About the book
Night of Terror experiments with the flow of time. The novel follows Hedayat Ismaili, a university teacher who is experiencing the breakdown of his marriage as well as a midlife crisis, as he grapples with the political charged atmosphere of Iran, on the brink of revolution. During a trip from Isfahan to Tehran, in the car carrying his sick father, Hedayat Ismaili remembers his entire life from childhood to the present in his stream of consciousness tale.
What our readers say
The translation of Night of Terror introduces to Anglophone readers one of the important modernist novels of Iranian literature. Working with various modes of personal and collective storytelling within a historical context, while taking formal and aesthetic risks, the novel is not only a relevant but also an invaluable addition to the landscape of Persian-language literature in English translation.
Awards and press
Within a few months of its publication, the 1979 revolution transformed the cultural and political landscape of Iran, and made the publication and further circulation of boldly critical and formally experimental works such as Night of Terror impossible. Zaman, the prestigious publisher that first introduced the novel to the world, shut down, and the author migrated abroad.
Although widely acclaimed by critics such as Hasan Mir Abedini, Hosein Bayat, Asgar Asgari, Abdullah Hasanzadeh Mir Ali, and Qasem Namdar, Night of Terror has never been republished or translated into any other language.
The novel’s sympathetic treatment of Bahais and its explicit sexual content make it effectively impossible for this work to be approved by the censor for republication within the contemporary Islamic Republic of Iran. Although Night of Terror cannot legally be distributed within Iran, this has not prevented its wide reception by thousands of Iranians.
Instead of official publication, the novel has circulated in pirated copies, and online. While Night of Terror did not receive the attention it deserved in the tumult of the revolution, it has become an underground classic in the years following its publication, and was recently featured on BBC Persian
Thousands of Iranian readers have taken to social media to express their admiration for the novel and to argue for its contemporary relevance.
Night of Terror by Hormoz Shahdadi
Translation Sample by Kayvan Tahmasebian Rebecca Ruth Gould
Dawn bird, lament!
Refresh my grief.
With your fiery sighs, break
and turn this cage upside down.
The phonograph stops rotating. Perhaps. Anyway, the driver turns off the radio. ‘These have gone out with the arc,’ he murmurs, ‘I can’t understand why this kind of music isn’t catchy anymore.’ Ismail turns and looks at Ibrahim. Seated on a blanket. Eyelids shut. Hands clutching the body. The body sunk in pillows, cushions. The woman still singing in his head. An old voice and an old instrument, the tar, the plectrum that a shaking hand strikes on the instrument’s strings, a voice surging up from the depths of the throat, uttering words that smell musty, a song that feels like history, that feels like antiquity and sorrow. There is an everlasting grief in each pause between the words, in the woman’s sharp and broken cries, in the shaking of strings that are played in the darkness of history – In the darkness of the soul. The singer’s name? Qamar al-Moluk, or someone else? Qamar. Chirping like a laughing dove. Her disc records are rare. Shellac records. On a gramophone that is wound by turning the handle. A wind-up gramophone. Everything has gone electrical these days. There are cassette recorders too. Qamar al-Moluk is not there anymore. Her voice is lost. Lost in the ears of those who themselves are lost. Or those who have lost themselves. Chirping like a laughing dove. Reminiscent of clarity. And of sorrow. Of oppression, which can’t be put into music when it can’t be put into words. That’s all our music. A moaning murmur. Even our happiness sounds like moaning. Our singers don’t sing, they cry.
‘Which way, sir?’ Ismail can see Ferdowsi Avenue. He can see that the Mercedes bonnet has blocked Khajeh Nasir Alley.
‘What about taking the road along the river? It’s not crowded.’
‘I’d better turn into Ferdowsi Avenue, go down Shah Abbas Avenue to Upper Charbagh Avenue, then go down Lower Charbagh Avenue to Darvazeh Square,’ the driver says and turns. It’s five in the afternoon. The schools are out for the day. The pavements are empty of schoolchildren.
That’s Mashti Hosein’s shop over there. ‘Get in the queue, man. I won’t sell, man. I won’t sell to anybody out of the queue.’ His mouth still toothless. His face still with a beard. The bakery shop still small. Mashti Hosein still at the oven. Ismail can smell fresh bread, and cigarette smoke.
The driver puffs at his cigarette and lets the smoke out from the window. ‘Let me know, sir! Not for you but for this gentleman; the smoke is bad for him, isn’t it? By the way, the smoke does not reach the back seat.’
