The Blackboard (Script)
Dirt road, daytime:
A dirt road in the heart of the mountains men’s footsteps are heard, and the sound of their conversation follows. Rural teachers with Kurdish costumes, carrying blackboards on their backs, approach the last turns and twists of the mountain road. One gives a water canteen to another, after drinking from it.
Man: Uncle Saeed, here is your water canteen. Thanks.
First teacher: You drank all of it!
Man: Sorry! I was really thirsty!
First teacher: It’s ok.
Man: Where were you yesterday?
First teacher: I was wandering around in the villages.
Man: What for?
First teacher: I was looking for students. No one would give me a penny to learn a thing or two. My father always told me it would be a mistake to become a teacher, but I didn’t listen.
Man: Saeed, how many years did you go to school yourself?
First teacher: Two years.
Man: How did you become a teacher with only two years of school?
First teacher: I worked hard at it.
Man: Now, do you like teaching or not?
First teacher: Not really!
First teacher: I have no place to stay. If I could find a wall that would be safe from the bombings, I would hang this blackboard to it and stop wandering around. My father told me I should become a shepherd. That way, I could at least drink the sheep’s milk and survive!
A vague sound roars through the mountains. The teachers are worried. The sound is getting closer and closer. The teachers run and hide under the blackboards not to be seen by the helicopters passing over their heads. The sound of the helicopters moves away and the cry of the crows replaces it. One of the teachers sticks his head out from the blackboard shelter and mimics the cry of the crows. Feeling safe, the teachers stand up.
Second teacher: Let’s camouflage the blackboards with mud, so they can’t be seen from up there.
The teachers move fast to camouflage the blackboards with mud and the boards begin to change to the brownish color of earth. The first teacher is standing with his blackboard on his back while two other teachers wipe mud on it.
First teacher: After divorcing my wife, I was left with three children to take care of. One is an infant. I went from door to door, from village to village, looking for someone to breast feed my kid. He ended up drinking milk from breasts of a hundred women, he even had cow milk. He now looks like a hundred different people. His eyes look like cows’ eyes, his ear looks like one womn’s while his nose looks different. And he’s always sick. This wouldn’t have happened if we had a doctor in our village. So now, I search every village to find someone to teach to, so he can become a doctor. Then we won’t have to walk to the city every time we need a doctor.
The teachers take their camouflaged blackboards and continue their trail. After a while, the first and second teachers separate from them and take another route.
Second teacher: (To other teachers) Which way are you going?
One of the teachers: We’ll go this way. It’s less dangerous.
Second teacher: The route we’re taking is safer. Come this way.
One of the teachers: The route you’re taking is more dangerous. You better come this way.
Second teacher: Goodbye, then. We’ll go this way. (To the first teacher) where are you going?
Firt teacher: To the village.
Second teacher: Will we find enough students for both of us, if we stay together?
First teacher: We’ll find two or three students.
Second teacher: Then I’ll leave those two or three students for you. I’ll climb the mountain, and you go down toward the village.
First teacher: Come to the village with me.
Second teacher: I won’t have a chance in the village. I can do better up there. You go to the village, and I’ll go to the shepherds.
The crows show up again, flying over their heads and cawing. The two teachers say goodbye and go their separate ways. The other teachers, now the same color as their surroundings, quietly move in a group and walk their path.
Village road, an hour later:
The first teacher moves on. From a distance ahead, there seems to be a silent explosion. The first teacher gets closer. What appeared to be an explosion was a pile of hay thrown into the air by an old man, to separate the seeds. The first teacher moves closer and sees an old man who has covered his face.
First teacher: Hello sir.
Old man: Hi.
First teacher: Does your village have a school?
Old man: God knows!
First teacher: Don’t you need a teacher in your village?
Old man: God knows!
First teacher: Do you think they’d accept me as a teacher if I come?
Old man: I don’t know, sir.
First teacher: Goodbye, then.
The first teacher leaves, but before he’s gone, the old man calls him. The first teacher goes back to him. The old man uncovers his face. He is skinny and looks worn down. He reaches into his pocket and takes out a folded piece of paper, giving it to the teacher.
Old man: Please read this letter for me.
First teacher: Whose letter is it?
Old man: Please tell me what it says!
First teacher: one minute, sir . . . (He tries to read the letter, but he can’t) I can’t read this letter. It’s neither Persian nor Kurdish, where has it come from?
