Skyscraper Heavens 06-05-2015

The title of the book is Skyscraper Heavens. Those two words came to mind before dawn the morning of December 31, 2014.
The skyscraper is a male-dominant image, a phallus, a challenging conception of engineers, developers and heads of law firms, banks and insurance companies. The skyscraper, or hi-rise, is prevalent in history [See, “Tower of Babel” Genesis 11:4 et seq., the necessity of shared resources of a precinct, unit or fort or firm {e.g. a library or intelligence unit}, the World Trade Center attack, Manhattan, New York City, New York, September 11, 2001, as well as to objectify in concrete, glass and mirrored terms the concept of professional success in the industrial era; see also Marcuse, Herbert The One Dimensional Man (1964)]. The history of the modern hi-rise, perhaps beginning with the Eiffel Tower’s erection upon its pedestal in 1889, portends prestige as a by-product of the partnered construction of hi-rise real estate by numerous parties: architects, artists, builders, financiers, sub-contractors, unions, as well as the taxing authorities.
The dialogue in Skyscraper Heavens seeks to create a mosaic exposing dialectic themes of “opposition” and “containment”. Narration and dialogue weave into the backdrop of a 1978-1980 revolution in the fictitious Middle Eastern country of Baug. Khalid, our narrator, often plays a CD or DVD the contents of which we read in quotation marks off and on through the entirety of the book. Retrograde time and space sequences jump into a loopy weave with the culminating audio-visual reports recorded on discs by United Corporate [UC], their benefactor. Khalid, and two cousins, Jahan and Jaleh, are given the task of rectifying the data they are given by UC and find models that can predict how strife and conflict run a course from its cause[s] that portend to mischief, and how mischief having run its course, leads to calls for law and order.
The three main characters are researchers attempting to chronicle the events of a timeline that includes the years 1978-1981 during which the fictitious country of Baug has undergone a revolution. Khalid, Jahan and Jaleh are funded by a UC grant and tasked with scrutinized collaborative recap of the chronological events leading up to the revolution, and how its “molten lava” cooled in the subsequent decades leading to Baug’s “present” state. The historical record of past revolutionary events in Baug is dictated to us either in person or by UC analysts on the pre-recorded discs. The numerous opposing parties mentioned throughout the story form a mosaic of the dialectic.
When I was a student at Warren College, one of a cluster of colleges at the University of California at San Diego, I took a job as a janitor, cleaning dorm rooms during the transition from Spring Quarter to Summer Quarter, 1980. One day, I was browsing the cork bulletin board at the Student Center in my spare time and came across a 3 x 5 inch flash card soliciting a ghost writer for a book about the Iranian Revolution. American hostages were still being held in Tehran at the time, and being a Literature/Writing major, I took down the phone number on the card and contacted ‘M’ for the first time. ‘M’ was a newly arrived resident of the United States, a former professor and the Director General of Educational Research of the National University of Iran, Tehran (1966-1978); we started work on the book in San Diego on July 7, 1980.
I was so happy working on a book about a major media event I remember riding my brown Schwinn ten-speed all the way from La Jolla to the Marine Corps Air Station—Miramar. Stardom was just over the next hill, or so I thought. That was thirty-five years ago. We worked almost every weekend for a few hours and then his wife would cook an Iranian dish for the family which I was always invited to share in once we were finished working on the book.
It often got hot and steamy in the dining room at dinner time, and that meant quitting time. Mrs. ‘M’ smiled as we relinquished the dining room table back to her. The whole family was called in from the other rooms in the house and we would sit down together at a big round table adjacent to the kitchen to enjoy each other’s company during the delicious supper prepared just for us.
The book was originally submitted for publication to a half-dozen publishers in the winter of 1980-1981 under the title The Iranian Revolution: Iran’s Struggle with a New Father. Although I did not find a publisher willing to take on the responsibility of publishing such a controversial work at the time, I did get two encouraging rejection letters; one of them had a handwritten note below the boilerplate which read simply “Not my cup of tea.” That cup of tea is currently located at the blog under the title Installment 77: An Account of ‘M’ [Call No Man Father] copyright July 8, 2014. ‘M’’s son wrote me in 2014 telling me that his father sold the story he told me to an unidentified buyer for “not much money” after I left the San Diego area.
The names of the people, places and institutions in the following work of historical fiction have been changed to protect the innocent and a few conjectures inserted due to the benefit of revelations gleaned from continuing education.
“Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?” Malachi 2:10 [King James Version modified with capital letters beginning a sentence].
Call me Khalid. I’ve got a story to tell you about the Baugi Revolution, or what I remember of it, but I’ll preface that with a recap of the major political events that transpired some twenty-five years before that in the early 1950’s. These 1950’s events had a direct bearing on the seminal stirrings of revolution that took hold in the era of 1978-1980, the remnants of which still exist today.
Father May I?
Call No Man Your Father on Earth for One is Your Father Which is in Heaven. Matthew 23:9 [Original King James Version].
Prime Minister Rahmat, a populist, led the people of Baug from 1950-1953. He supported an inclusive central government with Baug’s periphery but Baug was disjointed and spread out over a large geographical area. The metropolis of Tealandir was the governing seat of Baug. As its Capitol, rulings from Tealandir affected every Baugi, even if they lived thousands of miles away. Many grew dissatisfied with life in Baug at the time, and opponents of the Rahmat Administration voiced opposition to the incessant compromising that had to be done to mollify every stakeholder and citizen of the country.
For their part, the multi-national oil companies of United Corporate [UC] could not stand Rahmat’s laissez-faire government and decided to overthrow him with a coup d’etat. UC supported the coup because they wanted to reinstall Amir as a regal leader of Baug. A quasi-monarchy would allow UC greater influence in the ways and means of petroleum procurement within Baug’s borders and if within Baug’s borders, elsewhere as well. UC wanted Amir’s Administration to be hailed as a model of the Common Concept of Mutual Interest [CCMI] between Baug and UC that had been strained for as long as anyone could remember.
A slender, scrappy and determined individual named Jahan I met in the courtyard outside our mosque told me the logistics of the 1953 coup d’etat were spear-headed by the Central Wombat Agency [Wombat] of Sargon in conjunction with disaffected youth of Baug. He said in the first salvo buffeting Rahmat, demonstrators shouted taunts, degrading his name while lifting praises to the Amir day and night. The relentless derogatory chants and Rahmat’s misplaced trust in the lawfulness of the assembly allowed the demonstrators to overcome Rahmat’s guard and enter his compound. After a brief struggle, Wombat’s operatives seized Dr. Rahmat and transported him to prison to await trial in an Amir-led government.
The success of the coup made Amir’s return to power imminent. The Emilians, another rival of Rahmat’s government to the southwest of Baug had concealed Amir and his extended family to preserve an opportunity for Amir’s emergence and return to the Imperial Throne of Baug as His Eminence. For his part, Amir was grateful and indebted to his Emilian benefactors, and planned to lead Baug into a firm alliance with them and their greater Western allies. Amir envisioned a land of skilled and educated Baugis coming together as one nation. Operation e pluribus unum could now move forward to its blessed fruition, or so he thought.
Jahan soon introduced me to his first cousin, an attractive medical doctor named Jaleh. They looked alike with their thick black straight hair and tanned complexion, but while Jahan was wiry and surprisingly brutish for his lean frame, Jaleh was supple and compassionate. We were in Baug on a grant from United Corporate to investigate the Baugi revolution of 1978 and its repercussions. They provided us with a stipend and essential materials, which included secret reports and a scrutinized expense account to conduct our research. Sometimes Jahan would fill me in on what he knew about the revolution and other times it was Jaleh, but increasingly, we used secondary sources such as DVD’s produced by United Corporate. Sometimes we would gather to listen to discs together and discuss their contents, while other times we researched solo. Jahan, Jaleh and I were considered “Grantees” under the provisions of our contracts with UC, and both cousins my immediate supervisors. The work would have been boring if I didn’t take the ball the other way sometimes. I guess I was a little like the Harlem Globetrotters making fun of the game but at the same time, seeking to accomplish amazing feats of novel dexterity. Jaleh was a counterweight to the severity of the research required under the UC contract, and I my wife Zareen provided me with much needed support. Throwing Jaleh into the mix made my heart pound and my dick hard. Maybe UC found in one of their many research projects Grantee work product is enhanced by the introduction of romance. Although we were directed to destroy the DVD’s immediately once ‘consumed’ I used them as flying saucers around the flat. Sometimes Zareen and I played a sort of airborne demolition derby with them.
Let’s Flashback: Why Rahmat’s Government Was Troublesome
What I have so far on the history of Baug that Jahan prepped me on was that Rahmat’s Administration gave Baugis a sense of freedom and liberty that they hadn’t had for ages. His administration modeled itself after democratized nation-states such as Sargon of the Continent of Kir and Jahangir of the Continent of Bahar. In those two democracies, citizens were allowed to retain certain inalienable rights allowing them to think and act on their own initiative and to speak out as to their beliefs and opinions. These freedoms were upheld as rights protected by the Baugi Constitution as well until a 1953 coup toppled Rahmat’s government.
Numerous political parties were allowed to co-exist and thrive within constitutional boundaries set up, interpreted and enforced by Rahmat’s government. However, the lax regulation of social discourse and investigation of racketeering created an opportunity for the Bahram Party to disrupt the delicate balance which shaped Baug and maintained a peaceful coexistence within its borders. The Bahram Party was determined to destabilize ‘peace’ in Baug at whatever cost, and to overthrow its opposition, whoever that might be, at any given time. During periods of unrest, Bahram was able to make inroads at fracturing whatever confidence Baugis may still have had in their democratic constitutional society.
We live and we learn…then we die I suppose
If you want dear reader, skip ahead a few dozen pages. I won’t care, as long as you’re happy. Reading this next part last or not at all is not essential as events tend to repeat themselves throughout the book. Sargon’s Wombat Agency often does thankless and uninteresting work which is why it goes undetected and thankless. The Wombat Agency, as one might expect, did not like Rahmat’s tolerance of Bahram Party members in the early 1950’s. Bahram distributed pro-Xerxes [communist] propaganda with bravado aimed primarily against Sargon. The leaflets and tracts lambasted Sargonian foreign policy and its ‘imperialistic’ motivation to dominate the vital interests not only of Baug, but the entire developing world. Baugis were paying at least some attention to the flyers the Bahram Party distributed espousing their platform. Bahram supported the communist megastate Xerxes and beckoned developing nations less technologically advanced than Baug to join in opposition to Sargon and that of its allies operating within Baug’s borders.
The Bahram Party continued to gain popularity under Prime Minister Rahmat until Sargon made the decision to dissolve it after committee review. By acting to suppress and ultimately disband the Bahram Party, Sargon would diminish their influence in Baug and allow the West’s greater unimpeded access to Baug’s petroleum market. Sargon and Jahangir had been diverted from the Baugi oil industry while Rahmat was in power due to what Baug saw as unfavorable pricing terms. The West was simply not paying a fair price for Baugi crude and that had to change.
Yesterday I, Khalid, had tea with Jahan at a small café in Tealandir. The café was filled with wicker chairs and teakwood tables stained with the residue of spilled sweeteners and dark infusions. Jahan told me Rahmat started planning an oil embargo as soon as he assumed power in 1950 because that was the central theme of his campaign platform. Until Sargon and Jahangir paid a fair price for Baugi crude, Rahmat would continue to embargo their access to it.
“Baugis were generally sensitive to oil-interested politics in the early 1950’s,” he said. “Between 1951 and 1953, oil production in Baug was at a virtual standstill because the service contracts between Jahangir and Baug to extract and distribute petroleum were seen by influential Baugis as unconscionable. For instance, it was widely publicized that Jahangir paid back to Baug in royalties only 16% of its profits on Baugi oil. For their part, Sargon bankers were driving inflation higher as the price of crude and the products tied to its price escalated.
“In response to Baugi’s oil embargo of the early 1950’s, Jahangir gave the Rahmat Administration an ultimatum: either relent and end the embargo or suffer naval occupation of the Gulf of Tahmour (with the implication of an imminent ‘blockade’). The Baugi populace reacted tout de suite [Fr., immediately]. They let the foreign oil businessmen and technicians know in no uncertain terms they were no longer welcome in Baug and its natural petroleum resources would no longer be accessible by the West. After the mass expulsion of Western oil interests for the first time since the turn of the 20th Century, Rahmat set out to nationalize oil.
“Once the oil sector in Baug had stabilized after the nationalization of its petroleum reserves, foreign workers would again be allowed to return to Baug, but solely to work for the nationalized program, not for oil companies under Jahangir’s jurisdiction. Jahangir’s oil industry workers, particularly experienced engineers, did not like being told how to do their jobs by Baugi superiors. They complained to their corporate bosses and sovereigns that their Baugi managers lorded over them like snobby, obnoxious know-it-alls yet without them were incompetent. Taking the lead for the West, Jahangir persuaded expatriates to abandon their posts and leave Baug.
“Since Baug’s engineers and technicians did not have the expertise to manage the petroleum industry, production suffered, especially due to an infrastructure that soon fell into a confused state of disrepair. If that was not enough, no one was buying Baug’s crude oil product due to political pressure from Jahangir. It made a spectacle of Baug’s ‘breach’ of its contract with them and sued Baug at the International Court located in Fairhausen, a city in the Western Alliance States [WAS].”
It was strange listening to Jahan for so long without interruption, but being the first meeting, I took it in stride. He said the first few days are the most difficult to concentrate on the material, but I’d catch on.” The way Jahan told it to me at the café, the Jahangiris relied too much on their outspoken political persuasiveness and economic clout than by the nuts and bolts of contract law enforceable by the Court, which ironically, they helped create. Jagangir believed the situs of the Court being in WAS would aid them achieve a favorable decision from the Court, or at least more favorable than the current total embargo. Notwithstanding their hunch, the International Court ruled in favor of the Baugi Government not them.
The ruling was based on the fact that Jahangir began exploiting Baug’s petroleum resources under alleged contracts, written evidence of which was not produced at trial by Jahangir, and Jahan told me, “The Baugis allegedly did not have copies of the agreements to enter into evidence.” The Court went on to point out that Baug had fought hard for independence from Jahangir and was no longer a colony under its jurisdiction, but a sovereign nation. As a sovereign nation, it not only has the right of self-determination, but the means to ensure that right. The Holding of the Court: Baug had the sole right to all mineral resources located beneath the ground of its territories. Although the Baugi government asked for restitution, it could not prove a theft of its sovereign natural resources over the preceding sixty years. Since neither Baug nor Jahangir produced copies or originals of any “agreements” the two sovereigns allegedly had been working under since Baug’s independence as a State in the late 19th Century, neither did the Court retroactively nullify said “contracts”, but did nullify any “alleged agreements either of the two countries may have thought they were working under going forward subject to the instant judgment of the Court (emphasis added).”
As Jahangir Recedes from the Baugi Oil Picture in the mid-1950’s, Sargonian Oil Companies Step Up Efforts at Winning Baugi Petroleum Contracts; Baug Perceives Sargon’s Influence as Treacherous
The lesson for the day was over. It did take the full eight hours, most of it in a private booth in the café but some of it in the adjacent park at Farhooz Square. Before I was dismissed, Jahan gave me a large nylon sachel with cash, a pre-paid credit card an ipod, a tablet, and about ten DVD’s to begin work on. From Farhooz Square, my flat was only a couple of kilometers away. Jahan’s house was on the opposite side of Tealandir. “Start listening to those DVD’s tonight,” he admonished, and we split-up. I hopped on the first bus, and found a seat. It was rather empty this afternoon and I played one of the DVD’s Jahan had delivered to me on the tablet and listened with headphones:
“Initially, Sargonian Oil Companies had supported the Rahmat regime. With the war in raging in Rosana, Sargon’s President Hightower reluctantly sent his predecessor President Parry West Troopman to explore the possibility of oil trade with Rahmat’s Administration in 1953. Sargon’s President Hightower, a rival of Troopmans, knew it was important to send a ‘balance by imbalance’ message to Rahmat. A rival diplomat of high regard sent to meet with the Baugi Prime Minister meant Rahmat would have to be on his toes—all ten of them, in order to discern what this show of enthusiasm from Sargon, an ally of Jahangir, indicated for Baug’s vital strategic interests and industrial prosperity.
“For his part, Rahmat wanted to aggravate Sargon, but at the same time continue to sell and ultimately transport oil to their domestic markets. But Jahangir, like a jealous suitor, urged its WAS allies, including Sargon, to boycott Baugi oil in order to stifle its economy. Although the boycott was effective in disrupting the Baugi economy, it did not implode. The shortages took their toll on the population and many suffered severely. Baug’s oil production slowed to the point of barely supplying domestic needs for fuel and Baug’s inability to produce surplus oil for export became a catalyst to already rising inflation and huge trade deficits.
“The Bahram Party relished the fact that Rahmat was in a bind as they were determined to rule Baug in his place. On the issue of oil exports, the Bahram Party actively and demonstrably opposed Rahmat’s suspension of oil exports to the West and provoked a public outcry over the policy. Soon thereafter, Rahmat’s once adoring public was demonstrating in the streets of Tealandir. In 1953-era Baug, Rahmat needed money more that WAS needed oil (the war in Rosana of the East looked like it might wind down, creating a slackening demand for crude oil). Rahmat, determined to sell oil to American oil companies at a higher price, set about to quell Bahram-inspired rumors and retain his composure, after all, the plurality of Baugis still admired his steadfast political objectivity, honesty and manner.
“Sargon and Jahangir continued to have vital interests in Baug despite their mutual disengagement with it. Their history vis-à-vis one another although complex, was very close, and Rahmat knew this. If that were not enough, Xerxes, a former ally of Sargon and Jahangir in the last Great War, joined the boycott of Baugi oil and refused to buy it even if it was offered below market. The three-way solidarity was enough to ensure an economic depression in Baug at the time.”
The sumptuous Jaleh once told me once that Xerxes was like the player who waits for the odds to improve at the black jack table before betting big. Or again, like a shopper at the flea market who checks the prices of competitors while keeping multiple sellers off-balance and anxious for a sale. The collusion of Sargon, Jahangir and now Xerxes caused a material change in the world order adverse to Rahmat’s Administration. The alliance diminished Baug’s economic security and frustrated trade, delivering a costly blow to its once prosperous standard of living.
I disembarked from the local bus and walked the last two blocks home, anxious to continue with the DVD’s. We had an entertainment center with a DVD player. I used it to continue and watched the screen, listening.
“With Xerxes aboard, WAS had Baug cornered. Rahmat’s political antagonists at home were impatient with the lack of revenue from Baugi oil production, its primary natural resource and export, and the toll it was taking on the country’s ability to balance the budget and stave off inflation. As the trade embargo was finding its feet, an Emilian ship loaded with Baugi oil was seized by the Jahangir Navy in the Kasparian Ocean. Political tensions heightened between Jahangir and Baug over the international incident, and Sargon, for its part, sought new methods of gaining access to Baugi oil. The ‘new methods’ apparently were working in tandem with their allies of degrees, Xerxes and Jahangir, paralleling measured loyalties the three shared in former wartime allegiances.”
Rahmat ‘blinked’. Baugi oil began flowing into Sargon tankers at the price bid by Western oil concerns.
“The Bahram Party, in line with its Xerxesian overlords, stepped up its efforts to disenchant and launched ad hominem misinformation campaigns against Dr. Rahmat, including rumors he was a ‘puppet of Sargon’. Like bees buzzing around his head, Rahmat’s adversaries began to overwhelm him. Divisive domestic and foreign factions attacked him for crippling the Baugi economy with his ‘out of touch’ trade policies. Inflation, along with the civil unrest that followed it, was the ‘Achilles heel’ that would soon lead the populist leader straight into a prison cell.”
That was enough for one day.
The next segment of commentary on the Baugi Revolution of 1978-1980 included a review of regime change in Baug during the 1950’s. Zareen was shopping in the medina and I was left to my own devices. I re-inserted the disc into the DVD player and resumed the course.
“With three super-powers and global commercial interests shutting Prime Minister Rahmat’s government out of the world economy, Jasper Hossein Amir Shahraz [hereinafter referred to as “Amir”] sent a Declaration to Rahmat informing him that he was deposed of all State-engendered authority and General Arman would replace him as prime minister. Rahmat would have none of it. He had just won his case on Baug’s entitlement to all natural resources beneath the earth’s surface within its borders at the International Court in Fairhausen and wanted to parlay that victory into something broader. He could appeal to the United Patrons and Matrons [hereinafter referred to as UPM].
“Prime Minister Rahmat had it figured right this time. He had some clout left, at least in the eyes of developing nations around the world and at the World Court. Amir’s Plan A, a mere Declaration of Claim, was scoffed at by Rahmat’s lawyers and the royal contender to Rahmat’s populist government was forced to flee the country, first to neighboring Dilshad, west of Baug , and later south to Emilio in fear for his life. Within three days however, Amir and his close associates arranged Plan B: a plot to overthrow the Rahmat-led government. Amir’s flight to Emilio provided a diversion for General Arman, who was also in hiding, to arrange a coup against the Baugi National Front [BNF], Rahmat’s political party. Rahmat continued to maintain if not enjoy a large following in Baug due to the fact that Amir and his associates were afraid of how Baugis and specifically how city folk in Tealandir might react to the coup [also known as ‘General Arman’s Plot’ or GAP].
“The principal and most vocal opponent of GAP was the Bahram Party, who had been growing relatively strong under Rahmat’s Administration. The main supporters of GAP, according to what I heard from Hussein, a poly-sci Professor at Tealandir University, were Sargon, Jahangir and Xerxes. General Arman acted as a go-between, peacemaker and benefactor to those three nations as he maneuvered strategically toward attaining the Prime Ministership of Baug under an Amir-led government. In exchange for mutual most-favored-nation status, Baug’s General Arman asked the three super-powers, Sargon, Jahangir and Xerxes not to interfere with GAP or stage a meddling counter-coup once the effective takeover of Baug was accomplished.
“Up until 1953, of the major world powers Jahangir had the most regulatory influence in Baugi trade matters. As the year passed, Sargonian diplomacy and persuasiveness won out as did General Arman in the coup of ‘53. Jahangir had two basic objectives in Baug: the first and foremost was the dissolution of the Bahram Party and its entrenched propaganda machine. The other, once dissolution of the Bahram Party was effected, Sargon could fill tankers with lawfully purchased Baugi oil and resell it on secondary markets. To achieve these two Jahangiri objectives quickly, strategically and efficiently, Sargon promoted the concept of re-introducing Jasper Hossein Amir Shahraz, whose family had formerly sat on the throne of Baug, as its Royal Head of State.”
“Oh man,” I told Jahan at the time, “this stuff is draining.”
“Drains me too and I’m not done yet, nowhere near done. In fact, the story is just beginning Sunni. You’ll get used to it. Skip ahead to the pictures.” Jahan had said.
Yeah, it’s your storytelling stranger Khalid. I hope to make your actual acquaintance someday dear reader so I am no longer a stranger to you. Meanwhile, what Jahan told me about skipping ahead was useful to see the whole picture.
The 1953 coup recap, above, was a bit sketchy, so I’ll recap it for you with more details in the following segment:
“A rabble of pro-Amir demonstrators, led by twenty-one Baugi military officers, staged a coup d’etat organized by Sargon’s Executive and a Wombat Quick Squad [WQS]. Some of the twenty-one officers overseeing and/or carrying out the rebellion were enemies of the Rahmat Administration being held in Baugi prisons at the time. After the success of the coup, Rahmat himself was thrown into a prison cell, and the covert Baugi officers that helped orchestrate the coup were freed.
“The Bahram Party told its members and officers that a new Baugi government must be formed as soon as possible so that GAP would not have time to consolidate power in a military dictatorship. As far as the communists were concerned, anarchy and revolution were preferable to having Arman or anyone else for that matter with all the “poker chips” stacked on the table in front of him. Bahram had a plan of its own which did not include Amir, Dr. Rahmat or General Arman. The communists intended to ‘fatigue the new government,’ until an opportunity surfaced for another coup. If they waited, they would not have to ‘double-cross’ their comrades in Xerxes who were temporarily allied with the West. Xerxes planned to allow General Arman’s Plot, enhanced by Wombat, to go forward and seize control of the country at some later date. Bahram Party organizers wanted to install a leader they could manipulate while they consolidated the Party’s political power. In 1978, the Ayatollah Babak was to become the individual they hoped fit the bill.
“Around the same period, a network of communist military officers was discovered accidentally by General Arman’s government. A particular officer was apprehended carrying a suitcase filled with the names of 1200 people that had infiltrated the Baugi military service. Six hundred of the names found in the suitcase were part of a conspiracy of anti-Amir military officers ranging from lieutenant to colonel [hereinafter Sr. Officers]. The names of the other six hundred soldiers [hereinafter Jr. Officers] were written down in a complicated code. A major in Arman’s armed forces, distinguished as an expert code breaker, was called in to decipher the names of the Jr. Officers. Unbeknownst to Arman, the code breaker he commissioned was a communist infiltrator who took the briefcase containing the coded names of the 600 Jr. Officers and fled the country, never to be found again. Fear and intrigue prevailed in the wake of the disclosures that a Baugi major left the service of the country. Since the identities of the 600 Jr. Officers remained unknown, the secret police and informants later investigated the case in an attempt to uncover the officers’ true identities. A conscious awareness of communist influence pervaded daily life in Baug, but such was the case in almost every country of the world in 1953. Even in Xerxes, its leader Moussa Payam was said to be livid with rage at his daughter’s defection to the West, and some thought he might revert to the brutal totalitarian behavior he demonstrated during the era of his dissident purges.
“The Amir’s personal guard was not without its defectors. One morning, before the last Great World War, Amir found a derogatory note next to him when he awoke and knew he could have been murdered. The incident affected his confidence to such an extent he was visibly shaken the next time he made a public appearance as the leader of Baug. Due to the circumstances that surrounded the 1953 coup and the warning letter, Amir was suspicious of everyone: allies, colleagues, even his closest friends. Il etait raison [French: ‘He had good reason’]. What was not as apparent was Arman’s transfer of power back to the Amir after the coup had been accomplished.”
“Along with the six hundred Sr. Officers that were arrested by General Arman’s forces, the Baugi Government arrested several of Baug’s communist politicians. Of these six hundred plus suspects, forty were executed and the others imprisoned. The strong military response of Amir and Arman frightened Baugis. Government aggression was used as a short- term totalitarian strategy utilizing martial law, yet unlike before, there were no protests over the government’s consolidative action at the top. It was under these coercive circumstances that Baugi oil pacts with WAS-incorporated oil companies were ratified. Baug’s Parliament decided that eight major concessionaires from a diversified set of nation-states would undertake the production and sale of Baug’s oil. Rahmat’s government, and his goals for Baug were successfully suppressed and a new regime would begin to greet the populace with different goals and ideals to focus upon—and it pleased Amir’s Western benefactors.”
“The largest concessionaires of Baug’s oil resources were based and/or headquartered in Sargon and paid taxes to their sovereign. For the deal General Arman made with them, he was awarded a foundational fee of 60-70 million dollars to use as he pleased. In the new Baug-Sargon oil contract, 51% of the net oil profits belonged to Baug, while 49% belonged to Sargonian oil companies that owned the concession. Sargon was the Principal and responsible for exploration, feasibility studies, production, sales and distribution, including the associated storage and transport of the petroleum product(s). Sargon could deduct these expenses off the top before splitting the net revenue with Baug.”
“In the early 1950’s, Xerxes wanted the ouster of General Arman at any cost. In an act of goodwill, they returned eleven tons of gold it had acquired from Baug during the last Great World War. Although former Prime Minister Rahmat had demanded return of the gold while he was yet in office, Xerxes did not oblige him with the transfer at that time. Now that circumstances had changed and plans for the timing of the coup had been fixed, Xerxes hoped the ‘gift’ (return) of the gold would help ease relations between the two countries before a regime change. With the gold, Baug had the wherewithal to invest in the infrastructure, labor and expertise needed to reinvent itself again as a world leader. Xerxes’ gesture of good faith in returning the disputed gold made Baug’s ‘investment in the future’ program all the more feasible.
“Although Baug did indeed become enthusiastic about the return of gold by Xerxes to its sovereign soil, trade relations between the two continued to stall. Sargonian and Jahangiri concessions were already paying top dollar for Baugi oil and Xerxes could not compete with their bids, so Xerxes took a ‘backseat’ to their former allies in regard to Baugi oil exports. Xerxes made it clear they would not interfere with the West’s arrangement in Baug if and only if assurances were first promised that Xerxes would receive some future benefit advantageous to its vital interests in the region (e.g. wheat from Sargon, most-favored-nation trade status, future oil contracts, defense treaties). A ‘divide and conquer’ strategy was replaced by one of bargain and compromise—a cold war of global trade. The understanding was ‘We’ll let you have your way this time but you better make sure we get ours next time, or were taking it.’
