The Blind Owl Sadeq Hedayat Sadeq Hedayat: His Life and Works S adeq hedayat was born on 17th February and died on 9th April He was. This short story was originally written by Sadeq Hedayat () and translated by Brian Spooner. This paper is posted at ScholarlyCommons. Tehran: Sadegh Hedayat Foundation, , xxi + 78 pp., £, ISBN Sadeq Hedayat is Iran's most influential modern writer of prose fiction, and his short.
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International Researcher Volume No.2 Issue No4. December INTERNATIONAL INTERNATIONAL RESEARCHERS RESEARCHERS Sadeq Hedayat and. In an effort to understand the works of Sadeq Hedayat better; in fact, to gain an overall view of his world, I teach a course on Persian Fiction and in it, alongside. PDF | This is an English translation of The Stray Dog by Sadeq Hedayat.
At that moment I participated in the revolutions of earth and heaven, in the germination of plants and in the instinctive movements of animals. In the darkness, fearing that they might slide and fall, the intertwined trees with their twisted branches seemed to be holding each other by the hand. He was a bent old man, and he was wearing a scarf wrapped around his neck. However, the memory of her enchanting eyes, no, the attractive malice of her eyes, has remained in my life forever. There was something in those walls that transferred their coldness and chill into a man's heart. It is as though it had been spent in some frigid zone and in eternal darkness while all the time within me burned a flame which consumed me as the flame consumes the candle.
The old odds-and-ends man, the butcher, Nanny and the whore, my wife, were my own shadows — shadows in the midst of which I was imprisoned" Given the absence of a chronological order in the structure of the narrative; time is characteristically disruptive and chaotic Sadeqi, , 2. Here, time is more poetic than prose-like; the past, the present, and the future are all placed on the same plane and the present becomes the amalgamation of all the moments of the past Nafisi, , The same description occurs in different contexts: He was wearing a large scarf; his laughter sent shivers down my spine" The old man's horrifying laughter, his scarf, and his handkerchief keep reappearing over and over again, both when the narrator is describing the old man himself and other characters: It was a figure whose head and face were covered in a scarf.
The figure sat beside me, holding an object wrapped in a handkerchief" 29 " or "I came to a butcher shop. There I saw a man who resembled the rag-and-bone dealer, who sits in front of our house, he was wearing a scarf" It follows that any moment in the present, in Gex's words, triggers a surviving memory from the past, which leads to endless other memories in a free and uninterrupted association , 8.
In The Blind Owl, the treatment of place, too, is characterised by uncertainty and unexpected shifts. Such oscillation gives the setting a peculiar and even paradoxical nature: None of scenes and incidents of the narrative remain stable in, or are reducible to, a certain time or place Kazemi, , What we observe here is not a logical progression from point A to point B; sometimes, the narrator starts his reminiscences or narration with describing his bleak room or people about him, but ends up living in an exotic land in a very distant past: Was he not that ancient painter who hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years ago had decorated the surface of this jar?
At times, an imaginary journey to an imaginary place takes him to, or is unexpectedly replaced by, yet another unknown place: My thoughts were freed from the weight of material reality and soared towards the blessings of tranquility and silence" 68 , and elsewhere, "All at once I found myself wandering freely and carelessly through an unknown town, along streets lined with weird houses of geometrical shapes" The chain of seemingly 57 unrelated scenes and images that parade in the narrator's mind can be likened to Bergson's "succession of qualitative changes, which melt into and permeate one another" , In The Blind Owl, the narrator's memories are usually linked to some observation or contemplation in the present time, thereby underscoring the ever-flowing stream of his consciousness: For me, an incident that took place only yesterday is less significant, less recent, than something that happened a thousand years ago" This conjures up Bergson's contention that "distinct states of the external world give rise to states of consciousness which run into one another and are imperceptibly organised into a whole, and bind the past to the present by this very process of connection" , In The Blind Owl, most of the narrator's memories share identical or recurrent details; "maggots" and "blister-flies," for instance, keep reappearing over and over again in different contexts: If we do not drink now, when should we drink?
Novels such as Ulysses or The sound and the Fury though written on SOC technique, in the final run, fundamentally depict a linear progression from point A to point B.
On the contrary, Hedayat in The Blind Owl creates a vicious circle in which not only in its microcosm, the structure and sections of the text, portray a non-linear progression, but also the macrocosm, the general outlook of the story, is yet non-linear.
This circle-like coalition of microcosm and macrocosm in The Blind Owl in comparison with the other novels in which linear pattern is seen at the final outlook, is responsible for its exclusiveness.
