-Who are you expecting?
- Is he late?
- No, he will come soon.
- Where is Mimi?
- She, too, hasn’t arrived, yet.
- Is Leili home?
- Where is she?
- I don’t know.
- Have you cooked rice?
- Like always you have forgotten to cook rice for dinner, no?
- Who cares? Don’t stress me out. I still have time.
It is nighttime. It is cold. All day I have wandered around the house. I counted all the pieces of furniture in the house: the brown coaches, our dining table, the Piano, our carpets, our phones, all those paintings and books, my desk, my bed, my parents’ bed, our lights…
- Are you crying?
- No, but I wish I could cry for hours. Have you ever been invaded by the flood of memories? Have you ever felt the pain of the memories that come out of body like pile of worms crawling on top of each other? Look at that corner! My friends are sitting there, chitchatting about cute boys, giggling and laughing. A bit further, Baba is talking on the phone. In the other room Mimi and Leili are talking and drinking tea.
- Do you have a fever?
- We can’t stay for much longer here in this empty house. It’s late. We have to go. Was this place rental?
- Yes, we had rented this apartment. Now leave me alone. I need to focus. I must remember all of this: the entrance door, my room to the right of the door, on the left hand side the kitchen, a bit further the lounge and the dining room, the piano, the bookshelves, all these books that I was going to read one day…
- We have to go. My god…You are burning in fever.
- No, no. Why would you think that I am sick? Stop telling me that I am not well. I am well, ok? I am well.
- It’s getting late. Come on. We should leave.
- No, let me be. Let me stay and internalize this utter emptiness. This is my last night in this house. I am not permitted to stay any longer and yet you are trying to take away this precious night from me. Go and leave me alone!
- You are coming with me.
- No, stop talking. Do you hear the tic-tac of the clock? I can’t forget this tic-tac. I grew up with this sound. Tic-tac…Tic-tac…Story time! Once upon a time there was a happy family in this house: Mimi, Baba, Leili and I. Four, remember it. The four of us…
- Don’t stand next to the bare window. Since we already removed the curtains, people could see that this house is empty. And here you are, a young girl, standing by yourself in this room, in the middle of the night. It’s dangerous.
- Hey, look! Do you see the mark of the tip of my nose on the window? Every night at around 8 pm I would stand next to this window and wait for Mimi to return from work. After a few minutes I would get tired and lean my head against the window. My nose would touch the soft and cool surface of the window, making me more restless to see Mimi. Right outside the window, there was a plane-tree. It was tall and had lots and lots of leaves. They cut its poor branches, last year. They said that it was going to be good for the tree and that it was going to make it more fertile. They lied. A year has passed and this tree is patiently waiting to grow back its branches. It’s hopeless. They lied.
- God, help us. She is hallucinating. We should go. Let’s go.
- No, no. I have to say goodnight to the crows that are hiding among the branches of all those trees. It’s wrong of human beings to think that crows are evil. They are very kind. They used to tell me stories all throughout the nights when Mimi was in prison, when she was going through chemotherapy. They were there for me. I will miss them. My dear friends, my dear crows…I remember vividly that long night when one of the crows of our street died in pain. That night all the other crows surrounded the dying crow and cried with its moans. I was standing outside the window in my nightgown, watching them cry. Mimi had curled up in her solitary confinement, feeling forgotten.
Oh, my dear crows! Did you see how they kidnapped Baba? And then they claim that human beings are God’s superior creatures. Did you see how they took him? He is gone, my dear crows. He is disappeared. Gone!
- The crows won’t hear you. Come. Let’s go.
- No, wait. I want to lie down on my bed.
- We took your bed. Remember?
- No, look! My bed is there. You can’t see it. But it’s really sitting right at that corner. I am going to lie on my bed and wait for Baba to come and kiss me goodnight. I want him to come, straighten my blanket and whisper to my ears, “My beautiful daughter, sleep well. Sweet dreams. Everything is going to be all right!” He is supposed to arrive soon. Tic-tac…Tic-tac…Let’s count down the minutes together.
- I hope that your father comes to you very soon. But, don’t you think it’s better to face the reality and try not to escape what it has for us? Remember? Your dad is not here. My poor Azadeh, your father is not here. He won’t come tonight. Let’s go
- Leili, Leili. How about her? I remembered just now. She is out with her friends. I will have to wait for her. She will sneak into the house, soon. I will have to stay and hear her exciting stories about her boyfriend and her university. She said that she will be back at around midnight. It’s passed midnight, no?
- Yes, it’s 3 am. Let’s go.
- No, don’t rush me. Leili should be here any minute.
-Get up. Give me your hand. Let’s go.
- Go where? No, I must stay. In fact, you should go. I want to clean the dust on the table. I want to open the windows, so that fresh air comes in. I want to cook some rice. I must wait for Leili. Mimi, too, will arrive soon. If like always her bag is heavy, I will have to go downstairs and help her carry it. Baba should come home soon. He will park the car and wait for me to go downstairs and help him with the numerous shopping bags in the trunk. No, no. You should leave. I must wait for them.
They did not come.
The house was rental. They evacuated the apartment. We did not come. None of us came. They are evacuating the apartment. They are pulling down the curtains, removing all of my poetry and Baba’s paintings from the walls. They are taking our family albums. They are kindly evacuating the apartment.
We did not come. Our home was rental. The walls are shocked. They look pale. The walls are not talking. I could hear them talk, they are screaming in the air. They are crying. They miss us. We did not get to say goodbye. We will miss them.
It is still not too late. We might arrive. ■