Remembering the past, the Old Man believes he is close to death.
I didn’t want you to know I was a bad man! All these years I have believed it, but you know what? (He grasps Hamid by his shirt, clinging on.) Maybe I’m not so bad? Maybe we’re not bad! (He falls back on the pillows, letting go of Hamid.) You’ve never been a bad son, just a fool. We’re all fools! And do you know Hamid? I think it’s a good thing to be! (He grips hold of Hamid’s shirt pulling himself up.) Can you believe I committed adultery? (Hamid shakes his head.) Well I did, for seven weeks! I met a beautiful girl each morning under a mulberry tree. I remember the mulberries still cool from the night air, shaken from an old tree heavy with deep red mulberries. She and I stood together watching them fall. We could just taste each mulberry as they fell on the snow-white shawl I’d lain at the foot of the gnarled tree trunk. We devoured cool sweet juicy mulberries under an orange sky as the sun rose, our mouths smeared red as we lay by a silver stream on a white shawl stained red, and the wind stirred the leaves as they rustled and gently fluttered in the breeze. Was it wrong? How can it be wrong? (He lets go of Hamid and falls back on the pillows.)
[Hamid: It wasn’t wrong Dad...]
(He smiles.) It was the most wondrous thing. Something that wonderful can never be wrong! It all happened during the revolution, but we were found out and punished . . . Khomeini was in power by then. I was flogged…. 100 lashes (He clutches Hamid’s shoulder.) But worse! A few days later some men threw acid in her face, it was all burnt away! She had no lips anymore, lips that were once sweet and red. (He traces Hamid’s lips.) Just think Hamid! Can you picture that? (He sits up again holding on to Hamid’s shirt.) Your mother was shamed, everyone knew, this girl lived on the same street as us. The school sacked me, I had nothing left, no job just shame. Was I bad? Was it my fault?
[Hamid: No Dad, it was never your fault, sh#t just happens...]
You see I never really loved your mother, I didn’t choose her, she didn’t choose me. If I had the chance I’d lie under the mulberry tree with that beautiful girl again and again, I don’t care how high the price is!... Why does there have to be a price? Don’t you see? (He grips Hamid’s shirt closer to him.) It was their fault! They made us pay! After we had to leave, came here to begin again, but your mother.... well she jumped, ended it, tsk. (He shakes his head remembering.) Over the balcony and tied the washing line round her neck. (He takes a deep breath and sighs.) All these years I’ve been sick with guilt . . . but I’m not guilty am I?
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