Dalloway and To the Lighthouse and so many other European modernist in which the narrator is like Marlow in The Heart of Darkness by Conrad, a distinct speaker from whom the text is recounted through his point of view. The Blind Owl is a highly phenomenological novel in which the internal ontological constitution and articulation 1 of the fictional text is portrayed through its intrinsic narrative complexity.
This complexity as Ingarden holds lies first of all in its being heteronomous, existing both autonomously, in its own right, and at the same time depending upon the consciousness of the reader to unscramble it As qtd in Mchale, , In The Blind Owl, readers need to put the pieces of different sections into one another to get to the big picture of the text as it is divided un-perceptibly into two worlds of real and ethereal.
The Blind Owl is an arena of superimposed conglomeration of real and surreal scenes which leaves to the reader, uncountable aesthetic gaps. In the final run, it takes a conscious reader to figure out the gaps of the text for sake of a comprehensible whole. In such vein, Hedayat has produced different worlds of factuality and fictionality intertwined and superimposed into one another. Reading through the text, reader rightly and surely will encounter shifts of narratology from one distinct vein into another labyrinth where he seems highly sporadic to reckon the metaphorical world from the independent imaginative world.
Such a fantastic narrative ultimately resolves itself between natural and supernatural vacillations which are thus the underlying principle of The Blind Owl.
Few texts manage to maintain this delicate balance to the end.
What Hedayat has also dramatically and dexterously displayed in the very text of The Blind Owl, is envisioning the metaphoricity as a reference to the state of an independent fictional world McHale, Moreover, the mode of being between 1 Roman Ingarden — was a Polish phenomenologist, ontologist and aesthetician.
He is best known, however, for his work in aesthetics, particularly on the ontology of the work of art and the status of aesthetic values, and is credited with being the founder of phenomenological aesthetics.
His work The Literary Work of Art has been widely influential in literary theory as well Page as philosophical aesthetics, and has been crucial to the development of New Criticism and Reader Response Theory www. These ontological peculiarities in The Blind Owl apparently both do and do not happen or in which the same event happens in two or more different ways. In addition, representations of displaced figures and narrative lines, Hedayat in The Blind Owl tends to encourage a deliberate misleading of the reader into regarding the 2 embedded worlds, secondary or third as the primacy in their own terms.
This deliberate mystified hypertrophy is followed by demystification in which the true ontological status of the supposed reality of the text is revealed and the entire ontological structure of the text consequently laid bare. Ulysses, on the other side, shares the same structure in sections.
Like his contemporaries in the 20s, Faulkner too makes radical innovations in technique in The Sound and the Fury as Evelyn Scott noted in her famous review, "The method of presentation is, as far as I know, unique" Hargrove, , As among the forms of textual infinity, infinite bifurcation and infinite circularity and infinite regress speculate a recursive structure in which there is the emergence of perpetual haunting back and forth throughout the story.
Infinity can also be approached, or at least be evoked therefore in the points of view by the repeated inside-outside jumps to the levels of speaking as well as to the speaker of the narration.
In my sleep I dreamed. Reading throughout the lines, the reader is promptly shocked by the confusion of real-like characters appearing into the fictional world without clear separate line between them i. On the other hand, there exists also the confusion of surrealist descriptions stretched into the real like world.
This superimposition of the ontological worlds of the text gets really invisibly intertwined wherein the reader cannot find the difference and distinct line between the two.
The room itself has two windows facing out onto the world of the rabble. As seen, there is no irregularity or illogicality and separate line between the real and fictional world are seen in the narration. This hypertrophies create a believable and at the same time unbelievable confusion.
I did not walk in the normal fashion but glided along as the girl in black had done. I 59 Page 2 A metaphorical world which is so extended and elaborated that it approaches the status of an independent fictional world of its own, an autonomous imaginative reality.
My life passed, and still passes, within the four walls of my room. But why, how, had her eyes opened? Had it been a hallucination or had it really happened? Taine asserts that to fully conceive a literary text, the environmental causes which participated in creation of the work are to be examined.
In the first approach to The Sound and the Fury , a cultivated reader will notice that the story is a representation of a family though based on SOC, full of sound and fury. For instance, Benjy seems to narrate in timeless since there is a vacillation between the past and present and based on the process of association of the ideas which stresses the importance and immediacy of mental activity.
