The moon vanished behind the moving clouds. The cold breeze and the lifeless view facing our hotel room reminded me of the prison.
Sahar and I hadn't closed the window.
“I always had so many friends,” Sahar said and smiled. “I could make friends in the buses, or in the parks, or anywhere I went. People seemed to like me.” She sighed. “But I never felt so close to any of them the way I feel about you.”
“I had almost none,” I said.
“All my friends were so different from you,” Sahar said.
“Who knows who?” I said, looking for the right words. “Why do you think I’m different? You don’t know anything about me, about what I’ve done, or what I used to think or to say. Whatever made me happy or sad. But, I have to tell you. I’ve changed. A lot.”
Sahar shook her head. “Don’t tell me. We all have changed,” she said and leaned back, placing her legs on the window’s edge.
I did the same. The breeze tickled my feet and the cold moved up toward my knees. “The past is past,” I said.
“I like you the way you are now,” she said. “And I don’t care about the past.”
But who could I be without my past? I thought. “I grew up in Astara,” I said. “We lived in a big house with a wild scary backyard.”
Sahar grabbed my hand. “I hope you’re telling me a love story,” she said.
“I wish,” I said and immediately regretted talking about the past. “Let’s forget it. It’s too late already. We’re both tired.”
Sahar laughed. “Now you can’t back up,” she said. “Remember. I’m your best friend.”
I sighed. “You win,” I said and cleared my voice. “I had a secret friend named Soghra,” I said. “Her mother was our maid. Everyone called her Nanneh Soghra, or Soghra’s Mom. Every morning they came to our house and every night they walked back to their village. While her mother was doing the laundry, Soghra and I played. We loved the beach. The sea wasn’t deep. We could move forward in the water for a long time and it wouldn’t still reach our knees,” I said and took a deep breath.
Sahar was playing with her hair.
“I liked Soghra because she was different from other children,” I said. “If we played hide and seek, she always chose to hide behind thin trees, so I could find her. Or she never accepted the role of the teacher in our classroom game, because she didn’t know how to read or to write. Or it was always her who washed the little teacups after the game was over. My all time favorite toy was a pillow with Soghra’s dark gray chador. I liked to wear it around my waist, or on my shoulder like a cap, or hide under it like a ghost. Soghra never complained.” I rubbed my hands. “One night - I was maybe five - I told her that I was going to keep it,” I said. “That the chador was mine. Soghra, as expected, didn’t argue. Not even a word.”
Sahar grabbed my hand and pressed it gently. “I remember how I thought I was a princess,” she said. “But I was just a spoiled brat.”
“Me too,” I said. “I was a lonely brat.”
Sahar chuckled drowsily.
“Mother never gave up on reminding me of those years,” I said. “The stories I invented, the friends I didn’t have, the places I didn’t see. I grew up imagining games, running in the beach, watching birds, touching snails, escaping monsters, pretending to be a queen, or a deev, playing with a pillow and somebody else’s chador every day, all the time,” I continued. “That chador became my throne and my identity. Children. They think they own the world. All children except for Soghra who was only three years older than me,” I said.
“We left Astara when I was eight, but I always missed its beach,” I said, glancing at Sahar. She had an ambiguous smile on her lips. “One summer, Mother and I met Nanneh Soghra at Grandma’s house in Astara,” I said. “Mother told her how much we missed her and invited her to Tehran. Of course we all knew it was nothing but a formality, something impossible, that she was too old to make this trip, and we were too poor to afford having a maid. But it still felt good. I’d never forget how she kissed Mother’s hand with gratitude, and how she hugged me like embracing a phantom.” I sighed. “No matter how much I had loved Soghra, still I wanted to escape her mother’s grip,” I whispered timidly. “Her lips felt creepy, wet, Dusty. Full of germs from people’s unwashed clothes or from the insects she used to kill for us. Nanneh told that Soghra got married at twelve and had four kids. It was three years ago. She was barely twenty three.”
Sahar rested her head on my shoulder. “Like my grandmother,” she murmured dozily.
I nodded. “Yes, just Grandma. Without a name,” I said. “From the moment women give birth, they lose their identity. Soghra wasn’t Soghra anymore. At thirteen, she became the mother of her firstborn.” I stopped talking.
Sahar snored gently on my side. Random drops of rain fell on my toes. It was cold.
As I rose to close the window, I glanced outside. On the sidewalk, a woman walked by and two men, sharing a single umbrella, watched her move.
The rain hit the glass. I grabbed a blanket and wrapped up Sahar’s sleep inside its heat.
I climbed the bed and enjoyed the pleasant smell of the clean sheets. I waited to fall asleep. I turned right and turned left. I lay on my back and on my belly. I counted imaginary sheep jumping over an imaginary fence. “Close your eyes and don’t think,” was Mother’s cure for insomnia on stormy nights. But tonight, I couldn’t stop thinking. Mother’s desired blankness fit into another life. I kept my eyes shut, but I knew even if I looked, I wasn’t going to find those ghastly ghosts anymore. My brain, ravaged by thoughts. Astara, my beach, my childhood, gone. The old house, my well, my backyard destroyed. My deev, vanished. My Danny, dead.
Moved with grief and anticipation, I felt like a newborn.
All of a sudden, Soghra’s face like Bakhtak, the dark ghoul of awakening, descended on my restlessness. “At least you had a childhood,” it said. “I never got one. My kids neither.”
I woke up staring the ceiling that resembled the quiet shores of Astara, swept by the waves of light moving up and down, left and right, from a corner to another, from the window to the wall, from the wall to the window. I slipped under the blanket and twisted to hide my face in the bloated volume of the pillow.
I couldn’t breathe.
What if I were truly changing, like a blaze, from the past minute to this one, from this one to the next? What if I were wavering like a nomadic weeping tree, swaying from hatred to serenity, from serenity to hatred? What if I were flying like a tossed stone, from here to there, from there to somewhere else?
What if I had already turned into a foreigner, in between, far from who I was, close to whom I would be?
What if Soghra, my secret friend, never got her fifth kid? What if she never turned twenty-six?
|Recently by Azarin Sadegh||Comments||Date|
|Life Across The Sun|
|Jun 11, 2012|
|The Enemies Of Happiness|
|Oct 03, 2011|
|Final Blast At the Hammer|
|Jul 18, 2011|
|نسرین ستوده: زندانی روز||Dec 04|
|Saeed Malekpour: Prisoner of the day||Lawyer says death sentence suspended||Dec 03|
|Majid Tavakoli: Prisoner of the day||Iterview with mother||Dec 02|
|احسان نراقی: جامعه شناس و نویسنده ۱۳۰۵-۱۳۹۱||Dec 02|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Prisoner of the day||46 days on hunger strike||Dec 01|
|Nasrin Sotoudeh: Graffiti||In Barcelona||Nov 30|
|گوهر عشقی: مادر ستار بهشتی||Nov 30|
|Abdollah Momeni: Prisoner of the day||Activist denied leave and family visits for 1.5 years||Nov 30|
|محمد کلالی: یکی از حمله کنندگان به سفارت ایران در برلین||Nov 29|
|Habibollah Golparipour: Prisoner of the day||Kurdish Activist on Death Row||Nov 28|