond (You no good cold hearted sunuvabitch
etc etc). But what for? What for? Maybe 6 months ago, I would have eagerly
participated in our third-rate soap opera, but now I simply had other priorities.
I had to keep myself sane enough to deal with my father's crisis.
So before Peerooz could open his mouth, I motioned to him to keep quiet
and I whispered to him softly:
-- "Okay... Before you say anything... Hear ME out... Whatever it
is you have come here to say, consider it said. Consider it heard by me.
And whatever response you expect from me, tell me what it is and I will
say it for you. Word for word. You can even write it down for me and I will
read it to you... Because I know why you have come here... You feel guilty.
You feel like a bad guy, and you want forgiveness or closure or whatever
that will help you go on living life at the fullest. Consider it done,
given! I will do anything as long as you promise one thing."
-- "Anything, Naz, I will do anything to help you."
-- "Get back in your car, drive back to where you came from, and
forever forget this address. Forever forget my name. Forever forget I exist.
My family is going through something right now and we need peace and quiet
and positive thoughts. We need to be left ALONE!"
Peerooz looked like a Mike Piazza-thrown baseball had just hit him hard
in the face. It was the first time I had ever seen him so disconcerted.
He is usually so sure of himself, so arrogant. No wait. He had gotten this
way once before when he had seen Ali at Bruce's gallery. At this moment,
the color had drained from his face in a similar manner.
Tears welled up in his eyes as he looked at me. He could only muster
up the strength to say these few words before he got himself up and back
into his car:
-- "NAzanin...What can I say? I've been a bastard. I'm sorry. I
will do what you want..."
And with that he drove away.