This process continues to the end of the story. According to this historical approach, The Sound and the Fury also reflects more or less, the historical background in which time it was created. While his extensive experiments with multiple view points, the influence of silent films of the 20s on his style has been less often acknowledged and as Edward Murray suggests, The Sound and the Fury is a "highly cinematic novel" , Thus the theme of disillusionment runs in a variety of forms through many works: The Sound and the Fury also echoes this contemporary sense of malaise and despair in the many losses that fill the novel--from Luster's relatively insignificant loss of his quarter to Jason's losses on the cotton market, from Quentin's and Benjy's loss of Caddy to Caddy's loss of her baby, and so on , However, this is not to refute that The Sound and the Fury does not bear any myth or lessens its scopes to any grounds.
Mousavi in Ideal Celestial Worlds in the Purgatory of The Blind Owl contends that Hedayat, consciously, intertwines perceptional complexities with metaphysical sensations. For nurturing these intricate moments, Hedayat uses Iranian ancient theosophy specially the worlds of ether, instance and limbo , The story is in two sections, a surrealist first part in which the celestial figure of the woman is represented, and the second real part in which the celestial figure is anthropomorphized in a bitch-like woman, his real wife seemingly.
Heidary explains that two different women [celestial and the bitch] represent the duality of their nature, one from the mundane world and the other the metaphysical world ibid; Page After some time, my father fell in love with a girl called Bugam Dasi, a dancer in a lingam temple. December dark room my father asked Bugam Dasi if she would perform the sacred temple dance before him once more. It was inevitable that I should be close to her in this life.
At no time did I desire to touch her. The invisible rays which emanated from our bodies and mingled together were sufficient contact. As for the strange fact that she appeared familiar to me from the first glance, do not lovers always experience the feeling that they have seen each other before and that a mysterious bond has long existed between them?
The term Stream of Consciousness firstly used by William James, American philosopher and psychologist He firstly coined and used in his Principles of Psychology written in He contends that the creeds and thoughts, senses and memories exist beyond the circle of our primary consciousness though stream not to us in a regular pattern.
Understanding of the perception signifies the nature of stream of consciousness. What is meant is divulgence of the different layers of mental processes and perceptions of the characters , 9.
As mentioned before in section of 2. After four years in France, he finally surrendered his scholarship and returned home in the summer of without receiving a degree. In Iran he held various jobs for short periods. Hedayat subsequently devoted his whole life to studying Western literature and to learning and investigating Iranian history and folklore. During his short literary life span, Hedayat published a substantial number of short stories and novelettes, two historical dramas, a play, a travelogue, and a collection of satirical parodies and sketches.
His writings also include numerous literary criticisms, studies in Persian folklore, and many translations from Middle Persian and French. He is credited with having brought Persian language and literature into the mainstream of international contemporary writing. There is no doubt that Hedayat was the most modern of all modern writers in Iran. Yet, for Hedayat, modernity was not just a question of scientific rationality or a pure imitation of European values. In his later years, feeling the socio-political problems of the time, Hedayat started attacking the two major causes of Iran's decimation, the monarchy and the clergy, and through his stories he tried to impute the deafness and blindness of the nation to the abuses of these two major powers.
Feeling alienated by everyone around him, especially by his peers, Hedayat's last published work, The Message of Kafka , bespeaks melancholy, desperation and a sense of doom experienced only by those subjected to discrimination and repression. Hedayat traveled and stayed in India from until late , the mansion at Bombay where he was staying during his visit at Bombay has been recently discovered in In Bombay he completed and published his most enduring work, The Blind Owl , whose writing he started as early as in Paris.
It has been called "one of the most important literary works in the Persian language". At the end of , Hedayat left Iran for Paris. There, on 9 April , he committed suicide by gassing himself in a small rented apartment on 37 Rue Championnet. He had plugged all the gaps in the windows and door with cotton and, so it would not burden anyone, he had placed the money a hundred thousand francs for his shroud and burial in his side wallet in plain view.
His funeral was attended by a number of intimate friends and close acquaintances, both Iranian and French. His work is coming under increasing attack in Europe from political Islamists. In Haji Aqa his characters explore the lack of meritocracy in Iran:. In order for the people to be kept in line, they must be kept hungry, needy, illiterate, and superstitious. If the grocer's child becomes literate, he not only will criticize my speech, but he will also utter words that neither you nor I will understand What would happen if the forage-seller's child turns out intelligent and capable—and mine, the son of a Haji, turns out lazy and foolish?
In November , republication of Hedayat's work in uncensored form was banned in Iran , as part of a sweeping purge. However, surveillance of book-stalls is limited and it is apparently still possible to purchase the originals second-hand. The official website is also still online. Some material discussing the issue of censorship include:. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Years went by: He did not produce anything substantial. Nor did circumstances change, and Hedayat became increasingly restless.
