Iran News ...


Prison Tale: Died, As Simple As That

By: Seid Ebrahim Nabavi, satirist
Source: Payam Emrooz, Monthly Review

I was asked, "how did you find Evin?" and they asked me to write about it. I thought I would have written the same in my prison journal. I thought to give them a day of my journal for publication. The journal will be published soon under the title 'Hall 6'. It is a personal account of the prison. I chose names for prisoners to fit their personalities. What follows is the tale of one day of the 3 months that I spent in Hall 6 of the academy of Evin Prison.

Janali came in and said, 'Trampled (aash o laash) is dead'. Probably you would not find 'Trampled' anybody important. Probably the whole thing is not important for me either. But he was 'Trampled.' In the prison, people like him are called 'hooligan,' 'lout' 'barefooted of the ward', 'state parasite,' 'cigarette butt'. These people neither have their ship confiscated to be considered millionaire, nor are they spy to be interesting as a theme for fiction writing. They are neither killer to be feared, nor are they political prisoner to be pitied. No, they are merely cigarette butts. A cigarette butt that is thrown on the floor to be crushed under one's shoes. His name was Mohsen, I would't tell you his surname, as he has two daughters who have their father's name in their birth certificates. I don't want to embarrass them. Although they might never read my journals that are going to be published one day, but I fear the moment that such a thing happens.

The day 'Trampled' came to our ward, everybody said, 'here is he again.' Everybody said 'he has stolen from other prisoners; he has been expelled from hall 4.' One night Hossein told me: 'do you know his story?' 'No,' I answered. 'He is accused of stealing. He was sent to ward 4 first. He used to be quite good looking. He was't so much trampled as he is now.' He was twenty-four or five years old at that time. He went to hall 4, and in less than 6 months he turned to a cigarette butt by one of those machos for the sake of cigarette...Yes, for the sake of a single cigarette. Then gradually, he 'joined the rosary', that is he got addicted, first, to opium and then to Heroine whenever he could have access to it. He was sent to 'closed door' (solitary) and then again to Hall 4, and later people of hall 4, those condemned to execution, that is the killers and kidnappers expelled him too. Then he was transferred to Tabriz, they did't accept him either. They said, 'send whoever you want, but take him back.' He was sent back. He came again to the last manager, 'closed door', 'hall 4 again' until he started to steal. When totally desperate, he would hurt himself. The last time, he cut the nerve in his left hand; haven't you noticed that he can't move his left hand? When he cut his nerve, Hajji was the head of the prison. He was taken to sick bay. He was dying. When Hajji saw him dying, he threw him into his Peugeot and took him to the hospital. His brand new Peugeot 405 got all dirty, but he was saved. Hajji did a great job. He was then again brought to hall 4, the same old story until he was expelled. He went to hall 5, they expelled him too, and here is he now.

Throughout the time that 'Trampled' was in our ward, nobody let him enter his room. Once he tried to hurt himself with a piece of glass. But it did't work. Janali would say, 'he'd be relieved if he dies.' I told Dariush, 'don't you pity him?' In reply, he said, 'sometimes, even one's house of pity is all full. Do you understand what I mean?' I could understand him all right. One day I decided to be nice to him. But I found it impossible. Whenever I saw him in the corridor or in the corner of the room where the furnace was (aatishkhoneh), he seemed to be fainting. His bed, his coat were tattooed by the heat of cigarettes, his clothes too, so were his hands. When those transferred from Ghasr Prison arrived, it was a real feast for him; he asked for money, drugs and loans from all. He would come to you directly and say, 'give me five hundreds tomans, or two hundreds.' You could't refuse. You would definitely give in. Recently, I saw him squatting in a corner of the yard. My back was toward the guards. He sniffed drugs, Largardin, Diazepam, or some other damned pills, yellow, red, bi-colored. He sniffed through a funnel. Whenever he sniffed drugs, he was high for twenty-four hours. He would sleep. Hossein says, 'sniffing is the end of the line. Whenever you see somebody sniffing for three - four consecutive days, you can be sure that he would die in less than a month.'

