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Fiction

Myth of Creation
Short story

Written by Sadegh Hedayat
Translated and adapted by Ali Sadri
December 3, 2003
The Iranian

Scene 1
In the middle of an elaborate assembly O is seated on a throne shrouded with jewels. He is an old man leaning lazily against gold-threaded pillows covered with precious stones. He has a long beard, silver hair, round spectacles and is warring loose clothing also covered with jewels. A black slave holding an umbrella stands over him while a fair-skinned young maiden fans him.

The four archangels stand at attention encircling the throne. On the right stand Gabriel and Michael while on the left Izrael and Raphael. All except Izrael are dressed like Roman soldiers fully equipped with suits of armor, shields, helmets, and knee-high boots; their long swords hanging from their waists, and their wings resting on their backs. Izrael on the other hand, his face resembling death, hangs a long, black cloak on his back and instead of a sword, holds a sickle in his hand.

Behind them a group of mermaids and virgins with tight-fitting head-covers gaze at the assembly and the slaves in turn gawk at the virgins with lustful eyes. In one corner of the room Lucifer stands erect with exaggeratingly arched eyebrows and pointed beard wearing a red cloak, coned hat, and a wide heavy sword on his belt.

In the middle of the room, the provocatively dressed virgins sing and dance moving sinuously about. One in a translucent dress dances flirtatiously and sidesteps towards the throne. O takes out a coin from his belt and throws it to her. The musicians and the jesters stop simultaneously as O half rises from his throne and gives the be-silent signal. He produces a piece of paper from his side and begins to read.

"Behold, this is the truth and nothing but the truth," he swallows. "In spite of old age and infirmity, I've been busy for the past few days. The first day I created light, then I created the earth, then the sky, then the sea, rocks, mud, etc." He pauses for a breath. "Now I would like to demonstrate my power and leave behind an everlasting legacy. From my will, shall roam upon earth--which is a member of the solar system--multitude of beasts that will be governed by Adam. From mud, I shall make Adam and the beasts." A roar of thousand hurrahs rises from the assembly. "Not only will he govern the earth and all the living things in it, but he'll also rule over every ghost, angel, mermaid, virgin, and slave who shall bow to him and..."

"What about me? How about me?" Interrupts Lucifer. O , his face red as a beet snaps back, "Silence! How dare you challenge me, you nosy wart."

"What nonsense," replies Lucifer with a smirk on his face. "Me, who's made from fire bow down to a made-from-mud Adam? Never."

"Throw this man out," orders O . "I'll deceive Adam. You'll see," mutters Lucifer under his breath while making a face.

Gibbering noises rise from the assembly as Gabriel grabs Lucifer from the back of the neck and throws him out of the room. Lucifer shrieks from behind the door.

The angry O summons his head servants: "You four stay, the rest out." The room becomes silent as everyone, including the virgins, exit with dragging feet and open mouths.

"Gabriel!" calls O as he raises his head. "How I've exhausted myself with this creation business, and instead of a simple thanks, I get backtalk from that wart Lucifer. Ahg, Why did I spoil him so?"

"Yes Sir," says Gabriel. "He disrespected you Sire."

"Resume my work I shall," says O spitefully. "But don't ever let me see his face again. He is to be booted out of heaven."

"Your will is my command," says Gabriel.

"Now," says O . "Before I begin, I'd like your opinion on something; say, what do you really think about my plan?" The four head servants bow sharply to the ground.

"Perfection, Sire," says Gabriel clearing his throat. "But, these animals who shall be made from mud, how will they survive?"

"I've already thought of that," says O . "I will throw them at each other's throats and they can eat each other's flesh."

"So they shan't last long!" says Gabriel. "They will perish and take the kingdom of earth with them!"

"You might have a point," says O . "What do you suggest I do?"

"Reproduction, Sire," exclaims Gabriel immediately. "So that like a single seed, each beast will multiply in hundreds. But, there's a small technical problem. They will create chaos crowding the earth as they rise to such overwhelming numbers. Or, the strong will devour the weak eventually depleting food altogether."

"I just thought of something," says O , scratching his beard. "The other day in paradise, my gardener was pulling weeds and when I asked what he was doing, he replied that it was to keep the soil fertile so that it would produce food for all the herds. We too should do the same."