Old man: (begging) I don’t know if it’s Arabic or Turkish, I just know it’s from my son. He’s a prisoner of war in Iraq, and that’s where he sent the letter from. Please read it for me.
First teacher: Sir, I don’t know the language this is written in.
Old man: Please read it for me. I haven’t heard from him for such a long time.
Firt teacher: (Unable to read the letter, he doesn’t want to hurt the old man, so he reads . . .) Like all other letters, he must have started by writing “hi”. First, he says hi to you, his father.
Old man: Hello, my son.
First teacher: Next he says hi to his mother, and his brother and sister.
Old man: How is he? Does he have spending money? Doesn’t he say if he’s hungry, or not?
First teacher: (Desperately inspects the letter) One minute, sir . . . let me see if I can understand what it says. . . I think he say he has 3000 Iraqi Dinars.
Old man: How is he? Is he all right? Is he not well?
First teacher: (looking at the letter and trying to give him hope) He says he’s all right but he misses you. At the end of his letter, he says bye.
Old man: Doesn’t he say when he’ll be released?
First teacher: Don’t worry, I hope he’s released soon. Bye.
The first teacher gives the letter back to the old man and goes. The old man covers his face again and continues throwing the hay into the air.
Rocky mountain path, same time:
The second teacher walks through the rocky path and keeps climbing toward the summit. On his way, he sees a teenage boy standing watch.
Second teacher: boy, are you all right?
Boy: Thank you, sir.
Second teacher: Don’t you know where the shepherds are? (The boy ignores him and continues the watch) I’m talking to you, boy. I’m a teacher.
Boy: (Turns his head) You’re a teacher?
Second teacher: Yes.
Boy: Then what are you doing here?
Second teacher: I’m here to find children to teach to. Where are the shepherds’ children?
Boy: I don’t know. (And continues his watch)
Second teacher: My dear boy, do you know how to read, yourself? (The boy keeps ignoring him) Boy, look at me! Do you know how to read?
Boy: (Turns his head) No.
Second teacher: Do you know how to read?
Second teacher: Would you like me to teach you?
The boy ignores him and continues his watch.
He looks a little nervous now. The binoculars show a large group of people moving down the mountain.
Second teacher: Do you want me to teach you how to read?
Boy: (Finds the teacher a nuisance. He turns to him) Read what? No! (And turns his head back the other way)
Second teacher: Look at me.
Boy: I don’t want to learn how to read. That’s all. It’s of no use!
Second teacher: So where are your friends?
Boy: Up there, on the top of the mountain.
Second teacher: Would they like to learn how to read?
Boy: I don’t know. Why do you ask me?
Second teacher: Wait, boy! Show me the way. (The boy runs away) Where are you going, boy? Boy?!
Boy: (Stops) Yes?
Second teacher: Where is the path?
Boy: (show all directions) There is a path here, and there . . . everywhere. (And runs away)
Second teacher: Where are you going, boy? Stop and answer my question!
Boy: (Frustrated, stops) I swear to God! You can go any way you like, and it’ll be a path. Don’t you believe me?
The boy runs away and the second teacher hopelessly chooses a direction and starts walking.
The Villages, daytime:
The first teacher enters a village where the houses are built in the heart of the mountains. He shouts, but no one sticks his head out of the window to answer.
First teacher: Hello? Isn’t there anyone in the house? Open the window and answer!
The first teacher walks through the streets of the village, hopelessly looking for some kid to teach you, but doesn’t find any. Instead, he encounters a horrified old woman who runs away from him and his questions.
First teacher: Ma’am, where are your children?
Old woman: What?
First teacher: I want to teach to them. I’m a teacher.
Old woman: You’re a teacher? Good, that’s good! (Limping away) God saves me from this life. God, what did I ever do to deserve this?
Through one window, the first teacher sees a young boy witnessing his conversation with the old woman. But just as he begins to talk to the young boy, his mother comes to take him away and shuts the window. The first teacher walks through the streets, shouting.
First teacher: Learn the multiplication table. One times two: two. Two times two: four.
The first teacher continues shouting though no one stands behind the windows. He asks the people to take a look, suggesting that their children would get A B grades, were he to teach to them. He says he wouldn’t ask for much money, or he would teach for free if they feed him. He says he’d teach them how to read and write letters. Again, no one answers.
