Coffee and Conversation (5)

Alas – life is but a one way street


Coffee and Conversation (5)
by Flying Solo

Part V [Part VI] [Part IV] [Part III] [Part II] [Part I]

Ideals? We all have them. Choices? We are all given.  Values?  Cherished by each.  Dreams? Ours, without question. Destinies? Predetermined. Are they?

What is life but an unknown journey through time and space? Play by the rules - we are told; walk along the well-trodden path. Then why the rebellious heart - the wild within?  How to tame the untamable?  Why reach for the skies? Aspire for the unattainable?  Why gamble at the cruel game of chance?  Why tempt fate? And play with fire?  Why risk? But then one may as well ask - why live?

The phone rings.  It punctures my delicious dream.  I peer at my silent cell phone on the night table. It is 1 a.m. Adrenalin rushes through me in a matter of moments. I leap out of bed and dash to the kitchen to pick up the rude red receiver.

“GET OVER HERE. RIGHT NOW.” Mira screams down the phone line, and then hangs up.

I make my way back to the bedroom, catch my left toe at the door which sends me skipping across the hardwood floor, yelping in pain.  I pull on my sweats and throw on a T-shirt. In the darkness I rummage by the bed for my slippers.  I head to the bathroom, quickly throw some cold water on my face and madly force a brush through my hair before I pop in my contact lenses.

In less than five minutes I am in the car heading over to Mira’s house.  In the dead of night, it is the red traffic light which screeches my thoughts to a halt, to slow down my heartbeat and fend anxiety – an anxiety which is now rapidly rising to my throat, threatening to choke me.  The light turns green. I head up the hill.  The paranoid in me imagines a drunk driver colliding with the car head on whereupon I will die an instant death – under a clear November sky, alone, without a soul to witness my last breath.

It takes a lifetime before I get to her house.  I pull into the driveway, bolt out and head over to the front door. No sooner have I climbed the five steps that the door swings wide open to present me with a picture of horror.

She is shaved down to a skeleton.  A torn nightshirt covers her trembling frame. The wild eyes are darting this way and that. Her sunken blotchy cheeks are smeared with tears. The black ghost of her hair, knotted and gnarled, threatens to swallow her face whole.  She is pale as a sheet – the lips stand out like a nasty bruise - black and blue.

She turns and heads inside. I follow suit.  We go past the kitchen where I catch the scent of several-day-old garbage and a pile of unwashed dishes. The living room is a mess.  Clothes, shoes, plates of half-eaten food, glasses and mugs - everywhere.   The doors to the garden are open letting in a breeze which brings with it a waft of jasmine, the night’s feeble attempt to pacify the stench of disaster brewing within these walls.  The valley, spread below, flickers in its slumber.

She turns to me with a look of anguish.

“He is nowhere to be found.”

The throb in my stomach is almost unbearable.

“What happened?”

“He usually stays downtown and only visits here. He never stays over but this last time he asked to stay. He is a restless sleeper – in fact he hardly ever sleeps. Still, one of those nights he did manage to stay in bed, wrapped in my arms.  In the middle of the night, he jumped awake and sat bolt upright.  He said he had a premonition that something had gone awry and he did not want me involved.”

“When was this?”

“Nineteen days ago.  We’d been out the night before and I had a big meeting the next day. I was groggy at best.  I figured it was one of his nervous moments; thinking that his wife was going to come and find him.  He had those knots in his stomach; almost always – worrying about her, worrying what she would do; how she would feel; what was to happen if she ever found out.  So when he said he had to go, I did not press. He left.”

I anxiously watch and listen.

“Solo – I am beside myself. I tried every which way to reason.  He used to call me twice a day for as long as I remember. I could set my clock by his calls – a creature of habit; in the morning, on the way to work and before heading home from the office.  He’d tell me exactly where he would be when he was out of town, even down to the name of the hotel and his room number.  Details - always details.  And no matter where he was in the world, he’d call. The phone never failed to ring at the same exact time.”

“Did you ever call?”

“It was an understanding between us. I did not call.”

“But you always picked up.”

“Always. I let a couple of days go by, thinking – well – he must have…… Well – he must have what?  How does one make sense of it? What could it be but a disaster? But I waited and waited, awake by the phone, round the clock.  But no call came through – even after a week.

“And your work?”

“I don’t know how I managed -meetings, projects, people.  By the second week everything became a blur.  I would jump every time the phone rang – at work, at home, in the car. With every ping of an email – I’d will it to be from him – from his alias – Morad.

She starts crying; big tears pour down her face without so much as a blink. She buries her head in her hands and weeps bitterly.  Her whole body shakes – first slowly and then uncontrollably. She doubles over. As if pierced by a spear, she shrieks in pain. That heart wrenching sob – the bleak plea of a heart – torn and seared – a heart that is – slowly but surely – having to come to terms with the reality of having been left, tossed aside, abandoned.