In a letter to Jamalzadeh, another longtime friend, he wrote: The crux of the matter is that I am tired of it all. It has to do with my nerves. I pass the night in a situation much worse than that of a sentenced criminal.
I am tired of life. Nothing gives me incentive or comfort and I cannot deceive myself any more. A gap has severed the line of communication between life, circumstances, etc. We cannot understand each other any more. He went to Paris. There he visited some of his earlier haunts, an exercise that frustrated him further and drove him deeper into depression and self-destruction. His stay in Paris lasted four months. There, on April 4, , he apparently gassed himself, ending a decade of misery, seclusion, addiction, fear, and loneliness.
Hedayat was a sensitive man. When leaving Iran, he could not bear to say goodbye to his aged parents at the airport. He carried a bag of dirt as a token of his devotion to his motherland; he also wrote a rather chilling note as a consolation to his friends and admirers: We left and broke your heart. See you on Doomsday. That's all! For a number of reasons one could call his final days tragic.
One tragedy is that although he had done his best to raise his readers' consciousness of their own plight, he had not succeeded even in familiarizing them with the major issues of the time.
This realization, coming at a time when his physical and mental abilities could no longer support a new campaign a short stint began with "The Water of Life" and ended with "Tomorrow" , distressed him more than anything else. Then, too, his critics were not treating him any better. Equally ignorant of the true issues before them, they were happy to question his sanity, to discredit his ability to write in Persian and, above all, to accuse him of creating a model of self-destruction for the youth of Iran.
That the notes of a number of recent young suicides cited the influence of The Blind Owl further supported the critics. The latter could not ignore the tarnished image of the reigning monarch's father. Per Lashez" "The Blind Owl: Pere Lachaise" , Rudaki, no. Kamshad, p. Together these forces first tried to push Hedayat into their camp.
Here he was supposed to live a happy life rather than, like Khayyam, to write for the ignorant and to die in contempt; but Hedayat refused their offer. They then decided to expel him from Iran. And indeed life in Iran had become more and more unbearable, especially when many factions proclaimed their enmity, and first among them the court. Hedayat thus decided to go back to Paris. In Paris, however, he was beset by a totally different, though equally powerful, enemy.
Old and irrepressible memories of his youth were returning and Hedayat had no option but to give them room to pass; but they would not leave. They became stronger and more telling. To this was added the fear of assassins who might have been engaged to forestall the return to Iran of someone who would spoil the delicate British machinations designed to secure the Shah's position and British interests.
Thus, like Gholam and Zaghi, the insomniac characters in "Tomorrow," Hedayat could not sleep at night. In short he was being hounded by the very concerns from which he had tried to forge a solution for the misery of Iranians.
Now, having failed to affect the situation, these intentions were coming back to settle on Hedayat's own threshold. By this time, however, they had grown into concrete fears such as persecution, execution, and extermination. The circumstances in which Hedayat lived also obscure the cause of his death. Was it suicide or homicide? Here we shall discuss both possibilities but we shall not commit ourselves to either.
Before an answer can be given, we shall need to research more into the circumstances of Hedayat's death, on the one hand, his suicidal tendency and, on the other hand, his antimonarchical and anticlerical tendencies.
Certain facts suggest that, despite his moralistic views opposing an active political stand, Hedayat had been a thorn on the side of the Pahlavi regime. He had openly criticized foreign intervention in Iranian affairs and had criticized both the regime and those factions in Iran that condoned the protection of foreign interest. In that the regime prevented its malaise about Hedayat's works from filtering down to Hedayat's readers, it could also cloak any measures it wished to take to punish the writer.
The Iranians having read and heard the official reception of Hedayat's works could hardly doubt the veracity of an allegation of suicide. Before Hedayat, Ahmad Kasravi had treated the monarchy and the clergy in similar ways and had paid for it. This, however, is one side of the story. The other side has to do with Hedayat himself. There is no doubt that Hedayat tried to take his own life in when he was in France. There is also no doubt that he was attracted to death, the afterlife, the existence of a soul and similar subjects.
More importantly, there is no question that in later life, whenever he was depressed, he did think of suicide; he even talked about it openly in letters to his close friends. One, before The Blind Owl, though it begins with an attempt at self-destruction, is a hopeful and constructive period.
During this time, Hedayat produces some of the most memorable characters in Persian fiction. The other, his post-Owl period, is one in which he is cognizant of his own inherent inadequacies, inadequacies that he shares with the rest of humanity, superhuman inadequacies that he cannot overcome.