“Some dude from Fallus Sextus told me his father told him, ‘If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.’ Others on social media add, ‘If you don’t enjoy what you do, don’t do it.’ Still others, university law professors from the West Coast of Sargon say, ‘Just do it.’ Khalid is here to tell you what Jahan told me: ‘war is tricky business.’ So here I am plugging along with this account where the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Money does talk and whether you are a multinational corporation or a sovereign nation, you have to back up what you say or have hell to pay. You may end up in clown’s gear like me, in prison or dead. Sarkis Reuben has an interest in a company that will delete your history so you can start a new one. Look him up on the internet. Of course, his name has been changed for purposes of this book, but maybe he’s reappeared by now, like #SlenderMan. The name of the company? Cybercrust. They will turn your history to dust for a fee, a history undertaker of sorts. Whether you are a multinational corporation, a university, a sovereign nation, one of its agencies or departments, or just an individual like you or me, you can wipe out what you’ve written online for whatever reason and start fresh like an absolved sinner after confession. So now you don’t have to justify what you may have written or said in the past. It’s not relevant anymore. “New day, fresh start” as my stock guru the gentle pirate told me time and again. “’Arrrr mates’, it’s a great time to be free on the open seas of the internet.”
“Negotiations with the Middle East in the early 1950’s became a precedent for a new type of agreement between the superpowers of Sargon, Jahanjir and Xerxes with respect to Baug. Xerxes conceded to Arman’s policy in order to focus its attention in other areas of the world, such as Rosana, its southeast neighbor. Xerxes felt that the North Rosana government, an assured ally of theirs, could do its bidding against South Rosana without getting their own hands ‘soiled’ by war. North Rosana needed aid more than Baug did and there was no reason why Xerxes should not prioritize aid provided to comrades abroad in order to overcome mutual enemies in the long term.
“Within Baug itself, Xerxes’ influence within its borders was not as clear-cut. Those that opposed a communist state outnumbered those who wanted one, but like a boat in rough water, Baugis were unsure what public policies and governmental structure[s] were suitable for the region. What the plurality of the Tahmour region did agree on was they wanted change. Change was the only mantra the Tahmoureese had any assurance in.
“As a result of the fluid uncertainty, Xerxes did not interfere with Baugi trade in the early 1950’s or threaten it with coercive tactics that would ‘rock the boat’ now being captained by the ‘West’. Xerxes was determined to ‘wait it out’ for the appointed time when they could tell Sargon and Jahangir, ‘Our turn now–move over!’”
“In 1958, Wombat established a secret police force (secret service) for Amir called the Organization of Information and Homeland Security of Baug (hereinafter referred to as OIHSB). OIHSB was established to maintain order and keep political power in the hands of its ruler, Amir. OIHSB used totalitarian techniques and methods to achieve political stability. This unit would be known to capture and detain anyone who opposed the State or openly criticized the new regime after the coup.
“There were several groups of individuals…Jaleh said there were probably several khalqs ( ‘militias’ or ‘gangs’) who opposed Amir. The different types of organizations, or ‘groups’ with differing views on Amir were: 1) the Baugi National Front, or BNF of which Dr. Rahmat was a party member and who was imprisoned when Amir seized power successfully after the 1953 coup d’etat, 2) the Communist Party, aka the Bahram Party and 3) the clerics (i.e. the ayatollahs). Amir used his secret police force OIHSB to suppress all these ‘groups’ from interfering with official affairs of state in Baug.”
“Hey, what if they hit a high-rise?”
“What?” responded Jahan, peering at me. “Who’s ‘they’?”
“Just trying to minimize losses,” I replied.
“Losses?” Jahan was still peering at me, but now he was bearing down. I wondered if he had a pistol.
I shut up and he showed me the disc with Arabic or Farsi lettering, I couldn’t be sure as he waved it in front of me but he didn’t stop his waving motion so I could view the characters closely.
He took out a black leather briefcase with reinforced leather corners and heavy-duty hinges, then gave me two shots of imported French brandy.
“You want Gran Marnier? I’ve got Gran Marnier.” Jahan peered down as he got up from his stool, seeing if I was looped yet.
“Sure,” I obliged.
It was then I noticed sound emanating from the suitcase. It was the DVD he waved before me. I listened closer. It must be.
What was I talking about? Oh yeah, before I knew it, I was on my second snifter of Gran Marnier and listening to the history of the Baugi Revolution of 1978 from a suitcase.
“PRESIDENT JETHRO JOSEPH KINNET’S INFLUENCE IN BAUG (circa 1960-1963)…” I heard the pre-recorded voice state authoritatively, carefully emphasizing the significance of President Kinnet as the beloved departed hero he was. Learning by DVD would become the primary way I will be accessing this data on the revolutionary history of Baug in the late 1970’s from now on. Jahan and Jaleh had their own bailiwicks and I would be largely left to study the UC materials on my own. I hadn’t been listening and realized I had missed a line. DVD’s are difficult for me to ‘rewind’ to where I wanted to resume play. I let the lesson continue without review of what I may or may not have missed while narrating for you.
“…During the Jethro Joseph Kinnet term of office (1960-1963) a wave of political ‘coup d’etats’ swept the third world especially in many countries south of the equator [hereinafter referred to as the ‘developing world’].
“Political unrest prevailed in these regions due to a general dissatisfaction with their respective governments and the widespread desire to establish a ‘better society’ even if by means of violent upheaval[s]. Kinnet’s method of restraining communist governments from taking over smaller, underdeveloped countries was to require governments to respect human rights. Kinnet’s diplomacy acted as a deterrent to anarchy and revolution in Baug because Amir knew what limitations Kinnet might impose on him should disorder return to the streets. Kinnet’s theory was that if the people were content with their government and their leaders, they would have little reason to revolt and turn to violent confrontation.
“Kinnet was a significant factor which led to many reforms in Baug during Amir’s Administration. He advised Amir in the early ’60’s to moderate the use of his power while keeping in mind his duty to serve his constituency. Baug was a model of a transition State, not entirely industrialized, yet, an advanced ancient civilization. In developing nations, where close monitoring of its national rulers had not been as comprehensively studied as it had been in Baug after the last Great World War, communist governments would send emissaries to infiltrate and disrupt social discourse until the general population became discontent with their leader[s].
“Kinnet stressed the institution of a policy for human rights that would appease the public and decrease the chances of another revolution from occurring. The Kinnet Administration recommended Dr. Rahimi, Secretary of the Financial Ministry in General Arman’s cabinet, to be appointed the new prime minister of Baug’s Parliament. Rahimi was very close to the Kinnet family and had represented Baug in the recent oil pact with several Western concessionaires. The Western nations of Sargon, Jahangir, Fairusa and Gaspar all seemed to agree on Rahimi as the new prime minister. After vetting in committee meetings, various parties and stakeholders found Rahimi to be an able and fair negotiator. He was ultimately appointed prime minister through Kinnet’s influence and Amir made special efforts to tolerate his rival’s presence as they were not the best of friends. Since Rahimi had been installed at the urging of President Kinnet, he had a special distinction in Parliament that none of the other Parliamentary ministers had, a connection to the leader of Sargon. Due to his influence, Rahimi was relatively insulated from Amir’s oversight and had the discretion to express his personal views at Parliamentary sessions even if they were incongruous to Amir’s.”
“Amir and Rahimi worked together to reform the Baugi Constitution. The signature product of their tenuous political alliance was known as the Six Principles of Amir’s Revolution. These principles were as follows:
1) All large land owners transfer some of their land to the peasants who had worked it as lessees. Up until the reform, landlords would rent out their acreage to peasants much like European feudal lords had done with serfs in the Middle Ages. Now, peasants could be farmers, ranchers or entrepreneurs with a chance to make a living for themselves and their families and enjoy the windfall of the fruits from their labor and management.

2) Young, educated people were to be sent to villages to teach peasants how to read and write. The young adults also familiarized the country-dwellers with recent technological advances in health, medicine and agriculture.
3) Medical school graduates were to spend at least two years serving poor villagers in Baug without a salary prior to entering the greater medical profession [in lieu of mandatory military service].
4) The nationalization of Baugi forests, which had been owned by private landlords up until then.
5) Bestow upon women rights equal to those of men.
6) Establish new election regulations.
“Two of the six points infuriated the clergymen. They didn’t like the transfer of land to the peasants nor making women’s rights equal to those of men. The transfer of land to the peasants meant they would have to rely more on almsgiving from them rather than solely from wealthy landowners. Prior to the reforms, clerics received an allowance from rich landlords. After the reforms, they were at the mercy of the almsgiving of the peasants who were now an intermediary middle-class endowed with the means to give back to the clerics what was once given to the clerics directly from the wealthy. The clergymen’s ‘job’ prior to the reforms had been to quell dissent among the poor so they would cause landlords a minimal amount of ‘trouble’. Clerics did not believe women should be granted equal rights to men but subject themselves to the dictates of men. Accordingly, Ayatollah Babak accused Amir of formulating the Six Principles due to feminist political influence from Sargon and Flint. Ultimately, Amir had the power to silence Babak and other clerics by imprisonment, so most of Baug’s priests obeyed him, however reluctantly.”
“Both major denominations of Islam, Shiet and Sunni, co-exist in Baug, although Shiet (also referred to as Shia) is much more prevalent within its borders. In fact, Baug is the hub of the Shiet denomination. Babak was among the Shiets since birth, and had been recognized as a Great Ayatollah at the suggestion of Sayyid Shahin Darien [(1905-April, 1986) hereinafter referred to as Darien]. Darien was a Grand Ayatollah of Northern Baug who recommended Babak ascend to the position of Grand Ayatollah during the Baugi reforms of the 1960’s-1970’s. The Shiets conduct a ceremonial rite in memory of Imam Hossein, the nephew of Mohammad the prophet, founder of Islam in the seventh century A.D. called Hagation. In 1963, during this ceremonial day of Hagation, an anti-Amir demonstration was held in Tealandir, led by the Ayatollah Babak. The demonstrators shouted derogatory remarks and slogans against Amir until he ordered his guards to open fire into the assembly. Approximately one hundred people were killed in the shooting that afternoon, although Babak went on record accusing Amir of executing 15,000 people. The Ayatollah Babak’s claim that 15,000 people had been summarily executed by Amir’s guard backfired and he became the butt of an allegory about a king who conquered Irdut.
“There exists an allegory known to Baugis which Amir used to persuade his people he was ‘right’ and the Ayatollah Babak was obviously ‘wrong’ about the number of summary executions at the afternoon demonstration. Jahan told me the story and it went like this:
“Once there was a very powerful king who conquered the sub-continent of Irdut named Nader Shah. One day, he became very angry with one of his subjects and ordered he be given 1,000 lashes and thrown into the dungeon. The condemned man was giddy with laughter when he heard the sentence.
‘Why are you laughing?’ asked the king.
‘Your Highness replied the sentenced subject, ‘either you have not had the experience of being whipped or you cannot count. If one is to endure 1,000 lashes, he certainly will not live to see his prison cell!’
“The allegory was thus used to parody Babak’s penchant for exaggeration. A videotape of the incident clearly shows no more than 100 could have perished at the Hagation Day demonstration in 1963. Therefore, either Babak could not ‘count’ or he made use of puffery to impress upon Baugis his moral superiority to Amir. Since it had to be assumed the Ayatollah Babak learned how to add long ago, Amir’s regime persuaded Baugis that it was Babak, and not Amir, who used malicious chicanery to shuffle facts and hide the truth of the number executed. Similar events led by the clerics beholden to Babak occurred elsewhere in Baug, but most Baugis accepted the Six Principles because this aspect of Amir’s reform freed them from the domination of the landlords. Babak had misread the sympathies of the majority of Baugis and his reputation became tarnished in trying to defame Amir.
Soon after the Hagation uprising and subsequent smaller demonstrations throughout Baug, Amir sought to punish the Ayatollah Babak. The Grand Ayatollah Darien was instrumental in saving Babak from execution as well as affording him exile in neighboring Dilshad. The general population revered Ayatollah Babak as a figurehead of Shiet Islam and would have objected to any punishment which included violence even without Darien’s support. Pushed into a corner and wanting to absolve himself of the Hagation incident, Amir settled on exile as the equitable ‘solution’ for Babak, as it would diminish his influence in Baug and suspend the ‘aftershock rallies’ which had been taking place regularly since Hagation. In 1965, Babak was made a ‘Great Ayatollah’ by the Ayatollah Darien.”
“Some months after these demonstrations, on November 22, 1963, Sargon’s President, Jethro Joseph Kinnet was assassinated during a campaign trip to Sargon’s southern perimeter, Fallas, Sextus. After Kinnet’s death, in the absence of political pressure from the Kinnet Administration, Amir removed Dr. Rahimi from office. Amir had been afraid of Rahimi as a mouthpiece of scrutiny and a threat to his regime’s unquestionable control. Amir chose a relatively inexperienced man named Aspar Jesper Parviz [hereinafter referred to as Parviz] to succeed Rahimi as prime minister. Parviz was essentially one of Amir’s ‘yes-men’ and allowed Amir to exploit his ignorance of affairs of state. The manipulation of Parviz by Amir was so complete, it gave the public the impression the two men were following the balance of power according to constitutional principles, when in actuality, Amir had for all intents and purposes, become the virtual dictator of Baug in the wake of Kinnet’s death.
“Inflation characterized the term of Parviz’ office, and after a few months, on March 7, 1964, Navid, a more knowledgeable politician than Parviz, became the new prime minister of Baug. Sargon backed Navid and the price of domestically-purchased oil in Baug rose even as Western oil companies abroad continued to receive discounts. During his term in office, Navid raised the price of petroleum twice. Baugi’s were furious with Navid’s actions, especially since they were still coping with the inflation brought on by what Jaleh told me was ‘Parviz’ slipshod Administration.’ Although the international spot price of oil remained relatively constant, Baugi domestic oil prices continued to increase under Navid’s leadership and with it, the public’s temper. “
Why am I thinking about Jaleh? My heart is pounding. I’m getting flushed. I haven’t got this kind of rush since before I got married. I listened to the remainder of the program.
“The stage was gradually being set for revolution. Public sentiment was boiling over with anger directed at ‘Amir’s regime’ and more individuals were speaking out, sharing their negativity with neighbors, friends and colleagues. The end of hard times due to inflation was nowhere in sight. Tension over the inflation situation was causing new fissures in the foundations of the ancient civilization of Baug and the populace found itself of the brink of economic ruin.”
“In time, the ‘Six Principles of Amir’ were no longer enforced by his administration and the populace began to believe he had deceived them with false hope. The land that the peasants received from the landowners was rapidly being sold off to pay the delinquent loans they took out to begin farming the land. The debt bubble the Six Principles created was bursting. During the first year of the cooperative effort, the government stopped funding the peasants so they had no chance of paying back their loans unless they were fortunate enough to grow an abundant first harvest. There was no subsidy to save their land or a bridge program to stop farmers from being evicted from their land in the cases where they couldn’t repay their loans to the finance companies, and there weren’t many who could. Without a ‘bumper crop’ and/or favorable commodities prices at which to liquidate their agricultural products, the lack of follow-through on the government subsidies to farmers caused many to suffer eviction from land transferred to them just a year earlier. Doctor Jaleh said these evictees became known as the vagabond peasants who were forced to migrate to various cities where they could find work to support themselves and their families.”
“The years started to melt together in 1965 after Navid was assassinated by a secret organization controlled by certain clerics in February, 1964. Gul, who was finance minister in Navid’s administration, became the new prime minister in January of 1965 and served in that position until his arrest following the Baugi Revolution of 1978; he was executed on April 7, 1979. Gul’s first decision in office was to decrease the price of oil to domestic buyers. This was significant in that it was perceived by the public as a goodwill gesture and eased public relations. Gul’s political platform seemed honest and open compared to the more recent occupants of the prime minister’s office. He criticized the way his predecessors had mishandled its affairs, and accepted the shortcomings of his own role as finance minister under Navid.
Baugis were optimistic after he announced new governmental reforms. Gul’s dreams of effortless prosperity were short-lived however. During his former tenure as finance minister under Navid in 1963, Gul imposed heavy property and luxury taxes on the rich. After he became prime minister, Gul imposed 250 new taxes above and beyond those citizens continued to pay since 1963. For example, if an individual, group or family wanted to travel outside of Baug by air, the principal traveler had to pay a two hundred dollar travel tax in addition to the respective airfare charge(s). Subsequently, a one hundred and fifty dollar surcharge was imposed and collected for each additional passenger on the flight. This policy, as could be expected, infuriated the rich, but appeased the poor whom Amir was most anxious to please; they rarely if ever flew.”
“All important imports and exports were governmentally controlled under Prime Minister Gul’s ultimate authority. According to Jahan and Jaleh, the most important commodities traded in Baug are grain, sugar, oil and industrially manufactured items. Exclusively controlled services included before General Arman’s Plot [GAP] were the railroads, the postal service and the airlines. Managers of the various smaller divisions of commerce were bribed on a regular basis while others simply embezzled surplus money using accounting principles and methodologies enabling them to ‘skim off the top’ of the accounts without anyone being the wiser. The government was unable to supervise all the subsidiary commerce division-heads, and graft soon became prevalent. Division managers enriched themselves–often without being called to account for their actions to the public’s detriment. For example, if an individual asked for permission to build a house, the housing office might say, ‘No, not unless you pay me this extra fee’ (as a bribe). During this period of rampant corruption among the division managers, one ‘Minister’ was found to have embezzled four million Sargonian Dollars from an undisclosed sugar contract. When questioned by reporters about the embezzlement, Prime Minister Gul said governmental officials ‘deserved’ the added monetary job perks as a commission due to the importance of their vital mission they accomplished for the Baugi people.”
“In an act of goodwill toward his people, Amir had the corporate status of all foreign concessionaires in Baug dissolved. Oil resources within Baug’s borders were henceforth to be the sovereign property of Baug. The foreign oil companies would continue to sell and distribute oil, but the petroleum products themselves were declared a state-owned public trust. The nationalization of Baugi oil meant both increased revenues and greater political leverage within the OPS cartel, of which Baug had recently become a member.”
“International leader and investor Amir placed large sums of money in foreign accounts and bought foreign denominated securities to assure the safety of his family’s assets were he to be thrown out of Baug as he had been during his confrontation with Dr. Rahmat in the early 1950’s. Among Amir’s holdings was a 25% ownership in a German-based corporation named Roulet, and a relatively large position in Parapet World Airways. Amir also built oil refineries in Ponce, Irdut and Padistan and put Baugi management in charge of them. He gave financial aid to the United Mind Republic, Jahangir, Padistan and several developing countries of the great continent of Ponce with whom Baug shared diplomatic relations. In 1976, the economy of Jahangir was in deep recession and in dire need of economic stimulation. Amir’s immediate investment and the currency float between Baug and Jahangir spelled increased Jahangiri employment and a shot in the arm for Baug’s financial system.”
I stopped the player and thought to myself, “Go see Jahan before he goes to Dilshad. His cousin Jaleh was a mostly a quiet third party when we gathered together. Doubt she’s coming this morning. I knew whatever I told Jahan would get back to Jaleh, but on the rare occasions I did speak to Jaleh alone, there was no indication she would be obliged to tell Jahan anything about it. I wonder if one or both of them is a spy for Xerxes? ‘Why do they want to meet so early on a Sunday?’ I repeated in my mind. We were supposed to meet in the Jahreel Café at the Hotel Tealandir. On the way there I saw a woman in a white mini showing leg up to her hips. I’ve been sleeping in Sunday mornings too long. She’s a lurid example of an ear-plugging rehabilitated wind-up doll—all you need is the time, the money and the inclination; but not on Sunday. I wonder if it’s still Saturday night for her. No bags under her eyes. They working shifts in front of the Café? Oh, she’s probably a zealous hospitality hostess out on the sidewalk. As I was daydreaming of what the encounter would be like (my approach would be to ask her if she wanted a drink), I continued briskly toward the Hotel Tealandir.
Jahan wasn’t there yet. Just like him, I made him wait last time. Instead of ringing the buzzer to get into the hotel, I waited outside by a fire hydrant. Nicer than it used to be. Kahane Construction read the sign on a new condominium complex across the street from the hotel. Somebody’s got to get rich in this recession. I wonder if the real estate crash was planned so these developers could make a windfall on new construction and comcomitant control.
“Khalieeeeeee!” Jahan announced, calling me by the nickname he gave me.
See how he smiles—a cocoon smile, I thought to myself. “Hey, Jahan.”
“Jaleh said to give you this”—Jahan handed me a small brown Sargonian joke book entitled The Bathroom Joke Book. I didn’t open it—I could barely get my eyes open despite the testosterone jolt when I passed the hostess in the white mini in front of the Cafe. My wife had kept me up until 2:45 in the morning watching obsolete movies from the year 2000.
“Thanks…tell Jaleh thanks,” I said, looking him straight in both of those dark brown eyes of his until he recognized me doing so.
“You look good. Keep wearing these,” he said, pointing but not quite touching my cotton chemise. I bought it at a bargain-style French-themed boutique in Tealandir last winter but never wore it more than a few times so it kept its new shape and bright plaid design of red and black. He wasn’t used to seeing me wear clothes he didn’t sell me.
“Thanks Jahan. What time you leaving this afternoon?”
“About 4:5 [intentional mumble?] something like that.”
“What?” I asked, but he spoke through it; “What are you doing today?” he asked.
“Going to church later. My significant other wants me close to home,” I replied, hoping by this time this cloth-selling actor would consider Zareen important enough not to ask me to drive him to the testy side of town before his trip to Dilshad, and why am I standing in front of him at 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday?
“Your ‘significant other’. Some significant other!” he said under his breath.
“What?” Why don’t they like each other? I know but don’t want to admit it. She sees right through Jahan and he knows it. They are two of a kind and as repellant to one another as two positive sides of a magnet. What will he be doing for the next six hours before getting to the airport? Why’d he insist on me being here at nine?
“Well, I guess that’s it then,” he said.
“You’re going?”
“Yes,” he smiled. I could see the thoughts playing out like a checklist as he went over the “to-do” items which didn’t include me.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get to see more of you this trip” I said before we shook hands instead of embracing. We had briefly embraced the day before at the demonstration against police brutality after not seeing each other in almost a year. “It’s in the book?” I asked.
Jahan looked at me, sizing me up. “Don’t work too hard Khalid. It’s easier for me to get to your level than for you to get to the Transfiguration. Jaleh told me to tell you that.”
“Bye Jahan” I replied with a little more volume as we retreated from one another. “Say thanks to Jaleh if you see her!” I added again after a pause. Jahan replied curtly with a sharp sweeping wave of his right hand over his head. I wonder if he knows jiu-jitsu? He gave me a used t-shirt once that had the name of a jiu-jitsu studio from a Baugi region about a hundred and fifty kilometers south of Tealandir. I felt sheepish and somehow defeated by Jahan. He controlled my access to Jaleh. C’est la vie.
“Show up with the worst epilepsy fit and join-in.” That was the advice of the street corner agitator I met along the sidewalk about how to incite a riot. Shuffling through the Tealandir Airport, I read part of a sign as I stepped onto the descending escalator, “Increase the potential of your…,” I didn’t bother pausing to hear what the punch line may have been that day. The escalator was taking me back to street level and I had plenty of punch lines from the book of jokes Jahan gave me. Five-hundred Sargonian, not bad for a couple days work in Baug. Of course, I had to pay my own airfare to Daumishka and back. Still got a hundred-and-fifty in my wallet. Oil, oil, oil. Guess there’s more money in it than I thought. Whatever happened to fuel cells and electric motors?
Where were we, oh yeah, economics: “Jahangir, international trade and educational subsidies” read the title. I put the DVD in the drive.
“The domestic policy of Amir was far different than his open-handed foreign policy. To attain the pre-eminent international status he wanted for Baug, Amir served sovereign powers with whom he believed would give Baug a step up. In conjunction with a policy of service toward them, he expected reciprocation to usher in expanded and broadened educational standards in the age of technology. In the scholastic year of 1973-1974, Amir allotted $1,500,000.00 per day to feed all students less than sixteen years of age and gave $100.00 per month to each gymnasium student over sixteen. In the elementary and high school programs for students under sixteen, the money for the food was sent in large lump sum payments to the several different supervisors in the various districts of Baug. The supervisors in charge of distributing the lunch money for each child often found ways to withhold some of the money earmarked for the students. The district supervisors allowed skimpier lunches as the program continued and in doing so, were able to divert more and more surplus money to themselves as an unsanctioned ‘reward’ for their thrift and ingenuity. Sadly, the ‘unused’ portion of the lunch money that was embezzled often surpassed the amount used to buy the student lunches to feed the children.
“Of the 150,000 students in Baugi universities, at one point 80,000 students, more than half, were not Baugis. The adult students who were not Baugi nationals received four-hundred dollars a month to study in Baug if they were sympathetic and receptive to goals of Amir’s regime. Their upperclassmen who had reached the age of majority would garner only a one-hundred dollar a month gross allowance from the Baugi Treasury. Although foreign students were presumably without family in Baug and could possibly incur more living expenses than domestic students, many Baugis saw the discrepancy in the amount of the allowance for foreign students grossly disproportionate and unfair. Rather than mollify the parents of Baugi students with a subsidy, Amir’s apparent favoritism infuriated them. Despite the public’s displeasure with the larger subsidy for foreign students, they continued to receive their stipend subsidized by Baug to ensure their participation in Baugi institutes of higher learning. [Perhaps Baugis got an unspoken message from the prioritization embedded in the education subsidization program skewed to benefit foreign students that they could be replaced in a future workforce by non-nationals who remained loyal to Baug after the completion of their studies.]
“Of the utmost concern to the general public was lower prices on food, but it seemed Amir’s was a top-down approach to ‘educating’ future Baugi leaders and functionaries. Foreign students would be the lateral replacements for many Baugis who failed to find a position in a ‘reformed’ Baug. The subsidies caused some stress on Baug’s Treasury and food prices rose steadily over time following Amir’s return to power. By 1958, Baugis became discouraged with the amount of support they received from the central government and grumblings began among Baugi citizens that Amir was depriving them of their birthright. In retrospect, if Amir had known beforehand the financing of Baug’s educational sector would break down and embezzling would occur, he might have used the student allowance money differently, to fight inflation, for instance. However, many of his top aides and directors were out to garner privileges for themselves in spite of Amir’s altruistic sentiments toward the underprivileged classes. Since the administrative directors did not share Amir’s altruism in regard to the poor, they may have felt underprivileged in a counter-inclusive sense. A ‘me-first’ mentality gripped the nation during this difficult time and blatant selfishness prevailed. At the turn of the twenty-first century in Sargon for instance, this sentiment was expressed colloquially as ‘I got mine, screw you.’
“Embezzling fever spread all the way to the top of the political arena in Baug. One classic example of the government’s misuse of funds was discovered when a large sum of money was deposited into a Swiss bank account under the name of Baug’s Federal Police Chief. As an alibi, the Chief said that he sent the money to the bank in his name so that no one would suspect it was actually Amir’s money. The Police Chief claimed he had every intention of giving the money back to Amir when it was prudent to do so. It could be assumed Amir was under extreme scrutiny and criticism by the free press at the time. Amir accepted the Chief’s alibi, and kept the money for himself. People continued to demand lower food prices while concurrently, economists urged Amir to lower the price of gasoline instead of funding educational nutrition and foreign aid. The savings from cutting the educational subsidies would cover a wide range of goods and services for the benefit of the general population in Baug. The diversion of funds could ease overall inflation, increase employment and raise Baug’s standard of living. For whatever reason, Amir did not follow the advice of the economists but continued Baug’s education subsidy and nutrition program. As one might expect, heightened civil unrest ensued and the rally cry of this particular anti-Amir campaign was ‘the government is Amir—the economics are Amirs’.”
“Amir was interested in Baug becoming a modern democracy and he demanded citizens to have respect for the Constitution. By giving lip-service to the Constitution, he pleased those for whom he was benefactor, and brightened the appearance of his nation in the eyes of the West.
“There were three primary political parties in Baug. The leaders of each party were pre-selected by Amir’s inner circle, primarily relatives, in-laws, or trusted friends of his family. The three parties during Amir’s domination of Baug’s constitutional political system in the early 1970’s were: 1) the Baug-Sowin Party, which was Prime Minister Gul’s party and had the majority in Parliament, 2) the Sardom Party, and 3) the All-Baugi Party. The parties were structured in a way that benefitted Amir’s regime by dividing power to create a balance of sorts through opposition, actual or feigned. Individuals that Amir and his council trusted were appointed as leaders of their respective political party working within the rubric of a Baugi Constitutional Democracy.
