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The Splendour of Iran
Travel
Iran Travel

Payvand's Iran Literature ...

1/2/03
PLAY: Akram The Daughter of A-Ce-Mon

By: Majid Beenteha
maj4200@yahoo.com
majid.swsites.net

Charaters:

Akram: A girl in Mid Twenties
A-Ce-Mon: Akram's Mother
Bagher : Akram's Father
Fatemeh: Matchmaker
Babak: A young Suitor
Sorror: Babak's Mother
Nader: Babak's Father


ACT I

Scene I

Setting:

The living room of Bagher's house

At Rise:

Bagher in his underpants seats leisurely on a chair sipping tea. A-Ce-Mon enters with a plate of sweets and places it in front of Bagher. She starts tidying up the room, picking up his trousers and mumbling something under her breath.

Bagher: Akram
(Pause)
Akram. Girl where are you?

A-Ce-Mon: What is it? Why are you screaming?

Bagher:
(Ignoring A-Ce-Mon, Louder)
Akram?

A-Ce-Mon: What do you want from her?

Bagher: I want to speak a few words with her.

A-Ce-Mon: You'll do nothing of the kind. Leave her be. Have you no shame lounging around like this in your underpants?

Bagher: You've been nagging ever since I've come home. Is something the matter with or you nag out of obligation to your sex?
(Without waiting for her to reply)
Akram . girl, Where are you?

A-Ce-Mon: She is in the bathroom. She can't hear you in there.

Bagher: That girl spends half of her life in that bathroom. What is she doing in there? The smell of all that makeup is nauseating. I tell you, I can't relive myself in there. I get constipated. The whole bathroom stinks of perfumes. I'm beginning to miss the smell of my own shit.

A-Ce-Mon: It was your own fault sending her to that cosmetic school.

Bagher: I agreed to send her to that school so she can earn a living working on other girls faces . not on her own ... Besides, she should concentrate on finding a suitable husband.

A-Ce-Mon: Stop criticizing her so much. Besides, finding a suitable husband these days is not so easy.

Bagher: All I'm saying is that a girl in her situation and age should be married by now. An unmarried young girl is like a house with no door. Every Dick and Harry wants to walk in, take few things, and then run off.

A-Ce-Mon: What do you want me to do about it?

Bagher: You must spread the word around your circle of friends. You women can spread a gossip like a wild fire, but you can't get the word out that your daughter needs a husband?

A-Ce-Mon: Maybe I should make a leaflet with a picture of her on it and pass it around in the street.

Bagher: That's a better idea than placing our hope on Fatemeh Kahnoom.

A-Ce-Mon: Fatemeh does this for living. Have you any idea how many girls she has married off?

Bagher: Then why she never got married herself?

A-Ce-Mon: It was her fate to be a matchmaker. Poor thing, after she lost her leg in the accident, no one wanted to marry her.

Bagher: I wish I had lost mine, so I didn't have to marry you.
(Yells out again)
Akram . Akram
(There is no reply)
Woman, go and take a look, maybe she has overdosed on hairspray and hit her head against the bath tub. Last night I found her sleeping near the fireplace. Good thing I got there before that flammable hair of hers caught on fire. She could have burnt the whole house down.

A-Ce-Mon: Stop this nonsense and get dressed.

Bagher: Why? Is someone coming?

A-Ce-Mon: Yes. Fatemeh is coming. She said she has found a good match. She wants to talk to us about it.

Bagher:
(The doorbell rings)
Why didn't you say something before I made myself comfortable?
(He gets up and puts on his pants)
I'm not paying her a dime until I see a ring on Akram's finger. And she better not bring any of them phony gigolos or one of them mama's boys.

A-Ce-Mon: With your attitude she'll never brings anyone in here. Now, be nice to her.

Bagher: Aeeh --- Go bring her in.
(She exits and returns with Fatemeh. We can hear them chatting as they come in. Bagher on his feet, very charmingly)
Hello Fatemeh Khanoom. Welcome. It's so good to see you. How are you these days?

Fatemeh: Praise god, I've had better days Bagher Khan. You don't know how much pain I have suffered in the past few months. My leg was killing me. I saw one doctor after another and took all sorts of pills to no avail. My old doctor, god rest his soul, knew me inside and out. He was the one who amputated my leg. If he was around, I wouldn't have suffered so much. These young doctors are afraid of prescribing an aspirin without getting your urine sample. Thank god for Mahmood agha. He gave me a bottle of pills and since then I have not been feeling any pain.

A-Ce-Mon: Mahmood agha, you mean the butcher in your neighborhood.

Fatemeh: Yes the very one. God bless his soul. What a gentle and kind man. The poor guy went to the other side of the town to pick them up for me. He was a god sent. He gets them from a woman who lives in the country. It's a home remedy, he says.

