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.As I was saying, we Iranians, having lived under the dictatorial rule of kings for twenty-five hundred years, have expertly learned that we should never leave any records or documents behind.We are forever fearful that the future will bear even harsher political circumstances, and hence we must be extremely vigilant about our lives and the footprints that linger in our wake.It is for this reason that records of our history are often limited to the travelogues of Westerners and reports by Western spies.Sara knows that the circulation system at Tehran University’s library is computerized and that any book she borrows can someday be used as evidence against her and she could be expelled.Of course, circumstances in my dear Iran still allow a few crumbs of freedom, but Sara prefers to borrow her favorite books from a public library and has become a member of the one in her neighborhood.Exactly a year before the political demonstration I told you about, on a spring day—and in most old Iranian love stories there is a beautiful spring day with the song of nightingales and other pleasant-sounding birds resonating from sentences—Sara appears at the public library.The small reading room in this library has been divided into two sections by the library catalogs so that the boys and girls seated at the tables cannot see each other.Now you probably want to ask, What are the boys and girls supposed to do if they need to discuss a school assignment or exchange ideas?If you ask one more question like this, I will be forced to say:Madam! Sir! Why can’t you imagine any culture other than your own? What kind of a question is this? Clearly girls and boys in Iran have no school-related discussions and no need to exchange educational information.Like everywhere else in the world, discussing Derrida’s “Différance,” debating the Planck wall or the chaos theory and the butterfly effect, are consciously or unconsciously excuses for a girl and a boy to establish a private relationship that will end in sin.For this very reason, if they speak to one another on university grounds, they will receive a written warning from the Disciplinary Committee.They are not only prohibited from talking to one another in libraries, but they cannot even climb over the Planck wall with the language of their eyes to exchange information … So please let me continue with my story.Sara walked toward the librarian’s desk … With this sentence the love story I want to write and hand over to Mr.Petrovich continues.Sara asked the librarian:“Do you have The Blind Owl?”The librarian firmly replied:“No, miss.We don’t have The Blind Owl at this library.”Sara did not give up.“Of course I know you don’t have The Blind Owl on the shelves.I meant if it is among the books you have removed from the shelves, could you make an exception and lend it to me for a few days … I study literature and I have to read The Blind Owl for an important project.”The librarian, this time more sternly, said:“Miss! I told you we don’t have these banned books; and by the way, you’re the idiot, not me.I know there is no way they would give you a project on The Blind Owl at the university.”Sara, having given up on getting her hands on a copy of The Blind Owl, walked out of the public library.She didn’t notice that in her wake a young man walked out from the protected men’s section and at some distance followed her all the way home.Consequently, the next day when she saw the same young man near her house, she did not recognize him.The young man was selling used books, which he had laid out on a few sheets of newspaper spread on the sidewalk.Surely the paperback edition of The Blind Owl was among his books.But Sara, proud of her beauty and accustomed to ignoring the people around her, walked to the university without stopping.The neighborhood butcher was skinning a green baby dragon hanging on a hook suspended from the ceiling …The next day, the same young man was sitting in the exact same spot.Of course he had fewer books.The same was true of the days that followed.In Iran, book lovers distrustful of the entire world sometimes think that the street peddlers who sell banned or rare books are agents assigned to identify and track readers.On the seventh day, Sara finally stopped at the peddler’s spread and browsed through the books and, suddenly, she saw The Blind Owl.She asked its price.Contrary to the general practice of selling rare or banned books at a much higher price than the list price on the back cover, the young man asked for very little money.And in a trembling voice he added:“… The price of one Winston cigarette, miss.On the condition that you read it carefully.Please cherish this book … Read it very carefully, much more carefully than you would other books … Carefully, accurately …”No street peddler or bookseller had ever spoken to Sara in this manner.She thought, Here’s another one of those mentally disturbed people whose numbers are growing in Iran.She happily bought the book and put it in her handbag.The book was transmitting a mysterious energy to her.During her first class at the university, while the professor was busy explaining and explicating a lengthy poem composed seven hundred years ago that was replete with complex and unfamiliar Arabic words, Sara opened the book under her desk and started to read that surrealist story which in Iran is famously believed to make its young readers lose hope in life and commit suicide—the same way that years ago its writer, Sadeq Hedayat, committed suicide in Paris [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]