Wednesday 6 September 2023

Brain Fever by MohammadReza Samaei, despresso

“Where are we?”

“Don’t worry!”

“But are you sure we can go farther?”

“No, not sure!”

“You know who ignited the war?”


“Nah?! With all the narratives?!”

Or else on one cold cold night in December or something, perhaps, I could tell another story… but now…wedged in the tight corners of our assigned caskets, coffins or whatever they are, we can hardly breathe. There is no more fresh air to breathe in, and every second passing, we inhale the oxygen-less air. I could hear her last struggles to stay alive. I’m not even so sure about her being alive all these seconds. I recall her narrative, try to hear … to imagine … I am breathless as I am locked in to die … but I try to recount her story …

“With one eye cobalt blue, hands with metallic grey flecks of assumedly several beatings, she walks past the empty parks, along the long dried-up river. Like an abandoned museum of perished arts. A dwarf could be seen racing through the midnight sky, piercing the surface, from the east to the west, cutting the middle in half, making a chopped paper, with one half as if bleeding, creating two spheres. The bleeding continues, colored by the lunar light of the dwarf as it reaches the seemed-to-be ground. As she looks up, she delves into the thought of the entanglement. The links. All the illusion of separation. Strange! The way simple things own a pale, faint glow! Forgetting is now deprived of its present or future salvation. It’s sufferably stranded. The memory has lost its sense for forgetfulness.”

Every once in a while, (and it gets more and more as the truck slows down) she stops her narrative as if to arrange the fragments, needing more air to continue…

“Every one day an incredibly white shaft of light brightens the flat land for two or three seconds, then an extremely loud explosion is heard, and after perhaps two more seconds, there will be nothing but the same stained silence, quietude… 10 PM. LOST OR DEAD.”

She told me (I presume) of another under-aged, forcefully underprivileged, put in the tiny dark space, as many are to be put supposedly for all their life time which constituted about half a day, a life of hours long:

“It seemed he was closing his eyes. I couldnt take that look for long. ‘Daunting!’ He murmured, though with unrecognizable syllables. ‘Daunting!’ As he spelled the word, I felt a bit of folia in it, a sense of delirium. I wanted to tap him, but let him sleep at last. I saw a dim light, faint through the hole. It was early morning. Birds were mourning. I was left alone there, with an expectation of something to happen, awaiting. Too much waiting. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST. The significance of this title at that moment. the dim light brightened into a silver golden ray. A rupture. He never woke up again. Bloods were shed that morning. Blood everywhere. Splashed onto the bricks, the asphalt. He never recovered to talk about it—”

“1 AM. … One more dead. 2 AM. … Bright spots, marching stiffly into the lightless dark. Ocean sky, so dark as if shaved away by the lightless impulse of the night. One more dead. 3 AM. And it goes on, like, never ceases.”

“The town can’t contain her, and she needs a place to go. She intends to give color to things pale. The city lights, favorite cafes, and beautiful sights which long ago gave their sense to numerous confusions, thoughts she couldn’t talk of, long time before. She could walk for hours, only quietly observing the raw pain, thinking, to the moment she became tired of thinking too much.”

“She looks outside. Houses are quiet as if empty. They need a voice, a noise, something. On the high-held billboard, a typographie has been scrawled: “WE ARE NOT AT PEACE—” inked through the edge that you could not follow the rest. Wondering not at peace with what. What was it that they put all the letters in capital?”

“And a girl runs through the tumbling walls crying out loud something that I cannot get right. But the tone has a sense of urgency in it.”

Bare hands seeking some penny to their names. Intimidating shadows passing by. High-angled eye-contacts.

“She stands there. In the street. You come outside after hearing the second shooting. Is it the third suicide in the week? The sirens echoing even closer each time. Confusedly you follow people’s faces. Theirs are like a person spied on after revealing a truth. They are all irritated by this place, easily, quickly. But another place? Delusion.”

Are you still there? Are…you?

“Suddenly the red rays of the sun loom over the city. People from the cafés start glancing up into this scene. Intimate talking. Everyone keeps looking, not surprised. This scene keeps people dancing through the streets. Places with all the sensations of the nation coming back so alive. Coming back to the streets. The rays both gaze at the people, and are gazed at. The word “ago” isn’t there anymore. These dead alive moments lurk into an eternal struggle. All things unpossessed. Illusion of sweeping into. Here, at least, there is no more. After a while, the rays seem to stare off. The shimmering separation of a sun from her land by unknown reasons, unusual but familiar. As if it is going to be forever foreign.”

