Do you really want to die?, the young girl asked.
No, I have come to like my life, was Mohsen's
July 28, 2003
He came to me carzed a few months ago. Mohsen is
the golf instructor at the Enghelab (Revolution) Club in Tehran.
I am going crazy; I can't sleep at night; I fight with
my brother and family, his eyes dashed across the golf course
where Koreans and a few Japanese swing their clubs, women wearing
shift combination of oriental and Islamic headress.
I ask Mohsen, as I've asked many young students,
What exactly is wrong? Why are you so anxious?
Not just one thing. The unfairness, I suppose.
Look at those bastards driving Toyotas; I couldn't afford
one like that if I worked all day for ten years. Sometimes, I
just want to explode, to dance,
to scream, to slap somebody, anybody!
I have a vision of myself running like the wind
at the Imperial Country Club twenty-three years ago; now it's
the Enghelab Club. Then, I think to myself, it must be bottled
up vigor, god-given
vitality of a twenty-three-year old. I have an idea-I can
help Mohsen by teaching him meditation-that is what I do
I say to Mohsen, listen my friend, before you sleep
tonight, close your eyes, let the breath ooze into your stomach;
feel a wave-like
motion in your stomach with each breath; let your mind float
like a boat on the waves of your breath. Practice for a week and
me know how it goes.
Several days pass; Mohsen is surrounded by Japanese
in the golf course. He waves to me; he has friend along who asks
me if I'm
related to Dr. Abol Ghassem Naficy. Yes, he was my uncle.
Oh, nice to meet you, your uncle was my pediatrician
when I was a boy.
Dr. Naficy! (I'm not a Doctor), Mohsen is excited, smiling,
grabbing my attention. I'm feeling better. At night, I just
drift off into my breath; I have made friends with my Soul, I'm
not interested in fighting people.
I am happy for Mohsen. He does look better, calmer,
his eyes are not darting. He tells me he now has enough courage
to go to the
girls' tables and introduce himself. I don't even want
to get laid, he is proud.
The post-revolution women at the Enghelab Club are
all very beautiful, yet, they seem insecure and self-conscious
under tons of makeup.
They sit under the old pine trees flirting on their mobile phones
with boys sitting across at different tables. The Morality Guard
keep a close watch for immoral activity, yet the youth have found
a way to exchange mobile phone numbers written on napkins tossed
into trash cans near the cash register.
Once every couple of days, after I teach the morning
meditation class, I go off to the Club to run. On the way, I sit
behind the traffic light. What a jungle out here. The summer
heat, drivers cutting across three lanes of traffic to make a spontaneous
U-turn. Fast-food delivery boys buzzing around on motorcycles,
like flies. Traffic accidents every fifty meters, people cursing,
shaking fists, calling their insurance agents on their mobiles.
Amid all this, I see my friend, the flower man.
Ali wears a Zoro hat, he sells roses.
He knocks on my window, Three thousand for one bunch.
No, Ali I don't need any today.
One thousand five hundred, then.
I wish you good health, Ali, but I don't need any today.
Tomorrow I will find you and buy roses.
He whisks out a screw driver set. Five hundred for
the whole set.
May the Prophet Ali be with you, he pulls out one
rose and hands it to me. With a smile he looks at the passenger
seat, Can I have
your potatoe chips?
We come to an agreement just before the light turns
After my run, Mohsen comes puttering along on his
moped. Dr. Naficy, I have come across some money. I can't
decide if I should buy a mobile phone or to deposit the money as
collateral for a bank loan.
Meditate on it for a couple of days and let me know
what you decide.
I drive off to Ramsar for the weekend. The Chalous
Road is the one that Reza Shah built. My '77 VW Rabbit dances around
curves. I stop at the Shahsavar vegetable market; all the produce
is colorful, there are at least 30 stalls squeezed together in
the shadowy alleys of the bazaar. I buy chicken feet for my puppies
in Ramsar. Our beach there is covered with plastic bottles and
bags. More plastic rides the waves. Plastic bottles have taken
over the countryside. I hire a workman from Akhound Mahaleh to
pick up the bottles and seringes from my childhood beach.
The following week, Mohsen approaches at the Club
I decided on the bank deposit, Ostad Naficy. I didn't even
have to think. I went off to the Caspian for three days, to contemplate
my question at nights, by the fire. The same decision just came
to me, every time.
I hired my cousin who drives a car for a rental
agency to take me out to the Caspian. On the way back two girls
waved us down.
They looked to be twenty at most. They sat in the back seat,
and after the first turn, the one sitting behind me pulled out
and put it to my throat. I pointed to the main artery and told
her to cut right there.
Do you really want to die?, the young girl asked.
No, I have come to like my life, was Mohsen's reply.
I don't know why. I ran away from home three years
ago. My father was a rich man in the Bazaar; now he builds apartment
in Tehran. He wanted me to marry one of those rich bastards; he
never loved me; when my mother died I ran away. He married again,
I hate his wife but I miss my step sister, Sanaz. Anyway, now I
am free, high most of the time, and tonight my friend and I are
entertaining six men at a client's birthday party.
lights up a cigarette at the poolside, Anyway,
the two girls rode all the way back to Tehran with us. The one
to me had commited suicide twice; she showed me the razor cuts.
Then she unbottoned herself, flashed me her bra, asked if that
turned me on.
Well what did you do? Now, I'm half-curious,
Some invisible force kicked me in the butt. Instead
of taking the girls to my cousin's place, I told her it was love
that turned me on, not lust. I taught her to breathe and talk to
her Soul every
night- "it's like talking to God", I assured
You're crazy, Allah is up in the skies, she protested.
No, you are God, I told her. You have a mind, you
have a will, you have a heart; you can choose between love and
hate. Only God
has all that power. Breathe into your Soul each night, you will
be talking to God.
I am listening to Mohsen deliver
a talk he had only heard three weeks before-a sharp student,
the thought flashes across my mind. Well, are you dating her now?
No, Ostad Naficy, when I told her about the Soul
and the breath within the breath, she became relaxed and her eyelids
a doll. She lay her head on my shoulder and she slept all the
way to the birthday party.
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