“In manipulating the three-party system, Amir’s ‘divide and conquer’ strategy in the final analysis, was his undoing. If he could jiggle the limbs of the constitution’s branches of his relatively small constitutional nation, his citizens might be none-the-wiser, but Amir may have underestimated the intelligence of his own people. They knew the three-party system in Baug was ‘fixed’ and many declined to vote or participate in Baugi-style democracy. As a result, Amir’s secret police strike force OIHSB forced people to vote or face the consequences of incarceration or worse. Despite Amir’s insistence that Baugi citizens vote, scrutiny and terror tactics were regularly utilized as tools of control by the Baugi police. If the requisite number of votes were not sufficient to sustain minimum threshold required to elect OIHSB’s perferred candidate, OIHSB would see to it ballot boxes were stuffed with the requisite number of ballots needed to ensure victory after the polls closed.”
“In 1962, OIHSB ordered some lesser members of Parliament with little seniority to criticize some minor aspects of Amir’s Administration in hopes it would start a constructive dialogue amongst Baugi’s and get them involved in government policy. They must have been reading their Marcuse. The theory behind the criticism was also to get citizens in the habit of seeking constructive rather than destructive changes in their democracy. However, OIHSB’s plan backfired and the ‘little criticisms’ began to snow-ball into gigantic ones.”
I paused the DVD. I read in the funny papers when I was a kid about a king who reigned long ago in Bahar. He believed the people in his kingdom needed something to complain about to motivate them, so he started rumors about himself that were untrue, but his subjects believed them and he was ultimately murdered because they did. Looks like some brazen citizens of Baug took the same tack. Some in a population can smell a lie more acutely while others are simply less tolerant of the stench.
Turning on the DVD player, the narration continued: “Underground coalitions distributed pamphlets criticizing the Baugi government, saying such things as ‘Even the government itself knows it is corrupted.’ Propaganda tracts sent anonymously to houses and apartments aroused public interest in the alleged political corruption and/or gross mismanagement.”
“Baugistan is a province of Baug in its far north-eastern corner. The inhabitants of Baugistan are made up primarily of Moslems of the Sunni denomination of Islam and have consistently practiced a quasi-independent self-government sometimes at odds with the interests of Baug’s centralized political machine in Tealandir. Like their predecessors who led Baug into weak oil deals with Western oil companies, centralized Baugi authorities stationed in Tealandir made oral or other secret ‘agreements’ that were fluid, or in Western legal terms, vague and ambiguous and perhaps tainted by fraud or illegal kick-backs, also known as bribes. Events such as a water shortage in Baugistan challenged the balance between Baugistan autonomy and a centralized national government in Tealandir. Those who were imbued with the authority to adjudge the interplay between local and national rights did so from Baug’s capitol, Tealandir, on a case-by-case basis. In the instant water shortage crisis, Baugistanis requested recognition of their inalienable rights as Baugi citizens or in the alternative, sovereignty as an independent Baugistani Sunni Nation. Prime Minister Gul demurred and told Baugistanis in response to their incessant pleading that he had no direct jurisdiction in the matter. He inferred that the outlying region of Baugistan, at the furthest reaches of Baug, was ultimately under the jurisdiction of Amir, and that due to the nature of Baugistan’s demands, he no longer had jurisdiction in the case. When asked at a parliamentary session in Tealandir why the people of the outlying provinces were not allowed to fish in Baug’s territorial waters, Gul replied “I am not your prime minister. Under the dictates of my appointment by Amir, I have no jurisdiction in the matter. If you have any questions pertaining to that problem, you will have to seek redress personally from Amir.”
“Relations between the Central Government of Baug and residents of Baugistan continued to be strained as Gul gave a deaf ear to their incessant requests of assistance. There was a lack of bi-lateral communication and in its wake, infrastructure development in Baugistan hiccupped. For instance, one summer Baugistan was caught unprepared for drought caused at least in part by the damming of the Kojak River. Paperverum, a nation bordering Baug to the southeast, dammed the Kojak at the request of Xerxes. The Kojak which was widely recognized as an ancient holy river and cultural monument by the three countries it traversed, Baug, Paperverum, and Padistan. The people who lived in these three nations bordering the Kojak, which ran south to north, depended upon its resource value. Baugistani farmers found themselves on the ‘wrong’ side of the dam in terms of water availability during the crisis and were forced to migrate to other provinces or neighboring countries where they were essentially nomad-evacuees seeking water to irrigate their crops and provide for their livestock. The Kojak was to Baugistan both a source to meet the temporal needs of its people (sustainability), and a recognized sacred site, whose source literally ‘spilled over’ national borders. The Baugistanis argued they were not given sufficient notice of the building of the Kojak Dam in Papavererum, upriver from the Baugistan border, nor of the devastating effects the dam would have to their livelihood and culture. If they had had notice of the dam with a grant of humanitarian aid, they could have drilled for well water and survived the water shortage, but as it was, many became displaced refugees.
“For its part, Papavererum was asserting its sovereign rights and incidently had a higher elevation geographically than both Baug and Padistan. The fact that Papavererum could increase its capacity to generate hydro-electric power and store water for itself and at its discretion, water and electricity for its neighbors was advantageous to its vital interests. As an upriver nation, it could legally collect some share of the water and generate electricity, enriching Papavererum. ‘Let the bean-counters divide the spoils,’ Xerxes told Papavererum. This was progress. This was an efficient improvement of their country and at an appropriate site to build such a dam.
“One of the two members representing Baugistan in the Baugi Parliament stood up and spoke at an Assembly meeting asking Prime Minister Gul for the necessary funds to help villagers in his region to dig water wells in the northeast to enable them to survive the summer drought. As it was, farmers in northeast Baug had been relocating to provinces that had sufficient water for crops and livestock for some time now. The population of the province of Baugistan dwindled to approximately 900,000 people during the water crisis due at least in part to a lack of proper federal land management and public works by the central authorities in Baug. Gul remained indifferent to the plight of the northeastern farmers and of their legal representatives. Baugistan was geographically distant from the prosperous capitol of Tealandir, which made it convenient for the prime minister to ignore them. Gul thought he could get by with the flattery he espoused in the capitol of Tealandir by saying such things as, ‘Amir takes care of his people’. It was inconceivable to the prime minister that the farmers were in as desperate a situation as their representatives in parliament had claimed. When Gul refuted the honesty of the representatives from Baugistan, he exacerbated the strife which already existed between the federal government and those empathizing with the Baugistanis. Nevertheless, Gul made his position clear–no aid of any kind would be sent to the northeast region of Baug.
“The general public later found out Gul was in fact the dishonest party in the water dispute. He either had not performed his due diligence on the needs in the region of Baugistan or he was simply lying. As soon as refugees from Baugistan reached Tealandir, they told their stories of hardship to those living in the capitol. Tealandiris now began to wonder if they would be the next to be ‘thrown under the bus’.”
My wife Zareen and I were late for church services which were being held at a community compound that held such events in limited engagements. The regulating authorities did not like permanent Christian installations, but as long as the proper fees were collected for the event, the Christian services were allowed to proceed. Although we were both Sunni Moslems, we had attended a Christian service the week before. These ‘limited engagement services’ were sponsored by different faiths. The instant ‘mass’ as they called it, was of the Roman Catholic denomination and celebrated near Kaspar Square in Tealandir. Being late, we sat at the first available seat, making as little noise as possible. Zareen looked up at the priest who was giving his homily now.
“…And why is it new age values in Western society would tell us there is no inherent evil in the world but only gray areas of right and wrong? Oh, he wasn’t evil when he raped a teenager; he may have been foolish and weak, but not evil. Or he wasn’t committing an evil when he stole a box of apples from the supermarket; he was hungry and lacked clear judgment. Why?
“What is it about calling an evil act evil which Sargonians and the rest of ‘em object to? Because if they called evil for what it was, they would have to consider that the individual does not control one’s own destiny. There are other powers at work in this temporal world of flesh and blood besides their western psyches and behavioral processes. There is a greater power! God is great!”
“God is great,” the assembly responded. Zareen and I heard some in the crowd start to chant “Allah Akbar!” We stayed for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which lasted about ten minutes, then left without socializing with anyone as the priest released us with the admonition, “The mass has ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”
“Thanks be to God,” half the congregation responded.
The next day I was scheduled to meet with Jaleh. We hadn’t seen each other in months. I had been corresponding solely with her cousin Jahan since then. The next morning in Tealandir there was a mist in the air–some warm rain had fallen overnight. I could smell the fragrance of fruits, nuts and flowers waft from the open market in sunlit Kaspar Square. I felt a tap on my right shoulder and turned around—it was Jaleh. She had on a brand new red, green and blue Adidas windbreaker with matching dark blue Adidas sweatpants that shined like silk. They fit her curves exactly, but not so snuggly as to bring undue attention to her in the neighborhood.
“Boo,” she said gently, like a friendly ghost.
“Ha ha ha—Jaleh,” I replied in a start.
Jaleh laughed her all but silent circus cackle. The kind a sibling might utter after a successful practical joke. “Want to go to the South Pole together?” she asked.
“South Pole?”
“Oh, what did I say?” catching herself, “I meant South Ponce,” she gleamed as if to flirt.
“You ever hear a ‘Hottentot Story’ Jaleh?”
“Yeah, my father and grandfather used to tell us Hottentot Stories at bedtime. They are a tribe of South Ponce.”
“I’ve heard of Hottentots but never was told a bedtime story about them. Are you going to tell me a bedtime story Khalid? Hmm?”
“There is always a seed of mystery in each Hottentot Story that resolves itself later-on in the series of subsequent nights of storytelling. One of the first bedtime stories our father told us was about the Hottentots walking through the jungle after a day of adventure when all of a sudden they heard a shrieking cry ‘cut your head off; cut your head off.’ That’s how the story ended two nights in a row. He got a lot of mileage out of that line with us guessing, ‘Where did that cry come from?’ Who was crying ‘cut your head off; cut your head off’ and why? We eventually found out it was a mynah bird warning the Hottentots of an impending ambush by a neighboring tribe. The Hottentot Stories were a ruse my dad used to play on us to get us in bed during the hot summer months when we would stay outside and play until nine at night.”
“Okay” Jaleh said, looking down and away, a little disappointed the story didn’t include her as her father’s stories had.
“There was another episode where the Hottentots heard a thumping sound under a huge log that blocked their path through the woods. My Dad would distract us and knock on the wood frame of one of the beds, scaring us. I don’t remember what caused the thumping in the story though… I think it was anti-climactic.”
“Kind of like your stories,” Jaleh teased.
“Yeah, and my missions…no, I don’t want to go to South Ponce. As far as I’m concerned, both my father and grandfather have already been there, done that,” we laughed.
“Fine, then let’s talk about the decentralization project we roll out next year in Baug, starting with Tealandir.”
I looked at Jaleh and listened to her blueprint for the stabilization of Baug by transferring distribution points from the center of Tealandir to a peripheral axis round about the city. She began by telling me the service, technology, intelligence and energy sectors of Baug will subsume its commodities-based economy, then went on to explain how the decentralization project would free up more land in the center of Tealandir as well.
“Through the efficient use of land in the suburbs we increase Baugi employment and facilitate enhanced transportation networks,” she said. “The network idea could be duplicated in other cities,” she said. “Once an assessment proved its feasibility and codified a preferential allocation of natural resources for each developing district, manufacturing and distribution would follow naturally as new growth leaders. Manufacturing and distribution belong together in the periphery,” I recalled her saying yesterday morning at Kaspar Square.
‘Some Doctor’, I thought to myself.
Back at home with Zareen, I brought a tablet into the bathroom and continued listening and watching the images from the DVD Jaleh had given me the day before.
“The people of Baug felt that the representatives of the several parties should convene to discuss and perhaps even litigate the country’s myriad problems. Amir felt such a convention would be counter-productive and weaken Baugi morale. The rally would take aim at the country’s deficiencies while disregarding the tremendous benefits his regime had introduced to the nation through industrialization. Accordingly, Amir denied his people a ‘representative’s forum’ and called for an all-inclusive one-party political system, with the Publicorpz Party as its standard-bearer. A one-party State, Amir hoped, would quell controversy and strife and put an end to divisive political parties sworn to victory at any cost.
“However, political allegiances and alliances that were discomfiting to Amir did not disband without a fight. Several government ministers perceived Baug’s proposed one-party political system as top-heavy, and believed that whosoever held the supreme office in the ‘land of sand’ as Baug was often euphemistically referred to, could unjustly enrich themselves at the expensive of common Baugis. Amir surmised as much when he noticed factions ally against him as they had against Dr. Rahmat during his term of office over twenty years earlier. Amir proceeded to proclaim publically that membership in the Publicorpz Party would be mandatory: no dissenters, abstainers or other political parties would be tolerated. All Baugis reaching the age of majority would join the Publicorpz Party or be exiled in disgrace.
“In the wake of Amir’s proclamation, an engineer refused to become a member of the party and instead of being exiled as most dissenters had been, the government sent him to a mental health asylum to be tortured and beaten. The courage and steadfastness of the engineer drew nationwide attention. As a result of the media attention, OIHSB was put on high alert to quash anti-Publicorpz dissent before it reached the attention of the media. OIHSB used this period of suppression to consolidate their power and learn about the workings of their people whom they were assigned to watch. OIHSB brazenly demonstrated how they would deal with dissenters and non-conformists. No longer afraid of the public, OIHSB all but boasted about their power to incarcerate and torture if necessary to achieve Amir’s ends of a peaceful, prosperous and educated Baug. Dissenters would be singled out and beaten at will. All would be members of the Publicorpz Party. Promoters began to team up with media executives and journalists to stage mass rallies at rendez-vous points so the crowds would be there when the newsmen were. Amir, OIHSB, the media and dissenters: now virtually everyone had skin in dialectic games of drawing reason out of opposition.
Amir declared the Publicorpz Party would have three basic principles:

1) The belief in an Imperial Regime with allegiance to Amir.
2) A reasonable respect for the Baugi Constitution.
3) A strict belief and conformance to Amir’s “Six Principles” [see “REFORMATION: THE SIX PRINCIPLES” above]

“During the course of the next two years, Amir asserted almost absolute control of the Publicorpz Party [hereinafter referred to as the ‘Party’]. Even though Gul was supposed to lead the Party as acting prime minister, it was evident he did little to oppose Amir and keep his power in check despite the Party’s second principle to ‘respect the Constitution.’ In the summer of 1977, after two years of this disruptive state of affairs in Baug, the public grew increasingly intolerant of government’s repressive tactics.
“Amir sensed the frustration and decided it was time for a leadership change within the Publicorpz Party. Gul, a Party member, had been prime minister for the preceding fourteen years but would be moved to the Ministry of Justice. Omid Koushar, who had been interior and finance minister in Gul’s cabinet and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Baug’s OBS delegation, was tapped as the new leader of the Publicorpz Party to replace Gul. Gul’s duties as chief minister of justice included coordinating negotiations between Amir and his cabinet. The new position, a cross between the ‘Chief Justice of the Supreme Court’ and a ‘Chief of Staff’ in Sargon, suited Gul. Coming off fourteen years of criticism for not recognizing the Baugi people’s demands, he welcomed not having to dodge their complaints in public. As chief minister of justice, Gul could enjoy moving closer to Amir’s ‘inner circle’ while drifting ever further away from public scrutiny. Gul set out to transform the Ministry of Justice as soon as Parviz, his would-be predecessor, vacated the post. Gul was now free to rub elbows with the other ministers, glean information and exercise uncontained power in Baug more than ever before. During negotiations between Amir and his ministers for instance, Gul was often a useful mediator and Amir’s go-between to get deals done. Although he had to share power with the monarch Amir and Prime Minister Omid, he was certainly a major figurehead of the Baugi government during Omid’s Administration between August 7, 1977-August 27, 1978].”
“It was interesting what you said about the children being ‘racist’ and didn’t even know it,” I told Jahan. “I wasn’t there but discrimination isn’t always bad. For instance, you said I played the ‘shady character’ better than anyone else,” I reminded him. “That’s good enough for me,” I told him. “That’s good enough for me!”

Jahan gave me a CD in an old Walkman from the 90’s complete with a pair of bent headphones that still had the ear cushions despite their use. The CD was already playing. I could tell the material was ancient, but not quite obsolete.

“The new one’s [DVD] still in production,” Jahan said.
I guess there was no frosting on this cake. “Audio only”, was printed on the face of the CD when I opened the Walkman’s cover. I recalled what a Sargonian defense minister had said at the time, “We go with what we have.” After a few minutes of yogic deep breathing, I found a quite place to sit down in the nearest café and began listening to the older mode CD.

“In 1976, the Baugi Parliament approved a bill that would raise the price of domestically produced gasoline indefinitely every year by sixteen cents a gallon. The Baugi National Front and certain clergymen exhorted the populace to protest the terms of the bill. The lynchpin of the protest was to maintain a boycott against the buying or selling of petroleum products for one day only. The clergymen were told to spread the word, ‘people are not to work or drive their cars during the boycott in order to demonstrate to those in favor of the price hike we can do without gasoline for one day.’
“Most people in Baug were afraid to miss work because of the consequential retribution delivered care of OIHSB. Traffic in Tealandir the day of the petroleum moratorium was light, but not so scant as to replicate a ghost town which would attract significant attention to the boycott. Because the clergy and the BNF had placed such importance on honoring the boycott, when it failed to generate across-the-board participation, Amir believed the worst was behind him. He believed the clergy and the BNF did not have the Baugi people in the palms of their hands–he had room to maneuver.
“The clergymen of Darivsh demanded that Amir permit Ayatollah Babak to return peacefully to Baug. The people of Darivsh, led by their representative clergy, demonstrated publically to make their position clear to Amir and those in his administration. After being provoked by Darivsh demonstrators, police intervened, trying to halt the demonstration. When rioting broke out, police tried to disperse the crowd with machine gun fire and the rioting escalated, spreading to the local neighborhoods. People from all of Baug’s provinces mourned the dead after the clashes and rekindled protests sprung up across the country in opposition to Amir’s manifestly ‘brutal’regime.”
I wanted to take the day off from work, but a new set of DVD’s arrived in my post-office box. When I opened the manila bubble-wrapped package, I saw the shiny discs and wanted to try one in the home entertainment center. I put the one in the player which read: “OMID AS PRIME MINISTER OF BAUG [August 7, 1977-August 27, 1978].”
“In 1977, Omid raised the price of nationalized commodities such as petroleum. The increase in prices nationalized products riled the public, as they grew increasingly discontent with the Amir Administration. The people of Baug wanted to change the one-party system and moved to incite passionate demonstrations accusing the government of social and economic injustices inflicted upon the urban poor and the outlying peoples of Baugistan. In response to the demonstrations, Amir’s Publicorpz Party sought to protect itself through the use of surveillance and OIHSB police enforcement. Amir used the Publicorpz Party as a tool to keep peoples’ thoughts and actions within the confines of one political ideology—his own. Amir was eventually able to establish and retain his one-party system through the use of his secret police, OIHSB, who continued to use totalitarian tactics against dissenting Baugis.
“OIHSB used brutal forms of psychological conditioning upon individuals (including its own members) to maintain an authoritative influence over them. Baug’s system of repression was paternalistic and ‘top-down’ which, although a constitutional monarchy on its face, included a savage secret police force answerable ultimately to Amir alone. Execution, exile and imprisonment not only petrified individual citizens opposing Amir’s police force, but prevented professional reactionaries from organizing groups for the purpose of inciting widespread public contempt of the Amir monarchy. Without leaders to coordinate a counter-offensive force against the Baugi government, citizens opposed to Amir became nothing but timid ‘sitting ducks’ ripe for an OIHSB crackdown.
As the years of Amir’s reign since 1953 transpired, the thin fabric of his actual authority frayed as opposing elements to his regime mounted. He became desperate, fearing that the public’s discontent and hatred would be unleashed upon the regime all at once, ripping it apart. Then there were his benefactors in the West who would not be pleased with his inability to restore order in the country. He began to delegate more and more of his authority to OIHSB as the cohesive, brutal force to regulate public behavior and corral its movements into ambits of their jurisdiction. Despite Herculean efforts on the part of Publicorpz and the OIHSB, civil unrest continued unabated. The pressure on Amir was too much and he showed visible signs of suffering a nervous break-down. As Amir lost his bearings, the thread-like tentacles of OIHSB’s organization began to lose their grip on the civilian masses as well, and more and more individuals set their faces against Amir. A unified, consolidated opposition had not become part of the general Baugi psyche as of yet, but various alternative forms of government were being explored and openly discussed in public forums despite the OIHSB crackdown against them.”
The phone rang, it was Jahan. “Wanna meet me in the medina?” he asked.
I knew which one, the jalaba merchant. “Okay, I’ll be there in ten minutes,” I assented.
When I got there, he was waiting. After saying goodbye to the store owner, we ducked into a café that was raised up from the street. We climbed the set of five stairs and sat at a table. Many elderly men were sitting smoking their tobacco with friends and having tea.
“Oh, you’re going to church today, isn’t it?” Jahan asked in the best English he could conjunct. He looked exhausted, as if he hadn’t slept much since last saw him.
“Yeah, why don’t you let the 500 media outlets know about it,” I replied in English, wondering why he was raising his voice in the café filled with men, half with turbans. “The preacher is gonna give a sermon on the ‘Great Whore of Babylon’” [Rev. 17:5] I lied. “The mother of harlots”, I saw one turbaned man turn his head to look at me briefly, another next to him gave a start but didn’t look up. I wondered how many cared to listen. If Jahan was not paranoid, why should I be?
“Ever see the film The Planet of the Apes Khalid?” he asked.
“You might not like what you find there Taylor” he teased, referring to the film’s Dr. Zaius warning astronaut George Taylor not to investigate the forbidden zone with the human woman Nova.
“The mother of all wars…” I replied, thinking of a well known adversary of Baug’s, a tyrant neighbor named Shahin Shahraz who used the phrase to taunt his enemies in 2003. I wondered then if Shahraz got the idea from the New Testament book of Revelation. Maybe he was wondering in his own mind what the attributes of a “mother of harlots” were. Somehow, Shahraz came up with “the mother of all wars.” I was stumped yet mystified. “You heard from your cousin?” I asked.
“Jaleh? She’s out on assignment in Aspiria. There are clashes. Finding out if any can help us.”
“What your end-game in all this?” I asked after a brief pause, while testing the scalding hot tea which had just been served at our table in the middle of the cafe.
“End-game? What is your ‘endgame’?” he laughed.
“To get paid and laid I guess,” I said, thinking of even more possible reasons.
“Keep getting paid and laid. I like that Khalid. Paid and laid. That’s my end-game too. Paid and laid.” Jahan must have been in a bitter mood today. Probably didn’t get laid.
“I saw a hostess in a white skirt last time I met with you over on the sidewalk over there.” I pointed to the spot where I saw her advertising her legs to me.
“Don’t know Khalid…getting paid and laid.” We laughed and drank our tea. There were worse things in life than killing time in a cafe sharing tea. I should have been happy but I was getting homesick. Refugees were streaming into my home country of Dagastan from the armed conflict with Aspiria. Eighty Aspirian soldiers and sixty militant rebels were killed in fighting only yesterday on the border according to the newswires. “Khalid, don’t worry, we’ll get you home soon with Zareen,” Jahan assured me. He was usually right…never known him to be wrong anyway.
Are my thoughts that transparent to Jahan and easy to read? I thought to myself. What a wimp he must think I am.
“Just don’t have too many kids; take it from me—it can get complicated. No more time for tea in the Square with Zareen…or Jaleh,” he chided with a chuckle.
I went to the library to research education in Baug and how the students were allotted a stipend which was supposed to pay for the students’ lunches. What I found was a maze of political intrigue. Besides the cleric Babak, who had just become an Ayatollah, factions fought amongst and against each other like the great tribes of pre-colonial Kir, or many of the major law firms, lobbies and political parties of today.
Two non-religious fronts staking out positions against Amir’s Publicorpz Party were the Baugi National Front [BNF] and the Bahram or “Communist” Party. The BNF was more moderate and business-oriented than either the clergymen’s society or the Publicorpz Party. The BNF was comprised mostly of merchants, middle-class citizens and students. Its leaders were the colleagues of the former Prime Minister Rahmat, who by 1978 was deceased. These colleagues carried on the traditions of the party in secret since Amir had placed a moratorium on freedom to associate in a political party other than the Publicorpz Party.
The communist Bahram Party, whose members were primarily students, workers and educated people dissatisfied with Amir, democracy and capitalism in general had their base of operations at Tealandir Technical University [hereinafter referred to as TTU]. All three movements, the clergy, the BNF and the Bahram Party worked from different vantage points (loci) against Amir: the clergy with Babak’s followers at the mosques, the BNF in secret and the Bahram Party from the universities, specifically TTU. OIHSB could not be everywhere all at once.
The Bahram Party’s centralization at TTU gave them immediate recognition and widespread notoriety in the public eye. So much was their popularity among the people from that location in the capitol that the government thought it necessary to transfer TTU out of Tealandir into a suburb of Tealandir, Estera of Baug. TTU’s move to Estera was designed to disrupt the triad aligned against Amir and the lines of communication among TTU faculty, students and administrators. I went home with the information I gleaned from the library and looked for the discs on education, when the DVD “BAHRAM OPPOSITION TO TTU ESTERA RELOCATION” caught my eye. I popped the DVD into my tablet and began the learning unit.
“Amir and his cabinet made the claim that the university campus move was not essentially political in nature but would enable it to be closer to the metal smelting factory near Estera of Baug. The closer proximity of the smelter to TTU had several advantages but the timing was not lost on the Bahram Party. During pre-arranged demonstrations, the communist speakers used the university relocation as political ammunition and challenged Amir. University students and faculty resisted the move even before demonstrations began and now they had communist mouthpieces going to bat for them. Solidarity of purpose enveloped the students and faculty in their challenge to the relocation. The TTU relocation was another example of Amir’s reliance on bullying to maintain law and order. Amir laid-off dissenting faculty due to their failure to adjust to the decision to relocate TTU to Estera.
“Once other factions felt the relocation to be yet another underhanded scheme of Amir’s they joined in the solidarity movement as well. One of these factions was the merchant’s lobby of Baug. The merchant lobby wanted the university professors who were laid-off paid during their suspension. Merchants donated stipends to professors from their own personal wealth to recompense them for their lost pay until they could be reimbursed by the central Baugi government. In a show of unity and self-respect, the professors did not accept the merchants’ offer of money but rather opened a bank account and asked that teachers and educators in the country donate whatever they could to the account. Their colleagues responded generously to the request and the unemployed professors took half of their former salaries although the donations far exceeded the capacity to pay them a full salary.
“The restraint of the professors in utilizing the charitable trust account demonstrated their perseverance and self-sacrifice. They wanted to show the attentive and anxious people of the country that the time to revolt against Amir was at hand. A quiet impression of a collective fast took hold in Baug. The fasting tended to steer people away from violence with self-sacrifice and discipline, but a deepening resolve to overthrow Amir’s regime took hold as those who took part ended their fast. Removing Amir’s Administration from Baugi leadership meant a unified front of the people against Amir was needed—not merely unorganized factions gathering to demonstrate. Like the communists and merchants before them, the teachers were beginning to tell their tales of hardship and injustice, and they were getting their message across–a threshold of restraint was breached. Baugis decided to organize rallies together in protesting the mishandling of their government by the leaders in the Publicorpz Party. The Bahram Party was fighting for its survival and the Publicorpz Party, of which Amir was a distinguished member, was its arch enemy. In order to make the daily demonstrations more effective, professors implored students to tell their families to live a frugal existence in solidarity against Amir.”
I woke up late the next day. Zareen had gone to her mother’s house and I was alone. I meditated, ate some rice left over from the night before with tea and watched the news. An hour later, the mail came with a package of six more shiny-new DVD’s from UC on the subject of the Baugi Revolution of 1978.
The first one had the title, “A NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS APPOINTED IN THE PUBLICORPZ PARTY–1977”. Grabbing it between my thumb and index finger, I turned it over to look at the engraved side where the data was stored and into the DVD it went.
“Many of the lawyers working for the revolution wanted to re-elect a new board of directors for the Publicorpz Party because they were dissatisfied with its ‘pro-Amir’ bias, especially considering the Chairman of the Board was a close friend. Having lost the right to form independent political parties, lawyers were riled-up and sought an unbiased Chairman to serve Baug if the one-party government was to continue under Amir. Lawyers finally succeeded in getting a new Board of Directors to the Publicorpz Party and assumed the clout Amir had enjoyed vicariously through his hand-picked crony. The echelons of lawyers clamoring at the Chairman’s door disappeared; they didn’t need him anymore. All of the new members of the council were persons who had previously fought against Amir, and they didn’t like the former Chairman, so he was ousted along with the other Board members. The advocates sought a Chairman who would represent their interests. The replacement of the Board of Directors of the Publicorpz Party made a transformative change in the psyche of both the Baugi population and the Publicorpz Party itself. Loss of control of the Publicorpz Party by Amir severely hampered his ability to coordinate his authority over the forces opposing him: the clergy, students, non-governmental organizations as well as the military and the police.