"Yes, but," says Gabriel. "We must assign someone to equalize any race that becomes too many."

"Izreal!" calls O . "Does this seem like a perfect job for you or what?"

"I beg you Sire, please have mercy," says Izreal. "I'm old and weak, and these things I'm incapable of."

"What on earth is going on here?" Says O irritably. "Why is it that today all of my servants haggle with me; first Lucifer and now you?" Izreal shakes like a leaf.

"I screwed up, I'm sorry. Mr. Gabriel, please don't throw me out of Paradise. And, how do I put it Sire, I can't possibly without introduction or good cause take someone's life?"

"Don't you worry; I'll give you an excuse when the time comes," says O , smiling from ear to ear. Izreal bows to the floor as O cries out, "Michael!"

"Yes Sir, my beloved."

"As you know, we've much work ahead of us. You must bring the big notebook, hire more accountants and secretaries, and be sure to look thoroughly into my accounts. Speaking of accounts, did you remember to repair the crack in the pool? And how much did it cost?"

"Well Sire, I had it patched sealing it with putty, but the bill hasn't come."

"Have my workshop dusted and mopped and make sure all my tools are in tip top condition. Only out of spite for that devil Lucifer, will I begin my work first thing tomorrow even if it kills me. I will need the following things: fifty tons of pottery-soil, fifty thousand gallons of water, fifty thousand baskets, fifty thousand wheelbarrows, fifty thousand ladders, fifty thousand rollers, fifty thousand picks, fifty thousand saws, fifty thousand spearheads, fifty thousand shovel-handles, fifty thousand spades, fifty thousand spackles, and fifty thousand sieves. You got that?

"Yes your majesty," says Michael. "This reminds me; the roof of the emerald mansion is leaking."

"Are you swindling me again?" Says O , squinting.

"May I get struck by lightening if I am Sire."

"Have heaven swept and mopped immediately. "Raphael!" yells O . "Have you become deaf and dumb? Aren't you going to say anything?"

"Yes your majesty."

"You're to keep an eye on Adam incase Lucifer tries anything funny. And if he does, blow hard into your bugle."

"I am forever at your service, Sire."

"You get a gold star for that sweet tongue of yours. But can you handle it?"

"I have aristocrat's blood in me, Sire. Did I not immediately inform you when I saw one of the virgins necking with one of the slaves, and you sent them both to the inferno of hell?"

"Yes, I remember. Don't get emotional now. I'm pleased with you, but you'll never be like Gabriel. In fact, none shall ever be as dear to me as he is. Oh, what shenanigans did we get into in our youths. Ah, sweet, sweet memories." Gabriel blushes as his wings open wide. Michael on the other hand, covers himself with his wings as he snores.

"Well," says O . "Why don't you all take a rest and leave Gabriel and me to ourselves for a minute." Gabriel steps closer to the throne as the rest depart with drooping shoulders.

"Alone at last," sighs O . "How about a little cream of wheat? Ahg, curse be upon this old age." Gabriel steps into the kitchen.

O extends his hands and begins to move his lips in quick incantations. Returning with a pot of hot cream of wheat, Gabriel fills a bowl and hands it to O .

"I cast a spell while you were gone," says O , taking the bowl and blowing on it. "I think its outcome will be favorable."

"Why shouldn't it be Sire, it's after all, your will." O slurps his cream of wheat right out of the bowl and some drips on his beard. Gabriel, immediately produces a napkin, wraps it around O's neck and emits a little chuckle.

"Oh, how mischievous we are," laughs O . "And how much fun we'll have watching them from above." Gabriel, unable to control himself, blurts out high-pitched howls and the two break into hair-raising laughter.

Scene 2
Inside a large workshop a long table stretches from wall to wall. On top of it sits various tools and instruments of physics and chemistry: microscope, scale, electric appliance, compass, T-square, plywood, and vessels containing a rainbow of liquids. An oil lamp burns, and by the door rests mounds of fresh clay. On the floor various other tools sit disorderly: trowel, shovel, sifter, pick, etc. Beside the table is a reclining-chair and in front of it a tall mirror. "Roll that lump of clay over to the middle," orders O . An enormous tube-like piece of clay struggles in Gabriel's hands. He rolls it to the middle of the room, panting, and with his shirtsleeve, he wipes the sweat off his forehead.

