While I Was Changing
Written by Vahid Sharifian
Translated by Sadegh Geranbaha
Narrated by Beth Towle
While I was changing, my father came in saying, “Don’t take off your clothes. We are taking you back.”
“Taking me back?” I said. “What am I, a tube of toothpaste or something?”
Since the day he got back home from the hospital, he had been complaining and speaking nonsense. Mom was also really pissed off at him. When he went to bed at night, we sat at the dinner table and whispered about him, and he would answer with a snore.
“Get out,” I said, “I’m changing.”
“You don’t understand, do you?” he responded. “Don’t change. We’re going to take you back.”
Just then Mom came to the door, in black. “Get him out of here,” I asked mom, “I want to change.”
But Dad’s sentence was repeated; this time, though, through my mom’s voice. I looked pale. I looked really pale. “Mom,” I said, “are you out of your mind, too?”
“No,” she replied, “you don’t go with this house. Your skin is too white. Get ready. We’re going to take you back.”
“Take back to who?” I asked with a trembling voice. “Did you buy me from the market?”
“No,” she answered, “we bought you from your aunt.”
Just then, I heard a car honking and then braking outside. It was my aunt’s car’s. I knew its sound. “Quick, get ready,” Mom said to me.
“So I’m not your child?” I asked. “Who’ll henna your hands if you sell me? Who’s gonna dance for you two when you’re both bored in the afternoon?”
“We can buy another,” Mom said. “Your aunt is waiting at the door. Please hurry.”
“Okay then,” I said. “Close the door now!”
The moment she closed the door, I called my friend and said, “Come to my window as fast as you can!”
When Mom opened the door again, I was already out of the window. “She’s running away!” she shouted.
I jumped into my friend’s old Renault, and they started chasing us in my aunt’s black Chevrolet. Dad was sitting in the front, and, in our rearview mirror, I could see him combing his hair from time to time. My aunt had her old big sunglasses on, and my mom was looking for something in her purse. You could see her cell phone sticking out every now and then.
We were almost a hundred kilometers out of town and still they were chasing us. My aunt was driving really fast. She stepped on the gas pedal and there she was, right next to the Renault.
“Don’t open the window,” I said. “They may spit at you.”
My friend rolled the window down a little bit. “Don’t you want to stop and get something to eat?” my aunt asked. “It’s past two already.”
“Nah, we’re full,” we said. “But you can stop if you want.”
“So where do we meet?” my aunt asked.
“Near the Green and Four-Carrot Woods,” I answered.
“All right,” she said.
It didn’t take them more than half an hour to get there. It had just stopped raining and the mushrooms were all smiling. Mom, Dad and Aunt got out of the car and we all took lots of pictures together. The scenery is really wonderful there.
“These clothes look really good on you,” my aunt told me, and looked at my dad.
Listen to this story:
Vahid Sharifian was born in 1982 in Isfahan, Iran. He is a visual artist and a writer. His artwork has been featured in numerous exhibitions in a variety of countries including Iran, the UK, France, Austria, Italy, Denmark and the US. He is the author of Funeral (screenplay), The Line of Pines and the White Cat (poetry), The Second Son of Mary(poetry), and Songs of Black Tulips (poetry). He currently lives in Tehran, Iran. (Updated Jan. 2011)
Beth Towle is in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of Notre Dame, studying poetry. She is also a part-time library technician and manages multiple blogs. She is from Indiana. (Updated Jun. 2012)