Bagher: Yes, what works for chickens, cows, and goats, should be good enough for us humans too. That's how they conduct clinical trials in other countries. First they try their pills on farm animals and then on humans. Mahmood khan is ahead of his time ---

A-Ce-Mon: Bagher? What is all these nonsense you are talking about?

Fatemeh: Bagher Khan is right. I have more faith in Mahmood Khan than any of our doctors.

Bagher: Fatemeh Khanoom, why are you standing now, please have a seat. Have some tea. A-Ce-Mon, bring some tea, some fruits and sweets for Fatemeh Khanoom.

Fatemeh:
(Takes a seat opposite him. To A-Ce-Mon )
Please don't trouble yourself on my account. I'm here on business. I won't be long.

Bagher: I will not hear of it.
(To A-Ce-Mon)
A-Ce-Mon, how about some tea.
(A-Ce-Mon exits)

Fatemeh: You are too generous. I've always depended on the kindness of others you know.

Bagher:
(With a hint of sarcasm)
You don't have to sell me on that. Your reputation precedes you.

Fatemeh:
(Fatemeh is about to counter this insult when A-Ce-Mon enters with a tray of tea, fruits and sweets.)
God bless you A-Ce-Mon Khanoom. Without you Bagher khan couldn't get one leg into his pants. You are so lucky Bagher Khan. You married a saint of a woman.

Bagher:
(Becoming irritated)
Look here Fatemeh Khanoom, Let's not beat around the bushes. Let's get to the point. A-Ce-Mon tells me that you've found a suitor for our daughter.

A-Ce-Mon: Bagher, let her finish her tea for god's sake. Where are your manners?

Fatemeh: It's all right A-Ce-Mon Khanoom. I understand why he is so anxious to marry off his daughter. After all in his age he has one foot in the grave.

Bagher: Can you get to the point?

Fatemeh: Well I have to say I have outdone myself this time. Wait and see what a suitor I found for your daughter. He is educated, good looking, kind, generous; he has all the qualities that you want in a young man.

Bagher: All that huh? So why is he not married? What is wrong with him?

A-Ce-Mon: Bagher!

Bagher: What?

Fatemeh: Well you know young people these days they are tough to please. He is very particular.

Bagher: So are we. One strand of Akram's hair is worth more than the lot of suitors put together.

Fatemeh: Yes. Praise god, Akram your daughter is a jewel. There are not so many pure ones out there you know.

Bagher: You've got that right. So who is this boy anyway? What does he do?

Fatemeh: Listen to you. Who is he? What does he do? You think I would bring a vagabond to your house? Let me just tell you that he comes from a very respectful family. His father owns a profitable grocery store. His family is loaded ---

A-Ce-Mon:
(With dismay)
You want my daughter to marry a grocer's son?

Fatemeh: Don't be so rash with your judgment. Hear me out first.

A-Ce-Mon: What kind of education has he anyway?

Fatemeh: He almost finished high school.

Bagher:
(Turning to A-Ce-Mon)
Did you hear that? "Almost finished high school."
(Turns to Fatemeh)
What's almost? You either finish high school or you don't. Which is it?

Fatemeh: He is educated in lots of other ways. He has been to Turkey and Pakistan and every year he makes a religious pilgrimage to Mashad.

Bagher: What a catch? Didn't I tell you A-Ce-Mon? This is what you get for putting your trust in her. She'll never find a proper suitor for our daughter.

Fatemeh: You are unnecessarily apprehensive Bagher Khan. Hear me out first. This boy is a real thing. He has lots of potential.

A-Ce-Mon: We have to be on our guards, there are lots of phony people out there.

Fatemeh: You have every right to be of course ----

Bagher: Is a grocer's boy the best you can do for our daughter?

Fatemeh: Dear god, you don't give someone a chance to say a few words. Listen to me. I've been doing this for thirty years. I know what I'm doing

A-Ce-Mon: Fatemeh Khanoom, can you see us socializing with a grocer's family? My father would roll in his grave ---

Fatemeh: It's not like that. They are very refined and respected people. Besides, they can offer your daughter a comfortable life. They have a big country house and a big villa by the sea. His father owns at least 10 apartments in the city.

Bagher:
(Impressed, a large smile appears on his face.)
You don't say.
(Noticing the change of expression in Bagher's eyes, A-Ce-Mon protest)

A-Ce-Mon: What's the matter with you? Your eyes seem to be popping out of their sockets. Since when, couple of houses impressed you?

Bagher: I'm just thinking how lucky Akram will be spending her time between the country house and the Villa.

A-Ce-Mon: Shame on you.

Bagher: I'm only thinking of her future.
(To Fatemeh)
How big is their house?

Fatemeh: I didn't take a measuring tape with me to their house, but I swear to you I went to the restroom in their house and I couldn't find my way back to the living room.