"Have I exhausted you?" says O , standing over the lump of clay.

"It's nothing, Sire."

"I too am exhausted. As you know, today is the sixth day since we've started. The fourth day I constructed the plants, the fifth day the creatures, and today I'll make an elephant with the leftover clay; a beast from here to there," says O , gesticulating the size of the animal.

"Of course, I've saved the good clay for Adam and will finish the other half of him a little later, but now I'd like to finish this here elephant. Then, on the seventh day we'll sit and watch to our heart's content."

"It seems as though these are easier to build, says Gabriel though stopping himself short. "May I go deaf and dumb for being so presumptuous, your Majesty."

"It's okay, go on," says O.

"Well, do you remember when you started making bacteria and insects, how much more difficult and tedious it was than say, constructing Adam? How much effort they took using a magnifying glass and tweezers? But the big ones seem easier!"

"It seems your brain has receded. It's my own fault for teaching you the tricks of my trade. Now you've become an expert and are blurting out opinions? I made them first in order to warm up my fingers. Do you think making a man is easy? Didn't you see, that just an hour ago, I was sitting facing the mirror making apes? I did it to practice, getting ready for Adam. Go and fetch those four tree trunks."

"Are they for the elephant's legs?"

"Bravo," cheered O. "Your IQ seems to have improved a little."

Gabriel brings the tree trunks and braces them into the large lump of clay, one at each corner. O instructs him to take another ball of clay and slap it onto the end of the elephant's neck.

"You know," says O . "I just had an idea. Why don't you also fetch the stove's exhaust pipe and stick it into his head; we won't need it in the summer time. Bring also two large tortillas from the kitchen and hang one from either side of his head. As you know, animal parts must always be symmetrical, and as for the odd parts, they should go in the middle."

Gabriel stairs as O grabs a long straw that looks more like a flute, places it underneath the elephant's tail, and blows into it. Suddenly, the large mass begins to tremor, and its trunk comes to life. The elephant braces its paws on the floor and stands upright, issuing a thunderous roar. O quickly steps back and with arms outstretched, he offers a hand full of oats to the beast. Again the elephant trumpets, comes forward and with its trunk throws the oats up into the air. O, with a flushed face back-steps again yelling, "Tell the elephant tamer to come and take this beast to planet earth." An elephant tamer hurries in startling the animal, and with stick in hand, directs it out of the workshop.

O throws himself onto the reclining-chair, issues a long sigh, fills a pipe full of tobacco, and uses the bottom of his shoe to strike a match. "Ahg, I'm so exhausted," he moans. "I'm afraid of things falling apart. I'm too old for these shenanigans. I should just complete Adam so I can breath easy, lounge around on bed, have one of the virgins massage my feet while I slurp cream of wheat, and observe. Wouldn't that be the life?"

"Gabriel, for Christ's sake, get these flies off me. What relentless creatures have I conjured up? Instead of bowing at my feet, they're bugging me to death."

"Sire, dab a little water on your face. Your beard and mustache are sticky with cream of wheat and the flies can smell sugar from a mile off." Gabriel tears off a piece of cardboard, shakes the dust off, and swats the flies with it.

"Go and bring the mirror and that clay putty laying by the door." Gabriel does as he's told. O cleans his glasses and gawks at the large piece of clay, baffled.

"Have you been playing with my putty, you little devil?"

"May I be struck by lightening if I did, Sire."

"Who then has made this clay to look like me?" asks O irritably.

"Ummm, yesterday while you were napping on your chair, I saw the ape mimicking you, standing in front of the mirror with a spackle and monkeying with your clay. But he ran for his life when he saw me coming, Sire."

" Well, maybe it's not as bad as I thought. After all, my load seems a little lighter now. But I think I'll lame his hands incase he is thinking of trying it again.

O squats over the clay figure and begins to sand it smooth, blowing on it now and then.

"Blessed be the ape for he sure made my job easier," says O smiling. "Go and fetch a straw."

O takes out a silk handkerchief, lays it on Adam's face, and begins to chant. When Gabriel returns with the flute-like instrument, he is followed by a myriad of angels and ghosts. O blows into the clay figure. Adam jolts and opens his eyes.