“The new Publicorpz Board acted as a liaison between the citizens of Baug and its government officials. They defended the Baugi Constitution and the people’s rights under it. Prisoners were attended to by various reform programs in the penitentiaries which were instituted by the Board. Investigators were sent to interview and evaluate those released from incarceration and to document their stories of atrocity at the hands of the OIHSB. The findings of the investigators revealed that the prisoners had been tortured illegally by the secret police while under arrest for political crimes. The Board defended the ‘ex-cons’ while at the same time prosecuting the OIHSB and condemning its use of coercive tactics beyond the pall.”
“In 1965, Great Ayatollah Darien invited six religious leaders to elect Babak as one of the “Great Ayatollahs” making him insusceptible to capital punishment. A ‘Great’ or ‘Grand’ Ayatollah is often referred to as ‘Imam’, translated to mean ‘Word of God’. In Baugi statutory law, the Imam proclaims the word of God and is therefore immune to any governmental intervention that is a threat to his bodily person. Once regarded as an Imam, Babak’s fear of state-ordered execution vanished. An Imam is part of an oligarchical council of Islamic leaders that oversee their Islamic followers, and promulgate rules and regulations for the greater Shiet faith.”
“In 1978, Ayatollah Babak used the geographical distance during his exile from Baug to launch sharp criticism directed against Amir’s regime. The attention of the Baugi population quickly focused on Babak’s speeches as he was the only Baugi leader familiar enough with Baugi politics and religion to speak openly about Amir’s regime. Before his exile, Babak could not speak out against Amir and draw the huge crowds because OIHSB maintained a watchful eye over him.
“Without OIHSB bearing down on him in 1978 (and perhaps with the aid of Shiet supporters in Dilshad, Baug’s western neighbor), Babak’s following grew. He denounced Amir on a regular basis and the crowds were enthralled as they listened. Now here was their leader. Baugis were looking for ‘reform’ and a new father, and Babak fit the bill. Before Babak’s reentry into Baugi politics, most Baugis wanted popular political leaders who were suppressed by Amir’s regime. Although Amir was able to suppress these well known voices, he was unable to suppress the Babak’s political speech due to his status as an Imam. The Ayatollah Babak’s voice was a regular addition to Baugi media on television and in print as well as by word-of-mouth. His words played to the heartstrings of people the songs of religion their souls longed to hear. They were tired of empty speeches that led to dead-end reforms—they wanted action and to get one over on Amir’s secret police force OIHSB.
“Babak’s political, social and religious platform became ever more popular among the people of Baug because his proposals paralleled the will of the people: most wanted Amir and his regime ousted. Babak promised the ‘uprooting and removal of the evil tree’ that was growing stronger, sapping the strength of Baug and providing no meaningful fruit to its people. ‘Amir,’ Ayatollah Babak would say, ‘took more goods than he gave back. Amir was a one-way ticket to a disintegrated, demoralized Baug.’ The people wanted the Baugi economic tree to flourish and they were optimistic Amir’s resilience and Islamic-focused doctrine could return them to prosperity. After removal of the ‘evil tree’, Babak believed he would become the fertilizer for a petro-plenteous tree to be shared by all of Baug. The bulk of Babak’s support came from peasants, lower-class city-dwellers and illiterate disciples of clergymen.
“Amir’s grip on power was careening out of his control like a boulder loosened from atop a great hill headed straight at him. The illiterates were subservient to the clerics and did not question their methods, credibility or authority. They had limited capacity to discern what was happening around them and relied on the clergymen to be their ‘eyes’. The power of the Ayatollahs was centralized in the mosques and that is where masses of peasants were organized to act against Amir and his regime. The mosques imbued with them a sense of sanctuary even the OIHSB dare not breach. Babak became the archetypal savior and Amir his evil counterpart [Compare parables of the good and evil trees from the Bible and ‘fertilizer for the new tree’, above, versus the Christian ‘holy communion’ and ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’].”
“Judicial proceedings were instituted wherein the lawyers who were now Publicorpz Party’s Board members represented the abused prisoners pro bono (for the public good without a fee). Published newspapers articles of the proceedings helped incriminate the illegal and inhumane activities of the OIHSB.
“OIHSB had now become the main cause of Amir’s public relations problem from which all others followed like his own shadow. The shadow seemed (‘mother I know not seems’, Hamlet from Hamlet) to follow Amir as a reminder of the horrible perception that people did not love, respect, nor obey him. In a desperate attempt to maintain control over his people, Amir used the OIHSB to overcompensate for his shortcomings. OIHSB began to beat dissenters at will and adopted the maxim the end justified the means. Coercive tactics were left to the discretion of the police without proper review, checks or balances.
“Police used a subjective view of ‘reasonable force’ when interrogating, executing or incarcerating their arrestees. Perhaps it was Amir’s distrust in his countrymen and women which led him to implement brutal methods of control. The more force and violence the OIHSB used to suppress dissidents after the new Board began to upbraid them, the stronger the retaliation and non-cooperation by the public against OIHSB and other elements of oppression in Amir’s regime. In fact, the people began to think of the OIHSB and Amir as one entity, although the two were not one. OIHSB, one of the strongest, most expansive and expensive organizations of its time, did not communicate well with Amir nor his cabinet. This did not help either Amir or his secret police because each was now under the intense scrutiny of the new Publicorpz Board. Amir’s lack of a peculiar coordination with the OIHSB which would be necessary in order for his government to prevail against Publicorpz scrutiny was woefully lacking. Not only lawyers, but prisoners, ex-cons and the collective will of an entire nation were determined to oust Amir, ‘the dictator.’ It was not only Amir’s inability to adequately control his subjects that brought on his exile from Baug in 1978 but the means he used to achieve his vision, the OIHSB, proved to be a dysfunctional tool that marked the primary reason for his departure.”
“Over the months immediately preceding Ayatollah Babak’s return to Baug from Dilshad in 1978, OIHSB was devising a propaganda campaign to degrade his reputation. OIHSB had an article printed in the daily newspapers alleging that Babak was not a descendant of Mohammed, the prophet, but rather, the descendant of an untouchable from Irdut. OIHSB claimed Babak’s brother, who was born in Irdut, carried the name Beghendah. ‘Beghendah’ was a name given to Babak’s brother because OIHSB alleged their grandfather was a penniless prince.
“Citizens of Darivsh, a holy city of Baug, were aggravated with OIHSB’s accusations regarding the Ayatollah Babak’s heritage. It didn’t take long before the aggravation turned to anger. The clergy led a rally in support of the Ayatollah Babak against the government’s subversive activities that stood contrary to Islamic doctrine. A police squad was called in to confront the clergy-led rally and they opened fire on the demonstrators. Some in the crowd fled to the nearby home of the Great Ayatollah Darien for asylum [aka sanctuary]. Amir’s police squad followed the rabble into Darien’s house in hot pursuit, killed a clergyman and wounded others present.
“The aftermath of the affair left the government with much to explain to its people…and the Board. Because the Great Ayatollah Darien was a consistently popular figure in Baug, it was difficult for the OIHSB to justify the shooting in his compound especially since a clergyman was killed during the incident. Amir and his advocates alleged the police that stormed the Darien compound were not local police and did not know the home they entered into was that of Great Ayatollah Darien. If the police were locals, they would have known the house belonged to Darien and would not have mistakenly followed the rabble into his home and would not have attacked anyone there.”
“Ayatollah Darien is from the Morvarid Province, the capitol of which is Javed. On August 11, 1978, the people of Javed, in empathy for the recently martyred of Darivsh, demonstrated in the suburb of Mahtab. More than 100,000 people were involved in the demonstration, making it large enough to shake the Baugi government’s confidence in itself. The demonstration was so successful that it began to tip the scales of domination away from the government and towards an anti-Amir movement of the clergymen [compare ‘Movement of Jah People’ by Bob Marley and the Wailers]. Amir was perceived to be the one taking away people’s privacy rights and freedom of religion. In hopes of a reversal of this perception and an end to the civil unrest in Baug, OIHSB escorted 200,000 peasants from all over the country to show populist support for Amir.”
I stopped the DVD and had a salad. Then I went to the water-closet, looked at the soap scum on the shower stall surfaces, and decided I’d have to clean it later. Zareen was still out shopping with her mother and wouldn’t be back until dusk which was three hours away. That would give me time to review more of the disc and scrub the shower enclosure.
After reading a Psalm from the back of a small New Testament, I put the DVD back into the player.
“On September 7, 1978, students joined together to protest Amir’s move to send university professors to Mahtab, a city 300 miles south of Tealandir. As soon as school resumed in September, the students became active in the socio-political affairs of Baug as never before. They often argued with visiting government officials on ways to support the former professors of TTU who had been laid-off. This topic of financial support for the professors was only as a ploy used to weaken the political fabric of the country and shake the regime’s confidence in itself. The fighting and hysteria had already begun unbeknownst to ‘anyone over 30’. Whenever students demonstrated in the streets, Amir’s anti-riot police squads attacked the crowds and beat them with clubs. The brutal activity angered the students and fighting often broke out between them and the police. Students continued to riot day after day, breaking windows of government banks and office buildings. The people looked at each violent event as an accomplishment and one step closer to their liberty, freedom and victory.”
“In an interview broadcast over national television, Amir blamed the Minister of Justice Gul for the most recent ‘mishap’ in Darivsh concerning the forceable police entry of Darien’s home. Amir said he knew nothing of the TTU protests and accused Gul of mishandling the negotiations with the demonstrating students. Amir focused his attention upon Baugi shop-keepers because during the time in which Gul had been prime minister, the Baugi Trade Commission under his direction aggravated shop-keepers by imposing stiff fines on them for violating trade regulations the Commission promulgated and enforced. Because there were over 250 different kinds of taxes instituted in 1978, Amir felt that the financial strain of the people must have been caused by the Trade Commission, and played some part in the social unrest. Somewhat like the colonies of North Kir in 1765, the piling on of taxes and fees by the Baugi government was a precursor to the disillusionment and outrage of those overly burdened by them. Amir hoped the latest riots were simply a matter of ‘shopkeeper discontent’ which had spread to the universities, but he underestimated the counter-current pounding against the walls of his regime, until they all but collapsed.”
“There were several causes, acting together, which contributed to the outbreak of the Baugi-Islamic Revolution in 1978. Socio-economic problems accumulated until they let loose a massive Marcusian explosion. Like a spring that can absorb only so much compression before it reaches the capacity of its potential, the Baugi people were nearing the limit of their patience and ability to cope with the restraints put upon them by the government. They had been compressed to the limit, and were ready to spring back upon the regime.

Insert Image One [picture of balloons in bag] here
“The pressure directed against the government had been building for decades. It first began with Amir’s father, Roshan Amir Shahraz, and continued through the broken expanses of years that Hossein Jasper Shahraz, Amir’s son, held temporal political power. In reaction to public frustration and dissatisfaction, common civilians joined radical students in demonstrations and protests. The windows of governmental buildings were shattered, movie theaters burned, and liquor shops, dance halls, bars, restaurants– any business that thrived on the promotion of a ‘Western lifestyle’ was destroyed. For their part, the clergy discerned that many night clubs were immoral places where evil was found and may have given a tacit approval to their demolition.
“The OIHSB took no immediate retaliatory action against the marauders. It would have been difficult to curtail anarchy on such a large scale. However, in Nima, a key city for oil production in southwestern Baug, OIHSB was suspected of setting fire to a theater filled with 600 spectators. OIHSB first accused the clergymen of setting the fire but then the clergymen as many anticipated, placed the blame squarely at the feet of the OIHSB. There were motives on both sides for setting the fire, but no party could prove the guilt of the other.”
The DVD conducted me into one of the government buildings that had been vandalized and looted as described earlier by the DVD presentation. There was an air conditioning duct at eye level without the grate on it. I peered down the duct channel to reconnoiter whether I could fit inside it. The dusty sheet metal was enough of a reason not to crawl through the duct, but I was wearing work clothes, and it was time to get some field work under my belt I could write UC about later. Entering between the sides of the duct, I came to a crimp that narrowed so I couldn’t proceed any further. It appeared to have been caused by the marauders smashing it either with some sort of a sledge hammer or with one of the large calcium-silicate bricks [about half the size of cinder blocks] I spotted screwn across the ground below me through a gash in the sheet metal. I heard voices and became still.
“How short a story?” asked one voice about 5 meters away.
“Devil in details?” was the response with a deeper voice, as if he were listening, just as I was. They were both listening. There was a shuffling of feet. The men sounded as if they were in the adjoining room, but wasn’t sure. I knew they were speaking from within the same ransacked office building I was in and not outside. I backed out of the AC vent and circled around to where the men were, but they were gone. I felt like I was being time-punked.
A time-punk is a sleight-of-hand variety of trick, but is played on the psyche of the individual. Here, the fierce-sounding men in the next room may have been staking their territory, telling me nicely to go away. I got spooked. Jahan would never let me live this down if he knew I was chicken. I was a full blown Whimpy wanting a hamburger today to gladly pay next Tuesday. I would keep mum, but who were those guys? My imagination did not provide me with any clues that did not sound delusional. Maybe they represented the building owners or were from the insurance company claims department, I thought to myself. I considered the event a missed opportunity I would have to make up for someday. I found a couple of stray half-pints of Sargonian whiskey that did not shatter near where the two men had been standing. I reached down to pick them up in the dust, wiped them off with my hankerchief and put them in two opposing pockets of my jalaba. I hurried home to try them out. I thought of all the Sargonian movies I saw where the embattled character would say, “I need a drink.”
Zareen called me at home and told me I was a jerk for indulging in spirits. When we got married, I had promised to follow Islam and not drink, but she had promised to quit smoking cigarettes, which she never did. She angered me enough to play a revolution disc. I clicked on the “MASSIVE COALITION OF DEMONSTRATORS INCLUDE THE SELF-STARTING AS WELL AS THE PEASANTS MOTIVATED AND LED BY THEOLOGICAL CLERICS OF ISLAM” heading that was downloaded to my tablet earlier.
“Students, merchants, industrialists, businessmen and industrial oligarchs led one faction while another, led by the clerics, consisted largely of uneducated ‘peasants’ in a grand coalition against Amir’s regime. The peasants for the most part, could neither read nor write and those that could often had trouble analyzing political events in context and relied on discerning clerics to guide them. The seminary-trained clerics shepherded the illiterate toward an Islamic revolution.
‘Call no man father.’
“Amir became perplexed about the political situation in Baug and had Prime Minister Omid Koushar replaced by the Chairman of the Senate, Emson Kaspar [hereinafter referred to as Kaspar]. Kaspar was an engineer and had been in Amir’s cabinet as the Financial Secretary for many years. He monitored many of Amir’s private investments such as hotels, restaurants, farm acreage–and oversaw the businesses leasing Amir’s land. Kaspar was a diligent property manager and Amir had the utmost trust in him. Some in Kaspar’s family were clergy members with whom Kaspar held close relations. Kaspar’s appointment signaled a ‘wind of change!’—friends of the clergy were becoming prime ministers!
“During the last Great War, Kaspar was a member of Baug’s fascist Krude Party and helped Gaspar distribute fascist propaganda in Baug. By 1942 however, the Allies occupied Baug and Kaspar as well as other Krude fascists were captured and placed under Allied jurisdiction in prisoner of war camps.
“Under Amir, Kaspar suggested candidates to form an entirely new cabinet, yet Amir had a different idea in mind. He ordered Kaspar to shuffle the ministers of the various departments around but not to dismiss them. For instance, the Minister of Arts would be transferred to the Ministry of Education. Many of the newly appointed transferees were not qualified in their new positions, but this was of secondary concern to Amir. His primary concern was not whether the appointees were qualified, but whether they were loyal.
“Amir’s display of political appointment juggling was an insult to the intelligence of Baugis and yet another reason to oppose him. The public felt excluded from the affairs of State to such an extent they concluded the only way they would ever be ‘heard’ was to overthrow the government. The developing image of Amir as a domineering father figure and his constituency nothing but prattling, submissive children etched a negative picture in the collective unconscious of many Baugis.”
JAHAN: “That fucker Amir.”
JALEH: “That Jahan fucker.”
JAHAN: “Fuck you.”
JALEH: “Fuck you.”
Such was the attitude of my Shiet friends when Baug was in its 1978 turmoil; and what of Amir? I left for home, which was currently a mess, and did some cleaning while reviewing the lessons on DVD.
“When I get home:” I wrote down a list: “Scrub and polish the refrigerator, sweep and mop, vacuum, dust and tidy up the isolated tea service…” the phone rang.
It was Jahan and Jaleh, they had a registered update for my ears only.
“We’ll play it for you over the phone line,” I heard Jaleh say over the receiver.
“Don’t worry, we won’t be listening,” Jahan spoke up above her in the background. Is this about the two men I heard in the vandalized building? I guess they already knew the story, but how could they?
“Amir’s ministers were either personally close to him or to his wife, Empress Sarah, whom he married in 1959. One example of the nepotism Amir displayed was the appointment of Empress Sarah’s brother to the position of the Minister of Culture and Art.”
I realized this was not about a reprimand for being meek, and continued listening.
“Kaspar was yet another insider. He told newsmen that all political parties were free to actively consider membership in his new cabinet. Kaspar’s purpose was to welcome candidates from all parties so as to tamp down domestic tensions and rivalries at hand by offering hope. Perhaps as a precursor of the Xerxesian glasnost of the early 1980’s, the broadly circulated invitations to Kaspar’s cabinet only delayed but did not halt, the collective psyche from its wrath to come.”
The Demonstration of Ramadan, Tealandir, Baug, 1978:
“September saw the rise of more frequent public religious-themed protests against Amir and his family. In 1978, the Moslem Holy Day of fasting and prayer, Ramadan, fell in the month of September. On Ramadan nothing is to be ingested from 4:30 a.m. until dusk (approximately 6:30 p.m.). The extent of the fast is so formal that bathing in water above the head is not allowed because drops of fluid could be taken into the body by the tongue or nose. During Ramadan, even the sick and injured must not take medication due to illness. This religious day of penance and reflection was a golden opportunity to bring people together to unite in solemn solidarity against an overly-commercialized government.
“…ever notice how martial law and molestation are both words that start with ‘m’? I mean, who are the targets of them both?” Jahan asked us.
“Wild and crazy guys like you,” quipped Jaleh.
“You got a point there Jahan–orphans and the destitute.” I added.
“They all get fucked.” Jahan ended definitively.
“What fervor and passion!” I said sarcastically. We started listening to the DVD together instead of to each other.
“During Ramadan, 1978, clergymen led their followers down the main boulevard of Tealandir and people assembled at the central community square to sit down and pray. The clergy announced that they would repeat the march the following day and invite all Moslems in procession to Farzin Square, one of Tealandir’s largest, where a prayer session would unite them.
“Amir became frightened by the assembly of over 300,000 participants and declared martial law. The new military restrictions on the people included a moratorium on associations of more than three people in a public place for any purpose. If more than three were engaged in an assembly, the militia could arrest the ‘transgressors’ without further ado. All those placed under arrest as a result of the new restriction on association were tried in military, not civil or criminal forums. Martial law also forbade citizens from being up and about in the streets between the hours of 9 pm and dawn. At serious junctures of martial law imposed during 1978, Amir’s staff extended the curfew one hour to include the period of 8 pm to 6 am. Promoters of the Farzin Square procession and prayer service did not abide by Amir’s anti-assembly laws because they alleged the laws were overbroad restrictions on the freedom of assembly, unreasonable and quite frankly, unenforceable.
“Amir’s plan to institute martial law in Baug backfired and Baugis were up in arms with the monarch like never before. They wanted vengeance for depriving them of their basic human dignity, freedoms and inalienable rights. 900,000 people gathered the following day, three times as many as the previous day, under the direction of clergymen. The approach of the 900,000 people to Farzin Square could be described as a huge ‘huddle’. Men stood, sat or reclined next to each other in the center of the square while the women and children stood around them to prevent their fighters from attack—a defense tactic later colloquially referred to as a ‘human shield’ defense.”
“No wonder it drives the armed forces of the aggressor up the wall,” I said like the novice of war that I was. “Maybe I’ll be a cowering man someday. I like the idea of female protectors,” I said to Jaleh. “But children? What brave women in Baug to do that,” I continued, looking at her.
“This ain’t no picnic,” Jaleh said, quoting a former foreign minister of Dilshad. She went on to give me a live lesson on the Baugi civil disobedience of September, 1978:
“As expected, state police showed up to meet the gathering public at Farzin Square with megaphones announcing, ‘Martial law prohibits these unlawful assemblies. If you do not leave the premises, we will begin to open fire.’ All at once, the people sat down in silence as though it were a pre-staged play. The unified act of defiance had a pronounced, threshold effect on Amir’s forces, turning their frustration into rage. An order was made to open fire on the uncooperative civilians. Shooting ensued for four straight hours via tanks, helicopters, machine guns and SWAT (special weapons teams formed and organized to deal with public unrest). At the end of the day, approximately 4,000 of the 900,000 demonstrators were killed, although the government reported that less than 100 had perished in the conflict.”
“Four thousand…” I said as I was trying to conceive the number of lifeless bodies at the end of the day.
“All doctors, nurses and medical personnel attended to the injured in the privacy of their homes lest Amir’s guard apprehend them once discharged from a hospital.” She looked at me and must have seen I was getting bored and she raised her voice. “When the newsmen got word that OIHSB was arresting wounded demonstrators from their hospital beds, it was too much!” she said. She had been there on duty and treated the wounded and dying that day.
“Newspapers ran stories and people read them,” Jaleh would go on to tell me of “that” day. “The newspapers provided a unified reporting forum targeting Amir’s regime. The propagandists did not have to exaggerate; patients were being transferred from their hospital beds to dark and damp jail cells. Whether they were well enough to face trial and imprisonment was a matter of debate. When newspapers published daily accounts of the hospital-bed arrests throughout Baug, the Baugi National Guard was called in to occupy cities and towns with enough soldiers to suppress any more potential uprisings, with the concomitant violence, injury and more often than not, death.
“Prime Minister Kaspar cast a new wave of political influence over Parliament. Of the 300 parliamentary deputies, fifteen opposed Amir’s regime. These fifteen dissidents blamed governmental policy as the major cause of the gap between the nation and Amir. When the prime minister came to Parliament after the massacre of the four thousand, the fifteen deputies shouted in unison “Your hands are stained with innocent people’s blood!”
“Fifteen voices together is a nice sized chorus,” I remarked sardonically to Jaleh, although stunned by the horror of the events Jaleh revealed so matter-of-factly. I suppose I wanted her to take a break.
“Fifteen…you into numerology Khalid?” Jaleh asked me.
“Not really, but I do take notice when it’s the end of the month or the New Year is rung in with bells, whistles and kisses,” I replied, knowing I must sound like I don’t know the first thing about what I am talking about. “The Ides of March!” I cried out desperately to save face. “I believe in different powers and in competing theories,” I continued, “But there’s something to numerology like there’s something to astrology. I just don’t like to assume they are fatalistic in any way. With God, all things are possible.”
We took a break after all and after tea, we called it a day. Religious intellectualism is so tiring.
I woke up the next morning on Saturday and looked at the papers. Zareen was in the kitchen talking to me through the beaded doorway. I guess I didn’t scrub the floors thoroughly and I promised to do a better on Monday.
In the meantime, I told her we were almost done with the research project for UC and that I’d have a lot of time for cleaning the house when our report was submitted.
I went to the den and put the next disc in sequence into the player. It read, “DEMANDS LODGED AGAINST JASPER HOSSEIN AMIR SHAHRAZ’ [AMIR’S] GOVERNMENT BY THE CITIZENS OF BAUG”.
I adjusted the volume down while looking at the screen and listened quietly, “Baugis were weary and upset with the apparent totalitarian leadership in their country. They demanded three fundamental changes to occur, or threatened more radical demonstrations going forward:
1. Amir shall no longer hold the position of supreme governor and lawmaker of Baug. His position in affairs of government shall be primarily ceremonial in nature as those of the supreme monarch of Great Britain, influential albeit ‘without a pen’ to sign treaties or bind the State with contracts and/or conventions.
2. Amir and all governmental representatives shall obey and respect the Constitution.
3. A grant of asylum to the Ayatollah Babak upon his return to Baug from abroad.

“Three days after the massacre at Farzin when the three demands upon the Baugi government were made public, most observers were still offbalance over what happened to their countrymen and women just days before. In an address to the Baugi Parliament, Deputy Ardashir expressed dismay that Amir should be allowed to stay in the country at all. At first, people thought Ardashir’s ruminations of having Amir leave Baug were another of Amir’s reverse-psychology tricks because the idea of Amir’s exile sounded far-fetched.
“During a lull in activism after the massacre, lawyers began to establish a new front against Amir. The new front emphasized human rights, the dignity of the individual, and other freedoms for all Baugis under international laws, norms, conventions and treaties. Ardashir declared publically that he was not a member of the Publicorpz Party but was forming his own party called the All-Baugi Party.
“The organization for the defense of political prisoners was actively defending political offenders for both past and present offenses. Individuals arrested for political crimes prior to Amir’s initiation of martial law were entitled to greater due process of law protections not generally available in military forums. As a result of the lawyers’ actions, all of those convicted in military courts were able to appeal their convictions and/or have their sentences commuted or shortened in an appellate court. The lawyers’ legal efforts removed the judicial power Amir once enjoyed with military judicial forums. Amir could no longer be described as the man with ‘all’ the constitutional power in the country.
“Formerly, political enemies of Amir and so-called ‘undesirable’ clergymen could be exiled by a five-member panel of magistrates, to far-reaching corners of Baug where climate, and or living conditions were poor and generally miserable. The Organization for the Defense of Liberty and Freedom alleged court-martials of civilians violated international law, human rights norms, as well as Baug’s statutes and Constitution.”
“Experienced lawyers who represented clients who had been forced out of their office or businesses were making head-roads in the appellate and criminal courts and the defendants were often acquitted of all charges. Many also received restitution and re-instatement to their jobs. Amir’s regime had sentenced judges, teachers and government officials harshly in the past for what his government alleged were ‘serious political crimes’. Private lawyers usually charged astronomical rates, but at this stage of the revolution, they chose to defend their clients pro bono (free of charge, as many clients were unable to pay while in prison and the defendants’ need of representation was great). Legal victories for individual defendants and appellants were becoming commonplace after a long dry spell. Rather than sending people to prisons to live in a cell, defense attorneys were liberating them from prisons, setting them free.
“When those who had been exiled were brought to trial in Baug, their ‘criminal’ file was drawn and the appeal would proceed. The public celebrated the release of the incarcerated after successful appeals and welcomed former exiles home. These acts of amnesty given to the many political prisoners and exiles in those days brought joy and gladness to the whole community. The re-integration of the former prisoners and exiles into Baugi society demonstrated that the lawyers’ political adeptness had now transmuted into clout and their swagger bolstered the general sense of alienation Baugi people felt toward their monarch. Amir’s influence slipped to a point of no return on the Baugi political horizon. He became ever more desperate to carve out a legacy for himself and his family before he completely ran out of leverage—and luck.”
“Ayatollah Bahman, a seventy year-old leader, was another notable figure who returned to Tealandir after his imprisonment in the far reaches of Baugi territory. More than one million people marched in Tealandir to welcome him back. Ayatollah Bahman spent over ten years in a prison so there was a season of celebration upon his return to the capitol. [During Bahman’s detention, he was tied to a tree and forced to watch IOHSB agents rape his daughter because he did not succumb to their demands. He was whipped with cables for his non-cooperation].
“Bahman believed that the clergymen must lead their followers in the struggle against the present government, but not to seek political office after the revolution had run its course. [Several times after Amir was eventually deposed, Bahman had told clergy to return to their ‘rightful place’ in the Mosques and allow the Baugi people to adopt their own form of government: their right of self-determination.] Clergymen were opposed to Bahman at this time due to his democratic-oriented position on how the Baugi government should be structured after the revolution. Some Ayatollahs believed Bahman too naïve and idealistic in regards to his support of international conventions on the right of ‘self-determination’ of peoples to establish their own form of government, and threw their weight behind backing an Islamic Republic of Baug instead. Other Ayatollahs besides Bahman had powerful leverage in the legislature and everything that passed into law had the Ayatollahs’ ‘supreme influence’ if not tacit approval.
