Waiting had never scared me so much. Waiting for a free shower, for a peaceful moment of loneliness among the crowd, inside those walls made of noise and water offering a kind of rare isolation, a desired moment of seclusion where I could be who I wanted to be. Knowing I wasn’t who I meant to be.
I felt hopeless, like being uninhabited.
“I’m hopeless,” Mitra said.
It was months into the war.
“We’re all hopeless,” I said.
Mitra and I stood by the window of my room. We had scratched the aluminum paper covering the glass, watching the narrow street, waiting for the rare appearance of the living, moving, breathing objects and things outside.
She was my only friend from my first day at high school. We were both students at the same University studying the same thing: Mathematics. She knew everything about me or Kian, and I knew every little secret of her quiet life.
Being raised in a conservative Jewish family, Mitra had this contradiction in her beliefs that I always found fascinating. We had many desires, many dreams, but never the same. We were so similar in many ways.
Still so different.
She believed in rituals and traditions and God; still despised its whole concept. She longed to leave for Israel; still she was madly in love with a Moslem boy she could never marry. She loved life and was optimistic; still she wanted to commit suicide because of the way life wasn’t life anymore. As the war started we both changed. We became alike.
So we decided to kill ourselves at the same time.
“Hanging,” she said.
I shook my head. “Too painful,” I said. “I like pills.”
“No,” she said. “It’s typical coward’s kind of death. We want something spectacular.”
Then we talked for hours about different ways of dying. Throwing ourselves under a train or a truck. Eating arsenic or burning ourselves. The final solution was supposed to be so original that nobody had never died from it. So unforgettable that everyone was going to remember how hopelessly we felt when we were alive.
“We can’t live without hope,” Mitra said.
“Suicide is our last hope,” I said.
She nodded without any hesitation, since her God had already died in the first days of war. Since the optimism - the hope to reach to that unseen layer of happiness- had already vanished for the mortals like us.
Heaven or Hell, angels or jinns all disappeared during bombings.
Hades, that promised zone of torment, became the only place, sheltering us inside. The only place we belonged.
“Your turn,” Zeinab screamed.
“My turn,” I whispered, startled. Still wondering whether the water thrusting out of the shower pipe – if I opened my mouth - could have drowned me for good. Wondering if it could offer me the relief and the accomplishment of that lost honorable death? The kind of death that Mitra and I both longed for. The kind of failure we shared.
“You go first,” Sahar told me. “I’m still not feeling good.”
Darkness, filled with mysterious volumes of prisoners, blended me in the crowd, and took off my clothes with ease, as if it had already owned me. Sahar held my clothes.
Distant warm drops of water, drop by drop, slid through my hair, falling with grace on my face, washing away the germs. The flow became sharper and hotter and the steam hid me inside its burn.
I stood motionless under the falling stream. I was going to wait in this line everyday. Everyday, the pureness of the water was going to scratch the thick stink of air, wasted on the thin layer of my being. I rubbed my skin, my hair, my face, rubbing hard to take away any trace of unknown diseases.
I opened my mouth.
Feeling invisible like a germ. Becoming invisible like a prisoner.
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