Hundreds of Ahs and Bravos rise from the crowd.

"Adam!" calls O . "Come here." Adam stands up, howls, and points to his belly.

"Come forward and bow down before me," says O . " I'll have them give you a bath and comb your hair. Then I'll send you to Paradise where you'll eat finger-licking foods. But, be careful not to cross me by eating from the apple tree or you'll be thrown out of heaven." Adam with frightening features; bogeyed and hairy from head to toe, strikes his own head with both hands and pulls out his hair.

" I'm hungry, I'm hungry."

Scene 3
From a distance, a planet glows with lush green jungles and mountains. An enormous black cloud hovers, and the moon peeks out from behind it. Muffled shrieks of birds fuse with other animal sounds. Gigantic disproportionate creatures drag their bulk in and around the trees. Adam, looking more like a large ape--hairy and black with a protruding stomach, droopy eyes, and disheveled hair--stands beside Eve under a huge mulberry tree. Eve's long hair drags on the ground. With her small height, large head, rosy cheeks, wide mouth, heaving breasts and rounded groin, she stands dazed.

"Did you see that monkey imitate me?" She bursts into tears. Adam hugs the mulberry tree and gives it a stern shake. Mulberries fall onto the ground. Eve wipes her eyes, gathers mulberries, and shoves them into her mouth. Adam gawks at her with lustful eyes.

"This is not bad," says Eve with a full mouth. "I don't remember having this in the Garden of Eden."

"Do you remember how comfortable we were up there?" Says Adam. " Curse be upon Lucifer for deceiving us." Eve nods chewing on soiled mulberries.

"We only had to point to a pear and the fruit would come entering our mouths. But here we must run after everything and compete with all the other animals. Curse be upon Satan." At this moment an Ostrich trots past.

"Shoo!" yells Eve, startled. "What the hell is that?"

"It's an Ostrich," says Adam picking up a rock and throwing it at the large bird. The Ostrich snaps at the rock and devours it.

"Did you see how it swallowed it whole?" Says Eve alarmed. "What else should we expect from above. Quick, let's climb the tree before it decides to have us for lunch."

"Didn't I say it was better in Paradise?" Says Adam, climbing the tree and carrying Eve with one arm. "I think I'll summon Gabriel and tell him how sorry we are. If O doesn't let us back in, we'll make a deal with Gabriel. Perhaps he can show us a back entrance." With this Adam cups his hands around his mouth and hollers out Gabriel's name. All the animals become silent at his call. Gabriel, with expanded wings makes a sudden appearance. Adam and Eve descend from the tree.

"We're so sorry to bother you Mr. Gabriel," says Adam with a tortured face. "But this is somewhat urgent. Please do send our love to O and tell him we're very sorry and that we'd like to come back to heaven. To be honest, it was Lucifer who told us to eat the apple. I had no knowledge of a brawl between him and O . We can't possibly live here. Last night Mrs. Eve didn't sleep a wink. This is not a good situation. Was O bored out of his mind when he decided to create us? We really didn't have anything to do with it. Now that we're here, why does he insist on us remaining on earth?"

"Relax," says Gabriel. "To tell you the truth, O is having second thoughts about all this. Last night I heard him crying in his room. Today he was very upset as if he'd taken rat poison. No one dares approach him. This morning he cussed at me non-stop. It's entirely your fault for if it weren't for you eating that apple, none of this would've happened.

"Mr. Gabriel," says Eve. "Last night Adam and I went to this here cave while the beasts howled all night long. We've discussed building a house on top of the coconut tree and living like monkeys. Could you ask O to make us a castle from rubies, like the one in heaven instead?"

"Can't you do something for us?" Pleads Adam. "Never mind me. Don't you feel sorry for Mrs. Eve?"

"My hands are tied," says Gabriel.

"Then ask O to return us to our original state. We didn't ask to be created nor did we ask him to show off his powers. Now that he's gone ahead and done it, he must bear our offense."

"You should know that O doesn't go back on his word. If he did as you asked, he'd loose face with all other creatures and they too will make demands."