Mountain byway, daytime:
On his way in the mountain byway, the second teacher sees teenage smugglers moving in a group of twenty or thirty. The path is so narrow that neither the teacher nor they can pass each other. The teacher is happy and thinks of the teenagers as his students and intends to teach them. They all have bags on their back.
Second teacher: I’m happy to see all you kids. Come here, where are you from? (They stop) Do you know how far I’ve come for you? I came all the way from the bottom of this valley.
First boy: Sir, move aside and let us pass.
Second teacher: Wait a second, guys. It’s not going to hurt you or anything! I just want to talk to you for two minutes, and then I’ll let you pass through. Tell me, do you have a school?
First boy: No.
Second teacher: What about a teacher?
First boy: We don’t have a teacher either.
Second teacher: Don’t you want a teacher?
First boy: No.
Second teacher: What are you doing with all these goods?
First boy: We’re delivering it.
Second teacher: Let me come along with you.
First boy: No.
Third boy: Sir, move aside.
Second teacher: My dear, you just have to wait a second for me to finish what I’m saying, and then I’ll move aside. (To the first boy) Just one question, where are you taking these goods?
First boy: We’re porters, we can’t just stand here with all this load on our backs. Move aside, for God’s sake! We’re tired, move aside!
Second teacher: Listen, don’t you have a teacher?
First boy: No, we don’t have a teacher.
Second teacher: Where are you going?
First boy: I don’t know.
Second teacher: You don’t know?
First boy: No. Let us pass through. We’re tired of standing here. So many people are just waiting here for you to move aside, let us pass.
The second teacher puts the blackboard on his back and starts moving in the group’s direction. The kids follow him.
Second teacher: (Talks to people behind him, while walking) I’m a teacher. I’m here to teach you. I’m here to teach you how to read and write . . . how to add, and multiply. I’ll charge a very small sum. Even if you don’t have any money, you can just give me a little something to eat instead.
First boy: Listen man, we’re just porters. We always take other people’s goods around. We bring smuggled goods from the other side of the Iraqi border to Iran. We’re always running away in fear. One who’s always running in fear can’t study anything.
Second teacher: Listen, when you Know how to read, you can read some book or newspaper whenever you have nothing else to do. You can find out about what’s going on in the world. Then, you can learn to add and subtract so you can keep track of your possessions, so no one can rip you off ever again.
First boy: Addition and subtraction are good for the owners of these goods. We only carry their stuff. We’re always on the run. Someone who is always scared, and on the run, can’t read books. Books are for people who sit down. We’re always walking.
Road to Iraq, daytime:
Frustrated, the first teacher finally meets a group of tired old men. Each of them is carrying a package, and some are so old that they support themselves with the help of others. There is a woman with a corroded kettle in one hand, while dragging his young child behind her, with the other.
First teacher: Hello, sir. I’m a teacher. Would you like me to teach you how to read?
Old man: Not really!
First teacher: (Goes to another old man) Sir? I’m talking to you, sir! Do you know how to read? Why don’t you answer? (Goes after someone else) Sir, for a piece of bread, I’ll teach you how to read.
Old man: We’re homeless, we don’t need to read.
First teacher: (Goes after two other old men who are helping a third old man urinate down the mountain) Hello, sir. For God’s sake, give me a job. I’ll do anything.
First old man: We don’t have jobs ourselves.
First teacher: I can work as a shepherd. I can do housework. I can teach. Just give me some bread to eat.
Second old man: We don’t have anything to eat ourselves. Where should we get you something to eat?! We’re homeless.
First teacher: I’m hungry. Give me a piece of bread. I’ll follow you, wherever you’re going, and will help you.
First old man: When Halabcheh was bombarded, we lost our homes and came to Iran. We’re old now. It’s time for us to die and want to go back home to die where we were born. But as much as we search, we can’t find the border. If you know the way to the Iraqi border, show it to us.
First teacher: it’s a difficult path, but I’ll show you.
Second old man: Halaleh? Halaleh? Bring the water for your dad.
First teacher: What will you give me if I take you to the border?
Second old man: We really don’t have anything.
First teacher: I can’t do it for free. How can I take you to the border for free? Give me some bread.
Second old man: We don’t have any bread.
First teacher: But it’s half a day of walking to the border. And it’s a hard path, too.
First old man: We don’t have anything.
First teacher: How can I take you there for free? Give me something!
Second old man: We’ll give you 40 walnuts.
