If my arrival were up to me, I would not have come;
If my departure were also up to me, would I ever Leave?
But would it not have been better altogether,
If I had not come into this ruined abode to rest and then depart?
Written By: Mohsen Makhmalbaf
1_THE DESERT _ DAYTIME:
This is a door. This door is old. This old door is ancient. This ancient door is walking. This door is walking in the desert. Who is carrying this door? We do not know. It's as if it walks on its own feet.
That is a bicycle. That bicycle is dilapidated. That dilapidated bicycle has a man. That man is riding the bicycle. That man is a postman. That postman is wearing a white robe. That white robe is called "Dashdasheh". That Dashdasheh is an Arabic garment. The man wearing the Arabic Dashdasheh rings the doorbell. Why does the postman ring the doorbell?
The postman: Door Number one, stop, you have a letter.
The door is still moving on. The postman reaches the door and uses its knocker. The door stops and opens and a head protrudes form behind it. It's an old man. He is sunburnt. He is naked down to his navel. He has drooping breasts like women. He has a waistcloth round his legs. He was the one who had been carrying the door. The old man speaks.
The old man: Yes?
The postman: You have a letter.
The old man: Is it from my son?
The postman: I don't know.
The old man: Read it... I don't know how to read.
The postman: Greetings, you girl from Door Number one!
I am a porter who has come to your island to carry loads.
The old man: What dose he mean?
The postman: He says I am a porter, and I have come to you island to carry loads.
The old man: Read the letter. Go on then, read it.
The postman: I saw you in the bazaar once. You were adjusting the mask on your face and I caught a glimpse of you and fell in love with you and followed you to your house. I so much wish to save all my money and marry you.
The old man: What does he mean?
The postman: Do you have a daughter?
The old man: What's it all about?
The postman: He's seen your daughter in the bazaar arranging her face mask, he saw her face and fell in love with her. He wants to save his money and marry your daughter.
The old man: Read the letter.
The postman: so that you can adjust your veil all the time, and so that I can admire your face all the time, but alas, what am I to do, it cannot be...
The old man: Have you written this yourself?...No? Then who wrote it?...Read on, go on then, read on.
The postman: But what am I to do, it cannot be because what I gain I spend on my daily food. I hope to God that you will receive this letter so you know how madly someone is in love with you.
The old man: Who is in love with my daughter?
The postman: I don't know.
The old man: Hey?
The postman: I don't know.
The old man gets hold of the letter and tears it up. The bicycle with the man riding it turns back. The door moves on with it. From afar a goat gets close. It's not a goat, it's a kid. The kid is black. The kid has a rope round its neck and the rope is held in the hand of a Tchador_clad figure. The tchador is black. The person wearing the black tchador has a black mask on the face. The person with the black mask is a girl. The girl follows the door. The kid follows the girl. Where are the door and the girl going? We do not know.
Sounds reach from afar. The one wearing a mask looks and sees a group approaching. They're playing tambours and other local musical instruments. They come from the heart of the desert. They are not females. Those who are not females are males. They're half_naked and behind them something sprinkles in the air. That thing is water. The water splashes in the air from the heart of the soil. The kid gets petrified and refuses to move. The girl pulls on the rope. The rope pulls the kid. The kid drags itself on the ground in order to remain where it is. But it moves. It moves to try and gore the girl in order not to go, but the door moves on and the girl moves on and the kid moves on. We see them approaching from the front. The door revolves and the old man seeks refuge behind it. The girl and the kid also go behind the door beside him. The music players approach and stand in front of the door while one of them shouts.
One of them: open the door, Dad.
Another amongst them blows a horn. The horn sounds pleasant.
With the pleasant sound of the horn the old man peers out.
The old man: who is it? What do you want?
The man: Good morning, Dad.
The old man: Good morning my son.
The man: We're strangers in this island. We've just got here. We're looking for a mourning or a wedding ceremony. Do you know where it's taking place?
The old man: No, no idea, who's where and what's where.
The man: we've been invited to a ceremony. But we're puzzled. We look everywhere but don't see a soul and can't find a thing. There's no sign of any mourning or wedding ceremony.
The old man: I know nothing about nothing.
The man: So what are we to do? We're just looking round and round. We're so tired.
