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ALI catches sight of plaque on coffin and starts to cry



January 25, 2006

JEZ, a young hearse driver, is parked on Chiswick High Road in London. His colleagues are in a pub having lunch. Half asleep, he hears a noise. Two men – MEHRDAD and ALI – are trying to get the coffin out of the back of the vehicle. He rushes out and shouts “What’s going on?” ALI shouts “The deal is off”. JEZ asks which deal. ALI says speak to your boss. JEZ attempts a citizen's arrest, but is gently overpowered (“It’s my father, I’m taking him” says Ali). JEZ looks on in disbelief.

ALI catches sight of plaque on coffin and starts to cry.

Ali, geryeh nakon ahmagh, alon vaghtesh neest,” says Mehrdad (subtitles: stop crying you nob, this ain't the time.) “Saresho begeer” - come on.

Ya Abolfazl!” they both shout, lifting the coffin up and carrying it across the road to Ali's van. On its side is emblazoned: “SUPER ALI-MARKET” and in a smaller font: “POLSKI SKLEP” a nod to his Polish customers.

JEZ calls the cops.

ALI and MEHRDAD put coffin down on ground for breath. ALI sends MEHRDAD to pick up flower arrangement of the word “BABA” from THE HEARSE. JEZ protests but one of the CORTEGE BOYS stops him (“Let them have it, they’ve got the body”).

THE GENERAL, an old man ALI happens to know walks by. “Salaam teemsar”. They exchange pleasantries. THE GENERAL asks who’s in the coffin, ALI explains. THE GENERAL says he’s sorry and offers a hand. ALI says “Too kind, we’re okay”. They agree to have a chello kebab soon. Then ALI gives MEHRDAD a look and they slide the coffin into the van, chucking bags of Tilda basmati rice and crates of Coke out of the way.

A police van pulls up. THE OFFICERS take ALI and MEHRDAD aside. It turns out ALI had asked the funeral company if burying a Muslim in a Jewish ceremony might merit a discount. ALI is pressed as to why he insisted on a discount. With a tear in his eye he says: “It’s what my father would have wanted.”

For letters section
To Peyvand Khorsandi

Peyvand Khorsandi




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