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Starry nights
Book excerpts

April 25, 2004

Excerpts from Majid Beenteha's "Once Upon a Star" (2003, Avesta Publishing Group, New York). Ten dollars from sale of each book will be donated to Iranian charities.

From chapter "Introduction"
When I was a child,
I believed in many things: ghosts,
dragons, witches, monsters, devils, and gods.

I believed in all that was impossible and all that was improbable.

Dreams were the masters of my soul -- all that I was worth.

When I was a child, good and evil had one face,
one heart, one soul; they traveled on one road.

I thought I was invincible; I saw no end and I sought none ...

From chapter "Starry Nights"
Before my sleepy eyes, the stars tiptoed their way over our house to kiss me off to sleep. Through the window of my room, I would cast my dreamy eyes on their faces and try to imagine myself among them. The sound of their laughter, their chatter and their songs chased away the silence of my room. I had become familiar with the dance of these celestial bodies as they waltzed by in the shimmering skies. I made many attempts to count them all, only to run out of numbers. I connected their glittering figures by drawing imaginary lines to form patterns and shapes of fantastic creatures on which I bestowed magical names.

The skies were the playground of my imagination, the stars my knightly, handsome companions whose faces I had sketched hundreds of times in my little drawing book. I had shared my secrets with them and they had patiently listened and bared their shining souls to me...

From chapter "Fallen Star"
I stood there naked like a lone figure beneath the blinding stare of the heavens; casting no shadow. It seemed I had drifted like a ship into the heart of a storm without a mast--without an anchor. I longed for the touch of life, with all of its imperfections, to escape the loneliness.
Instead, all that life granted was a peer into the depth of its indifference and a snobbish nudge from its dark, broad shoulders ...

From chapter "Neda"
Neda said, "Listen well, child, and try to hold on to every word I am about to tell you. Long, long ago in this city lived people of great might. The city was full of life, and the sounds of laughter and music echoed through its walls. The people gathered at this place and celebrated the creation of all things: fire, the sun, and all that nature had given them. Fire was the symbol of their civilization. It signified warmth, passion and power. They were peaceful and just people who lived their lives by following three golden rules: seek wisdom and obey your heart, behave justly and morally, and hold good, positive thoughts. There lived among them great artisans, inventors and philosophers. They lived in harmony with nature, and the city flourished in peace for years--that is, until that cursed day that the Pure Ones arrived at the city's gate.

"They were not unlike other men. They had come from a land far, far away from here that no one had ever heard of. They numbered few and they looked very poor and tired. Naturally, the peace-loving people of the city welcomed them and provided them with shelter and all they needed to live and prosper. For a while they all lived together harmoniously. The Pure Ones had a leader among them whom they called the Great One. He carried a book with him that he called the Great Book. He said that it held the great wisdom of a Great God and that this God had chosen him to deliver and spread the message of the Great Book to all mankind. Thus, soon after his arrival, he set out preaching the words of his God to the people of the city and warned them of a terrible punishment awaiting those who would not believe or obey the words of his God...

From chapter "Penhan"
"But I don't see how that could make one invisible."

Penhan explained, "Allow me to give you another example. Imagine you are sitting among a group of friends. A man approaches and presents you all with a piece of an incomprehensible drawing and inquires to see if you can make out the image that he has sketched. With great enthusiasm one of your friends stands up and proudly exclaims that the image is that of a horse's head. Not wishing to look less intelligent, another one of your friends expresses approvingly...

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