Ismail turns to him. Seated, no, free. Free and surrounded by cushions and pillows, eyelids shut, arms hanging down, his chest filling and emptying with his irregular breathing. Breathing makes the nostrils tremble. A red vein on his straight nose. Lips half-open. Questioning? A dark circle under each eye. When open, the eyes stare with a dilated pupil. When looking, the eyes gaze vaguely. An unintelligible question in the eyes? Face bony and long as usual. A small nose. High brow. Straight black hair. A statue placed on the back seat of a car. Ismail looks at the driver and at the street. A statue placed on the back seat of a car that is now in front of Shah Abbas Hotel and is approaching Chaharbagh Avenue.
At five in the afternoon on Chaharbagh Avenue. Sometimes on the way back from the school. Sometimes on the way to the Park Café and Confectionery. Sometimes in the aimless wandering. From Darvazeh Dowlat Square to Statue Square. Once on the left pavement, and again on the right. It is as if, all of a sudden, this two to three Kilometre street is flooded with young people and then, they are gone.
Around 7:30 or 8 in the evening, Chaharbagh is deserted. The hour when we used to get out of Park Café and Confectionery. Abolfazl and the rest of us used to walk to Statue Square and from there along the river. If there were no plans to drink, everyone would go home from there. Along the fences on the concrete-paved sidewalks, under elm trees and plane trees smeared by the river’s musty smell. Our home was first here. Somewhere on this street. It was formerly called Sineh Payini neighbourhood. Behind Sonbolestan Garden. It must have a different name now.
‘Could you tell me the name of this street in front of Homayun Garden, Mr. Driver?’
‘I don’t really know. In the past they called it Bidabad and Sineh Payini here, I mean the neighbourhood round Homayun Garden. See this street on this side? It’s ten or fifteen years since they’ve opened it. It goes on until the Old Square where the Bazaar ends. Now tourists can easily visit Jameʿ Mosque.’
‘Yes, I know.’
I know where this street ends. I know when it was opened. Mrs. Monavvar’s house. The street was all houses before. Her house was not yet demolished when we had just moved in. I had to go to school via the Bazaar. One day I saw the construction workers. And the mattocks. Mirror works broken to pieces by hatchets. Stucco reliefs in pieces with floral and vegetal designs. Wooden doors and stained glass. Mrs. Monavvar said her house was not valuable compared with the ones that were being demolished. She was right.
Mrs. Monavvar’s house was not that old. It didn’t have a mirror room. When I entered the house via the large vestibule, the shutting of the wooden door echoed in the hallway. The yard was two or three steps below the hallway. With a garden full of jasmine and four o’clock flowers. With a deep pool filled with green water and grass. The dark water protected the fish being preyed on by crows. We drew the water from a pump and wheel from the well to the pool and the garden. The five-windowed room was built on a high terrace. It had two closets, one for clothes and the other for shoes. The round room had small and large shelves and niches. Mrs. Monavvar and her husband were living in a small room at the other end of the yard. And their lives were stored in a rooftop storeroom, in sofas and cashmeres and drapes, in dust, mysterious and obscure. There was a large tar among these odds and ends. Perhaps played by Mrs. Monavvar when she was young. How could I know?
How could I have known why Mashti Hosein’s cat died? The old man sat in a barn by a mulberry tree across from Mrs. Monavvar’s house, smoking opium. Apparently he’d been smoking opium every day, puffing smoke into the cat’s face. When he died, the cat couldn’t stand the withdrawal. The cat died soon after.
The car stops. Ismail can see: a gas station, TBT coaches, a tank truck, in twilight. The night begins and the road is long. The passengers are dozing off. Hot desert wind beating on the windows. The driver pays for the gas and gets inside the car. He is forty perhaps. He has a moustache and smokes cigarettes, and taps his fingers on the steering wheel as he drives. He murmurs something in a voice that mixes with the engine’s humming. They have passed by the textile mill. The road crosses the desert before Murchekhort. Dirt mounds, thorn shrubs, now and then a tree. Isfahan’s freshness and greenness still in mind. A big city. An ancient woman standing somewhere in the vast plain, at the foot of mountains and beside Zayanderud river, almost at the centre of Iran, midway between the desert and cold regions. Nature is cruel in Isfahan. It turns the city, especially in the autumn, into a prison; an ancient prison. Here, nature, and man, and history mix and leave their own traces. Every part of Iran’s little body reflects Iran the Mother. An industrial city surrounded by villages. With plenty of water and trees.
