|All, but indifferent
By Reza T. Saberi
August 1, 2002
The sounds of shots were successive and sudden. I didn't even have time to react.
I tried to stand up and get out of the bed, but I couldn't. I felt that under my
legs were wet. I put my hand under my leg and felt warmth and humidity.
When I took my hand out from under the blanket and looked at it under the dim early
morning light, it was red. I couldn't believe that the bullets had hit me. Where
from? Nobody except my old mother slept in this room, but she was crippled and didn't
walk. It was strange. I didn't even feel the pain.
I tried to stand up, but I couldn't. I sat on the bed and removed the blanket. The
bed covering under me was bloody. My mother was now sitting beside the bed, stunned,
looking at me. She had a worried expression on her face, but didn't move. The windows
were closed and the glass was intact.
I slowly got out of the bed, opened the door and pulled
myself through the corridor. Moving was very difficult and painful. Who and why had
shot me? I opened the door and got out of the house to the little alley, barefoot.
My pajamas were red from below the waist. I thought I got shot under my belly and
thigh, but I didn't feel any pain.
Everyone I asked didn't pay any attention, as if they didn't care. I was frightened
very much. Every second now counted and I had to get to the hospital. Didn't they
see my blood-soaked hand? Didn't they see that I needed help? A man stuck out his
hand in my direction.
When I got to him with much difficulty, he put a quarter in the palm of my hand and
pointed to the public phone. He told me that if I called 911 they will quickly come
to help me. I hated him a lot. Is it possible to be so much indifferent toward a
I saw my brother. All of a sudden I felt happy. Now, he was my only hope of survival.
In this early morning he might have come to visit my mother. I pointed to my bloody
hand and pajamas. He looked at me and said that he was in a hurry to go to clinic
to have his injection and that he will come back and take me into the hospital.
A sense of hate toward him overwhelmed me. I was getting weak every second. Standing
was getting difficult more than before. I begged two other men, but both looked away.
Did they think I stretched out my hand for money? No, probably not. They must have
seen my bloody pajamas.
My heart was beating slower and weaker. I was filled with fear. I thought what would
happen if I fell down on the ground. Then who was going to take me to the hospital?
I couldn't walk any more. I sat there. My heart beat was dying down. I looked around
and saw nobody.
I felt like something was leaving me. Like a balloon
which gradually loses air. Something was separating from me. Somebody who looked
like me. He separated from me and stood up. I tried to grab his legs, but my hand
passed through him. I filled with more fear. Was that my soul leaving me? Was I to
die right here: on this alley without a friend or family beside me? Was I to die
I put my hand over my heart, it was beating fast and hard. I touched my legs again.
I could feel them all right. I touched my belly and thighs. There was no pain and
no blood. I looked around. My mother was sitting beside the bed praying.
I took a deep breath, pulled the blanket away and sat on the bed. My mother looked
kindly at me and asked "Are you all right? You were moving a lot and talking.
Did you have a bad dream?"
Reza T. Saberi is the author of The
Vicious Circle (Ibex Publishers, 2002) -- the story of a young physician whose
life becomes interwoven with those who participated in the Iranian revolution (see
Saberi, is a pharmaceutical scientist born and raised in Iran. A former university
lecturer, research scientist, and editor of medical journals, he presently works
as an editor in a scientific publishing company and contributes regularly to the
Persian literary magazines. He has written and published several other works of fiction