“Despite wide-spread opposition and even contempt from the other clergymen, Bahman remained the most respected Ayatollah in the nation. Because of his sway over the people, his adversaries were fearful of him. There is some indication of foul-play in the religious leader’s death. He passed away one night after eating dinner with several diplomats with connections to Xerxes. He suffered from excessive heart palpitations late in the evening and was not properly attended to by physicians. His fellow clergymen neither sent for an ambulance or a heart specialist, but sat idly by him, waiting for the seventy year-old to perish. Bahman had addressed four million people in a speech earlier that day, and many felt the timing of his death peculiar and mysterious. In the speech, he expressed the opinion that people should establish their own government and the clergy should not intervene in the electoral process.
“The Fraternal Order of the Baugi Central Bank published a list of government officials who had sent money out of the country to have exchanged for foreign currency. Bank employees told newsmen that sixty million Sargonian dollars had been diverted to foreign banks during the previous two month period. The fraternity took advantage of the news by organizing a worker’s strike against the government. The reason given for the Fraternal Order strike was the exodus of Baugi foreign cash reserves out of the country, but this turns out to have been a planted alibi—misinformation. Anarchists operating in Baug for the past 30 years, were devising more and more ways to destabilize Amir’s languishing regime.
“During the reign of Amir, all major banks were government owned and operated. When the employees of a bank went on strike, it weakened yet another cord holding his government together. When the banks did not function, the injection of money into the economy slowed to a dribble. It was forbidden to repatriate large sums of Baugi currency back into the hands of the domestic investment community, but this was exactly the medicine Baug needed. The repatriation could have offset the money leaving the country and forestalled Baug’s stagnating economy in the mid-to- late 1970’s.
“One of the deputies during a Parliamentary session said that the Minister of Education, Mr. Azar, sent five million dollars to a Mirza bank in his own name and the deputy provided written evidence to show Azar embezzled the money from an earmarked government Fund.
“This news made it an opportune moment for the public to demonstrate. They burned government buildings, buses and troop carriers. The rioting mobs used psychological warfare by igniting rubbish and causing rubber tires to smolder, emitting profuse amounts of nauseous, billowing smoke. The demonstrators’ tactics worked: the soldiers became scared and did not react against them. Of all the methods that the anarchists used to fight Amir, it was their psychological putsch (Ger. push; see also blitzkrieg) of invading and ransacking government buildings and property and setting them on fire which demoralized and frightened Amir’s soldiers the most. The mobs did not stop after the government’s property was burned because private property could provide Amir with tax revenue, so cinemas, salons and any other establishment that would not join the cause against Amir was burnt to the ground. The anarchists wanted to fatigue the governmental fabric and they were succeeding in its shredding.
“Meanwhile, the educated and their elite membership associations reignited the inquiry whether the clergymen intended to attain political positions of power in Baug. The clergy responded they had no aim or interest in political affairs per se. To assure the skeptics and to put to rest the fears of prominent citizens of the country that the clerics were set on establishing an Islamic Republic in Baug, Ayatollah Babak stated point blank in a formal distributed statement that the clergymen were not interested in Baugi political affairs in the least. He said politics were outside the realm of their ‘duty’ to the greater Shiet congregation. Baugi political experts however, were convinced by Babak’s Firuzi Declaration wherein he postulated that if he did come home to Baug and rise in Shiet ranks to a Great Ayatollah, he would have more power than any politician presently leading the country post-Amir.”
“So Amir is already out by this time?” I asked.
“He’s still within the borders of Baug, but for all intents and purposes, yes, he’s out,” Jahan replied.
I put some red caviar and spreadable white brie on a cracker and bit into half of it. A few crumbs fell down my chin, hitting my shirt and falling to the floor as I made a half-assed effort to catch them. I’ve done worse. “Ah, shizeh” I exclaimed, seeing a bit of the cheese put a grain-sized spot on the carpet.
“When are we supposed to leave?” I asked
“You’ll see. Jaleh will contact you—get you up to speed. You look good. Stay like that.”
Stomach in, chest out I thought to myself. “Stay like what?” I asked Jahan.
“I don’t know. Keep your tummy in or ya look like an old flatulent tire,” he said.
Oops, I knew I shouldn’t have asked. TMI . “An old flatulent tire”?
“A tired old fart?” he quipped.
“Oh, that’s better.” I responded to the compromise. Incredulously, I said goodbye, even though I wanted him to get me near Jaleh. “You know how to make me laugh Jahan.” ‘Ready to fight: stomach in, chest out,’ I thought to myself.
“Okay, until next time?” Jahan responded.
“Until next time.” I said holding out my hand. Jahan looked at me as if to say ‘no hug today?’ and grasped my hand, returning the cordiality, shaking it briefly. Before I knew it, he vanished around the corner of the sidewalk café around the block from Farzin Square in Tealandir.
Jaleh came up to me like jasmine in the June wind. Knocked me over. I can’t spell.
“You contend with nothing, you dominate nothing.” Word. Better write that down.
Jaleh had dyed her hair jet black and those breasts! She must be in that female stage of the cycle where they’re really filling out the button-down blouse. Got a rise out of Mr. Roboto. The sheer blouse carried with it a slight hint of sweet perspiration that evaporated with the hot breeze. I never saw her rack bulge out like that before. Summer weather, or something else? Inspiring motivation factor? What’s she want? Be cautious and watchful Khalid. Damn I’m getting dizzy. Get down Roboto—Khalid’s got work to do—Zareen’s at home waiting for me. You come home clean dude. Those breasts aren’t going to wait much longer where they are—she’s not going to let them go to waste dog—be happy Roboto got a simple rise and I’ll still have a wife. I think I’ll call her ‘Leh, that’s safe enough, “Leh, let’s take a tea.”
We walked through the heat as best we could and ducked into the nearest café. I was still a bit dizzy and in a hurry to find out what would happen next between us. Somehow we didn’t run into anything in the low-lit cabaret and gently fell into a booth that happened to be available. Once we chatted and the tea brought me back to my senses, she began to speak more quickly, snapping me out of my pheromone- induced hypnotic state.
You contend with nothing, you are nothing, I thought to myself. Word modification? You are nothing? Reduced to seed without distraction in order to die and blossom. The seeds of revolution are planted in the soil of complacency. Some kind of negative feedback loop I’m picking up. I wondered if it was DVD overload. Ya-da Ya-da Ya-da…psyche!
“They had no shame, no foresight, no patience; others had no conscience.” Jaleh blurted out. She glared at me and held the look. I didn’t know what to say. She seemed to have all the answers and me, all the questions. She asked me up to her room for more tea. Just as well; this teahouse was expensive. We walked up the right side of the red-carpeted double-sided staircase to her flat on the second floor. From the moment we entered her flat, she told me more intimate facts about the 1978 revolution…the part that wasn’t on the UC provided DVD’s, the part about the lawyers, Babak, Amir and the hostages.
“Stomach in, chest out,” I reminded myself. Words of Jesus came to mind “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The least I could do was grin and bear it like everyone else.
“Amir replaced Prime Minister Kaspar with General Gazsi, then commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Gazsi’s appointment was designed to frighten the people like the snapping of a whip. Amir and his advisors were worried that a coup, a very savage coup, may be staged soon against their regime and they intended to defend against it with all means at their disposal. The military and parliamentary arms of government were consolidated under the leadership of Gazsi to streamline an expedited response to civil unrest. Some accused Amir of forming a totalitarian government with the installation of Gazsi as prime minister. A period of calm followed in the wake of Gazsi’s appointment and Babak used the downtime judiciously strategizing Amir’s ouster and the formation of an Islamic Republic.
“The calm of the first few days of Gazsi’s term as prime minister was more of a retreat than a true peace in Baug. The country was for all intents and purposes operating under martial law again, only no one was dying in the streets…yet. Amir was a nervous wreck fearing the political stability he sought was out of reach, and what’s more, was being actively disrupted. He implored clerics in a radio and television broadcast to reassure their congregations of followers that a new Baugi government would be considered if calm prevailed. Meantime the Grand Ayatollah Babak, determined to undermine Amir, consolidated factions to stand with him and the clerics against ‘this strongman’, Prime Minister Gazsi.
“It became evident during this time of jockeying for position that Amir wanted control over his subjects more than anything else. When Prime Minister Gazsi went to Parliament to introduce his new cabinet, he acted in the role of a conciliator, not the vengeant totalitarian tyrant Amir would have him be. Gazsi’s statements to the people and his acceptance speech for the prime ministry had religious overtones when Amir would have preferred him to use swagger. Gazsi was polite and conciliatory toward the clerics and deferred to their religious zeal both publically and in private.
“As was anticipated, a few days after Gazsi’s acceptance speech the public demonstrated in the streets. They saw a weakness in Gazsi’s character and knew he would not use force to attack them during any demonstrations. The anti-Amir rebels felt as if they were given free reign and Moharam, one of the four holy months of Islam, was near. Had Gazsi’s acceptance speech been a more hard-nosed one, and included warnings that expressed the gravity of Amir’s determination to purge all dissidents, the revolution may not have come with Moharam.
“Traditionally, on the first day of the holy month of Moharam, people asked the government if they could assemble in honor of Saint Hossein, who was slain during Ramadan near the time of the inception of Islam in the 7th Century. In the year of 1978, the request proved to be a touchy subject for both Amir and his people. For Amir, martial law had just been imposed and forbad Baugis to assemble. On the other hand, if he refused the rights of his citizens to associate, they might lose control of themselves and try to overthrow him. Who could speculate on theresults of that? ‘NBTO [North Bahar Treaty Organization] knows certainty. Amir is done in Baug’ was the diplomatic scuttlebutt concerning Baug during the month of Hagation, 1978.”
A Brief History of Islam
“Mohammed, the ‘founder’ of Islam, had one daughter who in turn, had two sons. The younger grandson of Mohammed was called Hossein and the older one Hassan. Hassan was a weak ruler and allowed his cousin Yazid, his mother’s nephew, to call the shots in his kingdom even though he held the title of ‘Imam’ or ‘Caliph’ by his birthright. Even when Yazid was cruel and unjust toward those in Hassan’s kingdom, he did not rise to their defense. When Hassan finally died, Hossein became the new Imam in the Shiet sect of Islam. But also surviving Hassan as leader was the former joint-underboss and cousin Yazid, who vied with Hossein to be the new Caliph, successor to Mohammed’s throne. Yazid was known in greater Tahmour as the ‘prodigal ruler’ and Hossein as the noble and proper heir to Caliph. However, Yazid had ruled over Hassan and was practiced in leadership skills among leaders. Yazid assumed the position of Caliph based on a will to assume it, not birthright nor by what was considered dignified and proper by others. They were in new legal and religious territory analyzing the theme of succession to political power in an educated way, in the face of armed opposition.”
“The building blocks of nature are variety?” I asked Jaleh, alone with her in her room, sitting on her bed. She laid like an angel stretched out on her Fairusa upholstered loveseat. I would have loved to have jumped on top of her. I might crush her and the jasmine perfume seemingly everywhere would evaporate. I moved toward her and as I did so, she kicked a dossier I hadn’t noticed from the backrest of the red velour loveseat which fell toward a stainless steel cylinder we used to transport top secret documents, microfiche and anything else that needed to be sealed and transported across water. Diverted toward the falling dossier, I heard it hit the cylinder and saw it begin to tip it over. If it tipped the wrong way as it see-sawed back and forth, it might hit the lamp and knock it over. I lunged for the cylinder just as it started to tip over on its side to the floor. Knowing the precision with which the cylinder was fabricated, I slid my hand low along the carpet below tipping cylinder. As my fingers began to scrape the carpeting, the cylinder crushed the second joints of the ring and pinky fingers of my left hand. ‘Great, I guess I deserve it God.’ I thought to myself. The cylinder felt like a heavy dough roller “Yaa-ouch!” I cried out.
“Oh!” Jaleh exclaimed.
She really was beautiful, and she cared for me. My fingers started to go numb. I was in love—or infatuation. It feels good when someone cares.
I could tell her hair was faked. Instead of ‘jet black’ it looked dull and teased today. When a man considers death, he marches up. We were soon back in our seats. A new disco-song started playing on her bose “One Night Only, One Night Only; We Only Have Until Dawn.” I was a bit chagrined and I was sure she saw my face blush red.
“I can always tell what you’re thinking Khalid. I can see right through you. You’re transparent!”
Soon, Leh [Jaleh] and I sat down together on the loveseat and she resumed telling me her story of the difference between Sunni and Shiet Moslems. How Islam was severed into two strains by a dispute between two parties over inherent authority to succeed to a throne. Should the will dominate as in the case of Yazid or shall blood relations dominate as was Hossein’s strong suit. Who would be the parallel successor to supreme leader of Baug this go round in 1978?
“When Hossein formally challenged Yazid’s authority to assume the throne as Caliph, Yazid ordered his men to kill Hossein and the men supporting him. To this day, the story of Saint Hossein’s execution is told as a cruel reminder of the strong overpowering the weak, however unjustly. Since then, in the Shiet sect, Hossein has taken on the symbol of a popular underdog who was slain because he fought for a just cause against his cousin, the tyrant Yazid. Baugis have always been sympathetic toward underdogs because of the central lesson they learned from childhood regarding the historical figures of Yazid and Hossein.
“Because this legend is embedded in Baugi culture and is inherent in the foundations of Islam, the anarchists and clergymen used the parallel of Hossein as an underdog figure to symbolize the present-day relationship between Amir versus the Baugi people as led by Ayatollah Babak. Amir was portrayed as the wicked Yazid and the Ayatollah Babak and those who fight with him as the just Hossein.
“A holy demonstration in memory of the martyred Saint Hossein was planned for the first day of Ramadan, in September of 1978. At the demonstration, the clergymen reiterated publically what had been spread in private: that Amir was a tyrant paralleling Yazid and everyone who opposed him was like the martyred Hossein, who, though perhaps not victorious in the flesh, would come back to avenge his death and establish justice in the world.
“So it is like Christianity?” I asked. Jaleh looked at me dubiously and continued the history of the split of Islam into two denominations.
“After the speech, the citizens gathered together every night in Ramadan, many with megaphones, to chant ‘Allaho Akbar’ [God is Great] toward Amir’s palace.
For one hour every night, Amir and all others within earshot were forced to listen to the chanting which sometimes took the form of frightening howls. The new method of psychological warfare debilitated the government and gave impetus to an oil workers’ strike in which opposition forces led by Babak hoped to effectively bankrupt Baug.
“One thing the strike did in fact do was crush the government’s influence over its people. On the ninth and tenth days of Moharam, the days in which Hossein was killed at the inception of Islam in 600 A.D., the people of Iran commemorated the holy days in 1978 by demonstrating in huge numbers crying, ‘Amir is the symbol of Yazid in our time!’ Martial law was ineffective when three million people had taken to the streets demonstrating against the government.
“Communist guerrillas arrived at 5 a.m. one morning and ransacked a central police station in Tealandir. They killed several guards in the attack by bombing parts of the station with grenades and Molotov cocktails. The guerrillas distributed tracts asking for individuals’ cooperation during the transition to a new government by violent means. These guerrillas had access to the weapons and small bombs needed to carry out the revolution. Sometimes guerrillas attacked convoys of government soldiers riding by in personnel carriers, killing many of them in surprise attacks. The guerrilla’s attacks were intended to discourage Amir’s forces from attempting future troop movements along the main transportation corridors. The lorries carrying soldiers became intimidated and their strategy to contain the guerrillas was simply to react to avoid them, not act when the guerrillas were enjoying widespread public support.
“The guerillas activities sparked a flame of concern in Amir’s quarters and they were perplexed about a strategy to bring back law, order and freedom of movement on the highways. The daring of the young communist guerrillas in their confrontations with Amir’s guard gave others courage to carry on with the coup. The communists’ tactics were working incrementally towards a definite end–the ouster of Amir and their ‘pole-position’ in the new government. The communist’s desperate, hasty attitude to bring about the revolution quickly spread with contagion throughout the country as the month of Moharam progressed. Newspapers went on strike when Amir had tried to control their content yet again, denying journalists and readers freedom of the press. The television media was not allowed to broadcast what they wished either, and as a result, many of the radio and television stations joined the print journalists and publishers in a general media strike.”
“Here’s the rest of it in a memo Khalid. Try not to knock over any tables with cylinders on your way home,” Leh said, handing me the professionally bound “Memo of the Moharam –Ramadan Demonstrations 1978”. I continued reading about the demonstration on the train during my trip home. Thoughts of Jaleh popped into my mind and boggled it for a moment and I would return to the Memo after the sweet repose. As I got closer to my stop, I began to think more about Zareen who was probably waiting for me by now. I was rarely out this late alone without her, and was anxious she might call. Hope she doesn’t call me now, I wouldn’t know how to steer the conversation away from the loveseat at Jaleh’s and the cylinder injury. Maybe I shouldn’t take Zareen for granted so much.
Political Instability Corrolates With Price Instability [and of course the communists]
“What do you do all day?” Zareen asked the next morning.
“I’m reading a book online. Let me read it to you in Tahmoureese, ‘As winter progressed, heating oil became unavailable to the public due to increased demand and a virtual stand-still in production due to strikes.’ You like?” I asked.
“No!” she replied, enthusiastically blunt.
When we got back from the café, I got back to studying the DVD data. The disc that read “NBTO Study Led by General Alborz” caught my attention and I put it in the broadcaster.
“General Alborz, a high ranking officer in the North Bahar Treaty Organization [hereinafter NBTO], studied the political unrest in Baug for one month. The Alborz’ Report was sent to Sargon President Riymi Dauber and NBTO chairpersons meeting at a base in Western Bahar. The Report advised the support of Ayatollah Babak instead of having the country disintegrate further into chaos, allowing communist guerrillas to re-organize Baug into another of Xerxes-controlled satellite-states. The NBTO committee concluded that a religious government in Baug would tend to counteract any communist infiltration since one of the Xerxes Communist Party’s main tenets is a determinant disbelief in God and that religion is “an opiate of the people”. If a religious republic replaced the Amir monarchy, it was believed by the NBTO analysts that monetary support and/or military intervention would be less likely to be required from the international community to circumvent extreme Xerxesian influence in Baug. Part of NBTO’s conclusion was based on the presumption Ayatollah Babak would institute rigid adherence to an Islam code of conduct with severe internal consequences to those who opposed his new government.
“Amir, knowing his situation continuing as monarch was growing dire, asked Dr. Javed, the leader of the Baugi National Front, to become the new prime minister and replace Gazsi who turned out to be disasterous for his regime. Dr. Javed flew to Paris to meet with Babak, who was effectively the constructive albeit in absentia, future ruler of Baug sanctioned by the de facto fiat of the NBTO. If Babak approved of his appointment, Javed could become the next prime minister. There was some argument at the outset, but it was agreed between the two that as long as Amir was in power, Javed would not become prime minister nor would he take responsibility for the acts of Amir’s government going forward or retroactively. As a consequence of their decision, General Alborz, in the company of the Sargonian Ambassador to Baug as well as several members of the international press, went to Amir’s palace to discuss the monarch’s departure from Baug.”
Jaleh showed up with the DVD and handed it to me. It had her smudgy fingerprints all over its face from make-up foundation. She must have been in a hurry getting ready and she looked tired. She probably stayed up late studying the disc—she looked more intelligent with the dark rings beneath her doe eyes—damn she’s got a head start on me. Women bosses. Women bosses? Women.
“Here you are Khalid,” she said, looking into her handbag for something then added, “I’ve got to go.”
“Go?” I asked.
“Yes Khalid, you take care, I’ve got to go now.”
She hurriedly sauntered down the Tealandir sidewalk and into a hair salon.
After I saw she was not coming out of the salon right away, I went straight home to play the disc. Zareen was taking off her make-up at the vanity.
“Zareen, mind if I play the disc out-here?”
“In the living room?” She responded. “Go ahead, I don’t mind.”
I used wireless earphones and listened.
“After press conference presentation announcing Amir’s offer to Javed had been declined, Amir asked Dr. Saleh Roshan to become the next prime minister. Roshan consulted leaders of the BNF, but they refused to throw their support behind him. After repeated attempts to persuade his colleagues to allow him to take on the job, Roshan became dejected and reluctantly turned down Amir’s offer of appointment. Having failed twice to appoint a prime minister now, Amir asked Dr. Moravid Arash of the Baug Party, a sub-party of the BNF, to act as prime minister. The Baug Party was established during the last Great War. Only Dr. Javed held more prestige than Dr. Arash in the BNF-Baug political party structure. Dr. Arash accepted Amir’s offer, but the BNF and the Baug Party would ultimately drive him from power and the alliance. Arash was known as a brilliant and experienced politician, possessing a fluency in three foreign languages: English, French and German. A well-travelled man and proficient orator, Arash sought to quell the seemingly ever-present discord in Parliament.
“When Arash was 17 years-old and a student in Fairusa, he joined the Fairusa Republican Party and helped fight Pankco’s dictatorship in Vesper. During the last Great War, after Fairusa had fallen and come under fascist occupation, Arash joined the Fairusa resistance to combat their fascist occupiers. When the last Great War came to an end, Arash attained a rank of honor in the Baugi National Front [BNF] which fought off Jahangir oil companies interested in exploiting Baugi oil. Arash was a very close companion to Dr. Rahmat who led the BNF in the early 1950’s. After the coup d’etat removed Rahmat from power in 1953, Arash was also arrested and sent to prison without trial where he remained for the next five years. The same man that jailed him was now exalting him to the second most powerful position in Baug: prime minister.”
“Arash’s father was the leader of the nomadic Arashi Tribes. In 1900, Arash’s father fought against the dictatorial monarchy in Baug in favor of a democratic form of government. After a dozen years of democracy to begin the 20th Century, Amir’s father, Roshan Amir Shahraz, reinstated the monarchy with himself as the leading monarch, the king.
“Although all parties and factions seemed aligned against him, Dr. Arash accepted the prime ministry on the condition Amir leaves the country. General Gazsi remained acting prime minister during the search for a successor. General Samir Yesfir, Superior Commander of the Baugi Air Force, invited all military commanders to attend a conference organized by General Cyrus Moshah . Moshah met with General Alborz at the conference who said he agreed that Amir “should” leave the country. Alborz referred Moshah to three or four other operatives under the NBTO umbrella who coordinated with Babak and his representatives regarding his activities in Tealandir. General Alborz later met with the Ayatollah Shahin about the expulsion of Amir and his replacement, the Ayatollah Babak. At the time of these discussions, General Gazsi had a heart attack and immediately left the country for ‘treatment’. Dr. Morvarid Arash stepped into the position of prime minister after these ‘coincidences’ came about and Amir made it apparent he was leaving the country on a ‘long vacation’.
“Behind the domestic scenes of everyday life among the peasants, NBTO members met in Bahar to discuss Amir’s desublimating predicament and decided it would be best if he left Baug immediately. As soon as Parliament officially elected Arash as the new prime minister, Amir was on a plane to Farhoud where he had been given a pre-authorized asylum. Arash declared he supported the Baugi Constitution and the rights contained therein protecting an individual’s freedom. Immediately after Amir fled the country, General Samir, who was instrumental in arranging the diplomatic expulsion of Amir was tried for crimes committed during the Amir Administration.”
“Ten Thousand Baugi demonstrators chanted in the streets of Tealandir to show their support for the new prime minister. Some of the clergymen, including Ayatollah Darien, supported the newly drawn Baugi Constitution, but Babak said anyone who supports the new Constitution is not only his enemy, but an enemy of all Moslems. [In a homily Zareen and I heard at the Christian compound in Tealandir, a Catholic priest had recently downplayed the significance of any nation’s constitution compared to the Roman Catholic faith and one’s openness to the grace of God]. Babak further claimed Arash was a tool of Sargon, and that Amir ought to return to Baug once Baugis tired of demonstrating in the streets.
“Babak had previously told journalists one month prior to Amir’s exodus that he condoned the Baugi Constitution except for the Article allowing Amir to hold the highest position in the country, make laws by executive order and using his veto to defeat proposed legislation. When Amir fled Baug, Babak wanted the Baugi Constitution to be scraped and rewritten. Until a completely new draft of the constitution was agreed upon, Babak could not take over as the supreme leader of Baug. He was cornered by constitutional prerequisites delineated in the arrangements made with the international authorities and the NBTO. As long as Baug remained without a constitution, Prime Minister Arash would retain the greatest control over Baugi policy while he would fade helplessly into the background as time passed, another feeble clergyman sent out to pasture.
“When Arash became prime minister, he returned freedom of the press to publishers, released all political prisoners, dissolved OIHSB, discontinued martial law, cut exorbitant taxes and gave exiles the right to return home. However, when the newspapers began to roll the presses again, they did not praise but attack Arash.”
Aye and that severely.
“Babak gave a signed declaration directing an engineer named Ferdows Farhang to proceed to southern Baug and speak with designated oil production workers to establish oil production quotas to meet Baug’s domestic needs. After one week, the workers agreed to produce six to seven hundred thousand barrels of oil a day for Baug’s domestic needs. After the quotas were set, the electric company in Baug went on strike to protest the appointment of Arash as prime minister. Without electricity, oil could not be distributed adequately and shortages were widespread. The strike was a ploy used by laborers to mobilize revolutionary forces around Babak and drive Arash out of office. The electricians’ and laborers’ strikes succeeded and all political parties thenceforth followed the advice of the Ayatollah Babak. The strikers believed, as Babak had informed them, that Arash was a puppet of Greater Kir and Flint.
“Three weeks after Arash’s appointment as prime minister, Babak decided to return to Baug from Firuz, Fairusa. Arash asked a Baugi political leaders named Paiman to give the Ayatollah Babak an invitation to meet with him upon return to Baug. At first Babak accepted the invitation, but the following day, he retracted his acceptance and told Paiman that he would meet with Arash if he resigned as prime minister. The reason that Babak would not meet with Arash was because Babak did not want to legitimize Arash’s office as prime minister. While Babak did not have to concede his ecclesiastical power, he would strip Arash of his title before he would meet with him.
“When confronted with issues of the day by reporters, Babak did not overstate his personal authority as supreme leader since there still was no ratified constitution. He wouldn’t debate with leaders outside his inner circle whether they be Baugi or foreign. For instance, Babak did not accept an audience with the renowned Burt Salmeini of United Corporate, to negotiate the release of fifty-two Sargonian hostages who had been captured by ‘students’ from the Sargonian Embassy in Tealandir.
“Babak did not meet with foreign leaders because he did not like to compromise if he didn’t have to and he didn’t have to. As long as he held ultimate power in Baug, his diplomatic style tended to be stubborn and unyielding. If Babak found himself in front of television cameras, he often looked down to his knees or his hands deliberately in a show of non-cooperation, but no one knew for sure the purpose of his solemn, under-stated determination. It seemed to many that Babak had faith, but lacked self-confidence while others noted his ‘stage fright’ was probably due to lack of experience in front of cameras on a world stage. Too much was at stake for him to make a blunder. It was said Babak was not a ‘humble man’, and any reserve he showed speaking ad hoc to reporters was not due to shyness or modesty but rather a strategy of silence. He had learned the hard way his words must be measured and chosen carefully for the occasion. Rivalries with other Ayatollahs and Amir in the past taught him to restrain rhetoric in the face of victory. God had granted Babak a role in the leadership of Baug. There was no need for his words as a man. Now, only his words as an Imam were of any importance, and his followers doted on every one of them. He was speaking for God now and chose his words to reflect that assignment.”
“The three people who backed Babak as “Supreme Leader of Baug” were Dr. Harved Sarahim, Payam Gulzar and Casper Basir. These three men planned to groom the Ayatollah for the coming riots, strikes and demonstrations. Sarahim, a naturalized Sargonian citizen, and Gulzar, who was educated in Sargon, were questioned about their allegiance ‘Is your loyalty with Sargon or Baug?’ they would ask. Newspapermen were suspicious of the apparent conflict of interest posed by the presence of Sarahim and Gulzar, who had Sargonian credentials, backing Babak. The journalists had Sarahim and Gulzar in a Catch-22 —if Sarahim’s allegiance was still with Sargon, then his allegiance could not be said to be entirely supportive of Baug. Several media officials suspected Sarahim of being an operative working in conjunction with Wombat because he swore an oath of allegiance to Sargon when he became a citizen of that nation. If his allegiance was no longer with Sargon, the pro-Babak journalists could not take Sarahim at his word since he flip-flops. He renounced a Baugi oath of allegiance when he worked for Wombat, an agency of a foreign entity and maybe he was lying now. If he ‘lied’ to Sargon, why keep his word of allegiance to Baug? These were rich questions for reporters. Sarahim and Gulzar were never popular politicians and they fell for the carrot of a ‘limelight interviews’. Anyway, after all was said and done, it appeared Gulzar and Sarahim may have been using Babak as a tool for their political hi-rise.