It’s hard to hold it together but try I must.

A pile of skin and bones, she starts rocking back and forth.  She starts pinching her arms hard, repeatedly, taking in chunks of flesh; squeezing, releasing – then the grimace.  She then runs her nails across them, from the elbow to the wrist and then up to her shoulders, digging deep with intent to draw blood; so as to momentarily forget the agony within. She wails.

“Finally I called.  I left a message – under my alias – Goli. I left more messages. One day I left 8 messages. Each and every time, the same voice in the same tone – brief and dry: “Please leave a message.”  It got to the point that I would call just so that I could hear his voice. And then one day – there was no voice; just a canned computer sound.  He stopped talking to me – even through the message box.”


“I did something I had never done before.”


“I knew it was risky – of course I knew.  I called the company.”

“Did he pick up?”

“The phone is routed through several people before it gets to the top.  I eventually managed to get to his PA. I asked to speak with him. She said he would call back. He didn’t that day or the day after, or the one after that.  It dawned on me. ”


“He was alive and well. He didn’t want me anymore.  He dropped me like a hot potato; just like you said he would. Poof.  Gone. Without so much as a good bye.”

And she breaks up yet again, this time screaming at the top of her voice. She gets up from the seat, starts pacing up and down this vast living room, cursing and yelling, beating her chest. She starts slapping herself – not just once but over and over again; shouting. “It’s my fault. My own DAMN fault.” To my horror – she starts pulling her hair, scratching her neck, her chest and back to her face again.

I get up – go over to her; and offer myself for the punches.

“He dumped me – in the cold – when I least expected it Solo.  The bastard – and to think I had believed him all these years. I’d bought his bullshit; put up with each bit of crap he fed me.  I never doubted him – not for one minute. I hung to every word, every gesture. I built a lifetime out of words – only because they were his.  I waited and waited for my life to begin.  I escaped into fantasy – killed his wife a million times in a million different ways only to put myself next to him in every dream.  And NEVER did I EVER utter a word of it to him. What did I do instead? Buried myself in others; threw my wishes in a well and stamped the lid shut.  With every man – it was him I wanted. It was him in that bed.  Him – always him. Taking revenge because of him – because I could not have HIM. “

“You loved him.”

“What do you mean LOVED? Past tense? I love him – even now; this moment. I can’t stop loving him, can’t you see?”

“You are in shock.”

“In SHOCK!  What would you know about shock – Ms. Shock-Proof?  When did you ever let anyone get near – to push the dagger so deep – a wound you invite only so the hand is closer to your heart.  What would you know about giving it all; asking nothing in return?”

“I wouldn’t.”

She is angry now, seething with rage.  The venom starts seeping through her blood-shot eyes – ferocious they have now become.

“But I am going to get him, Solo. I will take revenge – this time the proper way. I will make him pay. Mira dumps – Mira walks away. Mira does NOT get dumped – EVER. I am not going to take this lying down.”


“They have a place in the Okanagan Valley they go to for Thanksgiving. I am going to go there this year.  And just about the time they are to sit down to their feast I will burst through the door and demand recognition.   The ultimate show down. It was a long time coming.”

“To what purpose?”

“I will make a spectacle of him in front of his family and peers - the whole lot of them. I will destroy his life just as he has destroyed mine.”

“You love him Mira. You can’t destroy him. Besides – who’s to say he is not destroyed already?”

As if she has had a brilliant idea, yet again, on top of the one before, she snaps back to the present.

“I want those pictures.”

“What pictures?”

“The ones from the luncheon.  Remember?

“They never came out.”

“What? I saw the pictures!  You showed them to us.”

“They are not there anymore.”

“You are lying to me.”

“Why would I? What good would that do?”

“He liked you. He said you had something he’d rarely seen. Remember?”

I nod.

“Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I were Reza and he were me. What would I do? Throw caution to the wind; come what may. That’s what I’d have done.”

“Really?  Wouldn’t that have been out of character? “

She is quiet for a good long time and then a dreadful sadness descends on her.

“I see her sometimes – pitter patter across the floor.  It had to have been a she.  She is there – in my mind’s eye – a darling, with flowers in her hair and a big flowy dress, running across the garden laughing.  After all these years - she is there still - proof that I loved Reza and he loved me.”

“Mira – don’t do this to yourself.”

“Do what? I can’t dream of a future so I may as well drown myself in the past – a past that never was played out right – because I was too dumb and he was too sensible.”

“What is there to be gained? Regrets over what could have been? We all have them – believe me, I have so many regrets, some days I don’t know how I function. But then I look around and I see everyone is in the same boat. No matter which path you choose – there are regrets. The past always looks rosy.  The pieces of the puzzle fit perfectly – but only from the rear view mirror.”

