Zoroastrian Poem

Part of him was eaten by nature and the rest by sharks


Zoroastrian Poem
by Azarin Sadegh

My friend Dolly was the last one who saw P. alive.

Peter Rostopovich Stihotvoreniev was Dolly’s boyfriend, but everybody had already forgotten his full name. It was Dolly who introduced him as P.

We were both poets. Living in this town, surrounded by the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the tang of civilization had dispersed in the salty waves of our encircling borders and we were slowly being isolated by the rest of the world.

A narrow path was the only link between the city and the continent. Many immigrants had found refuge in this far island and we suspected they could be escaping from something horrific in their past. Their language was combined of languages we couldn’t speak. Their literature, incomprehensible.

Dolly loved P. to death, and couldn’t stop talking about his uniqueness and the depth of his fragility. “He’s going to be famous,” she liked to remind me.

P. never published his poems.

One day, l got a call from a hysterical Dolly. “He’s dead,” she screamed. She sounded crazy and hopeless. “He jumped off the lighthouse into the ocean,” she said and cried for three hours and twenty four minutes.

I didn’t hang up.

“Isn’t it poetic?” She was rumbling and crying and I was hungry.

For the days to come, we mourned the death of P.’s hopes, but as his body wasn’t yet discovered, his funeral didn’t satisfy Dolly. “Who knows…he could be still alive,” she thought. Dolly liked to dream. She read again all the books at the library and watched every show on TV. She erred in the streets and on the beach. In all places P. liked to go when he was inspired by a poem. She frequented bars and befriended with those foreigners.

I was worried about her. She was leaving her heritage to mingle with those strangers, as if they were the only ones showing some empathy toward her loss. Dolly resembled someone I didn’t know. She wasn’t my best friend anymore. “I miss his poems,” she said. “I can’t live without his poetry.”

On the day of my murder, she broke the door of my bedroom and woke me up by rubbing her nails on my cheeks. “The fishermen found him,” she screamed and cried. “You come with me to identify his body.”

I refused to go. “You should’ve called his father or perhaps his mother, not me,” I said.

“He has nobody,” she said. “You can’t do this to me,” she shouted.

Since I couldn’t do this to her, I finally gave in. We went to the morgue together. P.’s body was covered in white plastic wrap. Dolly watched him with eyes wide open and I kept mine closed. I smelled the stench. I heard the crackling of bones. I swallowed the elixir of death on my tongue.

As we came back to my apartment, Dolly emptied the whole bottle of Whisky. It was before describing in details everything that I was afraid to look at, like the state of his teeth or his decaying toes. “Like a rotten poem,” she said.

“What do you expect?” I said. “His body had floated for weeks in the ocean.”

“Salt and sun had even penetrated his bones,” she said, “like Zoroastrian mythology.”

I didn’t want to listen to any nasty story about ghosts or dead past. “What’s so Zoroastrian about P.?” I asked.

“Zoroastrians didn’t bury their dead,” she said. “It was in the Persian history book.”

I shrugged. I didn’t know much about Persia. Was there any Persian among those immigrants in our town? I wondered.

“Zoroastrians used to leave the old and the dying at the top of mountains, so vultures could eat them,” she said.

I looked at her with interest.

Her eyes were shining like a bird. “It’s what he did then,” she said. “Don’t you see the symbolism? Part of him was eaten by nature and the rest by sharks, like Zoroastrians.”

 “Whatever,” I said. It was always hard to argue with Dolly.

She stepped forward. Her nose touched my nose and her breath was shoved in my throat.

Dolly was a smoker, I thought.

“He was a true poet,” she whispered, her lips almost touching mine. “Not like you,” she said. “Now, it’s your chance to become a poet like him.”

A hundred voices in my head chanted, you’re no poet, you’re no poet. “I’m no poet,” I said.

“Bullshit,” Dolly said and her saliva fell on my face. “Without poetry this town’s gonna die in history. Like Zarostrians.”

My heart pounded and the earth turned. “I’m not going to use him,” I screamed. “I’m no vulture.”

“Don’t you see?” Dolly asked. “You’re going to save these people. Saving all of us.”

“If he had made more effort,” I whispered, “if he had written one single poem worth saving…” I was afraid of my own ability to communicate.