A-Ce-Mon: What does he look like? This boy?

Fatemeh: He looks like a movie star.

A-Ce-Mon: He is not bald, is he?

Fatemeh: What kind of questions is that?

A-Ce-Mon: It's just that Akram despises bald men.

Fatemeh: He has receding hair, but who doesn't in this day and age. It's not how much hair one has, its' how one styles it. It's amazing how beautifully he combs his hair.

A-Ce-Mon:
(Noticing Bagher attention drifting)
Why are you so quiet? What are you contemplating about?

Bagher: All this talk of marriage reminded me of the day I learned that I was going to get married.

A-Ce-Mon: This is hardly the time or place to reminisce about your wedding day.

Bagher: I remember that day very well. It was a beautiful winter day. We had a lot of snow the day before. The whole city was draped in white. There was that certain calm and quiet in the air that you sense after a great snowfall. I can still hear the crunch of snow under my father's boots as he approached me on the balcony to give me the news.

He put his arms around me, kissed me and told me, "son, congratulation. Next week, you'll become a man. You'll be married." It was one of the few times I had seen a genuine smile lingering on his face. He seemed so pleased with himself.

For the first time that day I felt the coldness of the winter down to my bone marrow. I was terrified .. terrified. I didn't say a word. I couldn't. I stood there all day on that balcony staring out blankly at this stupid snowman that I had made earlier that day. We both had similar fate stored for us. In a week's time our lives, as we knew it was going to seize to exist.

Fatemeh: At least you were told before it happened, some people I know were told the day they got married.

Bagher: I think the affect would have been the same if I had heard it on the day of the marriage or a year before it.

A-Ce-Mon: Bagher, what do you mean by all this?

Bagher: Nothing.

A-Ce-Mon: You think it was easy for me? It was no picnic I tell you to be married off so young.

Bagher: I don't believe I thought much about your feeling back then; I was preoccupied trying to figure out my own.

A-Ce-Mon: Well, it wasn't any different for me. Right after my father died, my uncle started pressuring my mother to marry me off. My father was the only educated man in the family. He wouldn't have allowed it. But my uncle, he had a different perspective on life. I like to think he wanted to do the right thing for us, but I know better now. He just wanted to get rid of us.

Fatemeh: Praise god that you two got along and everything worked out. But why lean on the past? What good it would do? Lets think of a future for your daughter. What do you say we have these folks pay you a visit?

A-Ce-Mon: God forbid. I'll die before I'd let them into our house.

Fatemeh: Let's not be so hasty A-Ce-Mon Khanoom. Just give me a chance to prove you wrong. Bagher Khan, please say something to convince her.

Bagher: I have no objection. You have to convince A-Ce-Mon. She has the final say about who comes in and out of this house.

Fatemeh: A-Ce-Mon Khanoom, don't be so stubborn. Don't let this opportunity slip by your daughter. A chance like this comes along once in a lifetime.

A-Ce-Mon: I guess it won't hurt meeting them...

Fatemeh: Thank god. You won't regret this. You'll see. You'll thank me handsomely for this one day. Next Friday night after dinner, I'll bring them over.
(Looking around the room turning critically to A-Ce-Mon)
A-Ce-Mon Khanoom you better fix this place up a bit. You don't want to make a bad impression now, do you?
(Without waiting for a reply she gets up to leave)
I'll see you then. Be well.

A-Ce-Mon: So soon, Fatemeh Khanoom? You haven't finished your tea!

Fatemeh: I'm going to make a call on them. It's not too late. I want to give them the good news Goodbye Bagher Khan.

Bagher: Good Bye
(A-Ce-Mon Follows Fatemeh out. Bagher seats back)
God help us.
(raising his hand toward sky)
Release me from the clutches of all these women.

Curtain Fall

End of Act I


ACT II

Scene I

Setting:

The living room of Bagher's house has been rearranged smartly and lit up brightly. Some luxury pieces of furniture and household items have been added to provide a touch of elegance, style and affluence.

At Rise:

A-Ce-Mon in an elegant simple white dress is busy rearranging a colorful array of plates full of fruits, pastries and nuts on the coffee table. Bagher paces nervously back and forth looking at his watch every now and then. He sports an old torn tie that betrays the affect of his new suit.

Bagher: Where the hell are they?

A-Ce-Mon: Stop pacing back and forth. You are making me nervous. Just take a sit for god's sake.

Bagher: I can't help myself.

A-Ce-Mon: You shouldn't look so eager to please.

Bagher: Look who is talking? Look at the spread on this table. Must have cost us a fortune.

A-Ce-Mon: What do you want them to think? That we don't have enough class to put out a plate of sweet in front of them? These people judge everything with their eyes. First impression is everything.

Bagher: Well I don't want to impress them in a wrong way. I don't want them to think that we are too careless with our money or that we are sitting on a pot of gold.