“Gulzar lived in Sargon on two separate occasions. Once as a young student where he was expelled for mischievous conduct, and later on, after entering politics and becoming a naturalized Aspirian, he was able to study psychological warfare at the prestigious Sargon Intelligence University [SIU]. Eventually, after writing a couple of dozen briefs for his colleagues, he became a noted expert in the subjects covered at SIU. Aspiria shared an eastern border with Dilshad, which shared a eastern border with Baug. Gulzar’s global interests led him to acquaint himself with Rosnef Terradat, leader of the Basir Liberation Organization [hereinafter BLO], and the two men became close collaborators and friends.”

“Arash hatched a plan to build a ‘liberally-minded’ republic designed around a Baugi Constitution, and not based on Amir’s whims. People were relieved after Arash gave a speech delineating his plan, and they hoped their freedoms and the government’s more liberal attitude would continue. Attention soon became transfixed by the arrival of the savior of Baug who promised instantaneous results: the Imam, the Ayatollah Babak.
“Arash sought surreptitiously to hamper the functionality of the Tealandir Airport in an attempt to delay Babak’s actual arrival in Baug. Baugi Air Force officials and/or functionaries offered to pick the Ayatollah Babak up in Firuz, Fairusa to circumvent having to use the Tealandir International Airport. The Fairusa Government did not allow foreign military jets to land on their airstrips at the time, but understood the Baugi military was now taking orders from Babak, not Arash who continued to take orders from Amir. The news of the Baugi Air Force officers’ proposal to pick up the Ayatollah in Firuz emboldened rising Baugi dissent and indicated a Baugi military rebellion in the works. After the Firuz escort incident, insubordination and outright flagrant failure to follow orders spread rapidly throughout the Baugi armed services. More servicemen than ever were opposed to Amir’s authority over them. Within Amir’s special guard unit, one soldier utilized a machine gun to kill more than twenty Baugi officers while dining. A number of other soldiers deserted their encampments and fled to neighboring rural villages Absent Without Leave (AWOL).”
“I’m getting sick, let’s take a break,” I told ‘Leh.
“Have it your way, but this briefing has got to be done or my ass is grass as you say Khalid.”
“Your ass won’t be grass,” I reassured her.
“And if it was?” she cooed, but quickly cut it off.
“The people gave Arash an ultimatum: if he does not allow Babak’s arrival in Tealandir, they would begin firing ammunition on all government agencies and their employees. The threat against his administration was one of guerrilla-type warfare. Arash could not overcome the public’s insistence on bringing the Ayatollah Babak home to Baug. After a week of negotiations, Babak arrived by private jet at the Tealandir Airport. Seemingly every business and organization had a secret plan designed to weaken Amir’s control and influence over them by weakening his functionaries, including his highest ranking one, Prime Minister Arash.
“Another example of factions arising in Amir’s government was an organization set up among members of the Baugi Air Force to co-opt the military commanders. The defecting air force officers recruited others in the ranks to break from Amir and Arash and join them in loyalty to Babak. As the ratio of defectors to the number of Amir-loyalists increased, a threshold was reached and Amir’s political power was siphoned off to Babak. The defectors were able to convert other air force officers to their organization by emphasizing service to Islam, not Amir.
“Rebels who organized the mission to receive the Ayatollah Babak at the airport ran like clockwork. Babak’s arrival marked his first time on Baugi soil since he was exiled by Amir in 1963. At his arrival in the capitol, Babak’s visage revealed its all-too-familiar signs of grim seriousness. He had presence. His itinerary stated he was to meet with professors at Tealandir University to discuss further plans for the revolution. Babak’s Cleric’s Council however, advised him to go to Goudarz, a public cemetery, instead. A meeting at the university with the revolutionary coordinators would only weaken the Ayatollah’s power at a ‘petit summit’. If Babak agreed with the Council’s suggestion to go to the cemetery, he would give clerics more power once the revolution was over. If he followed the itinerary planned for him by the academic revolutionary coordinators, it might erode his power as a supreme leader in any post-revolutionary political structure and Babak’s supporters might find themselves taking orders from lay professors. The inner circle of the Babak clan leaked a missive that the streets of Tealandir were too crowded to meet with the professors right away, but they (all the clerics) would do so as soon as time permitted.”
“Do I have to hear this?” I asked, tired of the DVDs.
She looked at me; kind of felt sorry for me like a mother would when her boy left her side to test his bravery against an adversarial challenge.
“Comes a time…? Is that it ‘Leh?” I guessed.
She smiled as she slowly and gently nodded her head ‘yes’. Walking over to a safe hidden in the closet she paused, turning around to look at me. Seeing I was paying attention, she beckoned me nearer. I watched as she turned the combo: 04-34-7. A hailstorm would not quash my bullets.
“Morphine?” I ventured a guess.
“I’m a doctor,” she surrendered.
“Doctor? Medical Doctor?” I asked.
“That’s the one. If we needed this during the rout, it was available…and still is. I wanted you to know where you can find it. Did you get the combination?”
“Yes.” After falling into a black leather loveseat, he realized he didn’t love her anymore in a romantic way.
“It’s time for you to go,” she said.
I picked myself out of my seat and pretended to call 911, performing both voices, my own and a female dispatcher.
“911 Operator, what is your report?”
“There’s a gathering at the Goudarz Cemetery out front and it looks like ‘good nite Amir’.”
“What is your report sir?” I asked doggedly, imitating a dispatcher who didn’t fool around.
“You might want to send police to the Goudarz Cemetery,” I replied to myself in my ordinary voice. “There appears to be another gathering building–a demonstration against Amir!” I warned.
“Gathering building?” my high-pitched voice asked. “What is your name please?”
“The Creation Party and the Democratic Shaheen Front,” I retorted.
“What was that?” I asked in falsetto.
“A contest!” was my final exclamation before hanging up the phone. I started to sing, “Let’s do the time warp again!”
“You’re inane Khalid,” Jaleh said, exasperated. Then she asked, “Who teamed me up with you anyway?”
When she said that, and grabbed my arm uncomfortably, I started laughing and stopped singing. ‘Sunnis and Shiets really do see things differently’, I thought to myself. I thought Shiets were the artistic ones…a medical doctor? We needed medical doctors.
Jaleh tells Khalid of the Presentation of the Ayatollah Babak in Baug
“At the Goudarz Cemetery, Babak was able to impart a religious significance to all those who perished in the recent spate of guerrilla warfare,” she said. “As Imam, Babak honored those who had fallen in the noble cause of freedom. His supporters advised him to pacify the crowd in leading them in solemn reflection upon the freedom fighters who made the present moment of solidarity at the cemetery possible. The Ayatollah Babak had come a long way from Firuz to mourn the dead at Goudarz and nothing, neither the up-and-coming rebellion nor matters of State, would make him divert his focus.” Jaleh was recording the lesson to disc which would be mailed book rate to a classified UC destination. She continued, “Babak’s speech at the cemetery made it clear that he knew very little about politics. He spoke like a parrot, dictating the points told to him by his handlers.”
“Sounds like electioneering,” I volunteered.
“It is. He’s seeking legitimacy at a graveyard,” she added. She went on to say off-record that Babak held preparatory rehearsals for his Goudarz address, and resumed recording the lesson.
“He renounced the Baugi Constitution and said their ‘forefathers’ had no right to dictate the way of a ‘new Baug’. In renouncing the old constitution, Babak proposed the adoption of a new one, one in which he will ‘choose his own prime minister.’”
Doctor Jaleh continued, “The Ayatollah Babak rejected life in a palace and resided in a school dormitory. He led a simple life just like the ancient prophet Mohammed. Different groups of people went to visit the Ayatollah in his apartment, and they passed by the austere black-robed figure with waves and cheers of admiration. Throughout the cheering, Babak remained motionless.” Jaleh added off-record that no one must get a view of Ayatollah Babak’s new dental work, as it had not quite been completed. There were gaps. She continued, “ In the days of the prophet Mohammed, the oral orifice was often closed for hygienic purposes to hide decayed teeth and their odor from bystanders. In the 7th Century A.D., it was regarded as indecent as it was now in Babak’s case, to show the interior of one’s mouth. ‘Did he have dental work done or didn’t he?’ she asked rhetorically.
“Babak was soon transfigured into a demigod among the citizens of Baug. The five other Ayatollahs who were more learned in Islamic doctrine than Babak were forced to pay homage to him as their leader or be accused of high treason. In due time, the five other Ayatollahs recommended Babak as the new leader of Baug with hopes that in time, his power would diminish.”
“The Ayatollah Babak appointed Ferdows Farhang as the new prime minister of Baug. He requested that Farhang, the leader of the BNF, resign his post as President of the Baugi National Front Party and follow him unconditionally. Political power could then remain under a cleric’s umbrella. Although the BNF did not foresee Babak’s tactical move to consolidate power and neuter the independent decision-making capabilities of their party, they nevertheless continued to show support for him.
“Manifest political power began to shift when the Imam’s staff did not allow former Prime Minister Arash’s appointees to be installed in their posts. All Arash’s open appointment orders were revoked and any such further orders would be made anew by Prime Minister Farhang, Babak’s ‘First Officer’.
“Havoc was brewing in the military ranks. When a regiment was out on patrol, soldiers were known to disobey their commanders’ orders to execute dissenters of Amir’s regime, turn on them, and shoot them down.
“One week after his arrival in Tealandir, Babak’s revolutionary council began to spread the rumor OIHSB operatives appeared at the Imam’s dormitory residence to frighten and intimidate him. The rumor was unfounded, but it attracted the public’s attention and gave Babak’s camp an additional reason, albeit a phony one, to criticize what remained of Amir’s government. On February 10, 1979, a clash arose between Amir-loyalist soldiers and the general public due to the rumor spread by Babak’s camp about OIHSB’s visit to Babak’s dorm. Many casualties ensued. The next day in a town east of Tealandir, Babak supporters met at a local air force base to discuss plans for the revolution. Amir’s Guard was still in the country trying to maintain order even though Amir himself had departed from Baug. The Guard attempted to break up the meeting once they found out where it was being held at the base. Within half-an-hour, news of the confrontation spread throughout the city and martial law was re-instituted by the new prime minister. People were instructed by the government authorities to vacate public streets from 6 pm until noon the following day.
“Babak became apoplectic at the private meeting on the air force base. He was angry at Amir’s soldiers for using force against the public; it also happened to be dramatic, convenient and appropriate for him to do so while appearing at the base. Babak ordered everyone to protest that evening to show the government that they were not to be bullied by Amir’s guard or other kind of suppression procedures. He unloaded his ‘bombshell’ that Amir’s covert guard were hiding within the military and were planning to counter-coup and reinstate Amir! Babak and his advisors used the psychological warfare to frighten Amir’s last remaining loyal guardsmen. Babak’s forces burned all flammable material and filled the streets with smoke. The smoke-screen terrified Amir’s guard because they were unaccustomed to the eerie gloom cast upon the city from the smoldering red flames and putrid chemical smoke. On the main street of Tealandir, the crowds shouted out to Babak that he allow them permission to engage in holy war. The crowds were ecstatic over the prospects of fighting for their beloved leader, the Ayatollah Babak.
“Meanwhile, in the east corner of Tealandir, a group of Baugi Air Force soldiers were found demonstrating against Amir. When the pro-Amir commanders heard this, they ordered a nearby outpost to quell the demonstration and punish the transgressors. ‘Punishment’ for the Baugi high command meant deploying tanks and automatic weapons. The commander at the scene used an army installation on the outskirts of the city as a forward base to organize the systematic assault on the mutinous airmen. The commander envisioned that if the staging headquarters of the counter-attack was on the outskirts of the city, the motorcade of army personnel would not have to traverse the smoky streets of Tealandir with rioters who would love to take pot-shots at them.
“Communication of the attempted ‘punishment’ against the protesters was quickly intercepted by Babak’s forces. Two politically active military organizations that had been in hiding, Rostam Khalq, a religious-socialist group and Saiar Khalq, a radical communist organization, heard that Amir’s guard were soon to attack the air force installation where Babak was in conference. They took the opportunity to intervene, supplying Babak’s rebels with Molotov cocktails, rapid-fire machine guns and various automatic rifles to protect the Imam.
“Guerrilla-like warfare ensued. Molotov cocktails were thrown at Amir-loyalist tanks, setting them afire and eventually debilitating their forces. Guerrilla warfare brought death to the infantry men in Amir’s tanks. The Khalq rebels salvaged whatever working weapons they could, and distributed them among the people with the proviso they were to fight off what remained of Amir’s decimated army. When Amir’s guard was all but defeated by the guerrillas, the Guard commander in Tealandir asked for the assistance of the commander in Hoomanshah, a city about 400 miles west of Tealandir, to fight the rebel forces. The Hoomanshah regiment was on their way to the air force base near Tealandir when they came upon Faraz, a city 20 miles north of Tealandir. An angry, uncooperative mob prevented the Guard from passing. They were told in advance of the Hoomanshah reinforcements traversing Faraz and were ready with machine guns and Molotov cocktails to greet them. The Farazis put up such a persistent and effective fight, the Guard never did arrive in Tealandir.
“In all of Baug, most of the civil police stations were seized by the guerrillas and people of all walks of life defied any and all civil authority departments affiliated with the government. Women had important roles in fighting the troops as well. They made sand-bag barricades for the rebel fighters and nursed the hungry and wounded in their homes. At the end of the day, eastern Tealandir was occupied and controlled by the rebels.
“The next day the city was in a shambles and the political stability meter was redlining. Dr. Arash, the former prime minister, spoke in the Parliamentary Senate asking all the commanders of the legitimate army to return to their posts and carry on with their usual duties. However, many of the commanders some already sympathetic to the cause of Babak, saw opposition to the growing rebel forces both unwise and unproductive. Government soldiers having heard of the political rhetoric in Parliament, were seen placing flowers in the muzzle of their gun barrels as a gesture of peace, indicating they would not shoot their fellow citizens.
“At two o’clock in the afternoon local time, the national emergency broadcast station issued a report describing the Faraz showdown. ‘Hoards of citizens, led by the two guerrilla organizations, attacked military garrisons and police headquarters in downtown Tealandir. General Khosrow, the former Chief of Police and commander responsible for enforcing martial law was taken captive in the raids’. After Khosrow was arrested, Tealandir was engulfed in chaos. No one from Amir’s former government held any position of authority or even influence in the capitol. Each sector of the city had an organizing arm represented by committees who made their headquarters in the local mosques of each strategically significant neighborhood. Armed youths, taking their orders from various committees, began to control the affairs of Tealandir. Armed confrontations and skirmishes that befell other major cities in the country were taken under control in a similar ‘revolutionary’ fashion.”
“Street rioting was well coordinated by the two guerrilla groups: Saiar Khalq and Rostam Khalq. In one instance, when a rabble of angry demonstrators arose, trying to take over a police station, two experienced commandos from the Saiar Khalq crashed down the station door with the rear end of their military transport. The ruptured entryway allowed rebels to overtake the police station despite the non-stop firing by police within. The newly formed ‘district committees’ used precincts they captured as outposts for the two khalqs operating either tacitly or explicitly for the Ayatollah Babak.”
“So any jerk that got to the head of a committee became untouchable?” I asked.
“Any rebel leader who captured a police precinct,” she replied. “Yes, once he was on a district committee he came under the protection of the Imam. He was as untouchable as Elliot Ness, ” Jaleh insinuated.
She continued, “At the end of the two days of all-out rebellion, one couldn’t distinguish Tealandir from a large city of Gaspar following a carpet-bombing raid of the last Great War. The sight of the devastation only furthered the rebel s’ enthusiasm to overtake the ailing Amir government. Rebels demolished buildings impulsively so that all forms of the old regime would be removed from their sight. They placed steel girders across the thoroughfares to prevent tanks from traversing territory the guerrillas had newly won. Buses and lorries were continually burnt by the rebel marauders in payback for the bitter years of oppression under Amir’s regime. The prevailing attitude among the active revolutionaries was destruction now, reconstruction later; two separate and distinguishable steps. The Baugi Revolution was like a civil war without a president presiding over the troops.
“Despite the disorder, people united in the difficult days of the revolution to help one another through the shortages and casualties that beset the population. Conditions improved a short time after the bulk of the fighting stopped and people shared what little they had with their comrades. Youth Volunteers distributed motor oil and gasoline among the people in rationed amounts and shopkeepers sold their food inexpensively in temporary kiosks set up in make-shift tents and at the standard Casbahs and medinas.
“Civilians began to trust one another in a coordinated effort to rebuild the broken nation. People considered themselves ‘brother and sister’ during this period because they were fighting for a common cause, the expulsion of Amir’s ugly regime. Babak assembled a Revolutionary Guard to legitimize the police power of the new government and to disarm militants who posed a threat to it. Thousands of guns had been distributed to the population to overthrow Amir, but now that the fighting subsided, the Guard wanted them returned to avoid their use in a ‘counter-revolution’. The threat of a second coup against the new revolutionary government outweighed the possibility the weapons were still needed to bolster Babak’s regime. The Imam made it known through his media contacts and clerics that all guns were to be returned to the mosques.”
“When there are so many guns ‘assassinations come cheap’,” Jahan said, stepping into the room unannounced.
“Overabundance of anything is bad news, especially assassinations,” I added. Some jackass will get upset with Jahan’s vulgar comments and give him his comeuppance…someday. Jahan looked at me intently–then looked away. He took over the telling of the story for Jaleh.
Jahan continued, “The main focus of the government and its people was still the elimination of the former regime, and the execution those found guilty of a capital crime. Babak used the element of revenge and the concept of justice to keep his people spirited as they began to rebuild the new republic. Most people understood a sense of unity was required if they were to successfully establish a new Baugi government and following the orders of the clerics, returned the guns they had received from the guerillas to the mosques.
“It had been seven months since manufacturing production was at full capacity in Baug, and when Babak’s new regime was quasi-established, it was time to step-up production quotas again. New and old employees needed a salary, the Ayatollah needed capital, and everyone needed energy. When it was safe, the two major underground organizations that worked to overthrow Amir’s regime, the Saiar Khalq and the Rostam Khalq, came out into the open for the first time evidently seeking the praise of its people. The khalqs believed they would be lauded by the clergy and the peasants for commanding the revolutionary fight to a successful terminus.
“When the khalqs came out into the open, they encouraged employees to choose their own administrators from among themselves as was customary in labor unions of the West. The elected committees from each local brotherhood would participate as coordinators, advocates and influential spokesmen within the consolidated union council. Both local committee members and the consolidated council pledged their allegiance to the Imam and to his welfare, for the support of the Ayatollah’s political entourage, and for national unity assured by the strong arms of Saiar Khalq and Rostam Khalq.
“Babak and his committees had vast control over all private and public companies. Operatives of the Ayatollah’s new political party asked the factories to dedicate their companies to the Imam, so the committees in each factory renamed themselves a ‘committee of the Imam’ to clarify to the clerics they understood their place as agents coordinating the restructuring of Baug for the Imam. Members of Babak’s political party would infiltrate companies’ labor forces when voting time came for the election of their respective company committee officials. To insure that the leaders of each company were faithful to Babak, the Revolutionary Guard pre-selected candidates for election to the labor committees. The voting procedure became a corrupt ritual of formal appearances. Instead of private balloting, voting was carried out in vast assembly halls, with the prospective leaders chosen by Babak’s collaborators and presented to the workers as ‘good and able men’ in the service of the Imam. In a show of hands, whether one or one-hundred hands shot up to vote for a designated candidate, candidates who were pre-selected by the Guard to lead the organization invariably won the ‘elections’.
“Although many of the newly elected leaders often knew little of what was required to manage a large corporation, they professed a zealous loyalty to the Imam, and contempt for all who dared to oppose him. The Imam’s party wanted to change the whole structure upon which businesses and nationalized utilities were based. The former hierarchical business structure that had been adopted from ‘Western capitalism’ was declared obsolete and replaced by the Imam Committee’s blueprint for strategic management and production. The new economic framework would be based on a ‘union superstructure’ which gave some of the savvy committee heads an edge over Babak, whose knowledge of leadership was steeped mainly in religion, not business.
“When a large union like those existing in ‘the West’ was formed by an association of the various committees, and calling itself a ‘union council’, it professed its decisions would be made upon the expressed will of the union laborers . If the will of one labor committee was seen conflicting with the will of another labor committee, the union council would act in the best interests of the union as a whole.
“The unfit managers were the main glitches in the new economy as they often knew little about how to run the industry to which they were assigned. The loss of business management expertise resulted in a ‘brain drain’ as it had been after the coup that removed Rahmat from power changed out industry leaders in 1953. Despite the loss of much of its industrial expertise and its chaotic and volatile economy, Baug stabilized after the 1978 Baugi Revolution.
“Laborers working for large companies in Baug objected passively to the Babak Committee’s high-pressure prodding by slowing the pace of work production. The mainline workers knew an outright strike or revolt would not be wise at the time since human life no longer seemed sacred to the authorities. Some thoughts lingered that the Ayatollah would just as soon execute dissenters than allow them to meddle in his plans. Members of anti-Babak forces were massacred by the dozens every day in Baug, so company employees kept mostly to themselves, despite their political or religious affiliations, to avoid incrimination and prosecution.”
“299th Precinct—the end of the road.” I blurted.
Jaleh picked up where Jahan left off, “Babak somehow found out about slacking employees and declared that working was a religious duty for all Moslems and that ‘anyone who does not work hard is not only anti-Moslem but could be considered an agent acting against the Imam’. If someone was accused of being a spy within a particular organization or company, he could count on joining the former high-ranking officials of Amir’s regime on execution day.”
“The new justice courts were incorporated into an Islamic-based court system. Although many of the Baugi people were practicing Moslems, they were unaccustomed to such quasi-religious procedures infused in court procedures and found them bizarre. In the former judicial system, courtroom protocols were structured like those found in Firuz, Feroze and Caztleland, by a model civil code instituted by statute which had its origins during the reign of the Firuzi Emperor, Corsean . The reason for Baug’s judicial system possessing similarities to those in Western Bahar was that most of the attorneys and judges who practiced law in Baug had been educated in Western Bahari countries. Many followers of Babak’s regime were against the civil code because they saw it as an unfair tool in the hands of the OIHSB. During periods where ‘martial law’ was imposed on civilians and civil law suspended, military courts could often determine the fate of military personnel as well as civilians. When military courts tried defendants, OIHSB prepared the evidence in such a way that the accused would invariably be proven guilty. The clerics wished to avoid this draconian circumstance at the risk of instituting their own. The point was, the clerics trusted God and themselves, not humans interpreting a civil code.”
“I thought that’s how it always is,” I said, and laughed at my own humor. Jaleh joined me in laughter but I didn’t hear Jahan. I got the feeling levity was not in the cards tonight.
Jahan took over as master of ceremonies and invited us for tea, coffee and cakes. Jahan and Jaleh were designated UC researchers while I was their research assistant. I didn’t think of myself as their student exactly, but I did at the moment. It hadn’t occurred to me until now I was their captive audience. A humble feeling filled my soul. I felt like a Clint Eastwood character discovering humility after a life long battle with the gun. Maybe I was complacent, too passive to be a leader. After the refreshments and a brief recess, Jahan resumed the lesson.
“Since the military court was largely, if not entirely under OIHSB’s control, no one undesirable to Amir’s regime could escape its peculiar forum of judgment. Under the jurisdiction of the Islamic Courts of Baug, on the other hand, defendants, lawyers, professors and journalists soon discovered ‘reformed’ methods of civil and military justice could carry even harsher procedural scrutiny and sentencing guidelines than the maligned legal system that preceded it.
“In the new Islamic Court, clergymen preside as both judge and trier-of-fact, with no right to an advocate or a ‘jury trial of one’s peers’ as was common in the West. Islamic Courts were not a new concept but conceived fourteen centuries earlier during the founding of Islam by the prophet Mohammed. Due process afforded the defendant in an Islamic judicial forum is expedient: the ulama (priest) simply questions the accused and decides if the person is guilty or innocent of the charge(s). Once a Decision is made, the ulama will still need two people to confirm the accused’s conviction and sentence. In capital cases, if an individual, in the cleric’s opinion is assisting ‘corruption on the earth’, the defendant is entering into a battle against God and the Islamic brotherhood, and should be executed. In the laws of Islam, a condemned individual must be executed immediately without being given food or drink. To give a condemned person ‘good things’ that God has provided is a sin and as far as Islamic doctrine is concerned. God’s blessed creations are meant to be partaken solely by the faithful and not the corrupted.
“Shiet law dictates that when judging a defendant[s], the ulama should not let emotional states such as sadness, worry, sleepiness, hunger, thirst or nervousness affect his objectivity. The trial therefore, is held during the day and the accused is given the right and opportunity to defend his or herself. Though the public disapproved of the former judges and judicial methods of Amir’s regime, they felt the new court system could prove even worse as it lacked the checks and balances of a ‘Western’ judicial system and the Baugi Constitution did not guarantee an individual a right to remain silent. Clerics could fail to abide by their own values of mercy and consistency when distraught or fatigued while deciding a defendant’s fate, or may make errors in judicial procedure while weighing the factors and circumstances of the case.
“Dissatisfied with the institution of the Islamic Courts, the people wanted a right to an impartial jury and an attorney as they had been in the past. Babak, ignorant of modern legal procedure, said that no other judge is as important or as necessary as the clergyman. He claimed it is the clerics alone that should decide the fate of a man, since it is God’s Court over which the cleric presides. As the supreme leader of the nation, Babak was also establishing himself as the final arbiter in the Islamic Courts of Baug. Babak’s belief about the administration of justice however did not necessarily parallel the Islamic (especially Shiet) codes of justice they sought to replicate by statute. Some of the other Ayatollahs rebuked Babak’s view on legal procedure, saying that in capital cases, everyone had the right to defend his or her self from execution with a more plenary form of due process, but Babak remained firm; clergy alone would adjudicate justice. The clerics initially used the courts as a platform from which they could express their disapproval with Amir’s regime. Their propaganda was effective in labeling Amir as evil and his legal system unjust.
“Ayatollah Mahbod, imprisoned during Amir’s regime, believed that the rightful place of all clergymen was the Mosque, not the courts or parliament. He stated religious leaders should not delve into political affairs but be content with the simple life of a clergyman. His views correlated with those expressed by Ayatollah Bahman, who stated that clergy should interfere with the process of government only when necessary to correct poorly managed or corrupt institutions, their officers and/or functionaries.”
After two more hours of the session on the Islamic Courts and a brief discussion of the implications, I was given the disc, SAIAR KHALQ AT TEALANDIR UNIVERSITY by Jaleh and we went our separate ways. Religion as a subject, although perhaps profound at the outset, gets fatiguing since definitive “solutions” to the human condition dissolve like mirages are after a couple of hours.
When I got to the library, my feet were wet from the rain shower but the umbrella kept my clothes mostly dry. After using a towel in my satchel, I put the “Saiar Khalq” titled disc into the player, attached the headphones to the earphone terminal, and waited for the commentator’s voice.
“Saiar Khalq declared they wished to demonstrate at Tealandir University. From there, they would march to the Ayatollah Babak’s residence located some two miles away, but the Ayatollah Babak refused their proposal because they were communists (and by implication, ‘irreligious’). Saiar demonstrated nevertheless at the university and prepared speeches for the 150,000 people who would attend. They did not march to Babak’s home, nor did they carry his picture on placards, exalting his image and name. The Saiar Khalq was angered that Ayatollah Babak would not allow them an audience and a greater reign of influence after all they had done for him politically.
“’Without us, where would you be?’ they pled before the demonstration, but Babak was not moved. In his mind, it was God that won the victory, not the Saiar Khalq.”
Zareen would be home soon so I took a taxi to get there in time for supper. She was in the kitchen having a l’eau minerale gazeuse [Fr., sparkling mineral water] when I walked in.
“Hi Zareen,” I said.
“How was your day?” Zareen asked.
“Fine,” I replied. I helped myself to a mineral water and put a slice of lemon peel in a glass tumbler with two ice cubes.
“Mind if I finish watching a disc on the tele?” I asked in British lingo.
“Not at all,” she replied, glad to get me out of the kitchen.
I put the disc into the entertainment center’s disc player in the den and waited for the transmission: “One could observe those who gathered at Tealandir University were of the educated classes disillusioned enough with Babak’s political and judicial, if not his religious, agenda to hear what the Saiar Khalq had to offer as alternatives for Baug’s future government. Babak’s vision for their country was diverging from the future many ‘freedom fighters’ had invisioned, and rally-goers were looking for possible alternatives.
