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The green scarf
Short story

By Arash Emamzadeh
June 14, 2001
The Iranian

"Is she dead?"

"Well, she is hardly breathing at all, if that's what you mean."

"Why don't you remove the scarf? Didn't you tell me that it's tied around her neck tightly!"

"The person who tied it is the only one who can untie it. This is more complicated than you think...Why are you writing this down?"

"We have been unaware of the truth, but we have the right to know everything," I replied hopelessly. "She is a mother to all of us."

We both looked at her in silence. She was lying on her death bed, all dressed in black. If it was not for her face, lit by the moonlight, her whole being would have dissolved into the confused and corrupt world of darkness. "I told you before that I can only diagnose...I can not cure." The expression on his face was a mixture of understanding and despair.

I approached the bed. "I think he gave it to her as a present," he pointed to the scarf. "He told her that it's because she is so beautiful that she should wear it. He pretended to love her. She didn't know that he was taking advantage of her."

I bent on one knee beside the bed. The round, full moon was shining brightly on her face. The moon had just escaped from behind the clouds that had kept it imprisoned for such a longtime, and was exposing the dark, unconscious world that was always hidden behind the day and the blinding sunshine.

Her eyes were closed. Her eyelids were green, but not from any make-up. Maybe from the lack of breath, the lack of life. Her lips were dark red, the colour of hateful blood covering the colour of innocent love. Between her eyes and lips, a wide band of white skin was visible. There was something unnatural about this whiteness, as if it did not belong to her face. It was not a sign of inner peace or content. It was an indication of sickness and pain.

"And then one day," he started as if he had been silent for years, "I realized that he had a plan all along. He was getting paid to fool her. Secretly, he met with this white guy, the same guy whom, in front of her, he pretended to hate." He paused and then whispered, "How could they treat her like this? You know, he was her cousin. She fully trusted him. Once he knew that she had given herself completely to him, he took advantage of her vulnerability; that's when he tied the scarf around her neck." He looked at me as if he was looking in a mirror. "I tried to warn you but you wouldn't listen. You never paid attention to..." I interrupted him by signaling him to stop.

Her eyes had opened and they fixed on mine. "Why didn't you come home when I needed you." I could not talk. Her words stuck to my brain cells, like leeches, and they sucked up my brain dry, leaving me silent but aching. "I always thought that you were the most understanding one. You disappointed me." I got up and looked out the window. The white moon looked magical. Her words kept on echoing in my head. I felt guilty.

Later on, I remembered the first words he had articulated on his arrival. "I am glad that you were finally able to reach me," he had whispered, standing in the doorway. "You see, I knew everything but couldn't do anything about it. You know less, but you may be able to save her. Words and actions join in a single string. You can be the point where words end and actions begin."

I woke up early. The sunshine was blinding, and the overflowing light was about to pour into the room. The bed was empty and he was gone too. It was a new day, a new brush of light to cover up the worn out reality, but for me, this day was the start of a new understanding of the past and present. I was finally able to see that the beautiful green scarf had fallen into the hands of the wrong man; I saw the ugly intentions of our abusive step-father; I saw our optimist but naive mother who had given her heart away to so many men (the last one worse than the rest of them), in the hope of returning to those early glorious days. Yes, I saw everything, and eversince, I have been trying to forget it all.

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