Sometimes, he would forget that he should not wear his slippers in the corridor. Sometime he would do it just out of obstinacy. Why should't have he acted obstinately? Was't everybody against him? One day, after twenty-four hours of continuous sleep, he urinated in his bed. Two or three people saw him. They said he is unclean (najes). Surely, he was unclean. Two days later, while going to the toilet, in a state of semi-ecstasy, semi-intoxication, he urinated in the middle of the corridor. Somebody cried, 'the corridor got polluted (najes).' Everybody put on his slippers, and there they were all in the corridor. Although, he had his trousers all wet, he still went to the toilet. Why? I don't know. Soon the cleaning office announced, 'it is the time to clean up the hall. Nobody should leave the rooms. Anybody who wishes to go to the toilet, should do so now.' We went to the toilet. An hour later, wearing slippers in the corridor, was again forbidden.

I saw him tottering two days later. He was holding a bowl and a plate that he had taken from our room. A broken plate, one of those plates that is used for feeding dogs. He always ate half of his food; he would fall asleep half way. He was tottering. Before reaching the sink, he fainted and fell on the floor. Nobody moved. I got up to do something. Mostafa jumped too. Mostafa lifted him and I put on his slippers. While bending in front of him, I found the smell of urine really offensive. I held his right and Mostafa his left arm. We pulled him toward the door of the toilet. 'How he stinks!' said Mostafa. He was wheezing. It was a few days now that he was't saying a word. His eyes did not seem vulgar anymore. I asked him, 'can you undo the button of your trousers?' 'Yes' he replied or perhaps he just nodded. I don't remember. I opened the door of the toilet. He went in. I saw him falling. I closed the door. I wanted to leave, but I could't. After all I was't a beast. And I waited. It took ten minutes till he finally opened the door. He had not managed to undo the button and he had urinated in his trousers. He fell on the floor and started to crawl. I walked toward him and took his hand. He seemed heavier. He could hardly keep his eyes open. There was just the sound of his wheezing. I looked around. Nobody came to help. I cried, 'sin't there a bastard to give me a hand? to move this corpse?' Mostafa came and we each held one of his arms again. Janali said, 'take this rubbish to the sick bay.' We pushed the special bell. The key opened the door. We went out. I was forbidden to leave the hall, but the key did't say anything. On reaching the staircase, his weight became unbearable. Turning to Mostafa, I said, 'help me to carry him on my back' and I did. He leaned his head against my neck. His weight was on my trunk. His trousers were soggy. My uniform got wet. I felt the sound of his wheezing penetrating my skin. We took him to the sick bay. There I threw him on a bed. Somebody said, 'he would make the bed dirty.' 'Do you want us to throw him on the floor?' I asked. 'No, leave him on the bed,' said the doctor. We left him lying on the bed and went out of the sick bay.

It was only after entering the hall that I realized how badly my uniform stinks of urine. While changing my uniform, I felt that the spirit of the whole prison, the spirit of all people stinks too. Then everybody got together to write a letter to the head of the academy. We all confessed that the fellow always urinates in his trousers and makes everywhere polluted (najes). Can you believe it? I wrote the letter. With a beautiful handwriting, on the special paper of help-seekers. We wrote, please transfer this gentleman from our hall. I wrote the content, and everybody signed it. I was the first one to sign it. Like others, we stink. He did't come back for two days. On the third day they came to take away his stuff. He was transferred to the 'closed door'. The solitary, a blanket, a bed, a plate and that is all. When they were taking his stuff, I don't know why I was feeling awful. I thought I am pouring soil on the man who has't died yet. Then I went downstairs. They had called me. I found him sitting on a bench. He seemed fine. He was talking. I thought, why has't he died? I thought how difficult dying is. And god forbid lest somebody wants to die, then it is even more difficult. I sat beside him. I was thinking about what I should tell him. Should I tell him 'sir, please quit your fatal addiction? Or should I say, 'try to go to university to study?' Or 'work, and don't say what is work?' Should I tell him, 'you should try to obtain Canadian visa?' What should I have told him? I said, 'is there anything that you want?' 'Do you have any cigarettes?' he asked. I had a pack of cigarettes and gave it to him. 'Do you have any money?' I had three or four thousands tomans. I gave him one thousand. I could have given him four thousands, but gave him only one thousand. 'Don't you have any more money?' he asked. 'No,' I replied. He did't say anything. Then he left and I went to Janali. An hour ago, Janali came in and said, 'Trampled is dead.' 'How?' I asked. 'I don't know,' he replied. 'Perhaps he was overdosed. Or perhaps he committed suicide, or he might have died for another reason. He is dead at last.'