“The core constituency of Saiar was comprised primarily of students and educated laymen. Although a small political party, they were very experienced in organizing political activities. Babak’s goals opposed those of Saiar Khalq due to the fact that inter alia, Baug retained elective democracy in the midst of its Islamist reformation. Saiar’s vision of a Baugi Republic did not include elective democracy but a type of one-party socialism. The bottom line for Babak’s democratic regime was to lead the illiterate of the country and get their votes, as the population of their demographic was huge. Having the majority of illiterates voting for the cleric’s political platform in the upcoming referendum assured clerics of victory at the polls. At a meeting with illiterate Moslems, Babak spewed out his disgust for the knowledgeable and intellectuals of Baug saying, ‘This country belongs to you, the illiterates. Knowledgeable people do not have a share in the Islamic Republic. We need faith, not knowledge . The knowledge of the scholars belongs to Western science and we will have no part of that here! Let the scholars confide in [their former Prime Minister] Arash!’”
I telephoned Jahan and Jaleh on a conference call from the den. “Why are we going over the past?” I asked them.
“So we know the present,” responded Jaleh.
“Islamic State?” I asked.
“ISIL, Al Queda—religion is rising Khalid,” Jahan added. I imagined his wide smile now. I could hear it in his voice.
“Yeah, religion is rising like a balloon ready to pop,” Jaleh added.
“There will be wars and rumors of wars?” I mumbled over the phone, not caring whether they heard me or not. “Thanks,” I said audibly before hanging up.
I went back into the kitchen, hugged Zareen and gave her a neck massage before rubbing her back muscles as I always did.
“Oh yeah, right there” she responded.
The next morning, I got up with the sun as Zareen slept. I put the disc in a tablet and used earphones so as not to awake her. I started the player with a light tap on the screen.
“Ayatollah Bahman, who had a following of educated individuals, met with Babak to discuss his upcoming trip to Darivsh, a Moslem holy city in Baug. Bahman believed that if Babak left Tealandir for Darivsh, it would shift attention away from the political situation in the capitol. Babak’s trip came to pass, but effectually led to an unexpected result: it aroused Baugis to celebrate the Imam’s reign over the entire country! The factions that opposed Babak before dared not speak against him after his trip to Darivsh because widespread public support for the Islamic Republic was now too great. Upon Babak’s arrival at the Sepehr School in Darivsh, he would deliver a speech that laid out the groundwork for the future government of Baug. [The Darivsh School was a centuries old institution where Babak and four of his collegial ‘great Ayatollahs’ had been educated in Islamic Theology.]
The major aims of Babak’s speech at the Sepehr School were as follows:
1. To re-establish an Islamic government as it was during the period of the great prophet Mohammed.
2. To remove Western influence(s) from Baug as completely as possible.
3. That Baug shall act independently, and resist impositions of foreign powers for political, economic and/or military reasons. [Although he vaguely referred to Xerxes in his address as “the East”, the main thrust of his argument against foreign influence was directed against the Sargon of Kir and Flint.]
4. The State emblem of the lion and the sun must be removed from the Baugi flag to be replaced by new symbols representing the Baugi Islamic Revolution. The emblem of the lion and the sun was a symbol of royalty, and the revolution did away with the monarchy’s role in governing Baug.
5. Babak and his collegial Ayatollahs wanted to establish a special ministry to direct others to do what was dictated to them through the written law of the Quran, the Holy Scriptures of Islam, and to avoid that which was contrary to the Islamic doctrines contained therein. These two points: to do what was right and to avoid what was wrong, were the most important duties a Moslem had. Babak went on further to state that it was every Moslem’s duty to watch out for one another’s brother on the spiritual journey. After catching someone in sinful behavior, a mild reprimand is in order. The second time one is caught in sin, a strong reprimand, and physical beating is called for on the third offense.
“In a nationally televised broadcast, Babak was seen with other clergymen that had less than stellar reputations among the people. One of those accompanying Babak for instance, was a known smuggler. Another, Babak’s son-in-law, Aram Arad, was a well-known real estate tycoon who sold lands set aside for the religious and diverted the proceeds of the sale to his own benefit. The merchant land owners did not get fair market value for their land from Arad as it was sold below market prices, but were able to write off the discount as a charitable tax deduction. Subsequently, Arad resold the parcels on the open market to the highest bidders and made a tidy profit from the sales. Babak was mum about these real estate sales during a television broadcast where he was asked about the transactions. Arad was a valuable asset to the Ayatollah’s cabinet because he possessed the worldly knowledge and shrewd business savvy in short supply among his cleric cabinet members, and did not want to disparage his reputation.”
The Liked, the Well-Liked, the Silent, the Ruffian and the Despised: A Baugi Family Has Only One Father
The UC commentator went on with the next segment, “Babak broadcast on national television his decision he would break up the Baugi Department of Justice.”
“Now that I can agree with!” I yelled down the hall to Zareen in the kitchen.
“’Justice Ministers will no longer be allowed to eat or drink out of silver tableware or have female secretaries’,” I heard from the speakers. It sounded like an authentic sound bite from Babak himself. Meanwhile, Zareen was ladling hot lamb stew into liter-sized porcelain bowls. I turned off the stereo and thought of eating lamb with cous-cous as I made my move toward the hot meat.
After dinner, we sat in front of the fire. I put Vaseline on my dick and let it melt a little before probing. I think she liked it. She always says she does when I ask so I’m not going to ask. I like pouring extra virgin olive oil over her labia when she asks for the endurance test. We’ve fucking been married eighteen years. Even after ten years, I remember the Doc asked me, “How long you’ve been married?”
“Ten years,” I replied.
“That’s why,” he said, in response to my question about the usefulness of Viagra or a comparable as a chemical substitute for foreplay. There was always Yohimbe.
There’ll be plenty of time for foreplay…come to think of it, I’ve had enough foreplay for one lifetime. She gets off; that’s all that matters to me as far as my husbandly duty goes–that and making her lunch and a fruit smoothie every morning. Once the historical study and operational games are complete, there’ll be plenty of time for more pounding…arrgh…and there’s one for the hi-skirt broad. Fuck the small talk and the pussy licking, let’s get busy.
I slept in. The melatonin is a two-edged sword, especially after throwing in the Advil kicker. Zareen wanted coffee so I rolled over and off the futon and sauntered into the kitchen. I started up the Krups and hoped for the best. My eyes were half-shut, not half-open. Sleep was stuck on the eyelashes of my left eye making opening them even more difficult. Zareen was going shopping today so I had some time. After the kitchen was cleared and Zareen went to the medina in the neighboring square, I turned on the DVD and resumed listening.
“A few days after Babak made his formal statement forbidding certain Western ‘luxuries’, the engineer, Prime Minister Farhang noted the rif-raf that accompanied the Ayatollahs on television and became concerned with the import of the public display of Islamic political unity; he may have wondered if it was ‘authentic’ or merely ‘staged.’ Farhang told reporters that the clergy were gossiping about him behind his back, perhaps wanting to get feedback from them on whatever scuttlebutt they may have heard.
“The prime minister and the clergymen were trying to debase each others’ reputation because their political views did not mesh. After Farhang accused the clergy of spying and gossiping on him, the clergy openly told journalists they were referring to the lifestyles of Farhang as well as those like him. The clergy claimed that the prime minister had a young female secretary, drove a Mercedes-Benz automobile, and worked in an office covered with expensive Tahmoureese carpets. Farhang responded defensively by saying that even a shopkeeper can afford a Mercedes, and having female secretaries was not that unusual, even in Baug. He asked the clergy point blank: ‘Is it unusual for me to have my own personal secretary?’
“Baug’s recent governmental scrutiny disturbed the Baugi people because they felt that all citizens should have equal status under the new government, but it did not play out that way. Throughout the Baugi business world, employees refused to obey their superiors. Banks began to open, but because former business owners had fled the country, the acumen of the business managers and their subordinates was woefully inadequate. Due to a challenged functionality, the government gradually consolidated all of the private banks into a nationalized fund and promulgated their existence to interested parties, but even this did not significantly help alleviate poor economic conditions in Baug. The Army turned into a discombobulated mess and government officials decided to reduce the mandatory military service from a two-year stint to one.
“In spite of these changes, many of the higher ranking officers (colonels and generals) were leery of returning to their garrisons due to their possible arrest and execution care of the Revolutionary Guard of Ayatollah Babak. The new regime established the Revolutionary Guard to protect itself as there was no other police force equipped or organized to do so at the time. The conditions for membership in the Revolutionary Guard were simple, yet demanding: a strong belief in Islam, and an unconditional devotion to Ayatollah Babak as their ruler. The Guard was rapidly formed, aided by Barbadians who benefitted from Babak’s government. Babak came out in support of the Barbad Liberation Organization [BLO], and praised its loyalty to the Babak regime and their paramilitary know-how.
“Under BLO direction, the Guard raided the homes of the rich, took their valuables, and executed many of its inhabitants. After the evacuation of the rich families from their homes, clergymen accused the wealthy of committing the crime of ‘self-indulgence’ by having an overabundance of luxurious and superfluous possessions. Clergymen taking possession of the usurped houses and expensive cars of the ‘self-indulgent’ enabled them to carry out ‘meaningful and important’ duties for the new regime. The clerics rationalized that they were the best recipients of God’s good gifts as they were involved in His mission. The clergymen brought many priceless and rare articles, antiques and jewels to their own homes or sold them at market.
“Prime Minister Farhang expected Babak to give him more freedom to run the government than former Prime Minister Arash, but on the contrary, Babak gradually took power away from Farhang. Babak and his savvy son-in-law made laws and issued orders that suited their peculiar tastes. What ‘tasted’ good to the Ayatollah Babak did not always ‘taste’ good to the next person seated with him at table. Rules and regulations were constantly promulgated and repealed. Babak’s regime organized a Revolutionary Council [also referred to colloquially as RevCon] composed of clergymen directed to help control the proper functioning of Islamic Baugi society, including the union council. All but three of the RevCon members had the discretionary authority to order commandos drawn from the Revolutionary Guard to enforce executive authority—their authority.
“RevCon often used gunman at their disposal to exercise expedited enforcement actions in matters of State. When they thought it necessary, they would take appropriate weaponry to initiate armed government reprisals against opposition parties. RevCon would target particularly wealthy residents to be thrown out of their homes and executed without a warrant or injunction. They often attacked homes in the dead of night in surprise raids. The fleeting whim of one of its respected members was enough to sentence anyone to death. After wealthy residents of the raided homes were arrested, they were given an ultimatum to either give up their homes and possessions or face a death sentence. RevCon brought individuals who did not voluntarily give up their possessions to court and accused them of financially aiding their enemy Flint. The punishment for a Baugi aiding Flint was death, and the only remedy to avoid capital punishment in such a case was to bribe the Chief of the Revolutionary Council with all the worldly possessions he or she could muster.
“Newspapers informed people that the Revolutionary Council was taking bribes from wealthy defendants in lieu of criminal prosecution. To prevent a scandal, Babak spread the rumor that OIHSB had influenced members of the council. In point of fact however, all of the former members of OIHSB had fled, been imprisoned, or executed. Babak selected one of the clergymen as the chief coordinator of RevCon quads in order to prevent corruption and ensure justice and accountability. It took a lot of time to control the factions within RevCon because allegiances shifted as factions dissolved or were impacted by the disruptions of daily anarchy. Babak gave newspapers the new-found freedom to write anything they wished. They were neither censored nor repressed, so Baugis were well informed on issues of the day being discussed and debated by Babak, the cleric and union councils, politicians, lawyers and student activists.
“Babak wanted Prime Minister Farhang to promulgate a republic based on Islam. The adherents of political party rule and the generally educated population preferred a government with a separation of Church and State, and for religion and politics not to be interwoven, but stand side by side as a form of stabilizing gravity, one pillar leaning but not integrating with the other. Those who supported the separation of church and state reasoned that there was no recent model of a republic in Baug without a constitutional balance of powers. Many did not think the risk of instituting an Islamic Republic with a dislodgement of Baug’s historical reliance on a constitutional government was worth it. Without a proven track record of whether an Islamic Republic would function as planned, many Baugis were reticent about handing government leadership over to Moslem cleric overlords.”
I went to the compound on Good Friday and sought out a Jesuit priest. A secretary in the rectory office told me where to find him. I knocked on a six panel colonial door. The mahogany brown wood stain was cracked from the arid temperatures and a lack of maintenance and air conditioning. A small man with grey hair and a gracious smile mirrored mine.
“Hello, the secretary told me I could find you here. My name is Khalid. I was born Sunni but my wife…”
“Hello Khalid, how can I help you?” replied the priest.
“My wife has brought me here several times to go to your ‘masses’. One of the priests said in his homily, ‘If Satan translated mean ‘adversary’ and not ‘the Devil’, what does that indicate about whose ‘side’ one is on, dialectically speaking? Are there absolutes in a world in flux?”
The priest thought for a moment and replied, “Remember what our Lord said to his apostles, ‘Follow me…Come and see’…and… ‘Get behind me’.”
After the three phases sunk into my hot and perspiring head I saw it was that “we contend not with flesh and blood” stuff from Paul’s letters in the New Testament.
“Oh yeah,” I replied and smiled widely. “Thanks,” I said, and gave him a hand shake and a small donation before turning to leave. He didn’t try to stop me and I was grateful for that. “Goodbye,” I added and turned to face him as he slowly closed the panel door behind him.
The next day I resorted to my research on the Baugi Revolution using an interactive disc with the heading:
Post-revolution? Hmm. I bet here’s where it gets interesting. I played the disc on a 3-D holograph tablet to see how Baug would pick up the pieces after the armed resistance left three major players standing.
“There were three main streams of political thought and membership after the most violent demonstrations and police actions had transpired in Baug. These were the counterparts of a transitional government as Baug moved from a monarchy to an Islamic Republic. One of the three groups was comprised of Babak’s religious society that was by now incorporated into the governmental structure. Another was that of the politicians from the Baugi National Front (mostly the educated classes) and the younger generation of ‘students’ generally considered mid-way politically between the clergy on the right and the BNF on the left.
“Prime Minister Farhang and his acting cabinet selected ‘Democratic Islamic Republic’ as the title of the political system for the ‘new Baug’. The greatly respected Ayatollah Bahman agreed with Farhang’s choice for the name of Baug’s political structure, but the Ayatollah Babak did not like use of the word ‘democratic’ to describe any aspect of Baug as it was a Western term and should lend no Western meaning to the Islamic Republic.
“The debate was on. Newspapers were filled with editorials on what kind of regime should rule Baug and what its name would ultimately be. For his part, Babak showed distain for the word and concept of ‘democracy’. For their part, the plurality of the press favored the additional word ‘democracy’ to dispel some of the vagaries of simply calling Baug an ‘Islamic Republic’. Babak threatened his adversaries regarding their proposal to add ‘Democracy’ to ‘Islamic Republic’ by painting them as profane lobbyists deserving of punishment.
“The managers of Ayatollah Babak’s ‘stage show’ were groups formed to visit the Imam every day in Darivsh. Groups gathered at the Sepehr Theology School and Babak reciprocated by giving these devotees fresh lectures daily. This ‘give and take’ was effective because it gave Babak’s Imam Party more members which he would need now that the violent events of the ‘revolution’ were waning and other avenues of social cohesion were needed to pick up any slack in recruitment. The planners of the televised event staged busloads of peasants and villagers brought to Darivsh to express their wild enthusiasm for their Imam, the Ayatollah Babak. The reality television shows were an astounding success. Babak enlightened and entertained his audiences day after day. Sometimes, he had marvelous audiences that were already fired up. He often didn’t have to work very hard personally to overwhelm the audience with his cordial diplomacy. They cheered when he addressed them—they didn’t need a neon sign that said ‘APPLAUSE’ because they were sincerely inspired. These meetings became symbiotic wherein the speaker, Babak and the audiences fed off each others’ enthusiasm. Authorities that viewed the Ayatollah from their homes on television sets would jest that Babak had great potential as an entertainer or better yet, as a sitting-down stand-up [comedian] in Sargon.
“As the bearer of good tidings, Babak declared he would institute a program to build houses for the deprived in Baug. He opened a checking account for himself and let the whole country join in enlarging it. The account number was 100. His followers donated thousands of dollars while merchants and landowners gave the Imam sufficient acreage to make housing for the poor feasible. Babak was not satisfied by the country’s gifts at the outset and demanded more from his countrymen. Being a powerful Imam, he expected parents to gladly sacrifice their very children before his feet if he so desired. To further condition the minds of television viewers, a new tv program was devised by producers of the ‘Babak Show’ and was re-titled Babak and the Peasant’s Hour. The producers and their assistants persuaded illiterate women to visit the Imam in droves to offer their gold, silver and jewels. The scene, as depicted on the television screen, was very touching, stimulating donations from all corners of Baug to account 100. The propagandized Babak and the Peasant’s Hour was an effective tool in unifying the nation to support the poor—it also gave Babak more revenue to work with to bolster his fledgling administration. When donations had reached a satisfactory level, Babak gave a speech of appreciation to the people in which he heaped praise on those generously donating for the welfare of Baug’s poor. During his speech, sacks full of the jewels and precious metals that had been collected during the donation drive were presented on camera and shown being transported to Ayatollah Babak’s house.”
I bet some of those riches were part of the ‘self-indulgent wealth’ confiscated from the rich by the clergy. I remember at the university some resident students broke into the student cafeteria and stole the soft drinks. One girl I’d never suspect to be in on the caper couldn’t wait to dump her stash of the loot and coerced me to have one. It was horrible but it made her feel better. Now I couldn’t inform on her without suffering guilt myself. It really doesn’t bother me today and the university forgave the thieves “as long as it didn’t happen again.” Absolution by novation donation.
“Although Baug was currently selling crude oil, it took more than two months to get revenue from its sale. The time lapse between the sale and revenue receipts incentivized clerics charged with the management of the accounts receivable to use deposits sparingly while they remained in the trust set up by the Ayatollah Babak. When sufficient revenue from the sale of Baugi crude oil was deposited into the trust accounts, clerics could transfer some of it back to Babak-controlled coffers and/or to an earmarked account to meet the appropriate financial needs of the Baugi Islamic Republic. Both students and the employed were compelled to donate a certain percentage, or a pre-determined surcharge to account 100. The money was purportedly used to strengthen the new regime and to increase its ability to resist a counter-coup against Babak.
“Students donated money as a sign of gratitude for being able to enjoy an education in the Islamic Republic. Most of the money students donated to account 100 originated with their parents, who also donated separately in thanksgiving for their acceptance as persons of integrity in Baugi society. The merchants, for their part, paid an outrageously high tax because they had the most cash flow to be used immediately and on a regular basis by the clergymen. Laborers and other employees were asked for approximately half-a-week’s wages per month. In Baug, there was no income tax, only tariffs on the sales of merchandise and certain services, so alms-offering was not an overwhelming burden as long as one did not need to buy or sell products or use services simply to pay the sought after sales tax. When some party or individual paid less than he or she was expected to donate as often happened, the giver was accused of being a counter-revolutionary or working underground with Amir’s associates in some undisclosed manner.”
“Maybe I can shave,” My brother-in-law said.
Zareen and I looked at him. “You’ve been saying that for how many months now?” Zareen asked.
Zareen’s brother Baruch was here as he always was for Sunday supper. We would customarily drink tea and watch the news together after dinner. “Okay, I’m getting too specific Baruch.” I couldn’t deny it. “But that’s how I got the data,” I said, responding to his questions about my research.
“Integrity my friend, integrity. Look it up, it has three distinct meanings,” he said. We looked it up. My brother in-law was right. It does have three meanings. Back to work.
Jahan met me at a local schoolroom in which he had a friendship with the headmaster. We met to learn about the clergy accounts #100 and #200. We sat across from each other behind portable teacher’s desks facing each other. He began the lesson on the accounting methodologies of the Islamic Republic of Baug during the initial period of honorable taxation paid into accounts 100 and 200.
“The first publicly released accounting from Babak’s ‘treasury’ office reported total accumulated deposits in Account #100 amounted to approximately two hundred million dollars. Success breeds success, so Babak opened Account #200—exclusively to alleviate the suffering of the poor by building homes and infrastructure for their use.”
“I wonder if the account included the plans that were needed to design a Transit Oriented District like the one in Shahrah, Gaspar?” I asked.
“Doubt it Khalid,” Jahan said dismissively and continued with the lesson.
“The ‘housing project’ account #200 was meant to enable even poor people and their extended families to access housing. When the Ayatollah Babak came to power, his officers seized apartment complexes and houses which had been under development when Amir left the country but remained unfinished because construction companies involved in the macro-project had also fled the country and/or went bankrupt. Babak and his collaborators reserved the unfinished construction project as a ploy to encourage the public into continuing to donate money to Account #200.
“Ultimately Babak’s group of collaborators kept the money donated to Account #200 for the Islamic Republic’s general fund when the projects were deemed unsalvageable. They decided they would not ‘put good money after bad’ and diverted the money where it was needed elsewhere. The Islamic Republic then changed the financing for the special housing for the poor so that the government’s treasury would pay for the rehabilitation of Amir’s ‘lamed’ building project not donations under deposit in Account #200 as was initially disclosed. When this happened, it put stress on the government’s general budget and the completed dwellings were later sold to only those who could afford them or to select Guardsmen.
“After one year, Babak had not dispensed any of the Account #200 funds to the poor. He declared the Housing Foundation officially closed in that it had not been effective ‘in alleviating the housing problem for the poor.’ When asked by the press where the funds of Account #200 were allocated (or located), the Ayatollah Babak could not reply.
“The pioneering way Babak and his collaborators succeeded in gleaning money from the public’s hands could not be said to be in bad faith, but the questionable financial methodologies in almost every sector under the Republic’s jurisdiction appeared as if it might be riddled with deceptive smokescreens. The failings of the new programs proposed by the Imam caused disappointment among many of the Baugi peoples. Still, most did not think Ayatollah Babak was trying to deceive them, but had their best interests at heart.”
Divisions in the Ranks
“Some groups of discontented people tried to make the distinction between Babak and other clergymen. Babak supporters alleged ‘other clergymen’ working under the Imam were responsible for the foul-ups and miscalculations whereas those critical of policy failures and unaccounted for trust funds wanted the blame to fall squarely on Ayatollah Babak. Babak had often encouraged his supporters by commending their fundraising prowess, even if it sometimes included embezzling ‘for a good cause’ or ‘for the clerics’ party’. Those embezzling, their collaborators or spokespersons, claimed it was not possible for Babak to keep track of all the priests [tutors] who may be neglecting their duties of worship and public service. As for the theft, it was already in a charity, not in the hands of any individuals, but in trust for all Baugis.
“Political caucuses argued that establishing an Islamic Republic was not orthodox and may even be contrary to fundamental Baugi principles. Babak was resolved however: Baug would have an Islamic Republic rather than a democracy, God willing. Babak’s decision brought unsettling attitudes among the people from the outlying provinces of Bahadur, Baugistan and Armee to the north, as well as to the Sunni-majority regions of southern Baug.
Tahmour Primer
“For the past fourteen centuries, there had been a dispute between the Shiet and Sunni sects of Islam. In the 7th Century A.D., Baug was generally far more technologically advanced than Samisekt, but not in the art of war. The Samisekt tribes had skilled warriors who overcame the Tahmour peoples, of which Baug was a part.
“For the next two hundred years, Baugis submitted themselves to labor, learning and management, using their expertise to manipulate and frustrate the purposes of their occupiers. Skilled and knowledgeable Tahmoureesi were regularly promoted by their occupiers to be leaders and arbiters in education, administration and accounting. After several generations, the tipping point finally came. Tahmoureese leaders, with their functionaries, were able to overcome the Samisekt in Baug and drive them out.”
Jahan, a Shiet came over to watch and discuss the next DVD in the series, The Shiet and Sunni Denominations of Islam. Being Sunni myself and Jahan and Jaleh being of the Shiet faith, I wondered if Jahan and I were going to end up arguing over the material on the disc.
I often relished the study of the schism which formed after Yazid overcame Hossein in their mutual ambition to gain the undisputed sovereign throne of Baug.
“The major fissure in Islam took place in Tahmour when Baugi Shiets refused to accept the Samisekt Sunni saints and caliphs as their supreme leaders because they were not as closely related to the prophet Mohammed as they were. The Shiets chose Ali, who was both the cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed, as their Imam (Caliph). The main reason for the different Caliphs in the Shiet and Sunni denominations of Islam was that Ali’s son Hossein chose the former emperor of Baug’s daughter as his wife, and she likewise chose him. [At the time of the Samisekt invasion, Samisekt Sunnis sold Baugi men, women and children in the medinas to work in Samisekt regions outside of Baug.] When the Sunni merchants attempted to sell the Baugi emperor’s daughter, Ali displayed wisdom by asking that the princess of the former monarchy not be sold but allowed to marry among the young Samisekt in Baug. As it happened, the princess chose Hossein, Ali’s son, who was next in succession to the place of Imam after his brother Hassan. The two realms united in this marriage: the old Samisekt Empire (the Sunnis) with the Baugi side of the new Islamic heritage, the Shiets of Tahmoureese.
“The descendants of the princess and Hossein therefore, were half of Samisekt, half of Baugi royal ancestry. The descendents of the princess and Hossein were informally chosen as the future Imams of the Baugi people as they intended to unite the two peoples, the Sunni and Shiet tribes, into one.
“Customarily, caliphs were taken from Ali’s Sunni cousin Omanid and his descendants. Tahmouresse Shiets did not have the clout to nominate or revere their own leader to rival those of their conquerors, the Sunnis. Baugis nevertheless resisted Sunni culture by claiming Hossein’s descendants and not Omanid’s would be the sovereign Imams ruling over them as Tahmoureese-Baugi Shiet-Moslems. The proponents of Shiet-based leadership pointed out Hossein’s children were of half Tahmoureesi origin and more exposed to Baug’s culture than Omanid’s offspring. Despite the grounds argued for a Shiet ‘supreme leader’ of Baug, the Baugi people were not allowed to have an insular political leader of their own while serving under Sunni authority and domination. To maneuver within a greater Sunni regional jurisdiction, Baugi Shiets came up with a religious angle to comply with Sunni-imposed laws. Baugis alleged a distinction should be made between religious and political leaders which would bisect the political leadership which has been handed down since the 8th and 9th centuries. By splitting the power of the Baugi government into both religious and political branches, it would enable them to comply with laws promulgated by the Sunnis while retaining a semblance of ethnic identity separate and distinct from them.
“Baugis allege Omanid’s caliphs down through history often resorted to coercion, extortion and intimidation when procuring alms for the caliph, or Imam. Further, Baugis claimed God had appointed Ali and his offspring as the true Imam, not the royal ancestral line of the Sunnis: Yazid and Omanid. Since there was no royal figure of the Samisekt whom Shia wanted as their leader, most Baugis continued to follow Ali and his descendants as their primary religious leaders. Their ‘bone of contention’ provided a foundation to build a civilization of their spiritual longing and political will in negotiations and transactions with the Sunnis.
“Over the generations, the severing of the Shiets and their Imams from the caliphs of the Sunni denomination of Islam caused political upheaval. The turmoil derives fundamentally from a longing for self-determination on the Baugi side and what the Sunnis believed was their inherent right to rule as victors of the throne left by Mohammed, his daughter, her two sons and their cousin Yazid. In other words, on the one hand the Shiets believed heredity and blood should determine a leader of the people [as in a monarchy] whereas the Sunnis believed if the acting supreme leader was imbued with significant credentials [Yazid was a cousin and an acting leader during Hassan’s reign], he was entitled to keep the throne until such time as he was challenged and defeated. Since Hossein challenged Yazid for caliph after Hassan’s death, Sunni’s maintain Yazid and his descendants are properly installed as caliphs since Yazid’s men killed Hossein only after a challenge initiated by him.
“In Baug, the Shiet denomination is by far the majority and best represents the mainstream Baugi religious identity and culture since the split between Yazid and Hossein. Throughout the ages, Shiets would directly or indirectly manipulate Sunnis to obey them in the jurisdictions of Baug as the Sunnis were outnumbered demographically in a territory foreign to their own. Sunnis feared that if Shiet clerics were given the political as well as the ecclesiastical power they already possessed as Imams, they might disregard Sunni civil rights and migrate into Sunni held territory and rule over them in their indigenous countries. In the post-revolutionary months of 1979-1980, the Sunnis based their grievances against the Ayatollah Babak, a Shiet, ruling over them as a form of “co-mingling of politics and religion”. [Compare, unlawful discrimination as defined in the 13th and 14th Amendments to Sargon’s Constitution ratified in the 19th Century, as well as ancillary case law, defined by and in Federal and State Statutes. See also, scriptures, ‘It was written in the book’; ‘It is written’; ‘the word of the Lord is tried’].