To subdue his frustration he takes to drinking and drugs. Often he becomes depressed; to soothe his nerves he writes abusive pieces addressing issues that he had addressed earlier but had failed to influence.
Hedayat's death then could well have been the result of a difficult moment, such as the incident, or a well-thought-out plan to leave this world before old age sets in. In any event, the circumstances of Hedayat's death, as far as his literary career is concerned, are academic. It is clear that by Hedayat had neither the inclination nor the ability to create works like The Blind Owl.
By the same token, his hours of desperation had made his pen a most lethal weapon against the monarchy and the clergy. These issues, the present author believes, are the predominant factors in deciding whether Hedayat's death was a homicide or a suicide?
A list of Hedayat's letters appears at the end of the present volume. Since generally it is the custom to attribute these incredible sufferings to the realm of rare and singular accidents and happenings, it is not possible to speak about them to others. If one does talk or write about them, people pretend to accept them with sarcastic remarks and dubious smiles. In reality, however, they follow prevalent beliefs and their own ideas about them. The reason is that these pains do not have a remedy.
The only remedy is forgetfulness induced by wine, or artificial sleep induced by opium and other narcotics. Unfortunately, the effect of these drugs is transitory. After a while, instead of soothing, they add to the pain.
Will it be possible that some day someone would penetrate the secret of these supernatural happenings and recognize these reflections of the shadow of the soul that manifest themselves in a coma-like limbo between sleep and wakefulness? I shall describe one of these incidents that I experienced personally. That incident shocked me so much that I shall never forget it; its ominous scar will poison my entire life from beginning to the end of eternity where no man's understanding can fathom.
Did I say poisoned? Well, I meant it scathed me and I will carry its scar for the remainder of my mortal life. I shall try to put down everything that I recall, everything about the events and their interrelationship remaining in my memory. Perhaps by doing so I can make some sense out of them.
I want to become sure. I want to personally believe it. It is immaterial whether others believe me or not. To put it plainly, I am afraid that I may die tomorrow without knowing myself. My life experiences have taught me that a frightful chasm separates me from the others. The same experiences also have taught me when to remain silent and keep my thoughts to myself. Nevertheless, I have decided that I should write.
That I should introduce myself to my shadow—the stooped shadow on the wall that voraciously swallows all that I put down. It is for him that I am making this experiment to see if we can know each other better. Since the time when I severed my ties with others, I want to know myself better. Absurd thoughts! Yet these thoughts torture me more than any reality. Are not these people who resemble me, who seemingly share my needs, whims and desires gathered here to deceive me?
Are they not shadows brought into existence to mock and beguile me?
I write only for the benefit of my shadow on the wall. I need to introduce myself to it. But alas, instead of a sunbeam it was a transient beam, a shooting star that appeared to me in the likeness of a woman or an angel. In the light of that moment that lasted about a second, I witnessed all my life's misfortunes, and discovered their magnitude and grandeur.
Then that beam of light disappeared into the dark abyss for which it was destined. I could not keep that transient beam for myself. It was three months, no, two months and four days ago that I lost her.
However, the memory of her enchanting eyes, no, the attractive malice of her eyes, has remained in my life forever. How could I forget someone who is so pertinent to my life?
No, I will not call her by name. She, with that ethereal body, slim and misty, with those two large, wonder stricken, sparkling eyes behind which my life gradually and painfully burned and melted away, no longer belonged to this base, fierce world.
No, I shall not disgrace her name with earthly things. After seeing her, I withdrew from the circle of people. I completely abandoned the company of the fools and the fortunate.
Then, for forgetfulness, I took refuge in wine and opium. I have passed, and continue to pass, my life within the four walls of my room. My whole life is confined to four walls. My daily occupation was painting designs on pen-case covers; my entire time was dedicated to the painting of designs on pen-case covers and consumption of alcohol and opium. I had chosen the ridiculous profession of pen-case-cover painting to confuse myself, to kill the time. By a lucky chance my house is located outside the city, in a quiet and restful spot, away from the hustle and bustle of people's lives.
Its boundaries are well defined and ruins surround it. Between here and the ditch there are some low mud- brick houses; the city begins beyond the ditch. I wonder what madman, or what ill- disposed architect has built this house in forgotten times. The strange thing is that when I close my eyes, all its nooks and crannies materialize before my eyes, and I feel its pressure on my shoulders.
It is a house that could have been painted on ancient pen-cases. I must write about all these events to assure myself that they are not figments of my imagination. I must explain them to my shadow on the wall. To begin with, before this incident, there was only one thing that cheered me up.