A-Ce-Mon: It's better for them to think that. They'll pay us more respect.

Bagher: Who cares what they think.

A-Ce-Mon:
(Noticing Bagher's torn tie)
What is this you are wearing? What hole did you resurrect this drab looking thing from? For god's sake, take it off. You want to embarrass us in front of these people?

Bagher: You don't understand, this is the tie I wore the night of our wedding. I thought it would be appropriate to wear it now.

A-Ce-Mon: It has a hole in it. It doesn't even match the color of your suit. Take it off. It's making you look like a bum.

Bagher: You know you have a lot of faults, but the worst of them all is the lack of imagination. This tie is a conversation piece. A whole story of our marriage is knit into its fabric.

A-Ce-Mon: You know what it says about you and our marriage, it says, that I'm married to a cheap old hag and the circumference of that hole represent the size of your brain.

Bagher: You always shoot down every good idea I have. This tie is an icebreaker ---

A-Ce-Mon: You're going to make a laugh stock of us. Take it off now.
(She goes to him and puts her hand on the tie and tries to remove it)
Take this ugly thing off ---

Bagher:
(Pushes her back. They struggle)
This is not coming off ---
(The doorbell rings. They separate.)

A-Ce-Mon:
(Nervously)
Go get the door. Why are you standing here like a deadwood? Go let them in.
(As he tries to pass her by, she makes a final attempt to remove his tie. He pushes her hand away and runs out. She rearranges the plates one last time. You can hear the guests chatter in the hallway.)

Bagher:
(Returns with the guests, directs them in)
Welcome to our humble house. Please come in. Make yourselves at home.

Nader: What an elegant looking room. I must congratulate your wife.

Bagher: Speaking of my wife, here is the great wonder in person.
(A-Ce-Mon steps forward and they all exchange formal greetings, after which Nader speaks out)

Nader: Madam, I was just commenting about your lovely house and the style of furnishing, every thing is arranged in such good taste.

Sorror: Yes, I agree, you have an exceptional taste. And everything is kept so meticulously clean and orderly.

A-Ce-Mon: You are too kind. Please, everyone, take a seat.

Fatemeh:
(Taking Babak's hand and introducing him to A-Ce-Mon)
This is the distinguished young man I've been telling you about. Look at how tall and handsome he looks. He is a marvel? I tell you there are not too many like him left out there. And he is devoted to his parents.

Babak:
(Quite embarrassed replies clumsily struggling to get the words out)
How. do you do mother. It's . It's a pleasure to meet your house. I mean . you. Your beautiful home . I'm very pleased ---

Fatemeh:
(Fatemeh cuts him short trying to lighten up the impression left on A-Ce-Mon by the manner of his speech)
See how he talks? Simple but every word sweetened with sugar ---

Bagher:
(Directs every one to take seats)
Why is everyone standing? Please take a seat. A-Ce-Mon Dear. Please bring some tea for our guests.
(They all take a seat. Bagher directs Babak to take his place on a chair opposite everyone else.)

Nader:
(To A-Ce-Mon, who is offering plates full of fruits and pastries to everyone)
Please don't trouble yourselves on our account. We came here to talk to you, please have a seat.

A-Ce-Mon: What trouble?

Sorror:
(Looking at the plates full of pastries )
Fatemeh khanoom have been talking all day about the wonderful pastries you make. Are these the ones?

A-Ce-Mon: Actually Akram is the one who made them. She is a wonder in the kitchen.
(Bagher rises and takes the pastry plate and serves it to everyone. In the interim A-Ce-Mon offers them tea. Finally they all are seated.)

Sorror: A-Ce-Mon Khanoom, did you say Akram? Who is Akram?

Nader: Don't tell me, you have a maid in the house too?

A-Ce-Mon:
(Shocked to find that they are unfamiliar with her daughter's name)
What? Maid?

Fatemeh:
(Quickly interjects to clarify the situation)
A-Ce-Mon Khanoom is talking about Suzette, their daughter of course

A-Ce-Mon:
(Looking puzzled at Fatemeh. Attempts to follow her cue)
My daughter. Suzette. yes. Of course, that's what I meant to say.

Bagher:
(Bewildered, not understanding the situation)
Who the hell is Suzette?

A-Ce-Mon: Our daughter's nickname silly.

Bagher: I don't know what you all are talking about. Our daughter's name is Akram the last time I checked her birth certificate. I don't know any Suzette ---
(Everyone turns to Fatemeh expecting an explanation)

Fatemeh: Bagher Khan doesn't remember. Suzette is the nickname given to her when she was attending the French school. Since then all her friends call her Suzette.

Bagher:
(Aggravated with her explanation)
What is wrong with Akram? What gives you the right to go around changing people's name?

