Mammad's Shrimp Moment


bajenaghe naghi
by bajenaghe naghi

The other day Mammad Agha came to see me.  We have been friends for a long time.  I know his family from back home.

That day,  Mammad looked different somehow.  He seemed quiet and introspective.

After a short hello and how are you, he looked me in the eyes and asked, "BN jan, have you ever thought how many personalities you have?"

I honestly did not know what he was asking me.  "I have only one personality. The one I was born with. How many personalities do you have, Mammad Jan?"

"I have two. I think." He said.  He then took the more comfortable chair (my chair), leaving me no choice but to take the lumpy one which is reserved for visitors.  Once nicely settled, he continued:  "One is the one that people see, you see, BN Jan.  I call it Mad .  The other is the one that I go to bed with every night.  His name is Mam.  This second one is the one I have known the longest.  He is the real me.  He is the weak one, the one that is easily hurt, the one that wants to cry when he sees something sad on the television or in a movie. Mam is the child in me that never grew up, the vulnerable and timid one.  He is unsure of himself and always doubts everything he wants to do or say.  Mam was not always such a big pussy.  I remember him when he was brave, outgoing, and gregarious.  He enjoyed people and people enjoyed him.  But something went wrong long long time ago and over time he became deflated.  He stopped to grow. He started to withdraw.  Like quicksand everything was sucked in deep into his belly.  He became shy and unsure of himself.  Became a loner.  "

"So when did all this split personality thing start Mammad Jan."  I asked.

"This is not a split personality, like cybil, BN Jan.  Mam and Mad are me. They are both part of me.  Together they make  Mammad. He said and continued:

"The underlying problem had started much earlier.  Whenever I go back and try to find out when this thing started, one single image comes to my mind.  It is like when you feel sick to your stomach and want to throw up, just after the worst case of diarhia.  You keep thinking about all the meals you've had in the past three days, and every time you burp, you smell and taste the shrimp you had for yesterday's lunch.  You can't prove it, but you know in your heart it was the shrimp that has put you in that dire situation.

Well, my shrimp moment was when I was ten or eleven.  I was sitting in the living room with ten or fifteen adult members of the family.  They were discussing something important about another member.  I can not remember what the topic was.  Then they decided to go around the room so everyone could give their opinion as to what this person should do. Knowing that my turn would soon come, I started preparing my answer.  I had it all sorted out in my young mind and could not wait to amaze everyone with my sage advice.   When my turn finally came, I swallowed and started to say something when my father interrupted and  told everyone that since this was a serious adult matter, that I was only a child and could not have a mature opinion on the topic, I was to be excused and not heard.  I remember I felt devastated.  I had my face down and did not know whether to cry, shout, or run away. I felt small and unworthy.  Yes, this was my shrimp moment and decades later I can still taste it."

"Soon after that painful episode Mad came into being.  He was born of necessity to shield and protect Mam.  He was just a facade, just a show, only to protect the part that lived behind its protective shield, feeling scared and uncertain.  Is it not a shame that life of a person may take a one hundred and eighty degree turn just because of few words uttered by an unknowing parent?  Is it so hard to understand that as much as it is important to set boundries for children, it is also important not to set limits within those boundries.  Not to thwart their natural growth in intellect, reasoning, and self-esteem?"

"From then on I have lived a double life.  A life within a life, a man within a man.  Always running away from people, always thinking they were better than me.  They knew, acted, felt, loved, looked, and deserved better than worthless me."  Mammad lifted his head and looked at me.  His face glistened with sweat that was pouring down his brow and cheeks.  I could see pain in his watery eyes.

"Yesterday, while I was at the soup kitchen, helping to dish out lunch to the hungry, I got to talk to a man who is a regular," Mammad said.  "It was after lunch and he and I were sitting at the dining table having coffee.  The man looked at me in the eyes and as if he could see all the way inside me, said:  'Man, I see so much pain in you.  What are you doing to yourself.  Why are you hiding your true feelings?  Your beautiful self?  Do you think you are the only one with a wounded spirit?  There are millions like you, hiding like Russian nesting dolls, running away from their real selves, stay under the society's radar, scared to reveal who they really are.  Do you think the workaholic who rather spend time at his office than with his family  is different from you?  Or the guy who has a ton of jewelry around his neck or wrist, or the funny man who can not say a sentence without telling you a joke, or the guy who drinks like fish?  These are all different types of shields that people build around themselves so they can hide behind them.  You and they are nothing but sissies hiding from real life.  The truly happy people are those who do not build barriers between themselves and the outside world. You can become one of those. Kick down the barriers, free yourself from being a slave to your past, your fears, your limited vision.  Be brave and let everyone who knows you hear your story.  By telling them you will shatter the ugly armor that is imprisoning you.' "

I looked at my friend's face.  There was no sweat.  There was no sign of pain.  What I saw in front of me was a man who looked liked a liberated man from a long term prison.  He held a widest smile I had ever seen on him.  He looked me in the eyes and asked: "Now do you want to tell me your shrimp moment, BN Jan?"


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bajenaghe naghi

Nazy Jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

Thank you for reading and your comments.

You are very right, we were the Victorian era Persian children of the fifties! And so some of us are real mixed up as the result.

I am sorry for the corporal punishment you received at school.  I did also, too often in the form of tu gooshi.  No child should be hit or beaten at school. 