First teacher: Just 40 walnuts?
Second old man: It’s not that far to the border!
First teacher: Then at least give me 50. It’s a hard path, but I’ll accept.
The first old man calls the woman who is walking with the other old men. She comes and holds the kettle of water she has, for her old father, who is carried by two other men, to drink from. The old man doesn’t drink, but the two other old men force him to. After giving some water to her father, the woman takes her child and leaves. The woman has caught the first teacher’s attention, and he end up following her to ask for some water to drink. The woman, who looks somewhat distraught, ignores the teacher and picks up her child, putting him on her back, and goes. Another old man calls the first teacher.
First old man: That old man is ill. Let us carry him on your blackboard, and we’ll give you five extra walnuts.
First teacher: five? But that’s not enough.
First old man: come on, stop being so greedy.
The first teacher puts his blackboard on the ground. The sick old man gets on the blackboard and a few people pick it up and carry it.
First teacher: (while helping others carry the blackboard) What’s wrong with this old man?
First old man: He can’t urinate.
First teacher: So where are you taking him?
Second old man: We’re taking him to Iraq, to the city of Halabcheh. That woman is his daughter, and the child is his grandchild. He just wants to give her away before he dies, so he can die in peace.
First teacher: He wants her to marry?
First old man: Yes.
First teacher: How much does he ask for, as the groom’s gift?
Second old man: Nothing. Say so, if you’re interested.
First teacher: You must ask for something. After all, that woman has needs, too.
Second old man: If you can, name a walnut tree form your lands as her gift.
First teacher: I don’t have any lands or trees. I’m a teacher, and this blackboard is all I have.
Second old man: Just this blackboard?
First teacher: Yes.
Second old man: I have to ask her father if he’ll accept just a blackboard.
The old man, who can’t urinate, strikes the blackboard signaling them to put him down. Then, they help him walk a few yards away, where he can urinate while facing the other way.
First teacher: Don’t you need to ask for her father’s permission?
Second old man: No. She’s a widow, there is no need for her father’s permission. Let’s go, I’ll ask for her permission.
By the canyon, continues:
Two old men are holding the old man hoping to help him urinate.
First old man: Go on. You haven’t urinated for two days. Don’t be scared urinate!
The old man’s daughter in helping her kid with the same matter. The second old man and the first teacher move towards her. The second old man takes the blackboard from the first teacher and puts it down on the ground, as to make a barrier between the girl and the first teacher. The first teacher looks at the woman like he’s interested. The old man stops him from doing this.
Second old man: Don’t look at her. You’re still a stranger to this woman. (Takes his hand and sits him down) Do you want to marry Halaleh, while making this blackboard your gift?
First teacher: Yes.
Second old man: Are you sure that’s what you want?
First teacher: Yes.
Second old man: Halaleh?
Woman: (Busy with her child) Pee! Go on pee! Pee!
Second old man: Halaleh?
Second old man: Will you marry this man, with this blackboard being your gift?
Second old man: The blackboard!
Second old man: Yes!
Woman: Oh, ok!
Second old man: (Points the cane he has in his hand toward the sky and asks the first teacher to keep his hand on the cane and face the sky) Will you promise never let this woman stay hungry?
First teacher: I promise never to let her stay hungry.
Second old man: Will you promise never to let her stay thirsty?
First teacher: I promise never to let her stay thirsty.
Second old man: Will you promise never to leave her alone?
First teacher: I promise never to leave her alone.
Second old man: Halaleh?
Second old man: Halaleh? Will you marry this man with this blackboard being your gift?
Second old man: Halaleh? Will you marry this man, with this blackboard being your gift?
Woman: The blackboard?
Old man: Yeah!
Woman: Oh, ok!
The old man gets up, takes the blackboard that is standing between the first teacher and the woman, and puts it up as to separate them from the crowd. He goes and leaves them alone.
Second old man: Now, become one.
The stone summit, same time:
The teenage smugglers reach a big rock at the summit of the mountain. Now is an opportunity to rest. The second teacher asks someone if he’d like to study, that person who is an exhausted teenager groans from toothache. The second teacher goes to an innocent boy who is leaning on his bag and resting.
Second teacher: What’s your name, boy?
Second teacher: Do you know how to read?
Second teacher: Would you like to learn?
Second teacher: Do you know what good it is to read? If you Know how to read, you can read books, newspapers . . . and when you can read books, you can read stories as well.
