It was six in the morning when we woke up. The delightful sound of jazz music was coming from the radio and filling our small bedroom. “We must get up,” she said, adding, “We’ll be late again.” I drew her in and kissed her on her lips. With some difficulty we got ourselves out of the bed. I opened the curtains. What a glorious day it was. The warm, magical spread of late winter sun meant only that spring is finally at hand. This time of the year can be quite enchanting in our city. Today, was a perfect example.
I took a quick shower. Since I had added a couple of extra pounds, a large breakfast was out of the question, so I sufficed to a couple of cups of sweet tea and three or four pieces of bread. Customarily, she blocked my path on the way out: “Come here.” Thwarted, like a cat whose tail is gripped firmly, I stood as she verified my appearance. There was nothing too wrong with my clothing, but I knew my hair would be problematic.
- Sweet heart, is it so difficult to pay a bit more attention to your hair?
- I didn’t have time. You said we were gonna be late.
She took out her comb from her bag and got busy. I love it when she does that. Perhaps men do look for a mother in their wives.
Our places of work are quite near another. No more than five minutes waiting in the bus station, and then a ten-minute ride takes us both to our destinations. There is no sign of traffic in our city. In fact, there are hardly any cars. People commute using very clean and comfortable buses that move around quietly and have no pollution. An Iranian has invented their break-through engine, and this gives all of us a genuine sense of pride. Occasionally, we try to get off a few stations ahead in order to have a little walk. Today, the bus arrived promptly. There were a lot of empty seats. Most passengers were busy reading their books; nobody paid any attention to others.
- What do you have to do today?
- A young band will come in for their first recording. I need to find out what they need and how they want it done. If I think we can handle it, it will take a couple of months.
- So you probably prefer to be there. Should we go and say hello to your mom tonight? It’s been a while since we’ve met her.
With this, she took out a file folder and started reading. Her work is much more serious and less flexible than mine, so she sometimes skips lunch. The recent economic prosperity in our city has created a lot of demand for highly educated people. She loves her work despite the long hours she has to put in. I like my job too. I share a cozy little recording studio with a few friends, and despite all its problems, there’s nothing I’d rather do. I specially enjoy working with some of the younger artists: the ones who don’t think formulaic and prefer not to be like anyone else. This sort of thinking is finally taking root here. All arts, especially music, have become very trendy in our city. There are a lot of good bands around who sell a lot of albums and whose concerts are always sold out. Our city is turning into a hub of artistic activity.
For some reason, once again, I had left my keys at home. Mr. Mojtahedi opened the door for me. He’s our caretaker and keeps everything spotless. He is a pious man, but you have to know him to realize this. There are a lot of people of faith in our city, but you can’t tell this by their appearances: their relationship with their God is that personal. You don’t even know who believes in exactly what, unless you ask them, which I hardly ever do.
- Mr. Ganji, have you had breakfast yet?
- No, I have to watch my weight.
- We have fresh sangak bread. I’ve got it especially for you.
Nothing beats fresh sangak.
- Well, alright. I’ll have some bread with cheese, and a coffee then.
- Would you like some fresh herbs too?
- Fantastic! You’ve got herbs too? OK! Then I’ll have a tea instead of coffee, please.
I opened the new microphone I had bought the night before and started reading its manual. It was gorgeous. I wanted to use it as soon as I could, but on what instrument? As I was examining it in my hands, I suddenly felt my body turning cold. I opened my eyes uncontrollably and saw my mother, standing with a glass of ice water over my bed.
- It’s two o’clock. Doesn’t your highness want to get up and at least have some lunch?
- I don’t want lunch. Why did you wake me up? Did you throw water on me?? Have you gone mad?
- What else could I do? I’ve been calling you for fifteen minutes. I thought maybe you were dead. What is it? Your famous dreams again, right? Everybody coming to your studio for recording, your wife’s an angel and you’re so in love with one another? Tell me, did you buy a new microphone too?
- What? Am I not allowed to dream in this place?”
She shook her head with disappointment and left the room. I opened the curtains. A thick, unbending cloud, laden with dark brown smog, was hanging over the city. On the street, a couple of drivers, whose cars had run into each other and blocked the traffic, were fighting while other drivers, having formed an indifferent circle around them, watched on. Schoolchildren, finished, were running around like so many drunken invaders from a far-away land, chasing each other and cussing, ringing people’s doorbells, wrestling with parked cars mirrors. A few rumpled black-crows, from atop a dead tree, were defecating on these people. I wouldn’t have minded joining them.
I knew that somewhere close, maybe on top of one the city’s millions of walls, or maybe in one of its slums, a big, ugly street cat was huskily screwing our lady kitty. After all, the spring is at hand.