I remember when my English was worse than what it is now, I used to tell my English school mates that in Iran if you did anything bad at school, the headmaster would carry out capital punishment.  It took me years to realize why after hearing this my young friends would look at me in horror. :-) 

Nazy Kaviani

Dear Bajenagh

by Nazy Kaviani on

What a moving story! Your story sounds familiar to me. Of course parents would not let 10 year old's participate in advice sessions! We were the generation who was supposed to be seen and not heard! I wonder how many kids that young were actually encouraged to speak their minds. My shrimp moments were all at school, where I received physical punishment from our school principal but for some reason never told my parents about it. I really disliked the school as a result and I have carried the taste in my mouth all my life.

Thanks for your sparkling writing and the thought provoking subject, Baji Jan.

bajenaghe naghi

Javane jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

Thank you for reading and your most kind remarks. 

I have also been guilty of insensitivities towards my children for which I have not nor can I ever forgive myself. We say things in haste or anger, or mere laziness of thought which can cause harm to our kids.

I love your Dad's saying. What he told you showed his wisdom and kindness. 


And another great story !

by javaneh29 on

I really enjoy reading your stories BN so thank you for yet another one.

' A shrimp moment' I think you coined a phrase there!I'm going to keep that one!

In my job I hear all kinds of stories from peoples pasts which damaged their confidence in life. And yet Im sure most of the time, those insensitivities were not said with kind of wicked intention.

My dear old dad always used to say 'if you can't think of  something good or useful to say, don't say anything because it can never be unsaid' ... good advise. 


bajenaghe naghi

Anonymouse jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

Thanks for reading.

The virtues and pitfalls of work is entirely another blog! :-)  


My shrimp moment was when I realized work is not supposed2b fun!

by Anonymouse on

Work, work, work, is really Sucks to Canada!  

Everything is sacred

bajenaghe naghi

Tissa Jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

Thank you for reading and your kind response.  Mammad is very brave indeed.  

May be you can recall your moments in writing so we can see for ourselves how brave you are too. :-)



by tissa on

Excellent, thoughtful story.  Brave of your friend to share his shrimp moment with you.  Made me recall my own.

bajenaghe naghi

Niki jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

I am sure a lot of us would love to read about your experiences when you were moved from one school to another.  I was moved once and I was devastated! I can not imagine what a multiple move would do to a child, and the ways he or she will devise to cope. 

Niki Tehranchi

shrimps = yuck

by Niki Tehranchi on

I can't help but think of them as the cockroaches of the sea :(

Very good blog by the way. I can't pinpoint my "shrimp" moment to one single event but rather a series of events, namely, the fact that my family moved constantly and so I was always the new kid in school so you can imagine how many personalities I had to come up with every time in order to fit in!

bajenaghe naghi

shazde Asdola Mirza Jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

As usual I shall be looking forward to reading them. 

Shazde Asdola Mirza

BN jaan: the shrimp analogy got away from me

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Perhaps, it is time to get back to the deeper meaning of your blog, rather than covering my shrimp-moments with jokes.

In my case, there have been so many shrimp-moments in my life that it is hard to say if a certain defining moment ruined things for me, sending me shivering into my closed shell.

But now that you have opened this pandora's box, I promise to write about two s-moments that really had profound effects on me pysche. Just so you know, I will call them my first and second educational lessons in islam.

bajenaghe naghi

Shazde Asdola Mirza Jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

From your answer I understand that you can tell a persian shrimp because they come with a bayze band. I am really getting a great education on IC. :-)

bajenaghe naghi

benross Jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

You are such a good friend to tell me this. Now I know when to keep quiet. Mum's the word. :-)

Shazde Asdola Mirza

BN jaan: there is nothing wrong with the tiny winnee shrimps

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Those come from Asia, as everything is smaller there!

Our Persian gulf shrimps, in contrast, are giant and well endouved. It is like the comparison between someone from Abadan and a little fellow from Thialand.

Oh god, what have I done? Now, I can never even look at another shrimp!


Not a connoisseur BN jan.

by benross on

Not a connoisseur BN jan. But I've seen good ones. It is very risky to claim expertise on shrimps in this site. It is owned by Aabaadaani, virtually under occupation by Aabaadaanis and Bandaries that if they don't get their weekly dose of Bandari music, this place will blow up. So in such situation, claiming expertise in shrimps is suicidal for someone who's coming from diagonally opposite side of the land :-)

bajenaghe naghi

benross Jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

It seems to me that you are another shrimp conesure who knows his shrimps way more than me. :-)



by benross on

These were little teenee winnee ones

In other words, not from Persian Gulf!

bajenaghe naghi

Shazde Asdola Mirza Jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

These were not the ones you usually have. These were little teenee winnee ones that only shrimp non-conesures like me eat. :-)

Shazde Asdola Mirza

No more shrimp for you, BN jan

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Why shrimp? I love shrimp. Now, I can't have shrimp any more.

This is my shrimp-moment, man!

bajenaghe naghi

divaneh jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

Thank you for reading and your kind comments. 

bajenaghe naghi

Red Wine jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

Shoma khayi lotf darid dooste aziz. 

bajenaghe naghi

Ebi jan

by bajenaghe naghi on

Sepaas Aziz :-)


Good read

by divaneh on

A very thought provoking blog BN jaan. There may be pearls inside our shells.

Red Wine


by Red Wine on

Fan of your blogs ... Happy to see you you here again.

Have a lovely weekend dear BN .

ebi amirhosseini

BN aziz

by ebi amirhosseini on

Welcome back.

Ebi aka Haaji