At our high school there used to be a small but fearsome lady called, let’s say, Mrs R. This Mrs R had a rather curious phrase that for some reason she was very fond of and would repeat over and over again. No matter what you did from arriving late to breaking a window to chewing gum in class to ripping another girl’s veil, Mrs R would say to you, ‘May you break you neck.’
I know in Iran people say some pretty bizarre things like if you really like someone you may say to them, ‘I want to eat your liver.’ And they will think that you are being very sweet but this was different. This was not a phrase that we all knew and had hidden meanings and stuff. No, this one basically did exactly what it said on the tin, it wished for you to break your neck and die…at your earliest convenience!
She had overused this phrase so much that we no longer called her Mrs R. Instead we referred to her as Mrs My-you-break-your-neck. Not to her face obviously.
One of the funniest things about Mrs My-you-break-your-neck was that the amount of vigour she put into saying, ‘May you break your neck!’ and the tone of her voice, changed depending on how bad what you had done had been. For example if she caught you giggling at postcards of muscly men that your friend had sent to you from Germany, she would go mental and while waving her finger at you would yell, ‘May you brrrrrreak your neck!’
But if for example you had written, ‘I am a donkey’ on a piece of paper and stuck it on the back of another girl’s uniform, she would give you a look of disgust that (you and I probably only reserve for when we’re scraping pieces of dog shit from the bottom of our shoe) and while shaking her head, would mumble, ‘May you break your neck.’ and then turn around and go as if to say, ‘well you’re just an idiot and not even worthy of me wishing for you to break your neck.’
This last one is a bit long but it’s a very good example I think so I’ll tell it anyway.
One day at school these two girls had started a water fight and were running around the school yard with empty glass bottles of coke that they had filled with water.
Now by doing this these two were breaking all sorts of school rules. For one they were running, for two they were having a water fight, for three they were playing with their coke bottles instead of giving them back as soon as they had drunk the content. In short, they were in big trouble.
Suddenly as the two were running around and laughing, they collided with each other and one of the bottles broke, cutting one of the girls’ hands. Blood started gushing out and they both started to scream and cry. Some people ran into the office and brought out the nurse and I think called for an ambulance as well. The nurse ran out with bandages and started to bandage the girl’s hand right there in the garden with a massive crowed gathered around them.
Meanwhile I had a genius idea. I ran into our classroom and got a piece of white chalk and ran out again. Now I’m not sure if had I thought about this a bit more I would still have done it but some blood had spilt on the ground and for some reason I thought it would be absolutely hilarious if I drew a chalk, body outline around it like in detective movies. As if someone had died there. And that’s what I did. I did it really quickly without drawing any attention to myself (which was easy because everyone else was gathered around the injured girl) and then went and stood with the others. It wasn’t because I didn’t want them to know it had been me, it was just that I thought it would be funnier if they suddenly turned around and saw the outline there without seeing me draw it.
Anyway at the end one person saw it and started to laugh and then everyone else saw it too and they all started to laugh, even the nurse. The only person that had not found it funny at all was the injured girl’s water-fight partner. She went absolutely mental at me and kept yelling things like, ‘You are so insensitive Saramad [my maiden name]. My friend is going to die and you’re making fun of her. I’m going to tell Mrs R what you’ve done.’
This was when I started to feel a bit bad. Her friend had just cut her hand and wasn’t going to die or anything and I wasn’t making fun of her anyway but I thought maybe she was right and I had been a bit insensitive. Then I suddenly saw Mrs R, aka, Mrs May-you-break-your-neck running towards us.
The girl that was yelling at me, ran to her crying and saying, ‘Mrs R, come and see what Saramad has done. She is so horrible.’ and things like that.
Basically she knew she had broken all sorts of rules and was very much in trouble so now she was trying to draw some attention to me hoping that they would just forget about her.
On the other hand I was at the early stages of pooing my pants as you could tell by Mrs May-you-break-your-neck’s way of running that she was pretty angry.
A little out of breath, Mrs May-you-break-your-neck stood at the foot of my chalk outline with the other girl next to her who was screaming and crying and pointing to the ground.
Mrs May-you-break-your-neck looked down for a few seconds without saying a word. Then I noticed that she had started to bite her lips the way we do to stop ourselves from laughing. Then she turned to me and while the beginnings of a smile were trying to break out from the corners of her mouth, somewhat playfully, borderline affectionately, said, ‘Saramad, may you break your neck!’ before turning around and walking back to her office.
So basically her tone varied but the saying always stayed the same, ‘May you break your neck!’
One day we noticed that Mrs May-you-break-your-neck had not come in. She was absent for a week I think and then one day turned up wearing, yes you guessed it, a huge, white neck brace over her veil.
I just remember looking up to the heavens as soon as I saw her on her first day back and thinking to myself, ‘There is a god. And he sure appreciates irony.’