“What do I have to look forward to Solo?”

“You are 43 not 83.”

“This house, this life. What does it mean with no one in it to love? I am not even asking to BE loved – but simply to be allowed to love? What do I have but things? A life wasted on what? Inanimate objects? She sweeps her arm across the living room. “That’s all.”

“You can’t predict your next minute let alone the next day or the next year.  Grieve.  Mourn.  It’s loss –it’s harsh and it’s bitter.  It hurts just as it is supposed to.  There is a season to it though.  It will pass.  You will come out of it.  Believe me – I have been there – more than once.

“It’s dark in here Solo. It’s dark and scary.”

“Suffering – yes – it is devilishly dark.”

“My heart is in pieces. I am bleeding inside. The pain is excruciating.  I can barely breathe. The void - the vortex is swallowing me up.  I am frightened.”

I grab the afghan on the sofa, take it over and wrap it around her shivering body.

“I know.”

“You have your family. WHAT DO I  HAVE?”

“It is never too late to mend fences.”

“Isn’t it? They didn’t want me. They were sorry they had me. They ridiculed me - ostracized me.”

“They named you Samira – after the Queen.”

“They wanted a Saied or a Sassan. They got their Saied AND their Sassan.  Samira was a nobody then. They wanted a boy Solo – a boy.  One lousy chromosome and I would have had a different life.”

“Don’t say that. Don’t even think it. You are lamenting an imaginary loss. The 'what ifs'”.

She spouts the words - bullets with purpose - to kill.

‘Her tantrums, her selfishness, her holier-than-thou attitude. There were days I could smash her face, I hated her so much - that witch.”

“We – all of us – have, at one point or another wanted to do away with our mothers.”

“Have you?”


“Did you ever want her dead? Did you hate her so much that you could taste it?”

“Mira – stop. She may not have been the best of mothers but listen - if it weren’t for her, you wouldn’t be the person that you are. That’s a fact.”

“And who am I? A middle aged matron – thrown into the garbage.”

“That is not true.”

“Would it have killed her to recognize me – to accept me for who I am? To give me attention? Maybe then I would not have thrown myself to the first pack of lies that came my way, wrapped in candy.  None of this would have happened if it weren’t for her.”

“Do you have any idea what she had to endure? She is dead now. Gone. You can’t put her on trial.  In time you will let it go.”

“Her memory lives – the sick, revolting, disgusting memory of a woman who left mayhem in her wake.”

She collapses on the sofa and starts hitting herself again over the head. Next she is still – wrapped in her terror.  Her desperation is palpable; I sense the demons – readying to be exorcised.  She reaches for the mug on the coffee table, half full with who knows what, and throws it across the room. It hits the edge of another table and cracks into big chunks which roll onto the floor, each with a clang.  She picks up a crystal glass; this time she stands up and aims for the big painting over the fireplace. Smash – shards of glass spray everywhere, leaving an ugly tear on the canvas of a man and woman wrapped around each other in an embrace. She is a madwoman now charging towards the fireplace. She reaches for the painting, yanks it off the wall and proceeds to tear it apart.  She grabs the fire poker and starts wielding it every which way; catching a lampshade in one sweep, the leather sofa with another. She leaps towards the sliding doors to the garden and starts banging with the poker.   The shatter-proof glass gives way under the repeated blows.  Cracks appear along the stress lines making fantastic fractures left and right.

Stupefied, all I can do is stare. I dare not get close.

“I HATE THEM – ALL OF THEM. GODDAMN BASTARDS. I could kill them ALL with my bare hands. The men – those men – those disgusting, revolting assholes. Grabbing with greedy hands – taking – taking - always taking. And Reza – I hate him the most.  She charges for the glass curio in the far corner of the room which is filled with ornaments from every part of the world. Crystal figurines - China trinkets – mementos, gifts, treasures. She stabs at it repeatedly with the poker.  Crash – the whole structure collapses, spewing blades of glass everywhere.

“STOP” I scream. I get up and go toward her, risking life and limb. For all I know she’ll beat me to a pulp with that poker.

She turns around and I see the eyes – those wonderful eyes – those eyes that are caught in the maelstrom of madness.  There is fear, anger, desperation, sadness – but not hate – no never. Not Mira.

She drops the poker, falls onto the floor, first prostrate and then spread-eagled face down on the colorful silk rug, which, by now is sprinkled with every color of crystal and china.  She bangs her head on it over and over again.  She grabs the fringes and pulls with all her might. But just as a good Persian rug ought to, the tight knots don’t so much as give let alone tear in response to the assault. She gives up and instead surrenders to heaves. The bile spews from her mouth onto the patterns of gold, blue and green.