Within the confine of the four walls of my room I painted designs on pen-case covers, and I passed the time with this ridiculous amusement,. After I saw those two eyes, and after I saw her, all work and movement completely lost their inherent value, purport, and meaning. The strange and incredible thing is that, for some reason, from the beginning, all my painted scenes shared the same theme and structure. He wore a shalma25 around his head, and put the index finger of his left hand on his lips as a sign of astonishment.
Opposite him a girl, wearing a long, black dress, was bending to offer him a lily. She was bending because a brook intervened between them. Had I seen this image before, or was it inspired to me in a dream?
I cannot tell. I only know that this scene and this subject were at the center of my painting. My hand drew this scene involuntarily. Even more incredible was that there was demand for these paintings. I routinely sent some to India in care of my uncle. He sold them and sent the money to me. I do not recall correctly. This picture appeared to me to be far and near at the same time.
Now I recall an incident. I said I must write down my recollections. This has nothing to do with that. These notes were taken much later. They are not related to the subject at hand. The major thing is that I gave up painting designs on pen-case covers in order to devote my entire time to writing. Two months ago, no two months and four days ago.
It was the thirteenth day of Farvardin. In order to paint undisturbed, I had shut the window of my room.
Around sunset, when I was busy painting, suddenly, the door opened and my uncle entered—that is to say, he said he was my uncle. I had never seen him before this. He had been on a distant journey from his early youth. He was a ship captain of sorts.
I thought he had some mercantile business with me. He was a merchant as well as a captain. In any event, my uncle was a stooped old man. He wore an Indian shalma around his head and a yellow, torn cloak over his shoulders. A scarf covered his head and face. You could see his hairy chest through his open collar and you could count the hairs of his thin beard through his scarf. Through his red, fistulous eyelids and leprous lip, he bore a distant and ridiculous resemblance to me, as if my reflection had fallen on a magic mirror.
I had always envisaged my father as looking something like that. Upon entering, he retired to the corner of the room and sat there in a squatting position. Thinking that I should prepare something and offer it to him, I lit a light and entered the closet of my room. I searched everywhere for something suitable for an old man to eat.
I did this knowing well that I didn't have anything in the house. I had finished all the opium and wine. Suddenly the built-in niche below the ceiling caught my eye. As if inspired, I recalled an ancient wine flask that I had inherited. Its wine could have been made on the occasion of my birth. The wine flask was in the niche. I had totally forgotten that such a thing existed in the house.
To reach the niche, I put a nearby stool under my feet. Then, as I picked up the wine flask, through the air inlet in the niche, the following scene attracted my attention: In the field behind my room a bent, stooped old man was squatting under a cypress tree, 24 A person who is a master of yoga, disciplined mental, and spiritual practices that originated in ancient India 25 A turban worn by some Indian yogis.
The 13th of Farvardin is called Sizdahbedar. It is the last day of a 13 days holiday. On this day, people leave their homes and go to the countryside partly for a picnic and partly to ward off any evil that might befall them on this ominous day.
For further details, see http: She was bending forward to give the old man a black lily, with her right hand. The old man was chewing on the index finger of his left hand. Although the girl was standing exactly opposite me, she was not paying any attention to what was happening around her.
She was looking without seeing anything. An unconscious, involuntary smile had dried to the corner of her lips; it seemed as though she was thinking of an absent person. It was from the stool that I saw her dreadful charming eyes, eyes that, at the same time, were enchanting and reproachful. It was to the shining and dreadful balls of those worried, threatening and inviting eyes that my single beam of life was attracted, and it was to the depth of those same eyes that my life was drawn and in them was annihilated.
This attractive mirror, in an unthinkable way to any human being, drew my whole being to itself. Her curved Turkmen eyes with their intoxicating supernatural beam frightened as well as attracted. She seemed to have witnessed, with those eyes, supernatural happenings beyond those any mortal could witness. Her cheeks were high, her forehead wide, her eyebrows thin and connected, and her lips meaty and half open.
Her lips seemed to have just finished a long, warm kiss with which they were not yet satisfied. A tress of her disheveled, uncontrolled black hair that framed her silvery face was stuck on her temple. The tenderness of her limbs and the heedlessness of her ethereal movements bespoke her transient nature.
Only dancing girls at Indian temples matched her harmonious gait. Her placid form and sorrowful happiness distinguished her from normal human beings. Her beauty was not normal at all. To me she looked like images in opium hallucinations and in me induced the heated love of the mandrake. She was like the female mandrake that had been separated from the embrace of her mate.
