Coldonada (7), (8)


Manoucher Avaznia
by Manoucher Avaznia


By his stubborn defiance of the legal firm, Mr. Skeptic had increased his troubles a few folds: legal, financial, family, and personal troubles to be only a few of them.  The most difficult of them, of course, was the battle to overcome his personal anxiety.  The second most difficult task was keeping the storm concealed from Nelly who had suffered enough in the past decades of her life.  In fact, all those difficulties and his submissive reconciliation with Nelly’s ex-business partner were solely because of her.

Answer to none of the questions he had asked himself in those early morning days at work was positive.  Negative answers were persuasive enough to urge him to defy all odds and go ahead with not contacting the legal firm about the case and proceeding with the court appearance.  Somehow he had to overcome all those problems in different and difficult ways and by different tactics; however, he was fully aware that he was not such a calculating person to solve problems one by one and discard each of them after he found a solution for each. 

Most of the times his problems recurred.  Sometimes, the solutions he had thought of were lost among a pile of conclusions he had come to and stashed in a corner of his memory.  Sometimes, he could retrieve the solutions, but they stayed in his consciousness for a very short time before giving him a chance to deeply think about them again.  Sometimes, solutions seemed irrelevant to him.  He would lose connection between problems and their solutions.  Then, he would change his approach.  From different angles he would endeavor to forget everything except the most important of them all: to give himself courage to face what he dreaded the most: the court appearance.

He would tell himself, after all, there was a law governing the whole legal system and there would not be an arbitrary decision about the case.  At least, the court was the place where someone would hear the problem.  This would be an experience for him to better deal with the people who were engaged in those types of problems too.  There would be a future; and he would use that experience sometime in his life.

Tackling the emotional part of the problem was more difficult than its legal aspect.  In some instances, ridiculing his fear took the center of all his endeavors.

“What is happening to you, Boy?” he would ask himself,  “How many times were you willing to be jailed for giving an opinion? How many slaps did you receive in defiance of the secret police? How many days did you spend in jail? How many times have you been put down and you dragged yourself up? How many times did you escape direct bullets? How many times did you escape shells and shrapnel? Can you count them? And now you have fretted yourself to death for a verbal quarrel in front of a judge? What happened to your senses? What you have done is not substantially wrong, Old Chap. Show courage. Act aggressively.” 

These arguments would descend tranquility on him.  It would not last long.  The fear was there.  No amount of reasoning could change him to a person with different personality.  So, while engrossed in those thoughts, he would cut his fingers.  Then, he would press on the wound to prevent bleeding; and would run to the first-aids kit for bandages and finger cots.  After looking around and failing to find proper covering, he would put some cotton around the bleeding wound and would wear a robber glove, if available, on it.  Sometimes, he used a plastic bag.  Then, he would return to the table; discard the vegetables he had cut after cutting himself; and start anew with a still hurting finger. 

The blood surge in his heart was not giving up easily.  Later on, he started counting its every occurrence and reminded himself not to forget to keep counting: something that he would forget shortly afterwards.  In the beginning, it appeared the surge occurred once every five minutes.  Later, it appeared the frequency was dwindling and a surge would happen every ten minutes or so.  This whole process would not last more than half an hour.  A distraction would occur and he would be blown away on the current of his thoughts without knowing where he was really heading until he found himself lost in tackling an argument: lost the track of counting the blood surge occurrences.

This would lead him to the verge of ten o’clock in the morning when his fellow workers arrived.  He would start repeating his old jokes with them.  His staled story of being in love with all his female co-workers was the most amusing for all of them.  He would repeat them while trying not to disclose anything of what was going in his heart.  Girls would nod and laugh at his heavily accented crude words.  In this way, he would forget his fear; and the blood surge would go away until the next quiet morning at work.      



In a gloomy cold day of early November a severe pain in the left side of Mr. Skeptic’s back awakened him early in the morning.  He fell sleep for a short while before waking up with pain again.  He drove to work with the discomfort after washing his hands and face with cold water, hoping the pain was the result of a cold and would go away soon. 

At eight o’clock he was at Chicken Pig Café number sixteen.  He punched his time card in the machine mounted on the wall opposite the cutting area and made a pot of coffee as he used to do every morning before starting to work.  Before drinking the coffee, as it was his routine, he put his uniform on; took a large box of celery out of the walk-in refrigerator; carried it to his work station; and started cutting a bunch with a big blue-handled butcher’s knife for cooking his steamed vegetables as the first task of the day. 