A-Ce-Mon:
(Trying to diffuse the situation)
Suzette was her nickname in the preschool. She doesn't use it anymore.

Babak:
(Abruptly, to everyone's surprise)
Akram is a beautiful name. I think it was the name of one of our prophet's wives.
(Everyone looks silently toward him as if waiting for further explanation.He nervously continues)
Yes, I believe Akram was the name of the wife of our sixth Imam, or maybe it was the 10th Imam. If I'm not mistaken, I think there is even a prayer called Akram. Any way, I'm sure there is a poem about Akram somewhere in our rich literature.

Fatemeh:
(Jumps in to divert attention away from him)
And they say young people these days are stuck up on foreign names. Just goes to show you what a bright young man Babak is. And did you hear him talk about the prophets and poetry. What did I tell you, he is so cultivated and cultured.

Sorror: In our days names like Akram were commonplace. Nowadays it's almost a stigma to have such old names. Everyone wants to be named after some king or queen or a movie star. My son, thank god, doesn't care much about these things.

Babak:
(Oblivious to his Mother's comment)
In the school they used to call me, Bobby ---

Bagher:
(Looking scornfully at him)
Bobby? Huh? Why Bobby?

Babak: Everyone thinks I look like Bob Martin.

Bagher: You mean Dean Martin?

Babak:
(Babak turns to show his profile)
Yes. So you know him too. I'm sure you can see the resemblance?

Bagher:
(Sarcastically)
Yes. Now that you mention it, you're a split image of Dean Martin.

Sorror:
(Trying to avert attention away from his son she turns to A-Ce-Mon)
So Akram Khanoom speaks French then?

A-Ce-Mon: Yes. Of course, French is the language of her choice but she also speaks fluent English and some German too.

Fatemeh: She is a marvel Sorror Khanoom. And she is so modest; you wouldn't know she could speak all those languages.

Nader: You have to see our Babak. He speaks English like a canary with our foreign customers. He knows the name of all the Fruits and vegetables in English.

Bagher:
(With a mild Sarcasm)
You don't say! Well he can always find a good post at the foreign ministry. God knows we have shortage of diplomats in this country.

Nader:
(Not comprehending the hint of sarcasm in Bagher's statement)
I don't want to brag, but he is also a world traveler. At his young age, he has traveled to Turkey and Pakistan all by himself.
(Turnning to A-ce-mon, talking with his mouth full)
These pastries are wonderful.
(Turnning to Bagher)
You are a lucky man. No wonder you look so plump and red.
(He delivers the statement with a kind of smile that disrobes it of any hint of sarcasm that such sentence might imply)

Bagher:
(Pleasantly, rubbing his fat stomach)
Yes my life insurance should pay her handsomely for her wonderful husbandry
(A silly smile appears on their faces)

Nader: Of course, getting fat and bald comes naturally with old age.
(A-Ce-Mon's attention turns to Babak's Bald head. An awkward silence pursues.)

Bagher:
(Noticing the hole in his tie, excitedly as if inspired, breaks the silence)
Allow me to share with you a story ---
(Pointing to his tie. He is cut short by A-Ce-Mon dreading what he may say next)

A-Ce-Mon: So Nader Khan, Fatemeh Khanoom is telling us you have a country house and a Villa by the seashore. It must be nice traveling back and forth all year long.

Nader:
(Clearing his throat, with distinguishable pride)
Well... she is partially right. You see our next-door neighbor let us rent his Villa in the north every summer and the country house does not legally belong to us yet. But with god's help, that will be resolved soon. You see we moved into the country house after the original owner fled the country. You know one of those political cases. You don't know how much money and time I have spent in that house fixing it up. It was in such a pitiful state. Now after all these years, his daughter is claiming the property. Can you believe this?

Bagher: It's shameless, after all your hard work ---

A-Ce-Mon: Thank god, you still have all those apartments.

Nader: Well between all my ten brothers and sisters, I own one unit. You see, we all chipped in and bought this ten-story building.

A-Ce-Mon: So your whole clan lives in the same building

Nader: Yes we are a close-knit family. Altogether there are 65 of us in that building.

Bagher: And the business?

Nader: It's really a big partnership. We like to keep everything in the family.

Bagher: Of course, so where would Babak Khan live when he gets married?

Nader: We have a little room on the roof. We were thinking to expand it a bit. They can use our kitchen and restroom for cooking ad washing of course.

Bagher:
(To his wife Sarcastically)
Did you hear that A-Ce-Mon. They are going to live on the rooftop. I always wanted to have a panoramic view of the city. How romantic?
(A-Ce-Mon looks away with dismay)

Sorror:
(To A-Ce-Mon)
I'm sorry to ask this but I hope you understand I'm a mother too you know. I wanted to know if Akram Khanoom likes children or not?

A-Ce-Mon: Of course she does. Who wouldn't like children?

