Day 8

The office of Dr. Aflah. The Woman with a violet scarf wrapped around her shoulders and Dr. Aflah are sitting on office chairs, facing each other.

Dr Aflah: Can you, please, say your name again?

The Woman: I just said it again. I assume you got it the second time.

Dr Aflah: So why am asking you to say it again?

The woman: Because you want to tell me… implicitly, that I am an odd person, who knocks on people’s doors without knowing them.

Dr Aflah: Odd people don’t necessarily have odd names. What brought you here?

The Woman: I thought there might be at least one Iranian professor in the School of Modern Languages.

Dr Aflah: Yes! This school is like a little world with people from many nations…even forgotten ones.

The Woman: We are not one of the forgotten ones.

Dr Aflah: I didn’t mean that. Why knocking on my door?

The Woman: Because it was the only door which was ajar. I wanted to come yesterday…. Maybe that would be a better day for finding more open doors, but today only your door was open.

Dr Aflah: So! it was fate that made you knock on my door. I came  back from holiday yesterday…, but you may have guessed from the sign on my door that I am not Persian, Iranian.

The Woman: I didn’t notice the sign on the door. What do you teach here?

Dr Aflah: Arabic literature.

The Woman: Oh, so, you  know a lot about One Thousand and One Nights, don’t you??!… Funny question. Of course, you do!

Dr Aflah: Why are you asking me that question?

The Woman: For personal reasons. Why are you staring at me?

Dr Aflah: For personal reasons.

Silence. The Woman doesn’t feel comfortable. She stands up.

Dr Aflah: Sit down please. I have one question before you leave. What brought you here from London?

The Woman: How do you know I was in London?

Dr Aflah: You told me.

The Woman: No, I didn’t.

Dr Aflah: So…. Maybe…your violet scarf. Your scarf reminded me of London… A friend of mien who lives in London has a scarf exactly like this…

The Women: In a world characterized by global trends, it is not easy to be unique. We are all over-globalized.

Dr Aflah: That is true.

Pause.

The Woman: I like your Arabic accent.

Dr Aflah: I like your Persian accent.

Pause.

The Woman: Could you please answer my first question? Are there any Iranian professors here?

Dr Aflah: OK! There are two Iranian professors here: a man and a woman. …They are both very welcoming. The lady is always busy  teaching. She teaches the Persian Language. She is kind and calm. The gentleman who teaches Persian literature  is always on a quest for contemporary narrative identities or narratives of identity. So I don’t think you can answer his questions with questions as you did with me. You must tell him the truth.

The woman: The truth?! What truth?

Dr Aflah: The truth that you didn’t ask me where I was from.

The Woman: Why do you think I didn’t ask that question?!

Dr Aflah: Because of fear.

The Woman: What fear?

Dr Aflah: Fear of my answer…  but you don’t need to be afraid. I won’t reply in the way you expect. A friend of mine once told me ‘We are from our language. When we speak in our language we feel safe and mature…powerful and anchored…’ If you had asked me that question, I would have answered ‘I am from Arabic’. I live in Arabic. Days and nights, I always live in Arabic….

She is staring at him, confused and apprehensive.

Dr Aflah: What’s wrong?!

The Woman: What do you mean by “we are from our language”. What do you mean by  ‘Days in Arabic’ … ‘Nights in Arabic’?

Dr Aflah: I meant in a world characterized by global trends, by globalization, it is not easy to be unique. BUT… YES! There’s a” BUT”!…. [As if testing her]

حتى في عالم اليوم وهو عالم العولمة، كم شال بنفسجي عليه ثلاثة أثقاب على الهامش في الجانب اليساري يمكن أن تجديه؟؟

The Woman: [Looks at him confused]: What are  you saying? I don’t speak Arabic, you know!?

Dr Aflah: [Now assured that she does not understand Arabic] Yes, yes, I know. I said: ‘Even in a globalized world, how many violet scarfs can you find, which have  three…exactly three holes in their edges, the left side of their edges?’

 Sudden darkness.