From: Navid; “War in my bed”

“For we have cared for Love, we have cared for Man, be he God’s greatest creation or not!”

A. Shamlou

An unpublished novel (2006) by Shiva Kambari


His new friends did not understand him and they praised him to get him going. When he did not respond, they thought him arrogant. Because he did not praise back, they thought him simple. And in a way, he was simple, for he realized very soon, that he had joined a group the rules of the game of which he did not wish to play, and this was not very clever. He knew he had to be different to be one of them, and yet obstinately he went on being himself. Even more, “arrogantly”, he hoped for a while that if he would be himself long enough they would each start being themselves. It took him some time to accept that they were indeed themselves, that this mixture of ego and instinct was what most of them were. For some time, he held on to the hope that they were better and more intelligent and more caring than they seemed. He hoped that they were what they wanted to appear.

Yet they were not all the things he hoped they were hiding, and with time he had to accept that. And on top of all that they were not and he had to accept, with time they became hostile towards him. Possibly they had a right for their hostility; he stood among them and refused to play his share of the game, thus ruining their play. He who was younger and less informed than most of them, believed still in the truth and in trying to ask the right questions and in putting personal nonsense aside, to get at something larger.  And so he stood among them, feeling much like the 12th man in a football team (in what is soccer over here in America) and the only one not running after the ball, for the ball they were running after, was unimportant to him. Half way through the game, it occurred to him that it was stupid to stand there in mid-field and refuse to hit or even see the ball they all so desired, but being obstinate he went on standing, not running after the ball and not leaving the field. He thought if he would stand long enough, they would one by one come to see that this was the wrong ball, that this was the wrong game. He was naïve. He underestimated their instinct and their determination not to change. In a whole different way, they were just like their fathers, and this is all they knew to be. And without knowing it or owning up to it, this is all they wished to be. If their fathers had played for money and prestige, they now played for praise and position. The tricots were different and the ball was a different one as well, but the moves, motives and tactics were all the same, it was all about me, me, me…

Politics, analysis, the truth, those they apparently fought to defend, were all sacrificed to this god of theirs – this god that was their ego; the thirsty, needy god within them that would get no satisfaction and so would not rest to demand more sacrifice. They did not intend  to be mean, for they talked and wrote about human rights, but the more Navid stood in mid-field and watched them running about him after the imaginary ball, the more cruel he found them to be. They were willing to crush and ignore all, beliefs, principles and events, only for their one self.

By the time Navid came to leave them, they hated him with a vengeance, as he had ruined their game. And Navid left being afraid of them, for in them, in their jostling for money and position, in their using friendship to gain power, in their turning and twisting of the truth to get on, in their unintended cruelty and thirst for praise, in their inability to say “I” – and forever pester about me, me, me, Navid saw and recognized the root of all wars and much violence. Beneath all their speeches about human rights and solidarity, Navid saw the void of much that was most human : empathy, honesty, confidence coupled with doubt, and  a sense of one’s ability as well as the knowledge of  one’s limits.

A note of explanation:  I have written two novels and a number of short stories which I never sought to publish, as their publication could hinder my work towards peaceful change as well as development; among many compromises and concessions I have made over decades – seeking to remain “effective” in deed.