Iran News ...


11/17/05

Sa'adat Abad

By Alireza Mahdipour, Urmia, Iran
(Taken from We People on the Pavement)

 

-          STOP here sir!

-          I want to get off, sir!

-          Mr. Driver! Stop here please!

 

The Mr. Driver started, as from sleep, and the minibus traveled twenty meters more before coming to a stop properly. Four passengers got off. Eleven more got on. The driver turned round to the standing passengers: "let these ladies and gentlemen get on."

 

-          Make room, sir, please, come on! I want to get on.

-          Move, sir, please. Would you mind going to the back a bit?

 

The standing passengers moved. Several girls and boys, apparently coming from college, with books and cases made their ways towards the rear of the minibus. A well-dressed young man pushed me with his large suitcase and sent me to the rear of the car.

 

There was an old couple sitting beside me. The old woman was talking, as if to herself, and the old man was looking out with a sad, thoughtful look; nodding occasionally to show that he was attentive. Suddenly he started, and elbowed his mate, and they rose. I occupied the old man's seat quickly, and stared out of the window in order not to offer my seat to anybody. A girl sat beside me; pressing her large books to her breast. I made myself smaller and looked stealthily at the driver's mirror. I was wearing a happy, sneering smile. I got happy. My face was fuller and fleshier than before. They say water of Tehran is very good. I had thrived on Tehran water, obviously. I was even aware that my hair was thicker than before. The minibus kept stopping and starting at intervals and all the time I stared at the mirror without blinking. I was admiring myself. I didn't stir, for the fear of awakening from a sweet dream.

 

There was a young couple sitting in front of us, but I thought I and the girl beside me are fitter for each other than they are. Perhaps this was a coincidence. Many couples were acquainted with each other in train compartments, buses, traveling, picnics, or even in some quarrel and then they got married. I read in a paper once that somebody had saved a girl from drowning somewhere, and then they got married…

 

-          Stop sir! Please!

-          Move sir, please! Let me get out.

-          Oops! Don't push sir! Wait for me to get out first…

 

… yes, the paper said they got married. I can't swim, though, but marriages are not all alike. I can play chess, instead. We may sit down together and play chess, after wedding… I glanced at the girl, sidelong, to see if she looked as a girl who played chess. Of course she did. She was a college girl, no kidding. She had passed exams. She knew IQ tests. She spoke English, sure. I am interested in English too. If she spoke English with me I would learn it within two months. I'd speak as fluently as the president of America.  

 

Suddenly somebody rose from his seat and elbowed the crowd of standing passengers, mumbling awkwardly: "Excuse me, it so happens that I've got on the wrong car!"

 

The driver, who was reluctant to stop the vehicle as it had newly gained speed in that upward direction, leered at the wrong passenger through the mirror, as the barbers do, and sneered: "Open your eyes sir! Where are your wits?!" and the minibus traveled another twenty meters before stopping.

 

- "But isn't this Sa'adat-Abad [1] service?" pursued the wrong passenger, to remedy his sense of humiliation, "It is written 'Sa'adat-Abad' on your car!"

- Naaa, this is just Evin-Darakeh [2] service. Evin-Darakeh, do you hear? Mind that door please, and don't slam it."

 

The wrong passenger slammed the door and stood confused and bewildered on the street. How annoying it is to be lost in Tehran, and how usual! You can't trust any written thing. Even street names are frequently changed; let alone a rambling minibus. You should always ask somebody for directions or addresses. Yet, even that is also a risk. You must ask several people. Some people give you the wrong direction, just because they are embarrassed to admit that they don't know. I never ask from the moving people on the pavement. I always ask from bus ticket-sellers or shopkeepers.

 

… All right, just two months, yes, and I'll speak English like the president of America! And then we shall teach our kids English, too. We'll speak English all the time, that is, one day English, one day Persian. And then as the kids grow up, we'll send them abroad. We'll send them to America, and they'll get educated and become doctors or engineers or suchlike things. And they'll invite us to America to see them. As we grow old…

 

-          Stop here sir, please!

-          Please go a bit backwards sir!

-          Evin-Darakeh, Evin-Darakeh! Be careful ladies and gentlemen! Don't take the wrong car!

-          Isn't this Sa'adat-Abad service?

-          Naaa!, I said Evin-Darakeh! Shut that door ma'am, please.

 

I was mindful of the girl lest she should get off. But she was just sitting motionless and looking in front of her. I had still a long way to my destination. I wished I could elbow her at the end, like that old man, saying, "Here we are my dear, let's get off."

 

My smile in the mirror turned into a leer, and then it was replaced by a frowning fatigue. The car had gained speed, and now it was traveling steadily. The wind blew into my face; through the half open window, and I was still looking at myself in the driver's mirror; grinning at some wild, farfetched, dreamlike fancy. I didn't move. It was as if the girl was a wild deer, and if I moved she would have shied away from me. I even didn't dare to look at her face through the mirror.

 

Suddenly I saw my plump, fleshy, bright face yawning broadly at me from the mirror; in spite of myself, and then the lips moved, as if to chew the remnant of the air that had been swallowed by the yawn. I was aghast. I stirred in my seat and swayed my head, to make sure, and I saw, for the first time, my small insignificant thin-haired haggard head moving behind that sure and confident head of that yawner!

 

There was still some stops left to my destination, yet I thought a little bit of walking wouldn't be bad for me. I said to the lady sitting beside me, guiltily, "Excuse me!" my voice came up from a deep well, but she heard it nevertheless, and moved aside indifferently to let me pass, without turning her face to me.

 

And the minibus traveled a twenty or thirty meters more, before stopping properly.


1. Sa'adat-Abad is the name of a district in the north-western part of Tehran.

2. Evin and Darakeh are two other districts in the north western part of Tehran. Literally Darakeh suggests Inferno.

 

About the author:

Alireza Mahdipour resides in Urmia, Iran.  He is a member of Faculty of Letters in English Department at Urmia University.

 

... Payvand News - 11/17/05 ... --



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