"Blasphemy," exclaims Eve, biting her lip and gazing scornfully at Adam. "Mr. Gabriel, don't you repeat these things to O . Adam knows not what he says."

"This is not the first time O has heard blasphemous talk," says Gabriel. "He has come to know disrespect from the first day he created you."

"Mr. Gabriel," says Eve. "You are a good person, I mean, a very good archangel. Just a moment ago when Adam and I were standing here a beast of an Ostrich attacked us, gulping down a whole rock and..."

"You're being ungrateful again," interrupts Gabriel.

"Now between us," brakes in Adam. "For what reason did he create all these creatures?"

Gabriel, in thought bites his index finger. "Just between us, he is baffled and remorseful with his own doings. He thought he'd be lounging around laughing, eating cream of wheat, and enjoying the easy life."

" Don't listen to Adam," says Eve. "We're perfectly happy here and wouldn't want to go back to the Garden of Eden after all. We didn't have peace up there anyway. Raphael, with that ugly muzzle of his was of particular nuisance. Every time we commenced to socialize, joke or have a little fun he'd blow into his obnoxious bugle. Isn't that so, Adam?"

" It seems that you're slowly getting used to things here," says Gabriel. "You weren't really happy in Paradise nor are you satisfied here on earth. You'll never be happy."

"All my hopes are in Eve," exclaims Adam.

"And I love you too," replies Eve.

Gabriel scrutinizes Eve up and down and a sudden shyness comes over her. She reaches for mulberry leaves and covers herself with them.

"To make life a little more interesting," says Gabriel, still gawking at Eve. " O plans to give a you child."

"Child! Child! What's a child?" shrieks Eve.

"It's a specimen like yourselves; a little Eve or a little Adam that will grow in size. One you'll both exert yourselves over and become attached to."

"Here comes another trick," says Adam. "Was it not enough that he created us? Now he's determined to ruin others. What did we do to deserve this?"

"O knows best," says Eve. "Mr. Gabriel, you're in the right and please send my regards to the wise one. We just got here and already," Eve pointing to Adam, "he goes out on excursions, God knows where, leaving me all alone. I need someone to love and one whom I can depend on. Does he expect me to carry conversations with the Ostrich?"

"It's a good thing you learned a new word today," says Adam.

At this moment a revelation descends from above:

"Ooo Gabriel...Yuhoooo, Gabriel."

"O is bored again," says Gabriel. "He either wants more cream of wheat or he wants a game of crapshoot. You see what I have to put up with? Call if you need anything," says Gabriel and vaporizes into thin air.

"You didn't allow me to talk for a second," says Adam, angrily. "I tried to make things right but with that blabber-mouth of yours, I couldn't possibly get a word edgewise. Is this all I get from my precious left rib?"

"Stop talking nonsense," rebuttals Eve. "It seems you don't love me. I'll make an official complaint to Gabriel later. If I had a child I wouldn't need you in the first place. And don't you talk to me about your rib. I wish he had thrown it to the Ostrich instead. I spit on this life; spit, spit, spit." And she squats on the dirt, braces her head between her hands, and bawls. Adam steps forward and caresses her head.

"I thought you loved me," says Eve, sniffling. "Now I realize I've been deceived and I get nothing but reproach. You're always making excuses to disappear, searching for a way back to heaven. I'm all alone here. Don't you see that these beastly creatures scare me to death?"

"I was only kidding," answers Adam. "Come now my pretty princess! Can't you see that I love you?"

"I love you too," she sniffles twice. "I even said it in front of Gabriel, I'll die here without you."The sun sets. The moon illuminates and climbs showing its ominous face. An elephant peeks its head out from behind the branches and trumpets. Adam and Eve climb up the mulberry tree and Eve throws herself into Adam's arms.

"It's true that here it's a dog-eat-dog world," says Adam, "Though I prefer it to the monotonous and bland life of Paradise. I was choking up there--laziness and nothing but eating and sleeping. I don't know how the angles can stand it."

"I am glad we were thrown out of paradise," confirms Eve. "At least here we don't have a chaperon sticking his nose into our business."

"Bring your lips closer," says Adam. "This is the meaning of Creation."

Adam presses forward and gives Eve a hardy kiss. Eve draws the branches around them and they disappear behind the leaves.

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