Twilight of God

منتشرشده: مه 29, 2014 در Uncategorized

Hengameh Kasraee

It was so hot. Maryam couldn’t sleep all night. She just lay in bed and stared into nothingness. Although she could have lain on her side, turning her back to Ali, dreaming that he was supporting her, she preferred to turn her face to him and listen to the slow rhythm of his snoring. She sat on the bed and looked at the electric clock. It was 2:35:40. 41, 42, 43 …. She could finally get rid of that stupid counting game and look in the mirror, facing a shadow, a woman who was aware of her wrinkles getting deep and deeper. Maryam was sweating. She took her eyes off the mirror and looked through the open window that could not breathe either. “The moon should be somewhere.” She thought to herself. “Who cares anyway?”

Ali seemed calm but Maryam was worried. She did not get even one simple phone call since she had been laid off, one stupid phone call to invite her to an interview. And suddenly, one evening at dusk the telephone would start ringing. A phone call, an unknown one. “Who is calling at 7 o’clock in the evening?” Having no interest in taking the call, Ali and Maryam both looked at each other. “It should not be God worrying about me” Maryam told Ali. “I was forgotten for 7 months, 7 weeks and 7days right after losing my last job.”

“Hello guys, this is me, Farhad, calling from the airport. I just arrived now. It has been almost four years since I’ve had any contact with my brother.
It seems that he moved to the US and obviously nobody is waiting for me”. He was demanding. “Could I come over and stay for…?” The voice stopped, hesitating to end the sentence. “Bye for now“

“He isn’t God.” Maryam said sadly. She went to the fridge to get a glass of cold water, drawing a long sigh of relief, knowing she would not need to be stressed out on the phone, reviewing her laid-off story and searching her small vocabulary for the correct words.

Farhad kept calling almost every 20 minutes, suddenly stopped for one hour or so and finally started crying on the phone. “What is wrong with you people? I am your friend. What am I even talking about? Friendship has no meaning to you. If I were God I would…. Nothing…. forget it.”

Maryam stopped eating Broccoli, whipping Dr. Akbari’s sticky image from her memory advising her to get enough calcium in her diet and watched the TV looking for the time, displaying at the bottom-right corner of the screen. It was almost 12:01:01, 02. 03……10. She refused to count when she saw a lightning flash in the sky. She went to the window. Toronto is probably asleep. She thought. “The last trains should have arrived at the terminals and passengers are leaving the stations now. But Farhad could be somewhere at the airport wandering.” She could hear him whistling.
The sound of thunder mixed with the ringing phone this time. “Pick up the phone please. He has no where to go. Give him our address to come over,” Maryam asked Ali.

****

It was a heavy rain. A limousine parked in their front yard and the One-eye man got out of the car, wearing dark eye glasses. “Why don’t you guys pick up the phone? Where have you been? Didn’t you get my messages? “Farhad was questioning them, rolling the suitcase into their hallway. He continued, “The airplane landed at 6:00, ever since I did not get any chance to take a rest.” He wore an old fashioned black stand-up collar coat with golden yellow buttons. He had become completely bald and looked skinnier. “I have nobody here other than you guys. My brother and his family moved to the US four years ago. I rely on my friends,” he continued.

Maryam is looking for God. Is this him? Could it become him?
She doubted because:
Rule number 1: Gods are not desperate.
Rule number 2: Gods are not alone.
Rule number 3: Gods do not have southern accents.
Rule number 4: Gods do not rely on their friends.
Rule number 5 …. She stopped gaming and sat on a chair close to the window.

“Why didn’t you pick up the phone?” He repeated the same question, sitting in the armchair, staring at them through his dark glasses. Ali went to the kitchen to make tea. He turned the stove on, explaining they were at a party and did not hear the cell phone ring.

“It has been a long time since we last saw each other”. Farhad said. “How is everything going with you guys? “We are fine” Maryam said, not knowing which eye to look at. She finally stopped gaming, looking at his left eye, although she was ready to swear that that was the one that had a blue shapeless iris before; the very little one. “There are so many people out there that got laid off and …. “ “What about you, Ali? He asked. Are you still working in Big Smoke Burger?” “I prefer wine these days, especially the red ones” Ali turned off the kitchen light and came to them.

