Walls and ceilings

I wish something could get me another job, I think. I don’t want to deal with crazy men who think like me.


Walls and ceilings
by Azarin Sadegh

Then the guard throws me in the cold room and the metallic sound of the closing door echoes in the darkness.

My foot gets stuck to an object and I fall on something warm. It feels like a leg.

It’s a room full of black shadows. I can’t see anything.

“Hi,” somebody whispers.

 “Where are you?” I reply. “Who are you? I don’t see you.”

Someone moans. Someone else laughs.

“He’s crazy,” a voice says. “He isn’t one of us.”

I touch the ground. I feel toes, I feel hands, I feel warm skin, and bones.

“Someone died last month,” the voice says.

Still, I feel like a blind. I don’t see the dead or the living.

“Are you my brother?” the crazy man screams.

“No, I was a journalist at the local newspaper,” I say.

“Are you the one with a gray camera?” the voice asks. “I saw you in the backyard talking to guards. It was months ago. Are you here for an interview with us?”

“I lost my job,” I say. “It was hard to find a new job. Then this morning I found this ad; the prison looking for a deliveryman.”

“Journalists aren’t fit enough,” the crazy man shouts.

“I could be if I want to,” I say. “I have a car. It’s small but I could deliver whatever fits.”

The crazy man punches the wall and screams. “Since I’ve lost my mind, I’m restless.”

“Sometimes he shows some lucidity,” a voice says.

“It’s all my own fault,” the crazy man screams.

We’re alike, I’m doomed like him, I think. Everything started with the article I wrote and then the pictures I took and then the way the guards laughed at me when they saw my car. I feel pity for the crazy man. I inhale a strange stench, smelling like nothing I have ever felt before. It’s like a force pushing me down. I want to move against this gravity but I can’t. First, I have to do my job.

“It’s mystical like destiny,” the crazy man shouts. “I wish something could expand the walls or stretch the ceiling.”

I wish something could get me another job, I think. I don’t want to deal with crazy men who think like me.

“Did you have connections?” the voice asks. “Tell us more. We want to know you before we trust you. Where were you this morning? Where were you last night?”

 “I’m nobody,” I say. “I was nowhere,” I say. “I’m normal like you,” I say. “I’m not the one you saw,” I say. “I have no connections,” I say and smile. Nobody will notice the dishonesty in my grin.

“The traitor,” the crazy man screams like an injured crow and his voice touches my face like a summer breeze.

Someone falls on top of me, pushing me against the floor. Someone else fights with him, taking the weight off me. I am stuck inbetween these two forces. None is my destiny.

The crazy man laughs hard and leaves me alone.

“Ignore him,” the voices say altogether.

“I’ll never trust you again,” the crazy man shouts back. “Why did you leave me?” He’s sobbing like a child.

“I told you, I don’t know you,” I say.

“But you sound like a prisoner,” a new voice says. “Like someone we know, like any of us.”

“How many are you?” I ask.

“We don’t know,” the voice says. “As soon as we start counting, the door opens and in the blinding light we get distracted. Somebody comes or somebody leaves. We’d never know.”

“I’m the last one,” I say. “I know, I know,” I say. “The guards told me nobody else’s coming,” I say. “It’s the message.”

“You’re the last messenger,” the crazy man whispers. He seems too close again. I’m afraid.

“I’m just the deliveryman.” I say.

“Why should we believe you?” someone asks.

“I don’t know,” I say. “I just got hired. I don’t know all the secrets.”

“You’re nobody,” they say altogether. “You can’t even see us. We can’t even see you. What if you’re crazy too?”

The crazy man cries. It sounds like laughter. I want to cry too.

I lay down on the cold surface of harsh ground, pushing some legs to make room. A hand caresses my chest. Silence floats. I’m cold. The human heat is leaving my body. I have forgotten the rules of the calculation of the space of a cube in a 3 dimensional world.