Brother Gholam has remained in the room. He definitely would not go to work anymore. Today, I went to the club after a month. I think it is not forbidden to walk in the yard anymore. I exercised for one hour. Then I weighed myself. 72 kilograms. The Knight said, 'well done, well done, I believe in you now.' Today I quarreled with Mojtaba over Vahab. Mojtaba is one of my best friends, but they have been very cruel to Vahab. And I whose duty is to defend humanity, stood up for him. One of them said, 'this is none of your business, why do you interfere with the affairs of our room?' 'Don't come to our room anymore,' somebody else said. So I left the room. They say, one should not talk too much in the prison, otherwise one has to pay the price. Poor Vahab. He earns money through washing the clothes and pants and socks of the prisoners and he sends the money to his family. Now, they are taking his job away. It is cruel. They say, he should't be the governor anymore. They are making it hard for him. They have found somebody alone. Mojtaba says, 'you don't know him. If you knew him, you would't defend him.' And I say, 'in this particular case, I don't agree with you. That's all!' I feel somehow nervous because of it. I am now in our room. Arshin Malalan is asleep. Davoud is snoring. Leonardo does't know what to do, he keeps walking aimlessly in the room. Dariush is watching Football and I am writing. I think we would go to the office of justice today. Probably.

I went there and came back. It is late. It is not late, it took a long time. The word 'late' applies to somebody who has work to do. That is not I. Therefore, don't say, 'it is late', just say, 'it took a long time.' Brother Gholam has not left the room since morning. He says, 'it is now years that I go outside to work. I don't like to continue this pattern. I like to get up whenever I wish to. I don't want to suffer from anxiety and apprehension any more.' His mood interests me. Today, I have done nothing in particular either. My mind is somehow paralyzed. The story of Trampled is bothering me. It was a juridical matter. I don't know whether it was a judgment or a verdict. I still don't know the difference between judgment, verdict, bill of indictment and this sort of things. Perhaps one day I would study the book of law. I can't be bothered now. I paid a visit to room 86, chess, coffee, talking nonsense, Football game, and I played a drama for 'Godfather.' I imitated Onasis's hasty manner of walking and working. Onasis is an interesting personality. He always thinks it is late. This is his fourth year in prison and he still feels that way. Sometime I think he is a robot. If things go as they are, soon I would go mad.

Sar Janali was feeling awful today. The telephone of his house was disconnected. Sar Janali's sole job is to make phone calls from morning to evening. I think he spent one whole hour to call his house today, to call a disconnected line. I think he is getting crazy. He has to go to the court tomorrow. He could't sleep. He came to me and took two sleeping pills. He slept after swallowing them. He is malingering to make others pity him. That is what I think. Poor him.

Good gracious me. I have written so much today. I feel tired of writing. My hand is aching. It is now two and half o'clock in the morning. I am sitting where little Kami sits, and I am thinking. I wish I would be freed soon. I feel a bit better than yesterday that I made a phone call. I have taken some important decisions for my future. I hope I would be able to make a phone call. Goodbye.

-- Translated for by Roya Monajem,

... Payvand News - 2/26/01 ... --

comments powered by Disqus

Home | ArchiveContact | About |  Web Sites | Bookstore | Persian Calendar | twitter | facebook | RSS Feed

© Copyright 2001 NetNative (All Rights Reserved)