Hayyaz: Stories? I know hundreds of stories. One spring, me and four of my friends took animals up there, up the mountain. Up to the summit. We walked the animals for a long time and let them feed themselves. But then, a rabbit tried to escape. We ran after it, we ran and ran and didn’t let it go. We kept on following it until we were tired. My friend caught the rabbit, and harmed it a lot. Then, he suggested to cut the rabbit’s head off. I told him not to do it, that I felt sorry for the rabbit. My friend said would first harm the rabbit and then cut his head of. I told him that it wouldn’t be the right thing to do. He gave the rabbit a real hard time! He harmed it a lot . . . and then wanted to cut his head off again I told him not to do it, that it was a bad idea. I held his hand, but he cursed at me and cut off the rabbit’s head. He then cut the meat into pieces, but didn’t give me my share. I was upset, I walked away and cried for a long time, and then I took my animals away from his. Then we had a fight.
Second teacher: Forget about it, for God’s sake! I didn’t ask you to tell me a story. I’m taking about knowing how to read, and you’re wasting my time.
The second teacher went on to talk to some other teenager.
Second teacher: Do you want me to teach you how to read?
Teenager: No. We’re porters.
Second teacher: Can’t someone be a porter and learn to read?
Teenager: We spend one whole day carrying goods from the Iraqi border to the Iranian border just for buck.
Second teacher: Shouldn’t porters learn how to read?
Rebvar: (A teenager standing in some other corner) Sir, sir. You, please come here, a moment.
Second teacher: Now, do you want to learn how to read, or not? Goodbye, then.
Rebvar: Hi. How are you?
Second teacher: What’s your name?
Rebvar: My name is Rebvar.
Second teacher: Rebvar? My name is Rebvar, too.
Second teacher: Do you know what Rebvar means?
Rebvar: No, I don’t.
Second teacher: Rebvar is someone who walks and walks and keeps on walking. It means a pedestrian. Do you want to learn how to read?
Rebvar: I swear I do, I really do! Are you a teacher?
Second teacher: Yes.
Rebvar: So can you teach me how to read and write my own name?
Second teacher: Haven’t you ever written your name down?
Rebvar: No, I haven’t.
Bridal Chamber, river side, daytime:
The woman washes her child’s pants and hangs them on a big white rock to dry. The first teacher stands the blackboard, leaning it on the rock making it look like the door to a room. He then picks up the woman’s child, moving over the blackboard and out of the chamber. The kid cries and stares at the river. The old man who can’t urinate walks around, looking at the sky, asking God to help him. The old man who married the couple, comes and takes away the child, trying to keep him busy and leaving the couple with some privacy.
The child is now among a group of old men, resting by the side of the river. They reach into their bags and take walnuts out, intending to keep the kid busy by playing a game with the walnuts. As one man fails to attract the child’s attention, the next criticizes him and takes over the task of playing with walnuts. After a while, they forget all about the kid and concentrate on playing the game with walnuts. The child walks away toward the bridal chamber, and peeks inside from an opening next to the blackboard. The woman is sitting, facing the rock, and the first teacher is facing her, the blackboard faces the inside of the chamber and the first teacher writes the words “I love you” on it. He asks the woman to repeat that sentence, word by word, after him. She dose not respond.
Firt teacher: I . . . love . . . you . . . Say it. Won’t you say it? Won’t you respond? I’ll give you a zero, so you don’t ever act this way again. Should I give you a zero? You’d flunk, if I give you a zero! I’ll give you an eighteen this time, let’s see how you do next time.
The woman sees her child’s head, turned at them. She goes after him, and takes him to the river to urinate. He doesn’t urinate. The woman takes the boy’s pants off and puts his feet in the cold water to make him urinate. The old man who couldn’t urinate watches the river water with envy, moans and groans.
Old man: God, help me . . .
Another old man: (Comes to him and pats him on the back) Come on, man. Pee! You’ve been suffering for three days now, go on! If you can’t pee, we’ll help you.
A minute later, the old men throw him in the water and splash water at him so he urinates. The old men yells and screams from the pain and the cold, but they do not stop.
Having hung her kid’s clothes on the blackboard, the woman lightly kicks the blackboard and the first teacher picks it up and takes it to where a fire has been made. The old men who had to step in the water are getting dry by the fire.