We all become like a big corpse in the darkness, waiting.

Tonight I’ll go home if somebody comes, I think.

Coming from the room next door, the screeching sound of a cough defines life.

“I’m still alive,” the crazy man screams.


I’m not cold anymore.


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more from Azarin Sadegh
Azarin Sadegh

Are you a poet?

by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear Minoo,

Thank you so much for your detailed comment. I think you've managed to read in between lines, or even more :-)

Your own writing reads like poetry. "imagined the walls and ceiling contracting and expanding, the stinking men inhaling and exhaling."

Very nice! You have expanded the imagination beyond my original thought!

Actually this piece is not going to be in my novel anymore (please read my explanation to Jamshid). I think the main subject here is unrelated to the main idea of my novel. But I think this story is basically about hope. 



Azarin Sadegh

Thanks Jamshid!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Dear Jamshid, This piece originally was written as an in-class exercise in my novel class. I was hoping to include it as one of the dreams of my book of dreams.  But I have changed my mind about starting each chapter with a dream. So, this piece is not in the novel anymore. it also means that I have the freedom to continue its second part! Thanks again,


PS: As you know I usually avoid political articles/blogs, but I just wanted to let you know that most of the times I like your arguments the best. You are an excellent debater. 

Minoo A.

shrinking room -- expands the imagination

by Minoo A. on

This chapter from your upcoming novel is so damn good, full of memorable lines, language, images, and emotions.  The terror is so palpable and genuine, one forgets it's fiction.  I read it earlier today, and haven't stopped thinking about the scene, imagined the walls and ceiling contracting and expanding, the stinking men inhaling and exhaling.  How often does a writer accomplish this?  Pure genius.  What imagination.  Whatever will the finished book be -- but a sensation.


Very nice!

by jamshid on

I enjoy your abstracts and how you give meaning to them with your words. 

When I reached the end, I wanted more! I think this is a story that could have an interesting part-II.

Azarin Sadegh


by Azarin Sadegh on

to JJ:

Thanks a lot JJ for your long feedback! Knowing you, I am very flattered and impressed!

But first of all,...SHHHHH! My novel was supposed to be a secret! But since you talked about it...ok! What can I say now?

Second, it has always been a novel and not a memoir, but it is true that its original idea came from someone else's life. But I am changing (slowly and page by page) many of those first plans and I am very happy about it. I enjoy very much the limitless prospect of writing fiction. But still let's keep our mind open to new memoirs written by Iranian women. I would never dismiss any book before reading at least its first page :-) So please...let's be optimistic and supportive of each other. Believe me! It's not easy to write a book (and publish it too) in this country.

to David: I have always enjoyed your comments: smart, succinct and right to the point! Thanks!

To Irandokht: Thanks my dear! Actually since my secret is out, then...the heck! I'm going to talk about it! 

The truth is that I have never been to a prison myself but I had to do many research about it since in my novel almost half of the story happens in a prison and in the same small room, so I had to imagine this room so many times and from so many different angles that I guess I managed to capture its real choking sensation!

Thanks again,



how do you do it?

by IRANdokht on

Azarin jan

I am trying very hard to figure out how you can make me feel what it's like, when there is no way that you ever experienced being a man in a prison cell yourself!


you didn't give me any background, no information or clear roles, no time or clear circumstances... but you made me feel what it's like.

That is just amazing!!! 

Good Job :0)



David ET

good one Azarin

by David ET on

yes its time to let go ..

Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

Terrific piece. Made me think that maybe you should eventually move away from telling your own story (or stories that are your own life experiences) and focus on the limitless possibilities of fiction and fantasy. As you know everyone talks about how there are too many memoirs out there by Iranian women writers. Another one could be dismissed as "just another memoir". So I don't know how much of your current novel is about your own life, but for your future novels, you have the great talent and imagination to create complete fantasies -- infinite variations of people, situations and time. Imagination beyond walls and ceilings :o)