All of a sudden, the pain surged so severely that he started to moan.  He thought a cup of coffee could take the pain away.  He went to the dining room, filled a glass with hot coffee; added some sugar; walked back to his work station; and drank the black coffee to the last drop as he continued cutting the rest of the celery bunches.  The pain was unbearably intensifying. 

He returned to the dining room.  The dining room manager had just arrived with a long face to clean the restaurant as she had contracted the work to make extra cash.  Mr. Skeptic told her he was in too much pain to be able to continue to work for the rest of the day.

“I have to go home,” he said with his both hands pressing on his sides somewhere near the un-easing pain.

She let him go and he rode his car home. 

Nelly had left for work.  His five-year-old son’s baby-sitter, whom they used to call Mother, was surprised by his unexpected arrival and pale face.  He asked her for a couple of strong pills which she took to overcome her pain; and took both of them with a glass of warm tea; and went to bed.

Time was passing slowly; and he fell sleep for about ten minutes.  Pain woke him up.  He started moaning in bed.  Mother advised him to go to the hospital.  He drove himself to the emergency ward.  His constant moaning and walking and sitting caused the staff to admit him in about one hour after his arrival.  Examination was swift.  He was injected some painkillers and he fell asleep. 

When he woke up, it was four o’clock in the afternoon.  The pain was gone.  Test results showed he had kidney stone.  No one was certain if the stone had moved out or it was still there.  At nightfall he was discharged with a prescription for codeine to suppress the pain.  He spent the whole next day resting, as his managers at both restaurants had urged, and returned to work the day after.

Later, while he still felt a mild pain, he was prescribed another one hundred of the same pill.  He was taking six pills a day.  Even when he had dropped the stone and he noticed it coming out with his urine, he was still taking the pills to relieve himself from the dread of the court appearance.  The pills lasted until shortly after the court appearance and gave him an excuse to conceal his fear.  In front of Nelly he could attribute his fear and pale face to his sickness and the pills he was taking.

Now, behind the locked door, Mr. Skeptic was waiting to face the consequences of defying the law firm.  Nelly was beside him.  As usual, she was neatly dressed.  Her hair was cut short.  It was neatly dyed in a rich brownish red color.  Her lipstick was red to match her hair.  Her small figure looked smaller than usual and her big green eyes looked worried and more beautiful than usual.  From her reserved nature it was hard to discover what was going on within her.  He husband was not trying to find that either.  He supposed she was pretending she was not scared.  If this were true, both of them were trying to hide what was going in their hearts.  Indeed, they both feared an unknown realm: the realm of law. 

Nelly was sensitive, naïve, proud, honest, talented, creative, and hardworking.  She did not deserve that much trouble.  It seemed her figure and all those characteristics were being meshed between the ruthless wheels of the whole system.  Sometimes, Mr. Skeptic blamed himself for neglecting her.  Her proud and impatient nature had contributed to his not interfering manners.  After all, in the previous several years of their marriage they never had a thorough conversation.  They rarely talked about themselves.  Their conversations about common plans and the people around them had no fruit.  Most of the times, they led to dead-ended quarrels.  They were of different natures with honesty in their relationship; and that was the strongest glue that kept their common life sticking together.

Mr. Skeptic was convinced that he must fully respect his wife’s freedom and not to impose anything on her.  Perhaps, he was going to the extremes in this respect.  Sometimes, he even abstained plain advice from her.  This was in the situations that he could clearly see Nelly was going in a path that would lead her to undesirable territories.  Sometimes, he thought unless Nelly fell in those troubles, she would not be able to expand the frame of her mind.  Challenges, in his belief, awakened abilities and strengthened talents.  Severe challenges could ruin one’s life too.  Until then he had taken that risk as well.

Now, in Mr. Skeptic’s opinion, Nelly’s challenges had gone too far.  He could see her losing many things.  The most precious of those things was her health.  Only at that point, he decided to push her aside and resolve the matter at any price.  He thought his shoulders were broader to haul that load.  In his childhood he had heard his mother telling him he was the only one who could help his fallen donkey to stand up.  


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