One single slipper spin in the air and lands right on the back of Vahid’s neck. Vahid ties up his shoelaces and with intended calm, says: “I go Roya. I go. Just quit yelling.” Steals a look at Roya, and her bulging eyes.
“Get Lost!”, says Roya, in a flat, furious voice.
“Calm down”, Vahid gesture to Roya with a motion of his hand. Front door opens. Roya yells:
– Get lost already!
He grabs his samsonite and getting out the door, slips on the doormat and falls. Front door shuts behinds him with a bang. Roya gazes at the sunset out of the kitchen window and exhales the last draw of her cigarette. She mutters under her breath: “Stinky piece of garbage!”
With the one foot still wearing a slipper, she hops out of the kitchen. Passes over the cloths thrown about in the hallway and throws herself on the couch. Stretches a hand to get the phone but decides against it. She combs her beautiful red hair upward with her fingers. Keeps busy with the neckline of her yellow t-shirt and says: “It’s hot.” Gets up and turns on the AC.
Sits down on the couch. After a few seconds, lays back. Picks up the phone and dials. Bends over and rests her forehead on the small coffee table in front of the couch. Her hair drapes down her face on both sides.
– Hi! Mohsen?
– Hi Sis, what a surprise!
– How’re you?
– Fine. What’s up?
– Nothing. I’m fine. And you?
– Not bad. And you?
– I’m fine. Not that bad. You, ok?
– Yes, sis, honest to God. Why? Are you ok?
– I’m ok. I manage. What’s up?
– Nothing. I’m good, thanks. You’re doing ok?
– Dam….n! How many times we’re going to say are you ok I’m ok back and forth?!
Mohsen laughs loud from the other end.
– What’s going on there? Why so much noise?
– It’s a Power Plant.
– Where are you?
– In Kerman. Not inside the city. On a desert outside Kerman.
– On a business trip, then. Having fun?
– Lots! Most of the engineers here are foreigners. We don’t understand each other’s language. We all sit together at night; everyone sings in their own language…
Roya lifts her forehead off the small coffee table. Gets up and tiptoes over the motifs of the rug. She says:
– Look Mohsen!… Mohsen!
– No need to yell! I can hear you; you can’t.
– Are you getting decent food there?
Mohsen laughs again on the other end. He says:
– Look, Roya, last time you called the previous year it was Maamaan’s death anniversary. You called to say let’s go visit her grave, and it got cancelled. I mean, it’s 9 months since. You’re calling 9 months later to see how’s my diet? Let me tell you, sis, I haven’t had a bite all through the 9 months! O The Wonders of Our Wise Sheikh.
One of Vahid’s shirts was fallen on the motif of the rug. Roya grabs it with her tows, pushes it aside and puts her own foot on the motif of the rug.
– Good, then. Couple of days ago Attiyeh dropped by.
– She said she was thinking of you all year, but you don’t even care about her.
– Well, because I divorced her; she didn’t.
– What do you wanna do?
– Nothing. She received her marriage settlement, too.
– But why? She says you two were getting along.
– We didn’t have a problem. Yeah.
– You mean, just like that?
– Yes, just like that. For nothing. This is why I could be here for the past five months. It’s a God forsaken desert. There is movement, sure, but no moving around! Would it be possible to be here if I had a wife?
– Don’t beat around the bushes, Mohsen. Be honest!
– Are you ok Roya? Haven’t we gone through it all already? What’s the matter? Had a fight with Vahid?
– Not a fight exactly!… Well, Yeah, I’ve got in a fight with Vahid.
– That’s it then! Look, my cell is running out of battery. I’ll call from a landline in 5 min., ok?
– Ok, ok. Bye now.
Roya places the portable receiver on the kitchen counter. Rests her hand on her him, looks around the house, and says:
– Smells like shit in here!
It must be coming from the toilet. She rolls up her grey sweatpants and walks in the washroom. Fleshes the toilet. With the hose, rinses the floor around the toilet. Takes out liquid disinfectant from the cabinet under kitchen sink and pours the whole bottle on the floor in the washroom. She shuts the door to the washroom, walks out and lays back on the couch. With a sharp move picks up the portable sound system off the small coffee table and lays back again; music takes charge. It’s Manuel De Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance. After a moment she gets up and changes the C.D.
A Metallica hit fills up the room:
…Die die die my darling –
Roya sits on the couch and lays back. Puffs up her cheeks and pops it with her fingers. Sings along with the song. While singing, she opens and shuts her mouth with exaggeration. Checks the time. The phone rings.
Short Story, Abouzar Karimi
Translated by Saghi Ghahraman
تولد ابوذر کریمی که در تداوم خود لحظههای زندگی را به لحظههای مرگ گره کور میزند، مبارک