But the city has desert features too. Dirt or dust, or whirlwind, or a constant breeze that scatters the smell of must and dead water, eternally flowing in its air. Skin is burnt by heat in the summer and cracked by cold in the winter. Water fresh but hard, fruit and vegetables plentiful but causing disease. Iran’s industrial lady. Who always wakes up to the factories’ horns and goes to bed with the evening call to prayers from its minarets. Iran’s industrial lady. Who still keeps two of her children, one Jewish and the other Armenian, at home. Jubareh and Jolfa. The unwanted children who are in a blood kinship to their mother.
When the afternoon starts in Isfahan. A cinnabar sunlight slides down the wall of the dead end where we live. And the small dark-eyed girl appears, like an angel, at the threshold. I’m anxious then. I can’t wait for her to open her mouth, her lips unlocked, to call me. Every morning I come out to walk to school with her. She wears a hand-woven black uniform. Her hair is braided. Two winding braids hanging down her back. Sometimes she laughs when she, embarrassed and happy, sees me waiting for her to come out of her home on a cold morning. She laughs and I tremble. The first love is the most painful love. The youngest love is the most turbulent love. Here our humanity is conceived. Here begins the moment of our being human, and we transcend. And I, who doesn’t know how to fly, like a squab, beat my heavy wings with all my power. I want to fly.
Every word she says is sacred. I drink her words. They fill me with sorrow. I’m so sad and don’t know the remedy. It’s a short way to school. Soon I must attend my classes and understand that I’m fourteen. That there’s no possibility. That she’ll remain inaccessible and untouchable. How quickly this lover’s progress ended! Why did the girl suddenly stop leaving her home one day? Does the world always change so easily? Our neighbour, who has two daughters, eleven and fourteen years old, suddenly died. Shirin’s and Shahin’s mother decided to sell the house and move out of the neighbourhood. What happened? Why did I turn pale? Why did the flock of doves fly away, and my eyes begin twitching forever? Why does the road bend down, to mix in trees and her black school uniform, and to drown her and my youth in the whirlpool of forgetfulness?
Now, Isfahan is cruel in the evening. I wander every street. I roam across every road. I look for the dark-eyed girl with the red nose in the morning as she comes out of her home. She raises her eyebrows when she sees me. She purses her lips. Her hands, small and white, press on her books. Her head bends unconsciously on the white collar of her uniform. An instant of anxiety and freedom for a hundred years. Laughter for an instant and happiness for years. Looking indifferent, but dreams for a thousand nights. A kindly word and a book filled with love. A question that fills my days and nights. Her smell, like the fragrance of apple and pear blossoms. Now, the morning path to school is constant torture. I wander around every street, I look for the dark-eyed girl who stands at her threshold, every evening, at sunset, and looks at me, at all creation. I’m seeking a gaze that feels like a warm sleep. I seek lips that retell my childhood. The evening starts in Isfahan and I’m abandoned. Wandering. And seeking you. Seeking you in white poplar, black poplar, elm, and plane trees, in the waters of the streams and the river, in dust. You, dark-eyed girl, the first glimpse of Isfahan, mix with the city and become ancient. Become our lady. Isfahan. Lady of our memories.
‘Would you like to smoke, sir?’
Ismail takes a cigarette from the driver. Lights it. And listens, ‘Have you heard that drivers usually sleep with open eyes when they drive on the highways? Perhaps you don’t believe it, but I sometimes think that’s true. I’ve been driving in the desert for twelve years now. Little by little, I discovered that as soon as I exit the suburbs and see the endless road ahead I’m not attentive of the road anymore. Although I’m careful to avoid a car crash, or to change gears or step on the gas, these all happen automatically. I see my life in my head like a dreamer. Everything that has happened to me, and sometimes, everything that is to happen to me, I see them all. Most of the time, fantasy and reality merge. That’s the best part. Empty roads and nights cause us to see anything any way we like. That’s why, unlike other drivers, I don’t like to eat pumpkin seeds, or turn on the radio and play radio tuning. I’m distracted by noise. I don’t like to be distracted. It’s my hobby to review the past, to mix up memory and fantasy, to see them. No, I’m wrong. It’s more than a hobby. It’s like living one more life.’
Like living one more life! Or living someone else’s life. Not too difficult.
