Negar Behbahani


The 80’s, when it is your time to arrive, Descending out of your mother’s womb you fall, into the midst of a war where the sound of whizzing bullets cause your mother’s breasts to dry up and you become part of the overwhelmingly long queues that secure a bottle of milk and angry chaos created from it’s hunger.

With the sound of every unexpected siren, you run, throwing over your shoulder the little bag that you have filled with dolls, nails, broken remote controlled cars. The cellar is damp and black, with barely a trace of light, and the thought crosses your mind that it may be the last time your eyes will see your sister’s delicate fingers. At that exact time Mama lights a candle that placed on a tattered empty cardboard box, clapping her hands enacting a birthday party, and Daddy begins to sing.

Fear and the sound of the bombs dissolve with the sound of their song and clapping and you come to realize that they are the luck of your life.

Coming out of the cellar, the neighbors’ twins and the grouchy man from the top of the street have gone missing.

I cover my head with my veil and go to school, my uniform overcoat remaining grey and navy for the following twelve years. I buy into the belief that other colors of dress belong to bad, uninhibited women, just as chewing gum and long painted nails are. And when I arrive home, Mama is dressed in orange tights and has painted her nails bright red, and I begin to despise her, taking the scissors to all her brightly colored clothes, leaving her closet filled with my sobs, tears and snot.

I swap stories with my classmates, telling them how my sister sketches and puts up posters of foreign pop stars on the walls of her room, and how she brings her boyfriends home. They tattle and spill the beans. My teacher tells me there is a powerful devil dwelling within me.

I am expelled for a week and time becomes filled with a love for life, the puppet shows dialogues of my father, the strong quick-witted lines of my sister and I, who out of fear for the devil have cowered in my room and am whispering prayers to my heart, feel slight pain.

The solution becomes to shroud and conceal and ‘beware to not disclose home affairs’. Over the next couple of years I discover other liars and hiders, and we all stick together and isolate ourselves from the outside world of people and shops, preferring our homes over all places, safe, as long as the sound of our music does not reach the ears of our neighbors.

Every passing year causes the devil in my soul to expand and I am in constant pain. I am in pain. I am in pain. Then in the midst of a song, my father fades, yet all the puppets that had breathed life through him remain. At his funeral I am in pain and it shoots out the tips of my fingers. I am in pain and it overflows out of my eyes. I am in pain and it expands out of my head and morphs into drawn-out piano playing, film shooting, writing, and writing whilst Iran changes her clothes and loses her queues for milk. Yet beneath all that, still lays the teachers who expel us.

I am still in pain. The devil still paces within its confines and I overflow from slightly deeper ground.

شرح فارسی