Bitter Ending, an Iranian Short Story

Vahid Sharifian
Nobody can even think of ignoring the three decades of social, political and psychological turbulence in Iranian society. The combination of  Iran’s social mobility and demographic behavior has resulted in nothing but uncertainty. To make it more interesting, add the short story “Bitter Ending”  jam-packed with skepticism by Vahid Sharifian, the acclaimed Iranian conceptual Artist.

Bitter Ending 

Abdol was piling up his friends onenter top of one another and making a little hill when his mom and dad opened the door and entered with some groceries. Abdol went to the other side of the yard and stood there. Some of his friends said “hurry up dude we are getting tired.” Abdol inflamed the piece of thread in his hand, and the fire, like a train on a rail started going down the thread, passing by Abdol’s parents’ feet until it touched the pile and suddenly boom. Seventeen of Abdol’s friends exploded and went into the air. Abdol’s parents, whose feet you could only see took their groceries out of the car and went inside the house.

It was as though nothing had happened; they didn’t even know what grade he was in, let alone know what he was up to.

The next day when Abdol went to school, seventeen students were absent and the teacher said, “how strange! Doe anyone know what these seventeen kids are up to?” Abdol raised his hand and said, “I think they’re never gonna come.” The teacher said, “What do you mean? Do you know something? Even their parents have not come to school yet.”

Abdol said, “I am their parents, and then he went and pretended to be the parents of those seventeen kids who were saying that their kids had dropped out and didn’t wanna come to school and so forth.” The teacher who had been getting impatient with this behavior of Abdol’s for sometime now, threw him out of the class, shut the door and said “Go and come back with your parents.”

The next day, Abdol came to school as usual, in the hallway, the principal stopped him and said, “What happened to your parents? Weren’t you supposed to come with them?”
Abdol replied, “Yes, I haven’t forgotten, and then he took out a pair of women’s shoes and a pair of men’s shoes out of his bag.” The principal said, “What are these? You should have at least wiped them off or put them in a box or something, and why they are so old!” Abdol said, “Well these are what I had.” The principal bristled and said, “What do you mean ‘these are what I had’? Do you think the education system is to be mocked by you and the likes of you that you say these are what you had?” Then he took the shoes and went to where the parents of the seventeen missing kids were standing and told them, “Go, leave, don’t gather up here and lets see what happens.” They said, “Then when shall we come back after our kids?” The principal said, “Tomorrow, tomorrow.” Vahid Sharifian 3

As the last period ended and Abdol left school, he saw that right around the corner, there were two men in suits, who had their heads in the trunk of the superintendent’s car. He was recklessly passing them by as one of them turned around and said “Abdol, come here for a sec.” It was the superintendent himself and the other one was the principal.

As Abdol approached the trunk, he saw that inside, there was a corpse of a bearded man. The superintendent asked, “Do you know this guy?” Abdol said, “Oh … This is our Chemistry teacher. What is he doing here?”

The superintendent said, “That’s exactly it, we had fired him from school but apparently he’d shown up again. And what’s fascinating is that he has the same shoes on that you brought to school today. “ And the principal who was standing with his arms crossed smirked and said “As far as I remember you used to get into fights and didn’t get along very well …”

Abdol thought a bit and then said “But this goes back to years ago.” The superintendent said, “But you’ve been after revenge all these years …” Abdol said, “Well, first of all, you didn’t fire him, he left himself, because as it is, even now the school belongs to him and everyone knows it, secondly, his corpse was found in your car.” The superintendent said, “Well this is a simple way of you wanting to blame the murder on me and I think that these tricks no longer work, next time you should go for a better tactic buddy. Go on now, go before your parents get worried.”

Abdol looked at his watch and said, “Oh oh, it’s way too late ….” The principal said, “Well if you know it’s too late, then stay here at the school.” Abdol said, “I don’t mind but we have to go somewhere tonight.” And then he left.

The next day when Abdol came to school, he saw that it was closed and a few students and the parents of the seventeen missing kids were standing in front of its doors. Suddenly the door opened and one of the teachers came out. Everyone surrounded him, asking him questions about what was going on, what was happening and so on and so forth.

The teacher was not saying anything except repeating, “We are ruined.” One of the parents said, “Damn you, at least tell us what’s happened.” The teacher said “All the students have failed.” The kids said, “But the exams haven’t even started yet ….” The teacher said, “That’s it, you all want to study the last minute and are all waiting to cram the night before the exams.” Abdol said, “I think you’re beating around the bush.” And everyone else said, “Yes, you don’t wanna tell us what is really going on.”

The teacher said, “How did you know?” Abdol and the rest said, “It’s very obvious.” Right then the superintendent opened the door and said, “Get outta here, don’t wait around, the school is closed, go to another school. This place is supposed to turn into a clothing shop.” Abdol took a look around and said, “Then why is there smoke coming out of the roof if you are telling the truth?” The superintendent said, “We are burning all the files and the student reports.” The parents of the seventeen kids said, “What happens to our kids?” The superintendent said, “It’s not our business any more, go to the Lost and Found to search for them. Here is no longer a school.” One of the kids said, “There is nothing to be done?” The superintendent said, “Dear boy, I’m not lying, if it helps you can come in and take a look yourselves.” The kids said, “Well no it’s ok, if there’s nothing to be done, then there’s nothing to be done.” But Abdol said, “Lets take a look.” Everyone went in and saw that in fact there was nothing to be done.Vahid Sharifian 4

As Abdol was saying goodbye to the superintendent and the principal, he noticed the principal’s shoes and the superintendent’s pants and said, “As it turns out, I see that the sixth grade teacher was not so bad for you. Now I understand where you’ve got this idea from.” The superintendent said, “Shut your mouth.” The principal said the same thing.

Abdol said, “OK but on the condition of me getting my percentage. I know very well that the school’s title belonged to the sixth grade teacher, so 20% for me and 80% for you.” The principal said,” 90 to 10.” Abdol said, “85 to 15.” As the superintendent said ok, the school’s archives room exploded and the corpse of thousands of students, teachers and custodians came out of it.

As soon as the principal and the superintendent saw this, they jumped into their car and drove off. The parents of the seventeen missing kids rushed in, looking for their children. Abdol, took a look around, went into the office and rang the bell for the last period. The sound of the bell travelled through the whole city and everyone came of their houses and shops happily and merrily.

They rebuilt the ruined school and Abdol, as the first under age superintendent took charge of everything and not so long had passed until he left home, finished school, confessed to the murder of the seventeen kids and in these years received as many different educational, cultural and artistic awards as hundreds of people. And when he reached the legal age, he was hanged, but when his parents arrived to the scene it had already been too late and they had missed the execution and all was left were Abdol’s feet that like the pendulum of a clock were moving back and forth in front of an ocean of spectators and observers.

Images  by Vahid Sharifian