Sorror: What I really meant to ask is if she can .. You know .. That is to say .. god forbid . she has no internal problems .. does she?

A-Ce-Mon: What are you saying? Are you asking to see if my daughter is barren?

Fatemeh:
(Interferes to mollify the situation)
Nowadays there are tests doctors perform. These things can be determined before marriage.

Bagher: You are expecting our daughter to take a test?

Fatemeh: Bagher Khan, these conversations are premature. We haven't even got to that point yet.

Nader:
(With a fatherly air)
If you allow me to get to the point then?

Bagher: Please . By All means

Nader: You See, Babak is our only son. The only reason we are here is to look after his interest.

Sorror: Yes, Babak was against arranged marriage and even told us so. God knows he doesn't need our help. We have girls throwing themselves at him.

Fatemeh: With his looks and charm, that's an understatement.

Nader: Yes. We are fortunate to be in a position to offer some lucky young girl his hand in marriage

Bagher:
(Looking angrily at Fatemeh khanoom)
We don't know whom we should thank for the honor.

A-Ce-Mon:
(Follows with the same tune)
Fatemeh Khanoom, have done us a great favor by introducing you to us.

Bagher: Indeed.

Nader: As for her dowry we wanted to find out what you had in mind for her? Of course we understand that marriage these days is an expensive proposition ---

Bagher:
(Angrily)
Dowry?

A-Ce-Mon:
(Trying to prevent her husband's outburst)
I'm sure we can discuss away all these inconveniences after these two young people meet and like one another.

Sorror:
(Firmly)
A-Ce-Mon Khanoom. These young people don't know what is good for them. Sometimes they have to be shown the ways of the world.

A-Ce-Mon:
(looking sternly at Fatemeh)
Yes you are right of course, but ---

Nader: Yes. So if you agree Bagher Khan, we can come to some kind of arrangement and shake on it and finish off the whole deal tonight. I don't like to leave things hanging in the air.

Bagher: Nader Khan, we are not talking about vegetable and fruits here ---

Fatemeh:
(Sensing the tension building up, she interjects to divert attention away from the topic of marriage )
I don't know what I was thinking? I almost forgot to mention how talented Babak is. Did you know how good he is at playing Daf & Donbak?

Nader:
(Exuberantly)
Yes, He is very musical. He brightens up all of our parties. And can you believe it? He never had a formal training. You can say the music is in his blood.

Bagher: Well. Fatemeh Khanoom it's not like you to hide such information from us. I know I speak for A-Ce-Mon too, that we can't let Babak Khan go without hearing him play.

Babak:
(Shyly)
My Father is joking of course. I'm just a novice really.

Sorror: He is so humble. And you should see him dance. None of the girls in our family can rival his dance steps. I don't know whom he has picked after.

Bagher: Sorror Khanoom, your son's endless talents and qualities never seize to amaze me. Now we do have a Donbak here in the house and with your permission I like to ask Babak Khan to favor us with a tune. My brother, god rest his soul, was professor of music. A-Ce-Mon where is that Donbak of his?

Babak: Please. I'm out of practice.

Bagher: Please honor us with a performance. You are not going to deprive us, are you?

Nader: Yes son. What is wrong with it? A-Ce-Mon Khanoom please bring the Donbak, I'll convince Babak to play for us.

A-Ce-Mon: I don't know if this is such a good idea.

Bagher: Nonsense. Maybe he can lure out Akram out of her room with the magic of his music. I bet once you start playing, she is going to waltz down the steps.

Babak: Well if you insist ---

Bagher: Insist? I wouldn't have let you go out of here without hearing you play. A-Ce-Mon dear, please bring the Donbak
(A-Ce-Mon grudgingly fetches the Donbak and offers it to Babak)

Babak:
(Excitedly takes the Donbak)
With everyone permission.

Bagher: Please, this is your own house.
(Babak begins to play a mellow song)

Nader:
(Unhappy with the selection of the song)
Babak dear, we are not in a funeral. Play something jolly please ---

Bagher: Yes this is a happy occasion ---

Babak:
(With a silly compliant smile)
Okay
(He plays a jubilant song and before long Sorror and Nader accompany him by clapping. Bagher also joins in. Suddenly Nader starts to sing along with the music. When the song finishes, every one claps. Nader gets up and kisses Babak cheeks with great satisfaction and fatherly pride)

Bagher: Father and the Son, what a musical team you two make. You should play in the concert halls. Nader khan, what a voice you have. Bravo

Nader: Thanks. I do what I can to please.

Sorror: How about Akram Khanoom; does she play any musical instruments?

A-Ce-Mon: She has taken some music lessons yes, she plays the Santoor.

Fatemeh:
(Makes a desperate attempt to ignite some interest in the topic of marriage)
The more I find about these two I realize what a great match they are.