‘Mr. Driver! How old are you?’
‘Next October I’ll turn forty-one. Actually, I’m forty.’
‘Do you have a family?’
‘Yes sir, two daughters and a son. They’re good children. All three go to school. In Isfahan.’
‘May God save them.’
‘Thank you. Is this gentleman your father?’
‘Am I driving fast? Perhaps my speed is not good for his health?’
‘No. That’s good.’
‘That’s very good.’
‘If you’re bored let me turn on the radio.’
‘No, thank you so much. I’ll do what you do.’ I’ll stare at the road. I’ll see the night dissolving in the sun and spreading on the horizon. I’ll see the day being born from the night. Like a white whale that suddenly appears in the vast ocean. Like a white whale.
Call me Ismail! Or something like that. Moby-Dick begins with this sentence. Or with a sentence like this.
Ismaili. Hedayat Ismaili rises. Pulls up his boxers. Straightens the bottom hem of his shirt. Tucks it in his pants. Buttons his pants. Tightens his belt. Flushes the toilet. Burr-ssshhh. The water is emptied out right away. Fills in the bowl. The shit spins on the water. Slurrrp. As though the hole sucks in. Water and shit are sucked in right away. The bowl is empty. The tank refills. Whoooshsh. The shirt is tucked in. All buttoned. The stomach is empty. Tightens the belt again.
When I’m preoccupied, I have to be more careful. If the pants are unbuttoned, if the belt is loose and the buckle hangs! They laugh. They know well how to laugh.
He comes out of the toilet. Stands in front of the basin. Turns the tap on. His forehead in the mirror. Ismaili taps his fingertip on the bald spot. Holds his finger under the tap. The water is cold. There is no soap.
I used to have some. I used to have a paper soap.
He searches in his pocket.
It must be in my jacket pocket. Jacket? That’s what I said: I’m careless. It must be hanging from the toilet door.
Ismaili goes back to the toilet. Searches in the small chest pocket. Fragrant paper soap. Only one paper left. He puts on his jacket. In front of the mirror. The tap is running. Hands under running water. The soapy paper soaked. It won’t foam enough.
Imagine a man constantly washing his hands! Hands tainted with blood that can never be cleansed!
Shit! Where did I read it? I can’t remember. Tainted hands? Daʿi must have been washing his hands three or four times a day. If the story were true. If I’m guessing right.
Perhaps he didn’t wash his hands at all. One forgets better that way. When you’re washing you remember what you’ve done with your hands.
He rubs his hands together briskly.
Always bad luck when it’s my turn. They didn’t close the university today. They aren’t closing the university today. There are no protests today. Perhaps I shouldn’t have come.
They would say he meant to cause trouble.
I won’t rise to the bait so easily.
He rubs his hand even more briskly.
If I hadn’t come, they would have said I was making an excuse. Madadi is lying in wait for me not to turn up someday. He’ll report. I know that. He wants to accuse me somehow. To get rid of me. Asshole from Rasht. Let me put my shoes on! Shit! He’s a teacher but he doesn’t know what he teaches. International Relations. National Law. He’s graduated from, as he calls it, Endiana University. He’s got an official commendation too. The top student of Endiana University, as he calls it. Exempt from studying. Occupied with teaching, feeling secure. Relaxed for sure.
He searches in his pants pockets. Takes out his handkerchief. Dries his hands. Taps the water off. Shakes the handkerchief. Folds it. Puts it back into his pant pocket. Tightens his necktie. Forehead in the mirror. The wrinkles of the forehead in the mirror. The teeth.
I’ve had them scaled, and they still look yellow. This one’s loose as well. I should have the molar extracted. It’s hollowing out little by little. Each extraction two hundred and twenty tomans. Plus they do a shoddy job. No more than six months and it gets hollow again. It aches. Like toothache. Like a rotten tooth. When the tooth doesn’t work it has to be extracted. I said. Or I said something like that. I didn’t say they didn’t work. I meant teeth. I meant ache too. Perhaps I said when the tooth aches it has to be extracted. Or something like that. She turned to stare at me. She was shaking. Who’s the teeth? You or I? She said. Both of us are teeth to each other, I said. She was shaking. Who’s aching? You or I? She said. Who’s rotten? You or I? I didn’t know. I ache for you and you for I, I said. Or something like this.
He looks at his wristwatch. It’s 8:10. Classes normally start at 8:30.