It was almost 3 in the morning. The glasses of teas were empty. The words, anxious, tired, hopeless, flying in the air, gradually disappeared in the cigarette smoke. “I guess it is the time to sleep. I also have to take a shower,” Farhad said when he stood up, trembling a bit. He started licking his lips. Maryam saw him, whispering something in Ali’s ear when she was taking plates into the kitchen. “No, I do not know anybody around to buy the stuff from.” Ali said loud enough to be heard. “Good night guys, I am very tired. We can talk tomorrow,” she said midway up the staircase.

It was very hot and humid. There was no lighting in the sky. The rain was drizzling. She checked her emails on her Iphone for the last time. No news as usual. “It seemed that God died a thousand years ago,” she was thinking. “No invitation to any interview at all.”

****

Maryam woke up suddenly in the middle of the night. Ali was asleep. It was still raining. She looked at the African mask on the wall, laughing at her with only one tooth left in his big mouth. The beam of light was penetrating into their room from the bottom of the closed door. Farhad was awake. He probably had already started to miss his city in the south and unable to sleep was either going downstairs or coming upstairs.
Maryam glanced at her shadow in the mirror, having no interest to recognize that faceless woman this time. She was struggling to sleep as usual and started practicing interview questions:
“Speaking. Of course… it is a good time to talk… thank you….” she repeated to herself, “not tank you, Thank you. Thank you.” She could not get rid of this word, this time. “Thank you, Thank you … Thank you.”

“From one of the companies you applied for.” Ali said slowly, waking her up in the morning, giving the receiver to her. She had already woke up early in the morning in fear, thinking the phone was ringing and decided to go back to sleep. She came out of the bed this time, wiping sweat from her forehead. “It is still hot,” she whispered. «Hello who am I speaking with?” Maryam Said. “Yes I have strong technical background…. I have 15 years work experience…. Yes I can work night shifts. About salary? I am flexible. My pleasure. Tank you for giving me the chance to talk about my qualifications…..» She told herself ending the call, “Tank you; oh no, thank you, I made the same mistake. I don’t think she will call me back for the second interview.”

But Farhad got the tenth call from welfare:

» I am a Canadian citizen. I’m homeless; you have to find me a shelter.” Farhad shouted, taking his left eye from them. “Yes, I came back from Iran. I am in the street. I have no place to sleep over. Do you understand? My friend’s house is very small. They have no room for me.” “It is true,” Maryam thought. “He has a wife and kids.” “It is a lie.” Maryam grinned. “Here is Canada. “ He continued. “You are the 10th person…..Why is nobody caring about homeless people. He was almost crying.”

Is God normally crying? Maryam told Ali looking through window, watching Farhad smoking. “Farhad never calls us when he goes back to Iran. He does not care if we are dead or alive. He suddenly takes his suitcase and disappears for years. He is popping up because:

1. He had no etiquette
2. He was abusive
3. He was selfish
4. He was …. Maryam stopped the game. “

“Because,” Ali continued, “He knew that nobody would like to see a desperate person who was wandering somewhere between here and there. Somewhere that belonged to his stranger inside.”
****

Days passed by quickly. He kept calling for a limousine, getting neighbors’ attention to go to the casino at nights. And one day he came all the way back the day after in the morning and went upstairs right to his room without saying even one word. That night was his last night with them. “I guess he lost all his money,” Ali said when changing the channels on the TV.

And if Maryam took off her headset and would not listen to the boring interview tips, she could hear the lonely ghost’s unstable footsteps going downstairs in the middle of the night, the ghost that borrowed a few dollars from Ali and left their place the day after. He rolled his suitcase to their driveway. There was no limousine waiting for him anymore. Ali took him to the bus station.

And in the evening, the rain started to fall again. First there was lightning in the sky and a heavy rain right after. Maryam came down stairs, tired of sending resumes, joining Ali to watch the opera, Twilight of the Gods on TV.
At 7 at night the phone started ringing. “It must be Farhad settled down in his small room across the city.” Ali said when he was picking up the phone.

“Hello, Hi Farhad. Where are you? What? Are you telling me that you are calling from Iran …? But you were here today. You haven’t left Iran. Are you joking? You are calling from Kangan Dasht? The handset fell out of Ali’s hand and hit the ground. Ali sat on the floor.

2014-05-01

Twilight of the Gods: Part of Richard Wagner’s great opera cycle, The Ring of the Nibelung.

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