He came to me carzed a few months ago. Mohsen is the golf instructor at the Enghelab (Revolution) Club in Tehran. I am going crazy; I can't sleep at night; I fight with my brother and family, his eyes dashed across the golf course where Koreans and a few Japanese swing their clubs, women wearing a make shift combination of oriental and Islamic headress.
I ask Mohsen, as I've asked many young students, What exactly is wrong? Why are you so anxious?
Not just one thing. The unfairness, I suppose. Look at those bastards driving Toyotas; I couldn't afford one like that if I worked all day for ten years. Sometimes, I just want to explode, to dance, to scream, to slap somebody, anybody!
I have a vision of myself running like the wind at the Imperial Country Club twenty-three years ago; now it's the Enghelab Club. Then, I think to myself, it must be bottled up vigor, god-given vitality of a twenty-three-year old. I have an idea-I can help Mohsen by teaching him meditation-that is what I do anyway.
I say to Mohsen, listen my friend, before you sleep tonight, close your eyes, let the breath ooze into your stomach; feel a wave-like motion in your stomach with each breath; let your mind float like a boat on the waves of your breath. Practice for a week and let me know how it goes.
Several days pass; Mohsen is surrounded by Japanese in the golf course. He waves to me; he has friend along who asks me if I'm related to Dr. Abol Ghassem Naficy. Yes, he was my uncle.
Oh, nice to meet you, your uncle was my pediatrician when I was a boy.
Dr. Naficy! (I'm not a Doctor), Mohsen is excited, smiling, grabbing my attention. I'm feeling better. At night, I just drift off into my breath; I have made friends with my Soul, I'm not interested in fighting people.
I am happy for Mohsen. He does look better, calmer, his eyes are not darting. He tells me he now has enough courage to go to the girls' tables and introduce himself. I don't even want to get laid, he is proud.
The post-revolution women at the Enghelab Club are all very beautiful, yet, they seem insecure and self-conscious under tons of makeup. They sit under the old pine trees flirting on their mobile phones with boys sitting across at different tables. The Morality Guard keep a close watch for immoral activity, yet the youth have found a way to exchange mobile phone numbers written on napkins tossed into trash cans near the cash register.
Once every couple of days, after I teach the morning meditation class, I go off to the Club to run. On the way, I sit and smile behind the traffic light. What a jungle out here. The summer heat, drivers cutting across three lanes of traffic to make a spontaneous U-turn. Fast-food delivery boys buzzing around on motorcycles, like flies. Traffic accidents every fifty meters, people cursing, shaking fists, calling their insurance agents on their mobiles.
Amid all this, I see my friend, the flower man. Ali wears a Zoro hat, he sells roses.
He knocks on my window, Three thousand for one bunch.
No, Ali I don't need any today.
One thousand five hundred, then.
I wish you good health, Ali, but I don't need any today. Tomorrow I will find you and buy roses.
He whisks out a screw driver set. Five hundred for the whole set.
May the Prophet Ali be with you, he pulls out one rose and hands it to me. With a smile he looks at the passenger seat, Can I have your potatoe chips?
We come to an agreement just before the light turns green.
After my run, Mohsen comes puttering along on his uncle's moped. Dr. Naficy, I have come across some money. I can't decide if I should buy a mobile phone or to deposit the money as collateral for a bank loan.
Meditate on it for a couple of days and let me know what you decide.
I drive off to Ramsar for the weekend. The Chalous Road is the one that Reza Shah built. My '77 VW Rabbit dances around the mountainous curves. I stop at the Shahsavar vegetable market; all the produce is colorful, there are at least 30 stalls squeezed together in the shadowy alleys of the bazaar. I buy chicken feet for my puppies in Ramsar. Our beach there is covered with plastic bottles and bags. More plastic rides the waves. Plastic bottles have taken over the countryside. I hire a workman from Akhound Mahaleh to pick up the bottles and seringes from my childhood beach.
The following week, Mohsen approaches at the Club swimming pool.
I decided on the bank deposit, Ostad Naficy. I didn't even have to think. I went off to the Caspian for three days, to contemplate my question at nights, by the fire. The same decision just came to me, every time.
I hired my cousin who drives a car for a rental agency to take me out to the Caspian. On the way back two girls waved us down. They looked to be twenty at most. They sat in the back seat, and after the first turn, the one sitting behind me pulled out a knife and put it to my throat. I pointed to the main artery and told her to cut right there.
Do you really want to die?, the young girl asked.
No, I have come to like my life, was Mohsen's reply.
I don't know why. I ran away from home three years ago. My father was a rich man in the Bazaar; now he builds apartment towers in Tehran. He wanted me to marry one of those rich bastards; he never loved me; when my mother died I ran away. He married again, I hate his wife but I miss my step sister, Sanaz. Anyway, now I am free, high most of the time, and tonight my friend and I are entertaining six men at a client's birthday party.
Mohsen lights up a cigarette at the poolside, Anyway, the two girls rode all the way back to Tehran with us. The one sitting next to me had commited suicide twice; she showed me the razor cuts. Then she unbottoned herself, flashed me her bra, asked if that turned me on.
Well what did you do? Now, I'm half-curious, half-meditation teacher.
Some invisible force kicked me in the butt. Instead of taking the girls to my cousin's place, I told her it was love that turned me on, not lust. I taught her to breathe and talk to her Soul every night- “it's like talking to God”, I assured her.
You're crazy, Allah is up in the skies, she protested.
No, you are God, I told her. You have a mind, you have a will, you have a heart; you can choose between love and hate. Only God has all that power. Breathe into your Soul each night, you will be talking to God.
I am listening to Mohsen deliver a talk he had only heard three weeks before-a sharp student, the thought flashes across my mind. Well, are you dating her now?
No, Ostad Naficy, when I told her about the Soul and the breath within the breath, she became relaxed and her eyelids shut like a doll. She lay her head on my shoulder and she slept all the way to the birthday party.