I have time for tea.
He steps down from the toilet. The students have not turned up yet. He turns at the landing of the large staircase. Shirazi is dozing off in his chair in the corner. Ismaili coughs. Shirazi is startled in his chair.
‘Hello, Mr. Shirazi.’
She had a sleepless night. She must still be asleep.
‘Is tea ready?’
‘Yes, Doctor. I’ll serve you right away. In a cup or a glass?’
‘In a glass, Mr. Shirazi. A strong dark one please.’
I’m sure it makes me feel sick. It’s freshly brewed. Perhaps I can find a biscuit or something in the drawer.
He opens his room door. It smells like must, plastic, and books.
I told Shirazi to leave the window open. He forgot. Or perhaps he was afraid of thieves breaking in? Impossible. No thieves dare to come this way. With all these riots police. When it’s my turn it’s always bad luck. Today’s classes are not cancelled. That’s the problem. Can I go to class? Can I not go to class? Can I go to class and teach? Can I go to class and not teach? Can I speak? Can I not speak? They come. They sit. They watch your mouth with eyes wide open. They snatch the words. They are attentive when you speak. They want you to speak. They’re avid. They’re ready. They want you to open your mouth and speak. To say words that they themselves don’t dare to say. Words that I myself don’t want to say. To believe in what you say doesn’t matter. What matters are eyes that stare at your mouth. In Obayd Zakani’s words: The judge told his people, ‘O people, thank God.’ The people thanked God, then asked what this gratitude was for? He said, ‘Be grateful to God for He didn’t ordain angels to shit; otherwise, they would shit on us all and dirty our clothes.’
He sits on the leather chair at his desk. Opens the drawer. The coffee container. The pack of Winston cigarettes. The notes.
But where did I put it?
He opens the lower drawer. Newspapers. Pencils. Not there either.
A knock on the door. Shirazi appears at the threshold. With the tea on a tray in his hands.
‘Is the buffet open, Mr. Shirazi?’
‘Could you please grab me a cookie or something?’
‘Sure, Doctor. Shall I get a cream puff?’
‘Cream? No, Mr. Shirazi. Not too sweet, please. A biscuit or something.’
With a cream puff in her hands. Laughing. Either in the faculty’s cafeteria or in Faranseh Patisserie. Her white teeth on the cream puff. Her creamy hands. And dark hair. Shiny. Dark eyebrows. Bright white skin. Half-lit room. A long table. Rectangular and long. Not a room actually. A hallway. Filled with tables throughout. Only two chairs. On both sides of the table. A clean-cut man sitting in front of me. Pale. Having lost myself. A loser. Castrated.
A knock on the door. Shirazi appears at the threshold. With a pack of biscuits in his hand.
‘Have the guys come?’
‘Well, I saw seven or eight students. Still a quarter left to the start of the class. I think the classes restart today finally. Do you need anything else, sir?’
‘No. Thanks so much. Could you please close the door behind you? Before the class starts, if any students ask for me, tell them I have not come yet please. Remind the office secretary I have come.’
He has to know. He has to report it. Why have I taken pains to come this long way here? Perhaps I’d better not have come at all. Perhaps I had to visit the hospital. Sakineh Soltan, her mother’s housemaid said she was bleeding. It shouldn’t be that difficult in her three-and-a-half months of pregnancy. Especially as well-equipped as they are nowadays. The hospital is not bad. They take lots of money. Do you have the equipment? I asked her doctor. He said, Yes, suction aspiration. We clean the womb walls too. So why the bleeding?
He puts the sugar cubes in the glass. Puts the teaspoon in the glass. With the pack of biscuits in his hand.
I don’t know if our children eat well or not. Their grandma is not a bad woman. I can take them to my mother’s if you want, I said. I don’t want that. Why not my own mother’s? She said. Perhaps your mother doesn’t like to look after them for whatever reason, I said. That’s not true. She’s not like that. Your mother is too weak to even walk. She’s not in the mood to even make her own food. She doesn’t need two extra children at all, she said, and it was true. The old woman is distracted too. Like me. Who am distracted. Preoccupied.
He puts the biscuit in his mouth. Sips the tea. His stomach muscles contract.
If I don’t eat, I can’t smoke.
He opens the drawer. Takes out the pack of cigarettes. Taps his finger on the edge of the pack. A cigarette in his hand. Another hand in his pocket. No lighter.
