The taxi, even compared to the rather old looking ones around it, is pretty archaic. So unlike the driver, who seems to be a good natured man. Just over the hill maybe. I have left school with a television set going on full blast in the main hallway and about 3 dozen males… and not a single female… literally in the screen.
The game should be over by now, and I can just ask the result. Not that I have ever been a big soccer fan. The only game I've ever watched from start to finish was Iran vs. Australia and that was purely patriotic. But so is this. I could not give the light of day to any soccer player or soccer team sprinting that ball into the gargantuan field. But this is Iran playing. And that's when things get personal.
Back in the lab, I've thought that I've kept good track of their scores by the screams of the guys outside. But apparently, some of their yelling has been without reasonable case. If I count based on the number of screams, I would have had Iran winning at least 2-0.
Asking the driver now about the score, he tells me that it's run overtime and the two teams are tied at 1-1. The streets and even the highway are rather empty for this time of day. Is everyone crowded into their screen like the guys I saw at school?
The radio is going on full blast, and the analyst – in a boring style which is Iran's own – goes on with his report. All the time I am excited, eager, and even a bit nervous. Throughout the drive, the analyst reports one close goal for China after the other. He continues each statement with the fact that the Iranians are very much looking forward to penalty shots. If so, Iran will surely win, he promises.
I have no idea what he's talking about, but I silently pray for the penatly shots – yes, ignorance can be a dangerous thing.
The first half is over, and we wait for the next 15. I get out of the taxi, just when the diver announces his next stop – Mirdamad. Exactly where I want to go. I sit back in, not looking forward to hearing more of the game. I just want it to be over. I want Iran to win and I want to hear the result. But alas … I listen to the entire second half.
And I guess the analyst's prayers have been answerd because the game is to be decided by penalty shots. And my taxi has reached its stop. I get out to leave again, when he annouches he will be going further up – towards my home. I am the only one who sits back, and nervously looks at the driver. He has not said a word. Usually, drivers like to talk. I guess he is the exception.
Being the big soccer expert that I am, I've always said that the penalty shots are an unfair, unsportsman way to win. If the two teams have played for this long, without producing a winner, doesn't that prove that they are, in fact, equal? That either there should be another game another day, or that they sould both win together? But alas … the injustices in the world… of which this is one.
The first shot goes to China. She makes it in, all the way. It's just a matter of numbers now. Just going one unit above the other… After Iran's, one more goal for china, and then her next does not make it in. The driver yelps quietly. Then apolgoizes. I am ecstatic.
We're almost there … We'll come out the winners. We beat 'em. We'll make it to the finals. All these people sitting at home glued to their screens will yelp with joy… We will most probably even win the finals. Iran will be the next victor of Asia… my mind goes on and on.
And I guess my story is Sobhi's story of the man who spent months gathering his small jars of oil to save up for a huge barrel. He imagines in his head that he will take the barrel to the governor, and once there, will manage to make his way into the governor's heart. They will make good friends, and eventually he will be given the right to win the governor's daughter's hand in marriage.
This will put him next in line for the throne. When the governor dies, he will become ruler of the kingdom. He will have all the fortunes in the world, and no one will be permitted to look down at him. If, even for a second, one of the servants looks at him with disrespect, he will raise his hand and sharply place it on the servant's head… All of a sudden he hears the loud thud of his barrel breaking. The hand he had raised to beat the imaginery servant, manages to break the real pot of oil … and his day dreams with it.
And suddenly comes the announcer's voice. In what seems like a split second, all my thoughts are scratched, broken, and in compete disarray.
Am I hearing wrong? Or did he just say that Iran lost? Is there some sort of mistake? But there are no mistakes. And I have almost reached home.
I pay the driver as he silently shakes his head, and finally, after this long ride together, head out the door. The announcer's voice sounds different. Has he been crying, I wonder?
Just another defining moment where great dissapointments and glorious victories don't seem that far apart.