Bagher:
(Indifferently, trying to make a conversation)
So what do you do Babak Khan, I mean beside playing the Donbak, you know, to earn a living?

Babak: Nothing yet. But God's willing, I'm planning to start my own juice stand near Father's business. My cousin is going to be my partner.

Bagher: So you have an entrepreneurial spirit as well, that's admirable. But why start with a juice stand?

Babak: Well it wasn't my idea really; it was my father's. You see a lot of the fruits that Father sells goes to waste. So father thought the best way to salvage the fruit was to juice them.

Bagher: What a brilliant mind your father has. Excellent concept. Nader khan, what was the inspiration behind this intriguing business idea?

Nader: Well I'm a religious person. In god's eyes being wasteful is a sin. So, I told myself why should all that good fruit go to waste. Not only my son and his cousin will have a job, at the same time we can sell off the fruits that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Bagher: Nader khan, I wish there were more business minds like yours in our country. We suffer so much from lack of good business ideas and innovation. We need role models like you to inspire our young generation.
(Turning to Babak)
Today you may be in charge of a juice stand, tomorrow the aerospace industry. You don't know how lucky you are to have such a brilliant father.

Sorror:
(Impatiently)
So where is Akram Khanoom?

A-Ce-Mon: She is getting ready.

Sorror: We are dying to see her.

A-Ce-Mon: She is due to come down any second. I'm not sure what is taking her so long.

Nader:
(Nader has been staring at A-Ce-Mon as if struck by some distant thought)
This is very strange?

A-Ce-Mon:
(Uncomfortably)
Nader Khan, What is so strange.

Nader:
(As if transported to another time and place)
I'm sorry, for a moment I thought ---

Sorror: What is it Nader? It looks like you've seen a ghost.

Nader:
(To A-Ce-Mon)
A-Ce-Mon Khanoom if you don't mind me asking, where are you from?

Sorror: What a strange question to ask? How is it your business?

A-Ce-Mon: It's all right. I was born in the north part of the city.

Nader: Near the Grove street perhaps?

A-Ce-Mon:
(Amazed)
Yes, close by.

Babak: Father, you grew up in that neighborhood; didn't you?

Nader: Yes, we used to live up there; long time ago.

Bagher: What a coincidence?
(Nader and A-Ce-Mon sit quietly both absorbed in thoughts. Noticing the blank look on A-CE-Mon's face)
A-Ce-Mon Dear, Are you Okay?

A-Ce-Mon: Yes. I'm fine.
(She rises to her feet)
It's too warm in here. If you excuse me, I'll go open the window.
(She moves toward the Window. Bagher and Babak start a conversation. Fatemeh Khanoom begins to whisper something into Sorror's ears. Under pretext of smoking, Nader makes his way toward A-Ce-Mon who now stands by the open window)

Nader: A-Ce-Mon Khanoom, do you mind if I stood here and smoked a cigarette?

A-Ce-Mon: Please do so. Let me bring you an ashtray.

Nader: No don't trouble yourself. On the second thought, I think I'll wait until we are outside.
(A slight pause)
Excuse me if I was staring at you before. You reminded me of someone I once knew.

A-Ce-Mon: I'm sure you were mistaking me with someone else.

Nader: Well, you are right of course ----- someone else. She is always that someone else --- she remains as allusive and untouchable as the day I last saw her on that gravel road --- a memory always on the run --- unreachable ..

A-Ce-Mon: Who are you talking about?

Nader: I'm sorry I got carried away; please forgive the ramblings of an old heart. She was someone I met a long time ago. Your name evoked her memory.

A-Ce-Mon: My name?

Nader: Yes. That's all I know of her. Would you like to hear about her?

A-Ce-Mon: I don't know; if you like to ---

Nader: Why not? It's about time I got the story off my chest.
(slight Pause)
Well, I was eleven years old when I met her. I ran into her in the street. You see, she had lost a ring and was crying feverously. She looked so helpless as if she had lost a part of her soul. She was so traumatized that she could hardly speak. All she could mutter was "my ring, my ring" holding out the naked finger around which the ring used to warp.

I went up to her and promised that I'll find the ring for her. So without delay I started combing the graveled street with my fingers looking for the ring. And before long, I found it magically between the lines of my hand. Her eyes turned so bright with happiness that I had to look away; I feared their beauty might blind me. The next thing I remember is the warmth of her lips against mine. And when I woke from the spell she had cast over me, she had reached the end of the gravel road and soon after vanished from my sight.

