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Farzaneh Karam-pour
Iranian Writer
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Photo: Masoud)










Reprinted from:
Global Seminar of Fiction & Dialog Among Cultures
Farokh Negar Pub.
Karnameh
Negar Eskandar-far
2004





Research: Literature

Refugee
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Short Story
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Farzaneh Karam-pour: Refugee

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Once they crossed the border, he reached her and gave her a piece of bread. He has been walking by her side all the day, watching her. Inside the truck, he was now staring at her from the corner.

The strong smell of urine and drug was coming from the floor of the truck. A cool breeze was passing through the opening on the sides and the big hole on the top of the truck. It was very cold; she wrapped her skirt around her feet. She was scared. There was a spark in the man's eyes. Waiting for the right moment, he quickly caught her attention. She felt warmer. A strange sensation passed through her joints. She felt as if a hand had grabbed her unripe breasts. She felt a twinge in her breast.

She pulled her blue headband forward. She hid her head between her hands and hugged her knees. She closed her eyes and wished she could sleep like the others... The soldiers were running with their helmets pulled down. Their boots were landing simultaneously on the asphalt. The sound of sirens had filled the area... The points of the bayonets were shining in the sun. The blows of the gun-buts were painful and knocked one's breath out. They were forcing women and children out of their homes... The instant a house set on fire, it was burning.

Like huge scary mouths, the army trucks were standing at the entrance of every alley, swallowing the men. They took Father, dragging him on the ground... He yelled, trying to say something, but his voice was lost in the uproar.

Grandma said, "Set the house on fire, leave only ashes for them!" Mother looked at the freshly washed curtains, at the hand-made rug that was her trousseau, and the canaries' cage... Her eyes were filled with tears.

With her shaking legs, Grandma could hardly walk; she was unable to run. Mother was squeezing her hand with her fingers. The frightened, sobbing crowd was carrying her along like a wave.

She could see the stars through the hole in the top of the cab. In the darkness of the night, the mountains on the bend of the road looked like the giant creatures in the stories. She was knocked against the woman next to her, who was asleep. She felt the weight of that look on her face. With every turn of the man's look, it felt as is a bowl of fire was rolling on her face. He touched his thick mustache and smiled. "Everyone is asleep; can't you sleep?" He asked her in a calm voice.

She shook her head and hid her face in her hands. With a sudden move of the car, the woman, sitting in front of her, woke up. She held the baby in her arms tight and mumbled something. A baby sucked the milk less breast of the mother and smiled, dreaming of milk. The weather was treacherously cold. No one had gotten a chance to bring an overcoat. Some even had not had time to put on shoes. She looked at the swollen ankle of the woman that was visible through her skirt. There were cracks on her heel; blood and dust had dried around the wound.

The driver stopped on the side of the road and got out. Everyone looked at him with sleepy eyes. He told them in Kurdish that he had to turn left and they could walk the rest of the way to the army camp by themselves.

With difficulty, they got up on their feet and got off the truck one by one, without saying a word. When it was her turn to jump down, the man held her by her waist. He put her down with a smooth twist of his hands. His breath smelled of tobacco. He was warm and sweaty. The girl shivered and huddled in her clothes. The sound of a waterfall could be heard. They crossed the road. The creek and the poplar trees were hidden in the dark. A sleepy old man suggested they stay there until morning. The blister on her foot was burning. She took of her shoes and put her feet in the water despite the cold. Her toes froze. She felt the cold running quickly up inside her legs. Hunger was making her stomach churn, making her feel dizzy. She put her shoes under her arm and wrapped her clothing tighter around her body.

The children, who had awakened were whining, thinking of food and warmth... The wind was blowing through the grass and leaves... It had the sound of murmur of a frightened group of people. She looked at the silver-colored road, shining under the moonlight through the trees. She felt someone breathing behind her neck and felt warmer.

Early in the morning. The refugees started walking toward the army camp. Staring ahead, they were walking in the heavy silence. The pebbles on the road were hurting their feet. The cold wind has made an old man start coughing. The smaller kids were still asleep. Their heads were dangling over their mothers' shoulders. At the bend of the road, a young man turned and looked behind him for the last time. Behind the trees and beyond the fields of wheat a blue piece of cloth could be seen on the thorns of a bush dancing in the wind. The redness of the girl's skirt was still visible from a distance in the middle of the field.

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Research: Short Stories
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