“It is almost dark. 8 PM. She walks about the streets. Going down the dark path. Midnight quarries right there while squinting at those shapeless figures in the dark. Hills in the dark like giant creatures. Almost unbearable, and terrifying to look at. One of them resembles an old man. Asleep, gasping for unstained air. Naked under the ocean blue sky. There he is. There it is. A shrunken figure hopelessly gazed at by the stars and the shining moon. Yet the moon slowly moves without lighting up the surfaces. Most of the hills resisted any disguise. She only estimates they are oblong and never ending. They are continuously stretched. Dark. At least for hours. Then its not dark anymore. The hills are gone. Gone. Perhaps, there were no hills at all. Perhaps, some other things. It is dark. It can be anything. Half-dreaming, half-observing, she murmurs some words. Couldn’t get them right. It is dark. Anything could be misremembered or even unremembered. People of those streets remember every one of the murmurings. Wreaths of unknown dark everywhere. There are specific places on the road, distant but visible. She always missed those kinds of landmarks. Maybe because of her dizziness. But not even that. Perpetual. Always on the road for some unstained blue. 1 AM.  Still breathing. It is dark. Unusual, but familiar.”

“And a mother, with stalking steps, walks past the un-lighted houses crying out loud something I can’t understand or hear correctly. But the tone!”


Opaque beauty. Children prancing around out of joy. The young for the untold. Never-minded insults. Fear of the have-accomplished. Things unsaid only not to break the silence. The old fooling around out of forced insensitivity. Proud of being unvoiced. Nah. Many of them, but only within, none expressed. No chance of putting off the sacred property. Nah. Quietly for the corrupt narratives. A bunch of unjustified handcuffs. A bunch? Not really, much more than “a bunch.” We were about to forget our own names, but the spells of the night asked us, calling ceaselessly for an answer, “is there a place? Must there be a place?” The unrecognized sound echoing through the vast land of desires long perished, depthless, sonorous, and yet without visible surface. The unrecognized sound of desire.


“And she gets home after the walk, there are letters sent to her. People always sent her some letters. As she is browsing through them, she comes to an unfinished one on the table that reads:

‘I seem to be no more a part of myself. Theres all this strange surrounding that I cant figure out, that maybe I am to be dissolved one day sooner at once or continuously forever. They could —’

He committed suicide. The author of that letter. She witnessed it all, without distance, without filter.”

Now she is here, being felt all over the place. Solid. Like all those people.

She told me some moments ago, “the first time I was told of parallel worlds, I was not so much into the idea. But now I see. I have felt the experience of living in-between. Parallel worlds of war and peace. Once the mandate to kill. Twice the mandate to live or die for.”

In August, the bricks of the wall with the banner on it toppled onto the dusty ground, desert-like, but not deserted.

She goes on with breathless breaths, “November. Cold in the warm climate. Midnight sky with romping stars. Locals said that with no clouds up there, it’s always freezing. And the girl in the empty streets kept crying out loud in the same tone. She had this unusual quality of the voice that in being utterly tragic resonates the motion of an outrageous mind. Someplace in the dark, there was another woman reaching out to her, mourning with a tempo giusto, looking backwards at her house where people gathered, and a body laid down, still warm. And it was like an evening, the evening of a trembling hope that kept asking quietly, waving against the dark: is there a place?”

A trembling hope. A sweet despair. She recalls the verse—

I heard her reminiscing all other stuff about anything. It is now my time, I guess. I see all the dark surrounding, shining over the place. It is January now. Hearing it all, I lay here. I imagine that an extremely bright light whitens the midnight sky. People standing there, casually, without being lost or dead. They who narrated those stories, described them all, are not here anymore. But I remember them. I remember all the sweeping-intos, the handcuffs after being thirsted to death, the inflated bodies, rocks and scissors as if playing, spots of the blood, mayhem, mayhem, I remember it all. As the war is again raging over the memory and forgetfulness. I lay here remembering, awaiting their narratives to come back again, and perhaps dropping some tears too. On a white January night. The minutes are uncannily felt. My neck is strained. You hear? I cannot breathe in anymore. I start singing some verses, moving my lips. I’m sure someone’s watching, even listening. I nuance the song gently, with slow flow. Reciting “Kelmti Hor—kelmti horra.”

Footnoted lives. Deferent everyday lives. Same sky, different geography. Parallel worlds of war and peace, incredibly close, ultimately distant. Perhaps, we stand here resisting, only wiping some more tears, just to await more nets calling us back to arms.

And the evening looming over the ocean-blue sky, women chanting, faiths enchanting, and stars trembling with hope in their translunar symphony… from afar, as if from underground, there came a whistling sound, like one who is breathing so heavily that only the falsetto is heard… a trembling hope, a sweet despair. 

About the author 

 MohammadReza Samaei (b. 1999, Iran) graduated from Iran’s University of Isfahan with a degree in English Language and Literature. He is currently an MA student in English. His fictions are to be regarded as sketches of the destination Middle East. 
 Did you enjoy the story? Would you like to shout us a coffee? Half of what you pay goes to the writers and half towards supporting the project (web site maintenance, preparing the next Best of book etc.)

No comments:

Post a Comment