Condescending Souls

A SHORT STORY

BY

MEHDI BAGHERI


It is called Milad Tower and it is Tehran`s symbol. “Symbol of the town that I was born in?” I asked myself as the elevator headed up; at a speed of 7 meters per second. “Sir  you are here! We are by the revolving restaurant” said the man who operated the elevator for arriving guests. I got myself to a table next to the windows so I could get a proper view of the city and get lost in the arrays of sunset.

I looked down on the city and felt a bit judgmental. I noticed how polluted the air is.

“Sir would you like anything?” the waiter asked me in English. “I’d like a halaal beer please” I said with a smirk on my face. He smiled and nodded his head. “We are in Iran after all so we can only serve halaal; unless you phone a tapster and wait a few minutes until a real beer is delivered to your door” he said as he was writing down my order.

“I know I can get whatever I want in Tehran, I just need to be be able to afford it” I said and looked out the window again.

“Yes, you can buy life, or even order death. Everything is up for sale in this city but only for those who can afford it.” He smiled but clearly in a sarcastic way and left my table.

As I was following the lines of traffic on the road from my point of view, I started wondering  why there is so much traffic.

“Why aren’t there more green spaces?  Why do the buildings look nonconcordant?” I thought to myself.

My friend, Mehdi, arrived and sat opposite of me. “Anything pretty down there?” he asked. “I was more focusing on what’s wrong down there” I replied. “It’s not you. It is the times’ fault! Not everything  appears at once. Wait a little and you will see the prettiness”. I didn’t really understand what he meant so I smiled instead.

The sun had set and Mehdi was moaning about the lack of a smoking room in the restaurant. “They are restricting us for no means. People inhale tons of smoke in the city and they don’t speak up but if we just lit up a cigar here, everyone will frown”. I didn’t want to listen to anything negative, as that had been one of my resolutions since the beginning of the year, so I turned my head and faced the curved windows.

I couldn’t see the pollution anymore. It was just the city lights glowing out of the dark. More visible than anything else, was the long string of red lights on one side of the highway, and the same length of golden lights parallel to it. Now even the same traffic looked picturesque. I could no longer see the millions of short and tall buildings next to each other that had made the city look so inharmonic. It was as if you could still see the dewy-eyed beast’s inelegant face that was covered by a see-through dark black veil.

“Rich boys in Tehran bring their dates here so that they can sit on top of this concrete penis like building.” Suddenly said Mehdi. “Mehdi, please! People are going to hear you!” I stressed. “Look! She is giggling at what I just said.” Mehdi responded and insinuated with his eyes. “People, especially the youth, care way less about many things. Being courteous is probably the last of them.” He added. “I know people here have changed but that doesn’t mean we should be like them.” I replied firmly. “Haha… You know what’s the hardest thing in life? Do you really know?” He asked. “No I do not.” I replied so that I could just hear him say the answer to his question. “Being a lamb and finding yourself amongst a pack of wolves and insisting on being a lamb” said Mehdi. “Okay…” I replied and hesitated getting into another philosophical conversation with Mehdi for the rest of the night.



It is 9:30 in the morning. I want to go to my grannies’ house in downtown. I went down six long escalators at the Tajrish subway station. I finally get myself into one of the train wagons. I sit down and look at the six men who are sitting opposite of me. Except one of them, they all have their earphones plugged in. The one without earphones has a bald head and is a bit overweight. He looks more or less about 50 years old. I tell myself that the older generation is boring. They hardly listen to music and when they do it’s mostly traditional Persian music. My thoughts get disrupted as one of the subway hawkers offers his bargains: gum, monopods, toys and “… socks are for sixty!”. The hawker kept on blaring his offers in a rhythmic tone.

I look away in the other direction as I have no intention to purchase anything. I see a shy 8 or 9 year old  girl, with a school backpack, approaching travelers to sell her fortune telling cards. She doesn’t speak a word to anyone. She only goes towards them and walks away from them. She looks at me and starts walking towards me. The closer she gets, the more of her innocent blue eyes become visible. I start wondering as to why she isn’t at school? Regardless of the reason, I still don’t want to buy a fortune telling card. I don’t believe in this kind of nonsense. Maybe she even works for one of these gangs who hire children to beg for them. Plus, no one has bought a card from her so why should I?

She arrives and stands right in front of me. We are face to face. She smiles. “I don’t believe in fortune telling cards” I tell her. She gives me a bigger smile before looking away in embarrassment. “I want two cards” the bald man said. The wagon doors open as we arrive at the next station. She gets the money from him in a rush and gets out of the wagon. I then hear her whisper “still so many more cards to sell to afford dad`s blood money”.

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