The old man: Then please come in. come in and get some rest. Come in and have a drink of water. Some tea perhaps.
The man: No thanks...I thought you might know of some village nearby.
The old man: No, I don't.
The music players continue to play and turn back. The old man and the door continue their way. The kid and the girl follow.
2_THE SEA, DAYTIME:
The sea is over there. The sea is blue. The blue is calm. The shore is here. The sea_shore is rocky. The old man leaves the door here, between the rocks facing the sea, and together with the girl and the kid they go behind the door. Seen from a distance, the door is standing there, between those racks, beside that sea, the one which is blue and calm. From close by, they are staring at the depth of the calm blue sea. Why are they waiting? We do not know.
For a moment the kid comes to this side of the door. And now, from the sea_shore, it looks as if there's no_one there except the door and the sea and the kid. Then a bicycle bell is heard and the voice of the man who rang it. This is the same postman who had once come to Door Number One.
The postman: Door Number One, you have a letter. (Knocks on the door.)
The old man: Who is it? (And the door opens.)
The postman: Good morning, Dad.
The old man: Good morning.
The postman: There's a letter from your son.
The old man: As God is my witness, I've been out with my son in the last two years. I don't know him anymore. I don't want his letter either.
The postman: Why not? I've been looking for you so much that my bicycle has broken down.
The old man: Your bicycle has broken down, has it? And what about me? Haven't I broken down too? I mind my own business living in the desert. Why do you keep looking for me?
The postman: well, I look for you to give you your letter.
The old man: I don't want letter. Send it back to its sender.
The postman: The post office has ordered me to deliver letters to this door for as long as it has a number plate. If you don't want to get any letters, take it off and throw it away.
The old man: Get if off and take it with you. I don't want it.
The postman: It's for you to take it off, I can't take off your number plate. I am a postman.
The old man: You get a salary, it's your duty.
The postman: I get paid to deliver letters, not to take off your number plate.
The old man: I want no letter and no number plate.
The postman: But I went through a hell of a lot of trouble to find you. And you keep changing place.
The old man: Well, you don't have to come after me...Why take the trouble? Don't trouble yourself. Return this letter.
The postman: I told the post office that this man has sold all his belongings, that all he has left is a door with a number on it. But they say that I have to deliver your letter.
The old man: Teel the post office that I want no letter.
What is disappearing in to the distance is a bicycle. The dilapidated bicycle. The dilapidated thing the man is riding. The man who is the postman. The postman who is wearing a white robe. The white robe called "Dashdasheh". The Dashdasheh which is an Arabic garment.
The one who is wearing the Arabic "Dashdasheh" is riding the bicycle. Then whom is the old man sitting and facing the sea waiting for? We do not know.
The sea is still there. The sea is still blue. But the blue of the sea is no longer calm. A white foam glides on the blue water. A brown spot is seen in the sea. The brown spot is a boat. There are two lines moving at each side of the boat. The two lines are called Oars. The two lines which are celled Oars bring the brown spot nearer. The old man is glad and goes in the sea to welcome the boat while carrying the door on his back. The white foam gliding on the blue water make the man and the door slide in the sea without falling. Someone on the boat stares at the old man and regrets having come all this way, while talking to the old man he keeps rowing backward towards the depths of the sea.
The boatman: Is this it?! Is this the ancient door you told me about?
The old man: Yes, this is it. What's wrong with it? It's old, isn't it?
The boatman: Turn around and let me see. Turn around, uncle. This door is no good.
The old man: It's a wonderful door.
The boatman: You made me come all the way from the other side of the world for this?! Now then, how much?
The old man: I swear to God that this door is ancient. Seven brides have crossed its threshold. Where are you going then?...stop.
The boatman rows towards the depths of the sea and gets further and further away. The old man with the door on his back goes after him to persuade him to buy the door.
The old man: Don't go... stop... This is a wonderful door... Where have you gone?... Seven brides have crossed its threshold... You want it? It's a very pretty door. You want it?...This is an ancient door. You want it?...
What is called the sea swallows up the boatman, the old man and the door. Why so? We do not know. Perhaps they're so far gone in the blue water that they seem to be swallowed up by the sea.
Translated by: Minou Moshiri