I have matches. In the drawer. I must have left the lighter on the small bed table. Put out your cigarette. It makes me feel nauseous, she said. She was right. A pregnant woman feels nauseous easily. If the baby had survived, it must have been a girl again. Three of them. She doesn’t want more daughters. I can’t help it, can I? I couldn’t help making the baby either. I didn’t want a child. She cried. The doctor said another child makes everything alright, she said. Everything? Is it possible? Is it possible that everything becomes alright? The first child didn’t make it. Neither did the second one. It got worse. Everything got worse. It’s all in your own charge, I said. She said, As usual. Who do you think has been in charge of the children so far? How much have you looked after them? How often have you wiped their ass? All you know how to do is to pay for their expenses. I agree to pay the expenses too. If it’s too difficult for you.
He strikes a match. A sip of tea in his mouth. Smoke in his throat. Bitter.
It wouldn’t make any difference. This one wouldn’t change anything either. At least for me. Just like the two others didn’t change anything. You open your eyes to see you have got up one morning while you have added one more to the herd. A calf or a baby goat. A puppy. Wah-wah. Woof woof. Something like bewilderment strikes you. You love it. And you want it to live. To grow. Then it’s over. Then you go to bed again. Then you could not sleep again. Then your nightmares begin as soon as you close your eyes.
A sip of tea in the mouth. The stomach muscles contract.
I feel I’m fainting. Even the biscuit tastes bitter. Bitterness in my mouth. Like a mouth inserted into the head. Ha! Where did I read that? Like someone speaking in your head: Terror is always with us! Like God is always with us! It’s impossible not to be terrified. I discovered this the day he slid the report to me across the table. Read it yourself, he said. It was written. Blow by blow. What I said. What I did. In class. In the faculty lobby. In the cafeteria. Who? I don’t know. I was not friends with my classmates. I didn’t talk too much either. Close friends? Only one. Two. Two or three girls. What had I said? Cock and bull stories. Intellectual pretences. Who then? Now, as always, I know there’s one. There are ones. There are ones who sit at their desks and read. They read reports word by word. Word by word. Explained blow-by-blow. He rose. He walked. He opened his mouth and talked. Like a mouth inserted into the head. Like someone speaking in your head: ‘Terror is always with us! Like God is always with us!’
He swallows the rest of the tea in the glass at once. Puts out his cigarette in the ashtray. The bell ringing. Shirazi appears at the threshold.
‘Have the students arrived?’
‘Could you fetch me another tea please?’
‘Right away, Doctor. In a glass, right?’
‘Yes, Mr. Shirazi. in a glass please.’ A biscuit in his mouth.
Today I’ll go anyway. I’ll go to the hospital. I’ll visit her. Though useless. She said, Could you please do me favour and stop visiting me? Let me not see your face. Let me not remember. I said, Why not take it easy? Why don’t you think that it was impossible? We could not go on. And I was right. It was impossible. I couldn’t. She couldn’t. We couldn’t. It didn’t matter that we could not go on at all. Was it that I didn’t want to? She didn’t want to.
A knock on the door. Shirazi appears at the threshold. And the ringing bell. Tortuous. And tumult. Horrible.
‘Too late, Mr. Shirazi. No problem. Put the tea over there. have the students come?’
‘How do they appear? I mean, how do they look? Are they looking for trouble or are they going to class?’
‘I’m not sure, Doctor. Not yet known. Where is your class? Do you want me to go and nose around?’
‘The room on the upper floor. Room three hundred and twenty-six. The class the students of politics and law share. Not a bad idea. Please go have a look. Let me know if they are in the class.’
They come. They sit. It’s fun. It’s fun to see me lose my cool. They ask sensitive questions and I can’t answer. ‘What is the best government system in your opinion, sir?’ They don’t know me. I have no opinions. ‘Whatever system you like.’ I did it myself too. I tried to box my teacher into a corner. I told others to do the same too. I told them to ask questions. It’s not forbidden to ask questions. Ask. I asked. I entrapped. I entrapped the teacher. And it was fun. What was the use of it? Neither the teacher changed nor the students. And me? Apparently I’ve changed. She said, You’re not the one I met the first day. You’re not the one I imagined. She was sitting. I saw her all of a sudden after ten years. Her golden hair. Now she was filing her nails. Soul-filing. It’s a terrible idiom. To file the soul. Still terrible. Sweating soul. Not bad. A writer used this term. I’m not sure who. Perhaps.