She didn't know it, but since that day I would hide behind a tree at the end of that gravel road in hope of catching a glimpse of her bewitching eyes. For six days I waited and she came and passed by me. Finally on the seventh day I gathered enough courage and approached her. I had fancied to tell her all my thought, spill out my guts, and tell her about my dreams; dreams that had been shaped solely by memory of her kiss. But as I faced her, all my strength crumbled. All I struggled to say was "what is your name". She smiled coyly and replied, "A-Ce-Mon." We stood there looking at one another for a while longer. I don't know who turned to leave first, but we parted. In that moment where everything else had stood still, my heart took flight after her. With a void inside, I stood before a course that was not of my own choosing, but one that would take me away from her and my dreams. Needless to say, I never saw her again.

A-Ce-Mon:
(Controlling her emotions)
What a nice childhood memory.

Nader: So you see when I heard your name and you told me that you lived on the Grove street - I wondered ---

A-Ce-Mon:
(Concealing her emotion, dryly)
So you wondered if I was the A-Ce-Mon to whom you lost your heart?

Nader: Well, yes. That's about it.

A-Ce-Mon: Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you. But I'm not the A-Ce-Mon, the girl in your story.

Nader: Well. It was a shot in the dark. It's funny how life churns these old memories. To tell you the truth, I still dream of her. Sometimes when I'm feeling sad, I go to the Grove street and wait for her to come by. I remain there until sunset. Then I close my eyes and remember her lips on mine, and all the sudden my heart lightens up. I always wondered what it would be like if I had chased her to her house, befriended her and maybe even married her.

A-Ce-Mon: Well.. it seems you both took different paths. It's a shame you'll never get to see her again.

Nader: Who is to say? Maybe I have already run into her without ever knowing it.

A-Ce-Mon: And what would you have said to her, had you seen her?

Nader: That she has been me in my thoughts and dreams all my life. What else could I tell her?
(Slight pause)
She might think I'm a fool of course. She probably wouldn't remember me.

A-Ce-Mon: You'll never know how people would react when confronted with such memories.

Nader: Yes. It's true you'll never know ---

Bagher: A-Ce-Mon. A-Ce-Mon

A-Ce-Mon: Yes.

Bagher: Where is Akram? Why isn't she coming down.

A-Ce-Mon:
(Nader returns to his seat)
I'll go see what's taking her so long.
(The stage falls into darkness. The chatter continues in the background and eventually fades away. The light comes on A-Ce-Mon. She is standing against the stage door, gently knocking against it)
Akram. .. Akram. Open the door dear.. Akram...
(After a short pause the door opens. A-Ce-Mon remains standing before the open door.)
Akram Dear, why are you standing in the dark? Don't you feel well?
(There is no reply)
Everyone is expecting you down there but to be honest, you haven't missed much.
(Still No reply, she continues)
You won't believe who is downstairs in our living room. I can hardly believe it myself. It's like having a ghost from the past in flesh bleeding with memories.
(slight pause - no reply - She continues wrapped in her own thoughts)
Do you remember the story I told you about the boy who helped me find my father's ring?
(She turns the rim of a ring on one of her fingers)
The ring is the only thing that connects me still physically and emotionally to my father. I was devastated when I found it missing from my finger. And then there he was, this boy who just appeared from nowhere and helped me recover it. I thought he was an angel sent by my father. I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I kissed him on his lips.

It sounds silly, I know, but I used to walk by the same spot where I had met him, in hope that I would run into him. And finally one day I did. I was startled when I saw him; I could hardly utter a word and all he asked of me was my name. We stood there looking at one another for a while. I don't know who turned to leave first, but we parted. I never saw him again.

And now he is here, of all places in our living room with his son and wife.
(She cracks a nervous smile)
We stood again face-to-face. We looked more lost, more distant than the day we had last met.

But unlike last time, this time he spoke. Oh dear god, he spoke all right.
(Slight Pause)
I thought I was going to faint. I don't know where I derived the strength to stand on my feet and to remain silent.
(Slight Pause)
I wanted to say something. But I couldn't. I couldn't think of anything to say. We both had said to each other all there was to be said and heard a long time ago. In that innocent kiss laid all the affection and love that I never showed your father. In his voice was the yearning for which I had longed for all my life. And in our silence, laid the foundation of so many stolen moments where we had shared, so many thoughts, and so many kisses.
(Slight Pause)
No there was no need to talk .. No need at all. We had said all we needed to say. Maybe it was selfish of me not to say anything, but I still want us to dream on.
(Slight Pause)
Akram, Akram Are you listening.did you hear a word of what I said?

Anyway dear, come down soon. Just be courteous .. just say your name and listen .. that's all .. .that's all .. Just say you are Akram the daughter of A-Ce-Mon --- Come down dear.. Come soon
(She closes the door and turns toward the living room. The light comes on the living room. The chatters begins anew the curtain slowly drops)

(The End)


About the author:
Majid Beenteha lives in New York City
Born In Tehran
Moved to US 1979
Present Occupation: Contractor
Studies: General Studies
Aspiring to be a playwright
majid.swsites.net



A Glimpse at Iranian History

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