Dolly’s eyes welled with desperate tears. “Don’t break my promises,” she said. “I had made a pact with…” She didn’t finish her sentence, but smiled like a liar.

“I’m not responsible for your lies,” I screamed. “Besides, I’ve never read any of his poems.”

“Does it even matter?” Dolly yelled. “He’s dead now. You’re heartless. Even those foreigners have pity for him.”

“He wasn’t even original,” I said. “He copied over Zoroastrians rituals…” The way Dolly looked at me, I was persuaded that Dolly was going to hit me. “You’re going to beat me up for the sake of poetry?”

Dolly grabbed my neck and I yelled, pushing her chest. “But poetry’s dead,” I said and pushed her harder. My voice opened the door of my apartment and my neighbors – all immigrants - rushed in. They couldn’t understand what we were fighting for.

My force threw Dolly on the ground. Her head hit the table and broke it in pieces. But she didn’t faint. She looked for a sharp piece of glass to attack me.

Our spectators cheered.

Drowning in the flow of my emotions, I had hallucinations about poetry, but it was too noisy for expressing my feelings. I looked at Dolly’s rage and stepped backward. Her eyes bulged and blood covered her forehead. Each step she took, I took one step backward. As I was watching her moves, a first line of a poem came to my mind. But it was no more a time for poetry.

In my last step, I hit the wall.

Dolly chuckled.

“Wait,” I screamed. “I have the poem now.”

“About what?” she asked.

“About me,” I said. “It’s always about me.”

Dolly glanced at the crowd of foreigners.  “Anyway, it’s already too late,” she said, forcing the sharp object in my flesh. “Nobody’s going to save the poetry now...and it’s all your fault.”

Before I fell, the coucou clock I had inherited from my grandmother announced the time. It was the last word I ever heard.  The last word I ever repeated, lost in the commotion of foreign wonderings.

My last word that was never understood.


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more from Azarin Sadegh
Azarin Sadegh

My dear Irandokht,

by Azarin Sadegh on

The beauty of the literature is its endlessness in the way it defies the borders of our common reality in the most imaginative way!!

My favorite author Orhan Pamuk starts his "My name is Red" like this: "I am nothing but a corpse now, a body at the bottom of a well..." Have you ever read anything more intriguing than this one first sentence in a novel? I find it even better than Metamorphosis's first sentence!



At first the story felt too

by Dolly (not verified) on

At first the story felt too random, but then I realized the author was toying with the readers' minds. Masterful crafting of story, and extraordinary imagination. Two thumbs up.

Azarin Sadegh

Thanks Zion!

by Azarin Sadegh on

I find your interpretation of the story fascinating! It shows how each reader - through his/her particular reading - gives a new meaning to the same story...

It’s almost as if there is a writer within each reader with a new story to tell.



Tragedies of the modern

by Zion on

Dear Azarin,
That was a truly thrilling story. I especially like your choice of a Russian name for your tragic hero/victim. Russia was the land that suffered most in its traditional-modern transition (an it has not completed it yet!)

Actually this superposition of Russian victim and Zoroastrianism has got me thinking again. Now that I look at it, there are some peculiar similarities between the Russian and Iranian experience and fate. That gives a different bend on the consequences of the Iranian revolution we are all trapped into one way or the other.


Azarin jan

by IRANdokht on

Your "user guide" helped me a lot! Unfortunately I have always been too dense to pick up on the subtle meanings and symbolism. I remember the Literature classes I took in college and I always needed some hints and input to be able to go that deep in.

Thanks for shedding the light on it, I had to read the story all over again ;-) and then I went ohhhhhhhhhhh! as the light bulb went on over my head (this time I figured how the protagonist can tell the story after her death!)




Azarin jaan

by feshangi unable to log in (not verified) on

I just read your essay. It was written before I joined Iranian.com. It was a very insightful piece and I enjoyed reading it very much. I did not know the meaning of Azarin. I thought it was related to being an Azari. Now I know, thanks to you.

Azarin Sadegh

Dear Feshangi,

by Azarin Sadegh on

Thank you so much for your kind words...but you didn't have to post another  comment just to fix the misspelling of my name in the first one...Really! 