I am witness to the unraveling of the tapestry of a life, the knots of which want nothing more than to disentangle only to be reassembled; this time with the tender care of a skilled carpet weaver – one knot at a time, beautiful and colorful, lovingly placed together with care.  Alas – life is but a one way street.

I go to the kitchen to put the kettle on.  I look in the cupboard for tea.  Persian tea and nabaat – the cure for all ails - from an upset stomach to a broken heart. I start to clean up the kitchen while waiting for the kettle to boil.  I rinse the teapot with hot water once, before placing the leaves in it and then pour in the scalding water. I put the teapot gingerly on top of the open kettle, turn the range to low and let it steep. I return to the living room and get her up from the floor. I wipe her face with a warm damp cloth and then her arms and those bloodied beautiful hands.

We take baby steps to her bedroom.  I pull back the covers and help her onto the bed.  I go and get the tea and return.  She is waiting anxiously for my face to reappear.  I put the cup to her lips and watch her take in the sweet warm liquid. Color and calm slowly seep back to her face. I lay her head on the pillow – pull the covers over her, sit on the edge and watch.  I smooth out her brow. Gently I run my fingers along the soft horizontal lines which are beginning to show through, despite the weekly facials and the best cosmetics money can buy; there still – a testament to the passage of time.

I stay by her bedside until her breathing slows to a gentle rhythm as she drifts to sleep.

Once I have swept and mopped the living room floor, I put away the articles that can be salvaged and throw in the garbage the ones that can’t.  I pour myself a cup and place the nabaat inside. I watch and hear it sizzle as it first touches the hot tea, floats, then melts, shrinks and slowly sinks to the bottom of the cup. It’s our lives I am watching – mine, Mira’s, Reza’s – all of us – melting – shrinking - sinking.

I walk onto the patio and sit in one of the plush chairs.  Dawn has arrived.  A new day.  What could possibly wipe away from memory the night we had? For the first time in a decade, I yearn for a cigarette.  I sip my tea and let the tears fall.

[Part VI] [Part IV] [Part III] [Part II] [Part I]


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more from Flying Solo


by Omid B on



This is one of the most difficult things I've read in a while. I can't believe how realistically you weaved that breakdown together. I wish I hadn't seen so many of those, from Mira's and Solo's perspective.   





To love...

by shifteh on

is to be human. 

Solo jan, this piece confused the heck out of me!  At moments, i was a 'mira', all rage, all pain, and all anger and frustration.  A nano-second later; i was a 'solo', wise, calm, centered and confident! 

You weaved this tapestary of human soul with so many beautiful colors that one cannot help, but to be lost in the waves of colors and layers of knots.

I think Sheereen's post explains it all..


Too much

by sheereen on

Stop being a pest.
Stop loving someone who doesn't want your kind of love.
You love too much.
You love and adore too much.
You give and give too much.
What is wrong with you?
Is there something wrong with me?
That I love so much?
That I give the ultimate love and expect it in return?
That I believe in love.
Honesty, trust, loyalty.
Soul partnership.
For ever ?
Something wrong with that picture.
Been knocked down too many times with that scenario.
How many more times am I going to try?
Do I enjoy the neglect, meanness, sadness, hurt and pain?
Absolutely not.
I am a dreamer.
Wishful thinker.
Hopeless lover.
Wishing the un-wishable.
As he goes to work everyday.
Same time, same place.
As he goes home every night.
Same house, same woman.
As I lay down in my king size.
And hold my special pillow.
I have stopped crying now.
No more tears.
After years of heartache.
There is just the warm pain inside my torso.
Why do I long for love so much?
And why doesn't anyone else?
It's just too much.


Solo is a good friend

by Mehrban on

(I think of course) this dark loneliness, and having to face what ever is being eluded to about her family and childhood is what Mira has been trying to avoid by putting up with all the indignation of the relationship with Reza.  The former seems to be more painful that the latter.   If he does not show up again and Mira does not fall for another unavailable man, the worst is almost over for Mira. Solo is a good friend.  

[[I am witness to the unraveling of the tapestry of a life, the knots of which want nothing more than to disentangle only to be reassembled; this time with the tender care of a skilled carpet weaver – one knot at a time, beautiful and colorful, lovingly placed together with care.]] 

Red Wine


by Red Wine on

broken heart ... i liked it,thank you Solo jan .


Heavy stuff...

by Princess on

All through this episode, I couldn't help but wondering what really went on in Solo's head, given her role in bringing this situation about.

Shazde Asdola Mirza

I've lived long, but still don't know how to mend a broken heart

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on


Love is the greatest pull in universe and hate is the mightiest push. A heart is worst broken when torn apart by those two nemeses.