Woman: (To her father) What happened? Didn’t you finally pee?
Old man: No.
First old man: Even the devil would have urinated in that cold water.
Second old man: I could have urinated in there, myself, but he didn’t. He must have done some evil to deserve this fate!
The stone summit, the byways, a little later:
The second teacher is training Rebvar on how to write his name. He has the name “Rebvar” written on the blackboard and they’re spelling it when the watch boy shows up yelling. Hearing him shout, they all start running away and while they’re moving farther and farther from the region, the second teacher is teaching Rebvar with the blackboard on his back. Rebvar is moving right behind his back and reading the letters on the blackboard out loud, when one of the boys, the innocent one who told the rabbit-hunting story, falls down from the mountain into the canyon. Everyone is scared. Some go to help the boy who fell down.
Another summit, an hour later:
The second teacher’s muddy blackboard is broken with the teenagers’ axes, to be used in a cast on the teenager’s broken leg. In the middle of the crowd, the innocent boy who is crying from the pain of his leg, is persuaded to tell his rabbit story to the leader of the group. This time, he tells his story in a more innocent tone and changes some parts a little. The teacher stands up to teach them, but the leader doesn’t let him and tells the group to start moving. The teacher puts the remaining half of the blackboard on his back and follows them. He ask one of the teenagers why they don’t study and learn how to read and write, and he is told that some of the teenagers are literate, but don’t trust strangers and don’t tell them anything.
The other stone summit, continues:
The teenagers come. The second teacher teaches Rebvar the spelling of his name while walking. The innocent boy whose leg is broken, is carried on the back of another teenager, and tells another version of his rabbit story. One of the teenagers is singing while carrying a bag. The watch boy moves to the edge of the cliff and uses his binoculars to look around. Worried, he returns to the group.
Watch boy: They’re right behind us. Let’s break up into several groups. Rebvar and his group go this way, the second group goes that way, and everybody else follows me. Bye.
They follow different directions.
Mountain route, continues:
The old men keep going. They are tired and breathe heavily. The first teacher leads them with the blackboard on his back. The woman follows him and her child walks along while holding her sleeves. The old men follow this family. The first teacher is teaching the multiplication table, while the woman keeps silent, not responding to him. The kid sees a rabbit running and follows the rabbit. The woman, who felt her sleeve being pulled, notices that her child has let go of her sleeve and takes a direction opposite to that of the old men, to go after her son. Hearing the commotion, the first teacher turns around, passes by the old men and goes after the woman.
First teacher: Where did you go off to, ma ’ am? Ma ‘ am, stop!
Woman: (Looking for her kid, not finding him) Shuan . . . what are you doing? Damn you!
First teacher: Sir, where did that lady go?
The kid’s lost and the woman is after him. After passing through a crowd, the first teacher who is following them, first sees the kid and then the woman. The woman runs and catches the kid who turns to kick his mother. The woman sits him down on the ground and cracks some walnuts to calm him down. The first teacher reaches them and puts the blackboard by their side.
First teacher: Ma ‘ am, if you think mathematics too difficult, let’s teach you how to read. I . . . love . . . you.
The woman doesn’t respond.
First teacher: Why don’t you answer? Go on. Say it . . . won’t you say it? What kind of student are you? I’ll give you an eight, no, you’d flunk if I give you an eight, I’ll give you a ten so you can pass. Say it! Won’t you say it? What kind of student are you, not even answering me? I’ll give you a zero now. (Despite hi threats, he puts the zeros in front of the 10,thus making the number higher than before) At least tell me that you don’t love me. Ma ‘ am, tell me, I don’t love you. Won’t you say it? You won’t say it? Here is your second zero, and now I’ll give a zero to your kid, too! How’s that? Here is a zero for your kid. (The kid reacts, knowing they’re talking about him) You won’t say it? I’ll give your father a zero, too! Here is one for your father! Ma ‘am, won’t you say it? I’ll give myself a zero for being so stupid too follow you here.
He then takes his blackboard and leaves. A moment later, the woman come after him and calls him. The first teacher stops and turns back. She stands in front of him.
Woman: My heart is like a train that stops in thousands of stations. In each station, some one gets on and another gets off. But there is only one person how never gets off, and he is my true love. (She stretches her arms towards his neck . . . he’s confused, but she only wants to take her son’s pants which she had hung on the blackboard to dry.) That one person is my son. (She turns back and goes.)
