The political theory that inspired this book is one that espouses and mixes candor and hope, realism and idealism, in a message to all friends of liberty wherever they ply their honorable trade. The immodest hope of the author of this book is for the message of Children of a Lesser Nation to read: no happiness without liberty, no liberty without self-government, no self-government without a just constitution, no constitution without morality—and none of these noble aspirations without stability and order in our world. Ultimately, our future isn’t in the stars, but in our mind and hearts.
Cyrus’s throat is painfully dry as the deafening scream of the alarm clock wakes him up around half past five the following morning. In disbelief, he feels that his throat is about to crack open every time he swallows. Remembering a remedy prescribed by his mother, he gargles warm water with a pinch of salt before taking a shower. He hopes it may temporarily ease the painful dryness.
By the time he washes down two slices of buttered toast with a cup of hot tea sweetened with honey, he senses his body temperature is rising. Determined not to miss the company of Marjân, he rejects the likelihood that he is coming down with a cold, or the flu that has invaded the entire cities in Southwest region, the Asian flu that has almost reached epidemic proportions.
Under the influence of the enjoyable temptation he feels for Marjân, he is adamantly determined―sick or healthy, one-hundred-four-degree temperature or shivering with cold, spend his Saturday with that goddess.
He ingests two extra-strength Tylenol pills, with the expectation that they will do their magic, getting his temperature down to a tolerable level. After putting his gear in the back of his latest model Lexus SUV, he climbs into his car to pick up Marjân. He is anxiously looking forward to having the time of his life with a woman whose image has occupied his mind since their paths crossed. He is so absorbed with thoughts of her that he arrives promptly at six in the morning at her hotel with no memory of driving there. He finds her waiting in the lobby of the downtown Hyatt.
Her long slender legs are tightly covered with soft faded blue jeans, and her shapely upper part is wrapped in a bright yellow short-sleeved T-shirt. A red scarf partially covers her long black hair, which is tied in a bundle at the back of her neck. She is wearing hiking boots, with her jeans tucked into her socks. The way she is dressed, even one who lacks imagination should be able to tell how lovely this woman’s body would be if seen nude. She radiates extraordinary beauty and grace.
Cyrus greets her with a smile and distinctly senses the increase in his heart rate. As he approaches her, he wonders why he went ahead and married someone outside of his own flock, while there where exotic creatures like her that could have saved him from all the trials and turbulence he went through during his divorce. Then again, the bloody revolution in his country had separated him from his own flock before he had an opportunity to meet any of them.
Marjân is strikingly beautiful, self-confident and extraordinarily at ease in the presence of men, and she appears to know her place in life and exactly where she is heading. As for Cyrus, except for his two sisters, of whom he has limited knowledge, he has never known any Iranian women in his adult life. Even about his sisters, he knows nothing about their womanhood, feminism, their true attitudes towards men, their sensitivity, their senses of caring. He is normally shy around women, but it puzzles him as to why he doesn’t feel that way in Marjân’s company. Could it be that she is from the old country? He asks himself. Things are happening so fast that he doesn’t have time to find an answer to such a question as he takes her soft slender hand in his for a firm and sincere handshake.
“Have you had breakfast?” Cyrus asks as he picks up her weather-beaten rucksack.
“Yes I did! How about you?”
“Yes. … Are you ready to go?”
“What do you have in this? It’s so heavy,” Cyrus inquires as he lifts Marjân’s rucksack.
“Some provisions. Aren’t we going for two days?”
“I thought you just wanted to spend one day in the Grand Canyon.”
“You said you’re free for two days, but if you want to only stay one day, it’s alright with me.”
“No, no. I’ve brought everything. We can stay two days, even longer if you wish,” he says, winking devilishly.
“Then, let it be for two days in the company of one of the West’s brilliant lawyers.”
“Thank you for the recognition. This brilliant corporate attorney is delighted to spend his time in the company of one of the most beautiful Persians woman he has ever met,” he gives her the unsolicited compliment to test the extent of her devotion to feminism. He anxiously waits for some sort of comment, ranging from a simple objection to a venomous protest. He is surprisingly delighted to not hear a word, as she throws up her hands in mock despair. She then just gently slaps him on his back with a smile as he puts her rucksack in the back of the SUV. He opens the passenger door for her and jumps in the driver’s seat. As he buckles up and gets ready to drive off, she says, “I hope you won’t send me an invoice for the time you’re going to spend with me.”
He looks at her sideway before he reacts, “Depends solely on the quality of my time with you.”
“Oh, Cyrus! Give me a break. … Where are we going?” she asks not overly concerned.
“We’re going to Flagstaff. You can decide whether you would like to stay in the hotel there after coming back from a day of hiking in the Grand Canyon or stay in the bottom of the canyon and sleep under the stars in near freezing weather.”
“I prefer to spend the night outdoors; I don’t mind the cold,” she says. She holds back the fact that she has been in the Grand Canyon twice before, that she’s very familiar with that magnificent landscape.
“I’ve brought a mountaineering tent for two with me,” Cyrus informs her.