She wore a wrinkled, black dress that, fitting her well, stuck to her body. When I saw her, she was about to jump over the brook that separated her from the old man. She failed. The old man laughed hysterically.
He had a dry and repulsive laughter, a hybrid mocking laughter that made one's hair stand on end. Because his facial expression did not change, the resonance of his laughter emerged from the depth of a hollow. Wine flask in hand and out of fright, I jumped off the stool. I was shaking involuntarily.
It was a shiver in which fright and enjoyment were intermingled. I felt as if I had jumped up from a pleasantly nightmarish dream. I rested the wine flask on the floor and held my head between my hands. For how many minutes or hours?
I don't know. When I came to, I picked up the wine flask and went back to my room. My uncle had left, and he had left the door ajar, like the open mouth of a corpse. The ring of the old man's dry laughter echoed in my ears. It was getting dark and the lamp was smoking. The effect of the pleasant and frightful shiver that I had felt, however, was not wearing off. From this moment my life's direction changed. One glance was sufficient to bring about all that change.
I was no longer in full control of myself. Besides, it seemed that I knew her name from before. I was fully familiar with the evil in her eyes, with her color, scent and movements. It was as though my soul, in the life before this, in the world of imagination, had bordered on her soul and that both souls, of the same essence and substance, were destined for union.
I must have lived a life very close to hers. I had no desire at all to touch her. I was satisfied with just the invisible beams that emanated from our bodies and mingled together.
Isn't this the same as the terrifying experience shared by two lovers who feel they had known each other before and that, in the past, a mysterious relationship had existed between them? In this base world I wanted her love, and her love alone. Was it possible that someone else could affect me? Unfortunately, the dry, repulsive and ominous laughter of the old man tore our bonds asunder. This thought preoccupied me throughout the night.
Several times I decided to go to the hole in the wall and look, but the fear of the old man's laughter prevented me. The next day, the same thought preoccupied me.
Could I give up seeing her entirely? Eventually, the day after that, with much fear and trepidation, I decided to put the wine flask back in its place. But, upon pushing aside the curtain that covered the entrance to the closet, I was confronted with a dark, black wall, a wall as black as the darkness that permeates my entire life. There was no crevice or hole or opening to the outside. The square hole in the wall had become a part of the wall, as if it never existed.
I stood on the stool and examined the wall. But, no matter how hard I struck my fists against the wall and listened, and no matter how carefully I scrutinized the wall in the light of the lamp, I could not find a trace for a hole. My blows had little effect on the thick, massive wall that now appeared like a wall made of lead. Could I give all this up permanently? How could I?
Everything was out of my control. Like a soul under torture, no matter how much I waited, guarded, or searched for her, it was all to no avail.
Like the murderer who returns to the scene of his crime, or like a chicken with its head cut off, I walked all around our house and the neighborhood, not for one or two days, but for two months and four days. I walked around our house so many times that I could identify every rock and pebble.
I could not find even a trace of the cypress tree, the stream of water, or the people I had seen. For nights on end I knelt on the ground in the moonlight, wept and sought redress from the trees, the stones, and the moon that she might have looked at, but I could not find any sign of her. On the contrary, I realized that all those activities were useless. She was not of this world. The water with which she washed her hair must have had a unique and unknown source, perhaps in a magical cave.
The warp and woof of her dress was not made of ordinary wool or cotton, or sewn by corporeal hands, like ordinary human hands. She was a distinguished creature. I realized that the lilies she carried also were not ordinary lilies. I finally concluded that if she were to wash her face in ordinary water, her face would wither and if she were to pluck ordinary lilies with her long and delicate fingers, her fingers would wither, just like ordinary flower petals.
I learned all these things. I found this girl, or should I say this angel, to be a source of astonishment and indescribable inspiration for me. I was certain that the gaze of a stranger, or of an ordinary person, would make her look shabby and withered.
Since the time when I lost her, since when a heavy wall, a solid, moist dam as heavy as lead, was created between her and me, my life has become useless and confounded. In spite of her kind look and the deep pleasure that I drew from seeing her, she did not have any answers for me. She did not see me. Nevertheless, I needed those eyes. A single glance from her was sufficient to solve all my philosophical difficulties and theological enigmas.
After one glance from her, there would remain no mystery or secret for me. From this time on, I drank more, and smoked more opium. But alas, despite these remedies for hopelessness, remedies meant to paralyze and numb my thoughts, remedies meant to make me forget thinking about her, day by day, hour by hour, even minute by minute her figure and her face materialized in my thought stronger and in a more meaningful form.
