The morning after
Sadegh Hedayat at the dawn of the atomic age
August 7, 2003
On August 6 ,1945 , at 5 PM , I crossed the door sill of Paradise Cafe.
Hedayat had asked me the day before to join him a little
the rest of our group in order to discuss Sartre's novel "La
Nausée" (Nausea) which I had given him.
The coffee and cake shop was almost totally
empty for at this time of the day patrons would seldom confront
heat that transformed Tehran's streets into real inferno.
shutters plunged the room in semi-obscurity. The ceiling fans were
and there were no air conditioners at the time.
I spotted Hedayat
usual table, slumped in his chair, his eyes closed as if he had
sat near him and said hello. He opened his eyes and mumbled something.
seemed gloomy and downcast. He did not answer my query and pushed
afternoon paper towards me. I read the headline in very bold characters: "Americans
Drop Atomic Bomb on Japan!"
The news dispatch spoke of enormous casualties and utter destruction.
whole city of Hiroshima had been wiped away. "So many dead
and wounded," I
exclaimed with bewilderment.
"Yes, that's sad," said
Hedayat, "but there's
even a more terrible consequence to it."
"What do you
"For us it is
worse than a death sentence."
"I don't follow
"Just consider the
meaning for our country. Beyond the destruction, beyond the terrible
there is a formidable scientific leap. The world will never be the
again. America now, and later Europe, will accomplish new progress
more rapidly than ever as we are still steeping in medieval conditions.
between us and the West will now widen more than ever before. We
will not be
able to catch up with them. We will never be able to fill the abyss
this invention has created between us and them. We are condemned
in underdevelopment and backwardness."
Today, as the world is marking the 58th anniversary of the dropping
of the A
bomb over Hiroshima, and as I am looking at the sorry situation
country of origin, I remember my conversation with Hedayat at our
Paradise Cafe in Tehran. Accelerating scientific and technological
left Iran far behind other nations. I am afraid that it would become
and more difficult to catch up. Are we doomed as Hedayat thought
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