First teacher: Ma ’ am . . . Ma ’ am?
The woman leaves and the first teacher goes after her. She reaches her kid. Suddenly, the old men are seen coming back, alarmed. One of them shouts that they must run away and another one explains that a soldier from the other side of the border has shot and killed one of them. Everyone runs and hides behind some rock. The first teacher takes refuge behind his blackboard. A moment later, the woman and her son, both scared, also come to hide behind the blackboard next to the teacher. The old man how couldn’t urinate pisses in his pants, and her daughter comes to help him get behind the blackboard, where they are taking refuge. She then makes a pile of gravel in effort to form a parapet.
The cattle route, same time:
The second teacher keeps walking and teaching a Rebvar and three others following him. Suddenly, Rebvar stops and apologizes to the teacher, telling him that they’re in danger and must separate. The four teenagers lie on the ground and start crawling. The second teacher stands stunned, not understanding why they’re acting this way. Seconds later a herd of sheep inter our sight and the crawling teenagers join the sheep, hiding among them. The herd of sheep takes the teenagers and the teacher past the guards and through the border.
The herd, minutes later:
The four teenagers are waiting for the rest of the group. The teacher feeds himself on the milk a young country girl draws from a sheep. Rebvar finally succeeds to write his name on the blackboard, which is on the teacher’s back.
Rebvar: Sir, I wrote it down.
Second teacher: What did you write?
Rebvar: I wrote my name. I wrote “Rebvar”.
A shot is heard, Rebvar and the blackboard roll on the ground. The other teenagers run, each falling down with the sound of a shot.
Mountain near the border, same time:
The woman is still busy making her parapet of gravel. Slowly, everyone begins to crawl forward. One of the old men how’s brother was shot and thrown down the canyon complains that he was supposed to go home to die, and that he wasn’t supposed to die there. The woman crawls forward while holding her son.
Woman: We’re going to die . . . Chemical . . .
First teacher: There was no chemical weapon. The soldiers on the other side fired. Don’t be afraid.
Woman: Chemical . . . Halabcheh . . . We’re going to die!
While crawling, the first teacher holds the blackboard over the woman’s head, and tries to comfort her.
The border, the last hours of day:
The group of old men with the first teacher, the woman, the child, and the old man, who couldn’t urinate, reach the border. The wind is blowing and there is fog around them.
First teacher: Here we are. This is the border. This is your homeland.
No one believes him. One of them calls him a liar and shouts that the teacher has tricked them. The first teacher insists that it is the border and that if it looks different, it is only because of the war.
First teacher: Look, there is Halabcheh. There is your homeland.
They finally believe him and run in the direction the first teacher pointed. When they reach the barbed wire, they fall down to the ground to pray God. They take the soil into their hands and pour it on their heads, they then take their shoes off before crossing the borderline. One of the old men comes forward and gives the 40 walnuts he had promised to the first teacher.
Old man: Here are your walnuts. Thank you for bringing us to the border. What will you do now? Will you come to our country, or will you stay here?
First teacher: No, I can’t come. I’m used to this country.
Old man: But your wife wants to cross the border. She doesn’t want you, what can be done?
First teacher: What can I do, when she doesn’t want to sty with me?
Old man: You know the answer. Will you give her a divorce?
First teacher: I’ll give her divorce if she doesn’t love me.
Old man: Let me call her. Halaleh? Halaleh? (They walk toward Halaleh) Put that blackboard down. (The first teacher puts it down) Will you give Halaleh the blackboard and her divorce?
First teacher: Yes.
Old man: Halaleh?
Old man: Do you want to get your divorce, with the blackboard that was stated as your gift?
Woman: Blackboard? Yeah.
Old man: you’re still man and wife. Take one last look at each other. (The first teacher looks at the woman) Now, both take my cane and look at the sky. (They put their hand on the cane and look at the sky) Dear God, let them not be hungry. God, let them not be thirsty. God, let them not be alone. Here, thi blackboard is your gift. Bye.
The first teacher and the old man go, and the woman leaves while dragging the blackboard on her back. After a few feet, she stops and calls her son.
Woman: Shuan . . . Shuan . . . Hurry up!
The kid who is playing with the remains of a bomb, hears her mother shout, lets go of the bomb, picks up a cane lying on the ground, and walks toward his mother.
A sad chant is heard as the credits fill the screen.
The Blackboard (Script)