Setting: A man is lying down in the middle of the street. The parallel lines surround him on both sides. A man’s voice can be heard from the back of the set.
Man’s voice: Turn green! Please turn green.
Woman’s voice: Oh my God! It’s growing back again, thicker and blacker. How can I get rid this damn hair on my chin? One hair is making my life miserable!
Traffic noise fills the set. Several honking horns can be heard.
Woman’s voice: Oh dear! Look! There’s something in the street; don’t run over it! Be careful! What is that?
Man’s voice: Humm… Whatever it is, it’s blocking the road, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s a tree trunk.
Woman’s voice: What tree trunk? It looks like a trash bag. It must have fallen off a garbage truck.
Man’s voice: Tree trunk, trash bag or even a giant sausage, what difference does it make madam? We can’t run over it, can we? We will be late today.
Woman’s voice (Getting agitated): Don’t get started with me mister; it’s too early in the morning.
Horns can be heard. The screech of cars abruptly coming to a stop fills the set and people are heard yelling and complaining. The woman walks to the center of the stage with her husband while turning her head to the corner of the stage.
Woman: Are you blind? Don’t you see the road is blocked? Why the hell are you honking your horn?
Woman: (To her husband) Look! It’s a man lying down in the middle of the street!
Husband: (While walking toward the man lying down) Something must have happened to him.
Man: (Puts his head on his chest) He is alive and breathing. But why is he lying down? Can you hear me? Is anything wrong? Are you hurt?
Two men and two women run to the center of the set.
A man: Look how he has crossed his hands over his chest. I bet you he is lying down here waiting for cars to run him over. Maybe he is yogi trying to see how much pain he can tolerate. I have read about them. They eat one raisin a day and meditate, and that’s all they do in their entire life. I heard they could sleep on a bed of nails. They are very interesting people.
A young man gets close to the center, tip toeing and while he is holding his finger on his lips inviting everyone to be quiet. He circles around and suddenly jumps up and down and bursts into laughter and screams in excitement.
Young man: I caught you! You’re not dead. People! Don’t be fooled. He is an actor. Not a good one either. He is pretending to be dead but I can clearly see his eyelashes moving.
The young man throws his hands in the air in disappointment and acts like a director angry at the performance of his amateur actor and scolds: Shame on you! What kind of actor are you? You can’t even play dead? You have no future in this business.
Man lying down in the street shows no reaction. The young man joyfully approaches him and tickles him (this unexpected move makes everyone laugh). Since he sees no reaction from the man on the street, he laughs sadistically and leaves the set.
A man with hat, who is irritated by the young man’s action, looks up to the sky and prays: Dear God! Would you please give this fellow a little common sense, and to me, lots of money? People are losing their heads these days.
A cleric walks rapidly to the center and as he prays and blows in all directions for blessings, gets close to the lying man and curses everyone for laughing in the presence of the deceased. He inspects the man on the ground and when he discovers that the man is not yet dead, stands up and furiously leaves the set without saying a word. Another man gets close and grabs him by the armpits to help him up but he shakes his body and releases himself and lies back on the ground again.
A woman: What should we do now? This man has no intention of getting up and we are all late for work. Obviously he does not understand that others have a life to run.
A man wearing glasses points his finger at the lying man and says: Dear sir! Middle of the street is no place to sleep! Imagine if a foreign reporter shows up right this moment and takes pictures of us in this ridiculous situation. Do you know what’s going to happen next? I tell you what. Tomorrow you will be on the front page of every major newspaper in the world and the whole world would laugh at our nation. Then everyone across the globe think that we are a bunch of nincompoops. All we need in the midst of this recession is bad publicity. Do you really think any tourist in his right mind would come to our country and spend money here? Have you ever thought of that? Do you have any idea how desperately our country needs foreign currency to survive?
Another man goes to the center: Please! Leave him alone. This man is insane, that’s all. You can’t expect a lunatic to understand our economic problems, can you?
At this moment a well-dressed middle-age man who looks a little demented, walks to the center and as he stares at everyone, walks around the lying man and suddenly throws his hands in the air and recites:
In the pointless repetition of history
The wise befuddled and astonished meditates
To write the poem of life
To perpetuate the seconds of time
And at the glorious birth of a bubble
Celebrates, drinks and stamps his feet in joy
But the clever insane
In the sadness of his solitude
Sneers and contemplates,
To the end of this game
Yes, only the insane
Liberated from wisdom and wealth
Is thinking of the end
Is thinking of the death
Yes, only the insane
Only the insane…
And before he is finished reciting a man shouts: People! Don’t take him seriously! I know this man! He used to be normal but after a car hit him, he became a poet. Believe me, nothing he says is worth listening. Nothing he says makes sense.
A man who is agitated by this show goes to the center and says: Dear God! Save us all today! The city has been invaded by a bunch of nitwits. Someone is lying in the middle of the street and we have gathered around him like a bunch of idiots. One fool recites a nonsense poem to support his cause. One says he is a yogi testing his tolerance for pain. Another says he is an amateur actor and the other one is lecturing us on economic theory. Ladies and gentlemen! This man is planning to kill himself. Why? We don’t know and frankly it’s none of our business. Don’t you all think we should keep our nose out of other people’s business?
A well-dressed man continues: I totally agree. We must learn to live our lives and let others do the same. We must learn to respect the privacy of others. That’s what civilized people do. This man has the right to live or not to live and we must respect his wish.
Woman: But he has chosen to die a horrible death.
A man: He does not respect others. He is the one who’s interrupting lives of other people. He is the troublemaker. If he really wants to commit suicide, why does he have to do it this way? Look! There are many tall buildings around us. Can’s he just jump off one them and finish the job? He’s a show-off I say, a show-off. Lying here at this time of the day when everyone is rushing to work shows your disrespect for others. You are so excited about the civil rights of all citizens. But what about our rights? I have lived in democratic countries for years. Under the law, his rights are protected as long as he does not violate the rights of others. The fact that he has decided not live is one side of the story, but his method is highly questionable, even immoral. He is causing trouble for others too. Do you have any idea what kind of legal troubles we have to go through if we hit him? What about our rights?
One of the drivers: Bravo! Well spoken! You made your point sir! This is the problem in our society! Individualism! This man is thinking only about himself. The end justifies his means. This is the issue!
All silently nod in agreement. After a few seconds the man lying in the center gets up and walks toward a large building on the corner and all rush to their cars and leave the set.
Wife: What time is it?
Husband: A few minutes after 8. We are not that late yet.
Subscribe to The Iranian newsletter
Sign up for our daily newsletter to get the top news stories delivered to your inbox.