In a taxi, in the southern Iranian province of Khuzestan:
It was a hot, humid day. A typical summer day in Khuzestan, where it gets so hot that you can barely muster enough energy to breathe. When the streets are practically empty, lest for those unfortunate creatures whose errands or jobs or curiosity gets the better of them. The gods had blessed us with no sandstorm that day, and for that, I was grateful. Humidity, heat and sandstorms are never, ever fun.
I was in the taxi with two other passengers. A man in the front, and a man in the back. I was hoping, hoping that no one else would get inside, as three people in the back of a taxi, their arms touching in this heat, would make me sweat a waterfall.
In the distance, we could make out an old, bent man signalling for a cab. As we got nearer we could make out the black turban on his head. It was an old clergyman waving his hand for a taxi, we could make out his silhouette from the distance. His back was crooked, almost bent at 90 degrees. The driver grumbled, as they always do before taking on a clergyman, an akhond, and then stopped.
The guy in the front got out, sat in the back and offered his seat to the cleric. The man looked ancient, as if from another time & century. When he got in, probably sensing the animosity through the stench of sweat and humidity, he said: “don’t worry folks, only here for a short ride, these legs won’t do anymore”.
No one replied.
A few minutes later, he asked the driver: “would you mind pulling into that alley? I really can’t walk anymore.” The driver said quickly: “only if you do me a favor too.” And made a right turn to stop in the alleyway where the cleric had pointed to.
The cleric walked out, paid his fare and said: “so, what can I do for you?”
The driver responded: “Mr, when you folks are finally kicked out of this country for good, will you let me be the one to have your head?”
With a straight face the cleric responded: “would love to, but I’ve already promised my head to about a dozen other people. They’re all anxiously waiting for it.”
And with that he closed the door and walked away. And we sat there, watching the horizon across his crooked back.