Pilgrim Plight


cyrous moradi
by cyrous moradi

“A pilgrim is a wanderer with purpose”

Yasin had an old wish to visit Mashhad along with his family. There was the tomb of 8th Shiite Imam (Imam Reza, PUH). They were all together five. Two kids, wife plus his mother on wheel chair.

The cost of living and traveling during the last 5 five years were raised sharply. Yasin was an employee in a state run premises in Tehran and his salary according to inflation rate actually has been decreased in the recent years. Yasin was not a man of complain nor grievance. He examined all options. Going Mashhad by tours or doing it individually, at last he decided to go there with any cost. First he borrowed 2million tomans with 27 percent interest from one of famous” Gharzolhasaneh foundations” meaning loaning without interest!!

All train routes from Tehran to Mashhad because of schools’ summer holidays in this season were crowded. After so many times referring to Tehran railway station and its ticket vendors around the city. He succeeded to get 5 seats in Green train. It was relatively Luxury carriage with four seats in each compartment plus dinner and breakfast. The price of return ticket was 46000 tomans (46USD) per head. He paid totally 230000 tomans .During the last few years there was a big row in the media that you can reserve the train ticket via internet. Yes! It is right. First you have to waste a lot of time in front of computer, and then because of the one thousand and one problems you have to refer to the nearest travel agency.

At last the promised day arrived; Yasins went to the Tehran railway station. The old building was built before WWII by Nazi German. It is very bulky and almost in the original form, except electronic big indicators that shows the arrival and departures time. Of course nobody knows the exact departure time! You have to ask the blue collars frequently the departure time of Sacred Mashhad train. A noisy loud Speaker announced the train is ready for boarding. Suddenly crowd rushed to platform. Yasin had to carry his mother by lift, but as usual it was not working. Yasin asked four strong men those were passengers to Mashhad too, to help. They roared “Peace be upon Mohammad and his family” and lifted Yasin’s Mother with the wheel chair to the end of stairs.

Yasin successfully managed to carry in kids, wife, mother and himself just few minutes before train started to leave the gare.

The main problem in the train was how to settle. Each Compartment has four seats. Yasin had to put his mother in the next compartment, but due to religious issues he had concerns about who were the other three beside his mother. Fortunately the rest three were ladies. Yasin relived and prayed god, thanked to Imam Reza because here in after they were his guests.

The compartment was really comfortable and a relatively clean toilet was in the reach. Kids were excited about every thing especially pissing in a moving train!! Yasin thanked god and Imam Reza and touched his underwear. Actually Yasin didn’t accept his wife’s idea to put all their money in the bank and to use ATM cards. Yasin had no experience in this field. He preferred the traditional way. His wife tailored a pocket in Yasin’s under wear shirt just one span below his navel.

Yasin had 4 travel cheque, each 500000tomans and totally two million tomans. He laid on seat, on and off used to touch the secret pocket , than to look his wife and kids , at the end an smile like Mona Lisa !flourished his face with sparse beard. They had dinner together. It was rice plus chicken (almost poulet!) with black and orange cola drinks. For kids and his mother and wife it was a very exciting experience. After dinner they had tea in single used cups. Then every body went to sleep except Yasin.

He had nightmare about pickpockets in mashhad.After 12 hours at last they arrived in. The railway station was really crowded. Porters, Taxi drivers and hostels, inns and hotels brokers were in the scene. The building was built during the sixties and had a very beautiful concrete design.Yasin managed to carry out his family safe from Station. The cheeky taxi drivers had real fighting to pick the new arrival and bargaining was in place!

Yasin decided as tradition, before any thing, to go Imam Reza’s shrine. For Yasin, every thing was calm and in control. Yasin for a short while sensed comfort. Around the shrine there was traffic Jam. The ambience was similar to the Afghan’s cities normally comes in TV news briefs but streets were relatively neater and traffic apparently was under control. They got off in front of Tabarsi gate of the shrine. It has many gates to enter. Yasin suddenly remembered that last time when it was 30 years ago, He visited Mashhad with his parents, now his father had expired long time ago. For a few moments he imagined that he is still a little boy and tried to hold his father’s hand, but all of these were in vain.

Yasin tried to restrain and took his family inside shrine. There were thousands of people trying to touch the holy mausoleum but only strong people succeeded to reach and touch the meshed shrine. As usual the ladies and men’s section were separate. Yasin asked his wife to look after kids and Mother. He tried so many times to reach the golden barred shrine but as usual he failed. Yasin tried so many times and got very tired. He laid down and for a moment closed his eyes. When after few minutes he opened eyes, saw a note in the wall:” beware of pickpockets!” Actually for the last 2 hours that he was in shrine, He had forgotten the secret pocket in his underwear.

Suddenly he stood up and touched the hot spot just below his novel. Nothing was there and the buttons of his shirt were open. The veteran pickpockets had robbed his money.Yasin cried like kids and felled unconscious. Two of shrine’s servants (Khoddam) pulled him out and left in the yard under the bitter sunshine.Yasin opened his eyes. Few pigeons were flying in the blue sky. The pilgrims were getting ready to pray at noon. His tongue was like hot iron in his mouth. A plane was flying in the sky and a narrow cloudy path created behind. Yasin thought he can swallow the seven seas water.


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