Born in Tehran in 1953, Fereshteh Molavi lived and worked there until 1998 when she immigrated to Canada. She worked and taught at Yale University, University of Toronto, York University, and Seneca College. A fellow at Massey College and a writer-in-residence at George Brown College, Molavi has published many works of fiction and non-fiction in Persian in Iran and Europe. She has been the recipient of awards for novel and translation. Her most recent novel, Thirty Shadow Birds, was published by Inanna Publications in 2019. She lives in Toronto.
THE TALE OF A TAIL
Mr. Other, having gone to bed at night and gotten up in the morning, found out, not that the world had become upside down, but that he had developed an itching around his tailbone — a maddening itch that could drive anyone wacko.
For a couple of days, Mr. Other ignored it in the hope that it would be nothing important. It turned out, though, that it was.
Mr. Other thought that maybe it was an abscess or a boil, popping out right at the worst spot; he decided to get to the bottom of it.
First, the right hand, and then the left, both came and went again and again with their examination and investigation at the right time and the wrong time, appropriately and inappropriately. Eventually they reported to Mr. Other that what popped out on the wrong spot was neither a boil nor an abscess, but a tail.
Aghast, Mr. Other feverishly tried to deny it. He held a hand mirror back and front, right and left, to see it with his own eyes. He didn’t see anything. That he didn’t, along with the itching, drove him nuts. At last, he surrendered to fate. The itching instantly went away. He sighed with relief and sent his right and left hand to verify that he no longer had a tail. They reported back that it was still there.
Mr. Other wanted to die, but he didn’t. The more he thought about why such a thing had happened, the less he understood. Finally he made up his mind to stop questioning and to try to find an answer.
Mr. Other, as long as he could remember, had always seen himself among tailless people, which meant that either he had not seen their tails, or had not heard them claim to have any. Such being the case, he had to hide his secret. He used many tricks to do it.
However, Mr. Other was devoutly thankful that the tail did not dangle from the middle of his forehead. He lived cautiously, fearful that his secret would be revealed. But the damned tail wouldn’t cooperate. It grew too long to be kept hidden.
Mr. Other took time off work to devote himself to finding a cure. But Western and Eastern medicine were no help. He started to think about docking his tail, and sought out the best surgeon in town, who worked in private practice.
After the surgeon examined him, he nodded and said, “I’m very sorry.” Mr. Other neither understood why the surgeon was sorry nor pulled up his pants. The surgeon said, “It’s not my area of expertise.” Mr. Other stared at him.
The more the surgeon explained why he couldn’t do anything, the less Mr. Other understood, and the more he was determined not to pull up his pants until he did. The surgeon said, “I just don’t dock tails.” Mr. Other protested that he was going to pay him a hefty fee. “You pay to pull your pants down.” Their dispute grew so heated, the surgeon called his assistant, a big guy with a moustache, to eject Mr. Other.
Before the assistant arrived, Mr. Other thought he would cover his tail so that no stranger’s hand and eye could reach it, and focus on what he should do. With his tail between his legs, he might rush into the street, only to be arrested for the crime of having a tail. Or, tail covered, he might maintain a respectable appearance and head home to hang himself with his own long tail. And the third option was…
Mr. Other’s thread of thought was interrupted by the assistant’s arrival, and the third option got lost like a fugitive part of the elastic band around the waist of his underpants. But then he was inspired by the thought that he could pull down the pants of others.
When two burly cops arrived and escorted the now calm and proud Mr. Other out of the office, the surgeon, bewildered, was scratching hard his itching tailbone.
Fereshteh Molavi visits Brockton Writers Series via ephemera series on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 starting at 6:30pm alongside Cyn Rozeboom, Brian Francis, and Cassidy McFadzean. Writer and publishing professional Elham Ali will give her guest talk on, “Attracting Audiences: Getting the Most Out of Digital Events”.
Special note: As we adapt to current social distancing regulations, we’re happy to announce our event will be hosted by the wonderful ephemera series! They have already done their show online multiple times, so we are thrilled to benefit from their technical expertise, while also increasing collaboration within the literary community and growing connections between organizers, authors, and audience. You can attend the event by watching on the ephemera series YouTube channel. Please log in at 6:15.