“You might like to sleep in the tent. I’d love to sleep in the open, and preferably without anything between my face and the night sky.”
“You mean with no indoor toilet, no running water or any other conveniences ladies prefer to have,” he says with a smirk.
“I spent my teenage years with my father in our country’s mountains in the summer. So I’ve climbed all the major peaks of our country: Tuchal, Alam Kuh, Takht-e Solaymon, Damavand, Alvand Kuh, Sahand and Sabalan. I love hiking and climbing.”
“Well, where we’re going is hiking down. You might say it’s opposite to hiking up a mountain.”
She remains silent, while he notices how magnificent her profile looks. She invokes a fresh feeling in him―a sort of raw sexual desire that he thought had left him permanently after his divorce. Her naturally red lips, the soft velvety skin and the complexion of her cheeks and throat, her intoxicating calm almond-shaped dark eyes, and shiny black hair, have caused an unparalleled sense of excitement in him. He is consciously trying to not give her any indication that he is irresistibly falling for her.
She breaks the silence and asks, “Were your parents religious? I mean were they devout Muslims?”
“Yes. Both carried on with their religious rituals; the five-times daily prayers―come shine or come rain. They fasted the entire month of Ramezan every year, visited the holy places uninterruptedly, and generously donated money to the local mosque. … May I ask why you asked that particular question?”
“I was wondering whether your conservatism is religiously based, like most others―drilled into you by your parents when you didn’t know your right hand from your left. Or maybe this was something you picked up along the way, thinking that it was an ingenious way to blend in with the rich people of this country who are mostly Republicans?”
“Weren’t we going to just visit the Grand Canyon to enjoy ourselves?” he asks.
“Oh yes, but it doesn’t mean we can’t learn and become more aware about each other. It will definitely help us to get along better and cooperate effectively when and if we decide to work together.”
“If you must know, I vote Republican because I like to pay less taxes and because I’m staunchly pro-business; I don’t approve of homosexuality, let alone their outrageous demand for legalization of their marriages, nor am I in favor of the undocumented and illegal immigrants who are pouring into this country like ants and cockroaches. I don’t like outlandish behaviors under the banners of liberalism and feminism. I want a strong America, so I support a large military budget. In short, I’m a fierce nationalist who likes his country to be number one in every aspect―an America that is exactly the way it was intended to be.”
“In a nutshell, you’re here to look only after your own interest, and to heck with the others; the laborers, brown or black-skinned people, the people who might be slightly different from you, who might not be as fortunate as you are. You want your America to be number one, and you don’t give a damn what happens to other nations.”
“That’s right! Look, I came here as an immigrant, not speaking a word of English, not having enough money to survive for even a month. If I could make it, so can those who wave the flag of the Rainbow Coalition, if they would only get off the welfare lines and get to work. They sure can speak enough English to navigate their way around the welfare system. All they need to do is get off their ass and be willing to work.”
“Are you sure you’re not a member of the skinheads, or a contributor to Christian Coalition causes?”
“As you can see, I have a lot of hair on my head, and if I’m not a Christian, then how can I be a member of a Christian organization?”
“This is the irony of it that you do certainly talk like one of them. I asked you this question before, and I’m going to ask it again. Are you really a happy man?”
“As happy as one can be,” he gives his stock answer that is often heard from the unhappiest people.
“What you’re saying implies that you’ve reached the ultimate level of happiness one can achieve.”
“I guess so.”
“Don’t you understand the absurdity of your statement? Happiness is an undefined relative term at best. You, as the brilliant lawyer apparently everybody thinks you are, go ahead and voluntarily make such an outrageous statement.”
“I mean considering the scheme of things as they are in my life, I’m happy.”
“Have you ever helped anyone in your entire life, I mean a total stranger?”
Cyrus digs deep into the bag of his memories. For the life of him, he doesn’t remember helping any soul. But he knows he cannot remain silent. “Lady, I do more pro bono work than four lawyers put together.”
“That simply means you haven’t. Then how can you tell me that you’re happy? Helping your friends at the Gun Club with their wills or advising your buddies about future and potential corporate mergers and acquisitions don’t count. … By the way, as a lawyer, you should know better. I believe that’s called insider trading and is considered a criminal act.”
Cyrus looks shocked, as if she has hit a raw nerve in him. He has never been a target of such blunt accusatory statements by anyone in his life. He sneezes hard. Although the Tylenol pills have done their work, keeping his temperature down, he hates to think about the fact that he is catching a cold or full-blown flu. He erases the thought from his mind and is determined to be in the same sleeping bag with this dreamy woman somewhere in the wilderness.
“Do you feel alright?” she asks sincerely.
“I feel just fine.”
Cyrus is glad that the grandeur of Sedona’s landscape; the red vertical rocks spectacularly sculpted by the elements over millions of years, surrounded by low pines, have attracted Marjân’s attention so much that she has stopped drilling him. In the absence of her nagging questions, he feels the slight quivering of a chill. He pushes the thought of possibly catching the flu out of his mind again, and keeps reminding himself that this morning’s temperature and the chill now is nothing except a mild cold that two tablets of Extra Strength Tylenol can remedy.