Actually I'm pretty used to be called in all different forms and shapes and original variations of my name!! I even wrote an essay about it a while ago..:-)


Thanks again, Azarin



Azarin jaan

by feshangi unable to log in (not verified) on

Please forgive me as my computer is acting up and I misspelt you name.

My message is the same. I really enjoyed reading your story. It is dark, many layered, complex, and beautifully written.

Azarin Sadegh

Thanks Irandokht Jan!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Wow...Thanks my dear!

If I had to write a comment to praise myself, I wouldn't have been able to congratulate myself the way you do in your comment!!

But about your questions: I rather keep the source of my inspiration secret! Honestly, I am not even sure if those people were actually responsible for such strange writing. Basically their main conflict was a power struggle…but sometimes, I just start writing with a vague idea of my protagonist and the main conflict at his/her life…but many times I end up writing about a totally different conflict…like this particular story!

The other factor could be the last scene I was working on for my novel ...it was about the Zoroastrians way of disposal of their dead, etc… 

So, I hope it explains my particular mindset that resulted in writing this bizarre and "nightmarish" story!

Thanks again, Azarin


Azadeh jan

by feshangi unable to log in (not verified) on

I enjoyed your story very much.
Dark and unpredictable just the way I like my stories.

Azarin Sadegh

User's guide and disclaimers!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Thanks Nazy jan for your nice comment!

First of all, I have to  add my usual disclaimer: This story is pure fiction and these characters are fictional!

Second, I love your interpretation of the story (even if it’s different from mine), but I think it’s absolutely normal and it’s even how it should be. My stories are pretty much open to any interpretations! As much as you read them, I’ll be happy and honored..:-)

Now let’s talk about your suggestion: Honestly, I have to say that I was a bit surprised by the idea of adding more clarification, especially that it came from my favorite writer on IC! But since you’ve asked, I am going to add my own interpretation, but please feel free to ignore it totally..:-)

The protagonist and Dolly live in a city invaded by foreigners (reference to a cultural invasion). The city represents “traditions” and an isolated culture which refuses to see the good in anything non-traditional or foreign.

P. the poet (with his Russian name and his foreigner friends) represents this dilemma between traditions and the acceptance of new cultures.

 Poetry represents purity (or pure traditions).

The protagonist (who has this ability to write poems just about “me, me, me”) represents the failure or death of traditional mindsets.

Dolly represents this detachment of the past and opening up to new cultures, still my prediction is that she cannot survive out of regret I guess..:)

But you could be right! If Dolly has killed P., it means it could have happened in one of her bursts of remorse over her betrayal of traditional values. And that’s why she’s so desperate to produce a poem by the protagonist…But after all, at the end she realizes there’s no more need …the poetry like the old and the dying Zoroastrians is already dead (since the foreigners have already broken the door and have invaded their apartment.)

The winners? I guess the foreigners who cheer them up and have no idea about the context of this struggle…

Voila! It was my interpretation of the day! Tomorrow I might come up with the opposite..:-)

Thanks again for reading my story! I really appreciate and value your feedback!



I agree with Nazy

by IRANdokht on

Once I start reading your stories I can't stop, I have to devour it all the way to the end in one big gulp!

Grabbing and mesmerizing to the last word.

I wonder what the inspiration for this one came from... Who were these dark people and where did they come from? Your imagination is just mind boggling.

Well done Azarin! You go girl! :0)


Nazy Kaviani

All the way till the last fullstop...

by Nazy Kaviani on

Dear Azarin:

What a tale of multi-tiered betrayal! Everybody was or felt betrayed by everybody in your story! I think that witch, Dolly, who was no doll at all, killed her beloved P., too!

I think the one level of betrayal I most understood in your story is what people think and expect of each other and how easy it is for them to feel betrayed if those expectations are not met. Dolly, representing some others, I guess, expected P. and the storyteller to be poets, and they weren't! Hence her disappointment and feelings of betrayal which moved her to do unexpected things.

Your stories are becoming so complex and unpredictable, Azarin! You really should start leaving "clarification comments" with them so that we can understand the mood and the conditions and the conclusions shaping your writing process! Some type of "User's Guide!" Kidding aside, in all of this, the writer in you has fully emerged, grabbing us by our collars or by our hearts, pulling us with her until the very last word, until that last fullstop! Congratulations and well done, my dear!