Friday, January 12, 2007

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.’


Anonymous said...

Hi Shirin ,
Thanks for visiting my blog.
I honestly believe you have one of the most fun to read blogs. You are doing a very good job at it and from the number of visitors on your blog, it is not hard to see how popular you are. I was not embellishing any thing.
Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

May you be always happy and may your posts be always interesting!

Aman said...

oh my god that was great!

Shirin said...

It’s very nice of you to say that Amir. Thanks a lot :-)

Same to you Foulla dear :-) What happened to my couscous recipe by the way? I’m still waiting ;-)

I’m glad you liked it Aman ;-)

Anonymous said...

I love your blog! It's funny, it's charming and it's different. I especially like your stories about growing up in Iran and about your Persian friends. In this prejudiced world, it's difficult to find anything about Iran that isn't propaganda or stereotyping. Reading your stories is a breath of fresh air.
By the way, do you know the book 'Persepolis' by Marjane Satrapi? It's a graphic novel about growing up in Iran during the 1970s and 80s.
Keep writing Shirin!

Shirin said...

Hello there. Wish you’d left a name so I could reply to you properly. Thanks a lot for your comment though, it made my day :-)
Yes I know Marjane Satrapi. My nemesis! I’m only joking. I’m just a bit jealous of her because every time I see her books, I think ‘I whish I’d thought of that first’! And mine would have had colours and everything ;-) No but she is great. I would never have been able to do something like that anyway.

Gazankhan said...

That was great my dear, beautiful. I miss you so much.

Shirin said...

Me too Gazanjaan :-)

Anonymous said...

Shirin jan, brilliant, as English say, brilliant as usual, Very cute and sweet story. That should be a lesson and a reminder to me to not to curse anyone, especially while I’m driving. There has to be divine rule or something, when the recipient of your curses can’t hear you. I think god’s been giving me a free pass all along, since I’ve been driving for so long now. It’s very endearing when I red your stories, because usually I’m reminded of a similar and funny story of my own. So, I usually enjoy your stories twice as much, knowing no one can express them as well as you.

Anonymous said...

hi shirin, that was really really funny, I tried to imagine the story but I have trouble thinking what she said in persian. was it like "elahy gardanet beshkaneh?"

homeyra said...

Elahi gardanet nashkaneh, with your stories! Thank you Shirin, I enjoyed it,as always :)

Mohamadreza said...

What a sad-ending story!!!

Mohamadreza said...

Nice shot. Tnx for sharing it!

Pandora said...

Well said.

Kati said...

Shiriiiin, Hi, this is Kati, Sady's friend!!, I found your blog in facebook, by chance, and I am reallly enjoying it, I am sooo happy to see works and notes by you, I always had a great feeling about you and I always asked sady that what kind of works do u do, so I am happy to find out finally :) I think you are a great illustrator and writer and u don't have anything less than Marjane Satrapi!! so keep working, I am in Melbourne now, studying Film and Photography(digital Media) but I am always thinking about illustrating and writing too and actually I haven't found out yet that in what major I am going to work, because I 'm in the middle of everything, I do a bit of illustrating, then photographing then writing, so I hope I found out soon...I am sooo happy to find you here, so we can be in touch, say hi to Kamyar for me and I hope to see you again someday! :) lots of love, Kati and by the way this is my