How could I forget? Whether my eyes were open or closed, whether I was asleep or awake, she was in front of me. Through the hole in the closet of my room—as through a hole in the night that enshrouds thought and logic—through the square hole that opened to the outside, she was constantly in front of me.
How could I rest? I formed the habit of taking promenades quite late—at sunset. For some reason I felt compelled to find the stream of water, the cypress tree, and the lily plant. I had become accustomed to these promenades in the same way that I had become addicted to opium; it was as though some force compelled me to them. All the time along the way I thought only about her, recalling my initial glimpse of her. I wanted to find the place where I had seen her on the Thirteenth day of Farvardin.
If I could find that place, and if I could sit under that cypress tree, I was sure some tranquility would appear in my life. But, alas, there was nothing there but refuse, hot sand, the ribcage of a horse, and a dog sniffing the top of the trash.
Had I really met her? I only saw her stealthily through a hole, through an ill-fated hole in the closet of my room. I was like a hungry dog that sniffs and searches the garbage. When people appear with more trash, he runs away and, out of fear, hides himself. Later he returns to seek his favorite pieces in the new trash. I was in a similar situation, only for me the hole had been blocked up. To me she was a fresh and tender bouquet of flowers thrown on top of a trash pile.
The last evening that, like other evenings, I went on a walk, it was dark and it felt like rain. Everything was covered in a thick mist. In the rainy weather that decreases the sharpness of colors, and diminishes the rudeness of the lines of objects, I felt a particular freedom and relaxation, as though the raindrops washed my black thoughts away. During this night, that which should not happen came to pass. I walked about involuntarily. I think it was quite late at night when I returned.
A dense fog was hanging in the air, so thick that I could not see in front of my feet clearly. But out of habit, and through a special sense that was awakened in me, when I arrived at my doorstep, I perceived a black-clad figure, the figure of a woman, sitting on the platform of my house.
I struck a match to find the keyhole, but my eyes, involuntarily, caught sight of the black-clad figure, and I recognized the two oblique eyes—two large, black eyes amid a silvery thin face—the same eyes that stared at a man's face without actually seeing. Even if I had not seen her before, I would have recognized her. I was not mistaken. This black-clad figure was she. Astounded and bewildered, I stood petrified in my place. I felt like someone who is dreaming, and who knows that he is asleep, but who cannot wake up when he wants to.
The match, having burnt itself and my fingers, brought me to reality. I turned the key, opened the door, and drew myself aside. Like someone familiar with the way, she got off the platform and crossed the dark corridor.
She opened the door of my room and entered. I followed her in. I lit the lamp quickly and saw that she had already retired to my bed and was lying on it. Her face was in the shade. I did not know whether she could see me or hear me. Her outward appearance showed no trace of either fear, or of a desire to resist me. It seemed as though she had involuntarily come to my house. Was she sick? Had she lost her way?
She had come here like a sleepwalker, quite unconsciously. The mental state I experienced at this moment is beyond the imagination of any living being. I felt a kind of pleasant, yet indescribable, pain. That lady, and this girl, who unceremoniously and without uttering a word had entered my room were the same person. I had always imagined our first meeting to happen like this. For me, this state was like an endless, deep sleep; one has to be in a very deep sleep to have such a dream. The silence that weighed on me was like an eternal life.
It is hard to speak at the beginning, or at the end of eternity. To me she was a woman who had something supernatural about her. Her face reminded me so strongly of the confounding oblivion of other people's faces that, upon seeing her, my whole body began to shake, and my knees gave way.
I saw the whole painful story of my life behind her large eyes, her extremely large eyes, wet and glistening eyes, like black diamond balls thrown into tears. In her eyes, in her black eyes, I found the eternal night, the dense darkness that I had been searching for. I plunged into its awesome, enchanting darkness.
I felt as though some force was being extracted from my being; the ground shook underneath my feet.
At that moment, If I had fallen to the ground, I would have drawn an indescribable pleasure from that fall. My heart stopped. Fearing that my breath might make her disappear, as if she were a piece of cloud or a puff of smoke, I restrained myself from breathing. Her silence was like a miracle. It was as though a glass wall intervened between us.
This Moment, this hour, this eternity was choking me. Her weary eyes, as if witnessing something extraordinary that others could not see—as if seeing death—were gradually closing.
Eventually, her eyelids closed. I felt like a drowning man who was coming to the surface for air. With the edge of my sleeve, I wiped the perspiration on my forehead.