Jaleh arrived carrying a paper box containing small sandwiches and we sat down to lunch together. Jahan made black tea in the kitchenette and brought it in on a tray carrying a porcelain teapot, three small teacups and some butter cookies on a plate. I could smell the smoky flavor of the tea as he lowered it onto the coffee table.
After lunch I turned on the DVD player for everyone to listen to the lesson on “Kouros.”
“Kouros is one of thirty-one provinces bordering Kaveh and Dilshad in southern Baug whose residents are primarily Sunni. In Kouros, the situation was quite different than in other Sunni provinces sharing a border with Baug. Kouros is an oil production center in Baug. The population is a gene-mosh of two types: 1) The first group is primarily of Baugi ancestry and 2) the second a genotype of Samisekts who migrated to Baug subsequent to indigenous Tahmoureesi settling there, but who now speak both Farsi, a Baugi tongue, and Arabic. The latter group of Baugis of Samisekt ancestry asked Babak, as a Shiet Imam, if Kouros could become a province insulated somewhat from Baugi jurisdiction. These Baugi citizens of Sunni ancestry formed a new political party called The Center of Culture and Politics for Samisekt Peoples [CCPSP]. The organizers of CCPSP proposed that each province should have some duties of self-determination in ‘Sunni provincials’. An inter-dependent government for ‘Sunni provincials’ under a national Baugi umbrella was generally accepted amongst Baug’s educated elites. Uneducated peasants on the other hand, did not always comprehend the nuances of a multi-tiered government and its implications for cooperative or discordant political activities.”
“Life is full of risk whether one is enlightened or is resigned to being blind sheep,” I said.
“Be attentive and curious sheep,” Jahan commanded sarcastically to me.
Shaken, I asked them a question: “What’s the difference between a Judas Goat and a ‘Fisher of Men’?”
“For the fishers and judas goats, it’s a matter of who one works for, and for the schools of fish and herds of goats…how do you suppose each group captured feels about the transition? Jahan posed the question to me. I didn’t have an answer. Again, one of those fatiguing religious concepts.
“One leads the willing while the other captures the available?” Jaleh ventured.
“How big is your room?” I asked.
“The same size as Jahan’s, but I’m almost never there,” she related. Jahan’s head was still in existential theory.
“At the hospital?” I asked, not wanting to acknowledge Jahan anymore.
“Mostly, yes,” Jaleh replied.
‘At the hospital’ I thought to myself.
“Babak took advantage of the news vacuum in Tealandir and exclaimed bluntly ‘Kouros, one of the wealthier regions of the country, wishes to align itself with Sargon and Flint!’ He ordered his Revolutionary Guard to keep intense pressure on the Kouros opposition amassing there and convert the people of Kouros into Babak loyalists. He did not want Kouros to become allies of Baug’s mortal enemies, first and foremost.
“One night, in an effort to persuade the people of Kouros to follow the Ayatollah Babak, the Revolutionary Guard exiled Kouros’ leader, Ayatollah Shayan, to Darivsh. In response to the Babak protocol exiling their Ayatollah, Kourosians fought back against Babak’s Revolutionary Guard in Kouros. Babak appointed General Pahlbod in response to the Kourosi disruptors and gave him authority to quell the resisting peoples with reasonable force if necessary. [General Pahlbod was the defense minister aka, the Governor-General in Babak’s regime as well as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. Pahlbod was responsible for the stability and security of Kouros which was a strategic area situated along the Tahmour Gulf, on the border of Dilshad. As Governor-General of Kouros and Commander-In-Chief of the Navy, Pahlbod wore two hats and had the clout to overcome uprisings in the southern provinces without many of the parliamentary delays otherwise associated with the use of force.
“The Honorable Shankam, a religious judge, traveled to the city of Zand in the center of Kouros and convened the trial of eight youths that fought against Babak’s fledgling regime. Within the space of an hour, Shankam heard the testimony of the eight youths accused of various acts of rebellion against the Islamic State of Baug and sentenced them to summary execution. Pahlbod affirmed the religious court’s ruling by Judge Shankam and the eight youths were summarily executed. Pahlbod’s totalitarian methods were designed to intimidate residents so they would not get swept up in the opposition’s endeavor to disrupt and retaliate against the new regime. Many more youths were sentenced to death and a great number thrown in jail. In one instance, a seventeen year old girl and an eighteen year old man were handing out tracts criticizing the effectiveness of the newly formed government under Babak. Once captured, the young man was sentenced to death, and the woman to life imprisonment. The sentences were meant not only to punish, but to frighten wealthy third parties who might be contemplating a counter-revolution against Babak’s vision of an Islamic Republic of Baug.”
“The Center of Culture and Politics for the Samisekt Peoples [CCPSP] changed their method of diplomacy from one of calm to one of violence. Babak’s denial of their semi-independence and the installation of Pahlbod as their Governor-General infuriated the Kourosi peoples. Kourosi residents decided to blow up petroleum pipelines in order to disrupt heating oil distribution during Baug’s winter months. In the winter of 1978-1979, heating oil customers could be seen waiting in queue up to six days to receive their allotment. Coincidently, in Sargon motorists waited in long lines at service stations for gasoline that was not readily available to the general public.”
“So the Baugi’s had to wait in longer lines for heating oil than Sargonians had to wait in line for their fuel?” I asked, since waiting in line six days for heating oil seemed somewhat implausible.
“That seems to have been the case,” replied Jahan.
“Were women allowed to hold places in line?” I asked.
“’Mother, I know not seems.” Jaleh said, quoting Shakespeare’s Hamlet. “We did.”
Jahan stepped up to say, “Khalid, if I tell you Baugi’s had to wait six days in line, they had to wait in line for six days!”
“Fuck you,” I said jokingly.
“Fuck you!” Jaleh joined in.
“Fuck you both!!” topped Jahan.
“Go fuck your masculine selves… . That didn’t sound right,” added Jaleh.
[We laughed a fucking laugh about fucking or the use of the word “fuck” by Jaleh, I don’t know which].
The next day, we met again to discuss the underground Democratic Party in Kouros, Bahadur and Armee.
“Ever been to an underground?” Jahan asked me.
“Underground what?” I replied.
“Like the Magic Theatre in Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf. Not entirely legit but not without value. Being underground, it is not standardized, but quite unique. One cannot find an underground unless invited as one of its attributes is clandestine, so as to retain its hidden nature, one must go underground.”
“I went to an after-hours club once—they had gambling. The cops broke it up and the dealer stole the money in the pot when he grabbed the table cloth full of cash after someone yelled ‘It’s a bust!’ up the staircase. My grandfather told me all knowledge was good,” I recounted.
Jahan began to tell us a story of what happened the morning after an underground he had been to the night before. “There was a preacher and a ‘demon-possessed man’ in a city square outside the underground. The poverty-stricken man cried out, almost touching his groin, but then not, writhing in virtual agony. Above him was a preacher quoting scripture portending the end times.”
“Are they a team? Or opposing forces knowingly demonstrating in the presence of the other? Is it an unconscious-subconscious thing?” I asked.
“One might suggest the preacher seemed authentic, but the demon-possessed man seemed to be acting-out his sexual frustrations, the desperation of his indigency, loneliness,” Jahan said. “He grinned when he noticed me paying him attention to him. That set him up for his own healing processes, which included coming face-to-face with withdrawal from his addictions—or was it all a con Sunni?” Jahan teased.
“Sounds like they were merely actors putting on a show to raise their daily bread—telling us a two-voiced story to get money from passerbys,” I said, proposing an improbable theory.
“Well, you’ve got a point Sunni. Tealandir street performers can be entertaining if not educational. I learned how to juggle on the streets. Nothing better to do to pass the time if one isn’t preaching or getting drunk like the ‘demon-possessed’,” defended Jahan, all but agreeing with me now.
“Yeah Shia, no law against juggling yet,” said I.
“Both the preacher and the madman were boldly authentic in a street-performer sort of way. It often goes well beyond a script. Sometimes it’s sublime performance art or even perhaps rises to a transcendental state of consciousness, religious awakening, or realization of some sychronicity,” Jahan sounded like he was in some kind of confession mode.
“Magicians?” I ventured.
“They’re there in the square every day, play-acting. The preacher utilizes the ‘mad-man’ as a point of reference to convert us,” he replied, revealing the trick.
“Oh, the human condition. I’ve had enough juggling for one day. Jaleh!”I called loud enough for Jaleh to hear me in the kitchenette where she was preparing a second pot of tea for us.
“How are you doing? Ready for tea?” she asked, apparently not knowing where we were in the conversation.
Jahan and I looked at each other and said “Absolutely” together. It was one of Jahan’s favorite words.
After tea, we were ready for our next segment, “Bahadur Province—Northern Baug”
“During the thirty years of Amir’s regime, the Baugi Democratic Party [BDP] in Kouros, Bahadur and Armee operated covertly. In February of 1979, after most of the more violent episodes of the Baugi revolution had already transpired, people from all over Tahmour converged on the Federal military garrisons within their particular locale. In Bahadur, the BDP pilfered weapons and ammunition from Federal installations and sequestered seventeen tanks for deployment. Bahaduris became a powerful fighting force to be reckoned with once they had access to the tanks, but needed conventional arms as well in order to destabilize, albeit illegally, the Islamic Republic of Baug.
“During this period of the Baugi revolution’s aftermath, Babak tried to persuade the Bahaduris to follow his dictates, like the winner of a fight might patronize and co-opt the fans of the weaker opponent whom he has dominated. However, the fallen, self-exiled Bahaduri refugees were experienced in techniques of survival and political confrontation. Babak was fearful rivals to his supreme command might test him, so he ordered the Revolutionary Guard to bring the peoples of the far north province of Bahadur into submission. The Guard ransacked homes, seized alcoholic beverages and broke liquor bottles belonging to homeowners to frighten and disrupt their daily activities (restoration and clean up might take priority over demonstrations in the plaza for these homeowners).
“Roughly 30,000 inhabitants of one small Bahaduri town got angry enough at the Revolutionary Guard’s terror tactics that they abandoned the town to live on the plains in tents. Baugi citizens from other parts of the country were concerned about the Bahadurian refugees in the plains and carried food and medicine out to their encampments. Refugees preferred the bitter cold of the plains to the guilt and possible retribution the clergy laid on them for requiring the Revolutionary Guard’s expedition to Bahadur in the first place. The clergymen were not about to ‘repent’ of their official acts of government nor the heightened scrutiny they placed on the Bahadur province. Clerics in charge of domestic security acted quickly to suppress and isolate any political opposition to the Islamic Republic of Baug originating from uncooperative Bahadur.

“At the appointed time, Babak’s Revolutionary Guard opened fire on a Bahadur Democratic Party [BDP] meeting and an armed conflict broke out between the two forces. The battle, which lasted three days, was meant to show the rest of the country that the Islamic Republic of Baug was stronger militarily than any one provincial government standing alone. The fighting left many immigrants and refugees with little or nothing to live on. They appeared to have been taught a hard, sorrowful lesson by Babak and his army. Their defiance of the Guard in the desert plains became a symbol of independence and determination, no matter how short-lived. ‘What more harm could he do us?’ they thought to themselves three days after the commencement of hostilities. The cessation of armed conflict brought solemnity to the Badadur community.”
“Armee is a province of Baug located on the east shore of the Hastee Sea which stretches north to the Xerxes border. The clergymen planned to attack the region whose residents included eight thousand Sunnis. The Sunnis in the region wanted to establish a party called the ‘Centre of Culture and Politics of the Armee Peoples’ [CCPAP].
“During a large meeting of the CCPAP, Babak ordered his Guard to open fire on the gathering. Firing into assemblies of rival political parties became one of Babak’s standard methods of protest dispersal. Babak’s objective in the blitz was to scatter the people of Armee and dissolve their will to retaliate. The Armee Sunnis got machine guns and answered the Guard’s gunfire with bullets of their own. A heavy battle ensued and the Revolutionary Guard did not overcome them. Babak was determined to punish the remnant, so he ordered militia from all over Baug to reinforce his troops at Armee. The Baugi army with Babak’s Revolutionary Guard inadequately trained its new volunteers to the fight and as a consequence, hundreds of the new recruits were killed within a week of the armed resistance.
“Babak believed that the communist Saiar Khalq was behind the mobilization of the Armee people and decided he would do away with the disruptors. Saiars in each town had a headquarters filled with armed youths that had been veterans of guerilla warfare against Amir’s regime. Previous to the Revolution, they terrorized Baugi and Sargonian officers stationed in Tealandir. Whenever Babak ordered the Revolutionary Guard into a province, he reminded his troops of the ongoing intrigue and the conspiracy regarding Sargon and Flint and that it was their Islamic duty to circumvent their efforts.”
“Was there a conspiracy?” I asked.
“You tell me,” Jaleh responded.
“You mean ‘when is there not a conspiracy’?” Jahan added rhetorically.
The DVD continued with a study on the Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guard [RG].
“The Revolutionary Guard [hereinafter referred to as RG] can be separated into two root groups. In the minority group were dedicated patriots who fought for their beliefs and received no salary for their efforts to overcome Amir’s regime. These men refused to continue fighting for RG once they witnessed their own friends with whom they had fought against Amir shot down by fanatic RG pretending to be ‘cleaning their guns’. Trustworthy soldiers of the revolution were being systematically shot down if they did not adhere to Ayatollah Babak’s strict regimental duties. The ranks of RG decreased in quality as soldiers were shot down by ‘strongmen’ or simply abandoned their service to the Imam. The majority of Babak’s Guard which remained after the purges were opportunistic idlers, illiterates and ruffians who survived the Revolution and were given purpose and profit in their lives as Revolutionary Guardsmen. To them, being a ‘good’ guard for the Ayatollah Babak meant corralling people’s faith into a nationwide Islamic Republic through coercive, manipulative methods. One example of the Guard’s ‘corrective action’ included plundering goods from people’s homes, especially the wealthy, whom they extorted by the use of threats and repression. Babak authorized the use of ultimatums which included corporal and judicial retribution for disobedience. Some RG kept on long leashes by the clerics and allowed to grift like tax collectors on commission made illegitimate deals with influential members of society as a formal government had not yet been established. Citizens who were not particularly influential were afraid to oppose the thuggish element of the RG. Local police forces were beginning to be reformed under a united umbrella organization with a directive ‘from the top’ that RG would be in command. The local police did not dare to work independently from the Guard lest they should offend the superseding authority. Under a veil of confidentiality, the Guard was an extension of the Supreme Leader’s law enforcement authority. This more open-ended police power was being formed incrementally on a case-by-case basis.”
“Case-by-case basis? So RG was in control of who had the hard babies?” I asked them, using the word “hard” as it was used by my brother-in-law to refer to loans on credit, a hard money loan.
“Hard babies?” Jaleh queried.
“Sex does not always have to be a big entertainment event. Sometimes it is a true conversation,” I said, looking straight at Jaleh, watching dumbly for her reaction, if any.
“Make up for the shortfall,” Jahan replied.
“A litter of babies,” I rattled off quickly without thinking.
“Now who’s gonna clean up when the parents are unavailable?” demanded Jaleh.
“Hard babies to raise to be troops in twenty years,” I said resignedly.
“Ship ‘em out,” Jahan said.
“To high-risk abodes thereby stemming a population explosion,” I said, completing the thought.
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” Jaleh said, acknowledging the conversation, but not endorsing it, like an RT on twitter.
I could see the value of lawyers when I got home to Zareen. Maybe they weren’t that bad. Maybe we can have children…but how to pay for the legal…copyrights? Maybe I’ll produce one of these DVD’s Sunni-style. I looked at the next segment, BLO.
“Babak’s Guard was primarily comprised of illiterate fanatics who considered the Ayatollah as their mentor. Their unwavering loyalty to his commands was subsumed into that of the RG and any other of the Ayatollahs agents that outranked them. The Revolutionary Guard was trained by members of the Barbad Liberation Organization [hereinafter referred to as the BLO]. RG’s budget was well-funded in order to arm, train and maintain Baug’s combat readiness.
“Babak warned that uprisings like those in Armee and Bahadur would continue in the future and told his Guard to be vigilant. As a result of the Imam’s directive, RG prepared for containment operations. Babak put a great deal of trust and confidence in his Guard, but they were still a fledgling organization, not streamlined enough to both enforce laws domestically and protect the country from foreign incursions. To maintain a secure Islamic Republic of Baug, Babak knew he needed to establish a formal standing army. He employed former military officers who turned compliant after witnessing hundreds of executions in the aftermath of the revolution carried out the RG. The time was ripe for the formation of a new, powerful army to take shape that was to be under the ultimate command of the Supreme Leader, the Imam, Ayatollah Babak.
“To begin with the reformation, the Commander-in-Chief of the Baugi Army was replaced by sly General Azin and two subordinate generals, Farid and Farrokhz, who were formerly closely associated with Amir. These three began to organize a new military organization in secret with upgraded surveillance systems. There was talk of a ‘nuclear Baug’ and the technical schools had no shortage of enrollees. General Azin, with the assistance of his two lesser generals, began to strategize a plan to vanquish the Bahaduri contingent.”
Zareen entered the den as I was preparing the disc for play. We had discussed having children late last night in bed probably because our contract under the UC grant was soon calendared to expire.
“Babak wanted to stabilize his regime so he followed Amir’s method of neutralizing the opposition. Babak silenced the Bahaduri people and suppressed their activities in myriad ways to limit the possibility of damage against his regime. Whenever an underprivileged class of people felt oppressed by either the central government or the upper classes in Baug, they uttered slogans and chants demanding liberty, equality and justice. They emphasized the suffering of the people and claimed the injustices of society prevented everyone from living in a ‘Utopic’ society.
“Whenever a new regime overthrows a pre-existing government, they usually become more fierce and brutal than the former one in order to maintain control of the nation’s citizenry. State leadership can create a façade for public disclosure, disseminating rhetoric that offers hope and prosperity for the future. However, speeches with spin and propaganda are often deceitful because they attempt to justify collective actions made by the government even if totalitarian in nature, reminiscent of the Neri slogan of the last Great War, Work and Be Free. If the clergymen vindicate their official actions of State with sweetened words, it pacifies any lingering doubt of their capacity to instill a lasting civil and military stabilization.
“Test case!” exclaimed the lawyer in my wife. I hadn’t heard that in a while. Babies.
“Test case mamasita?” I delved, hoping to get her to elucidate her thought.
“Mamasita!” she said blushing, putting her right hand to her face. She looked cute enough so we made love down the hall until we landed on the futon and finished it.
That evening, I met up with Jahan and Jaleh in the back room of a café owned by Jahan’s associate.
“You hear about the Senate Report?” I asked.
“Yeah, you got a copy?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I replied and shoved a hard copy in front of Jahan. “It was a review of a Senate Report I got off the internet this morning. Fairideh is pissed off but has a face glowing in gloatfulness, as if he already has seen their destruction.”
“Glowing in gloatfulness?” Jaleh questioned, “Where’d you get that one?” she asked.
“Fairideh,” I responded. Look at the picture!
Jahan looked at the online article with the photo of Senator Fairideh. It read, “You Tell ‘Em Fairideh! Re: Flawed Legal Logic Found: Senate Report on Wombat Activities”
“REWRITE THE WRONGS Senator Fairideh!” I exclaimed facetiously.
After some thick coffee, Jahan put a disc into a portable boom box and turned it up loud.
“All political groups and parties in Baug knew that Babak’s regime would reorganize an army for deployment as the Ayatollah’s private strong-arm for ‘justice’. Political groups demanded that the military be dissolved and that a National Armed Forces be organized to replace Amir’s old army. Each group wanted equal representation in the new army. Former specialists needed to be shuffled around to prevent a concentration of biased officers and Special Forces from coming under Babak’s ‘containment’ and control. Despite objections from political groups, the army suffered the loss of several experienced personnel to the Islamic Republic of Baug’s newly formed high command. Although the political parties lost the argument over how specialists were to lead the military, political parties were given a voice and wider berth of tolerance when the regime was to take up wide-ranging discretionary issues such as the reorganization of businesses, monetary policy and overseeing the military-industrial-media complex [MIMC].
“In order to keep as many experienced personnel in the new armed forces as they could, Babak’s regime gathered all the police officers in a stadium while the Ayatollah Bahman read a prayer of repentance to them. The officers repeated the prayers as an act of repentance to absolve them of the sins they committed while in the service of Amir. After the ceremony, the clergy announced that the officers seeking forgiveness were ‘reborn’, ‘innocent’ and completely washed clean of any past crimes. Many modern Baugis however did not accept the Ayatollah’s absolution ceremony as a sufficient form of accountability. ‘Absolution’ was an ancient religious ritual which allowed a priest to mediate between people and God for the forgiveness of their sins. The plurality of Baugis were not accustomed to such ancient rituals being used in recent history and did not consider them appropriate in a judicial forum. Although the government officers repented, and the Ayatollah considered them forgiven by God, the clerics nevertheless had some of the ‘innocent’ officers executed anyway which created both an equal protection and credibility issue. The execution of repentant individuals was against Islamic law and made the clerics look perverse to many professionals who followed and closely scrutinized the Ayatollahs’ edicts. The inconsistency of the Ayatollahs’ sentencing guidelines led them straight into a ‘catch-22’ ; ‘old wine in new skins’.”
“Babak’s regime wanted to replace secular Baugi traditions such as Zoroastrianism with the exclusive practice of Islam and incorporate Islamic precepts into Baug’s statutory laws. The clergy urged people to participate in Islamic ceremonies and rites as part of a daily practice to gain salvation. Most Baugi’s however, preferred the quasi-secular celebrations and holidays to the Islamic rituals, much to the dismay of the clerics. Baugis considered their practice of Islam to include their ancient traditions which some of the more fundamentalist Islamic clergy abhored.
“In general, there are two deeply held attributes of Baugi spirituality: one is religious practice, the other is a reverence for the national traditions derived from Tahmoureese religions before Islam was introduced (i.e. Zoroastrian). Zoroastria (also known as Zoroaster and Zaraostria) was a Baugi prophet who lived in the 11th Century B.C. Baugi culture and religion revolved around the life of this prophet until the Samisekt invasions of the 7th Century A.D. In the fourteen centuries which have elapsed since the Samisekt conquest, there have been dissonant strains and conflicts between Zoroastrian-based and Islamic-based traditions and beliefs. At times, these dissonant strains have been complicated by the separation of Sunni-Samisekt Moslems with Shiet-Baugi Moslems living within the borders currently known as Baug, part of the former Tahmoureese Empire.
“In their abhorrence of the Zoroastrian culture, Islamic clerics in Baug proposed to destroy Pareevash and Zarrin in 1979. Pareevash and Zarrin were two Zoroastrian capitols which had existed since the Zoroastrians first practiced there between 1000 and 500 B.C. The clerics believed the two capitols of ancient Zoroastrianism were a distraction to Baugis and an insult to Islam. The capitols reminded people of days gone by including life under Amir and the golden ages of Darius the King and other Emperors who had ruled their land for millennia. As far as the clerics were concerned, these eras and empires of historical significance were long passed. Islam, founded by Mohammed, was still rising in popularity and gaining in the number of adherents to its practice.”
“Ayatollah Babak ordered General Farrokhz to launch an air attack on Bahadur with fighter jets and other air ships two months following the cessation of major revolutionary violence. The Bahaduris begged Ayatollah Bahman to implore Babak to stop the air raids on their province. Bahman went to Kaveh in Bahadur to negotiate possible solutions with Babak in regard to the Bahadur conflict. With Babak’s authorization, Bahman met with Sheikh Abtin Afshar, a Bahaduri religious and political leader and Dr. Simak, the current General Secretary of the Bahaduri Democratic Party in Kaveh. At the Kaveh conference, the Bahaduri leaders demanded that the city be controlled by a select council who would have no interference from the Revolutionary Guard. The leaders also proposed that in addition to a council, the province be allowed a provincial governor to represent them under the auspices of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Babak. Bahaduris considered the proposals to make reasonable progress towards provincial self-rule within a larger Baugi nation.
“Bahman and the ministers of the interior met at an outdoor venue with 50,000 in attendance to explore the establishment of an independent democracy in Bahadur. During the assembly, Phantom jets flew overhead sending a cautionary message to the crowd. In response to the flyover, Bahman and the Bahaduri council members sent a telegram to General Farrokhz warning him to stop intimidating Bahadur. The General answered that although he respected Bahman and the ministers, he followed orders from Ayatollah Babak alone as he was Baug’s new Imam. It was the Ayatollah Babak and not the General that wanted to frighten Bahaduris, he said.
“After the Bahadur negotiations, Bahman received permission from the Imam to give Bahaduris the right to manage Kaveh democratically, on an experimental basis. Bahman also was able to have General Farrokhz discharged from his position as Commander-In-Chief of the Army to ease the tensions between the people of Bahadur and Babak’s regime. It seemed to work at the outset. Bahaduris were able to administer a democratic Kaveh for the first time in eons. A Bahaduri civil council elected by the people handled the domestic affairs of the province in association with the Governor-General who was appointed by members of Babak’s regime to rule Bahadur.
“After several weeks passed however, as General Farrokhz was awaiting an appointment to another post in the Babak regime, he was assassinated by two members of the Forooshar Party. It was rumored the assassination was spear-headed by a sociologist who believed Islam had metamorphosed over the ages by the clergymen into a ‘false religion’. The sociologist interpreted the Qoran in a way that the ideal society was based upon socialism, though still respecting the freedom to practice Islamic religious doctrine. In its propaganda tracts, the Forooshar group claimed that the Babak regime was aberrant to the ideology expressed in the Holy Qoran, and even acted against Islam. They accused Babak’s Administration of replacing aristocrats and cruel monarchs with religious zealots that proved even worse. The Forooshar group claimed that though the faces had changed, the inherent corruption in the hierarchical system of authority subsisted with clergy as the new kings.
“Ayatollah Behrang, a very close companion of Babak’s and president of the Imam’s Revolutionary Council, was also killed by the Forooshar group due to their dismay over the lack of representation they were receiving in the new Baugi government formed by Ayatollah Babak. Both Babak’s constituents and those of the Forooshar Party began to plot attacks against each other in the wake of the assassination of Behrang. Babak’s regime took advantage of Behrang’s death to remind Baugis of the ongoing diversionary spectacles: the Sargonian hostages at their embassy and a recent Baugi earthquake allegedly caused by Sargonian nuclear weapons testing in the region. Maybe the Sargonians assassinated Behrang was Babak’s innuendo. It was hoped that by accentuating the diversionary spectacles, a renewed anti-Sargonian enthusiasm would take hold supporting the Ayatollahs and denigrating continued Sargonian influence and control in Baug’s energy sector.”
“Sargonians were still there?” I asked. Jahan’s lack of response made me feel foolish. “Oh.” Although chagrined, I was proud of my Sunni heritage. “Fake it ‘till you make it,” I added half-heartedly, since I did not identify with the cliché and wasn’t yet sure what it indicated, if anything in regarding Sargonians still in Baug.
“Casey should have lost his security clearance before he went to bat,” Jahan said.
[Was he referring to me, I wondered?]
“Thank you for your time and exploitation.” Jahan was going into his cynical and facetious stand-up routine–hadn’t seen that in a while.
“Get a good flight. Buy a billion barrels of light,” I said, thinking of a book I read about the cautious precision with which a Sargonian corporate oil negotiator approached his deals with a Middle Eastern monarchy. The Sargonian magnate presented himself as a gift and did not speak an unnecessary word. He imbued his hosts with the utmost respect to their person, their integrity and the product for which he travelled half-way around the globe to access with his Sargonian corporate wealth in the 1960’s and seventies.
“Now it’s nukes?” Jaleh joined in. She had a tremor in her voice like a frightened alcoholic just before a relapse led to that first drink…but she didn’t drink. Reminded me of how some Firuzi women gasp in the middle of a sentence to imbue substantial gravity to a conversation I might have considered small talk but for the gasp.
“Didn’t you used to work for the Forooshar Jahan?” I ventured while fearing an answer.
Jahan looked at me for about ten seconds before answering, “Those clowns. ‘Thank you for your time and exploitation’. I lost my level 2 license because of those power plant assholes. Now there are so many guns, assassinations come cheap.”
My stomach started to get that ill feeling. Like when I read the book about the ‘will’ of the fascist Neri Party leaders of Gaspar leading them to great power, then defeat in the last Great War. War reminded me of my own heritage as a Sunni descendant. I do not consider myself a fascist because my family opposed them…although perhaps I understand Yazid’s point about a will to lead others.”
After a experiencing a period of self-loathing, which Jaleh and Jahan certainly noted come across my face, I looked for another disc in her big black canvas purse and located a DVD that looked like a bonus disc you get with a set of old classic recordings ordered from a television advertisement. There wasn’t too much data written on its face, and from the running time printed on it, not much was loaded into it either. I read the title out loud to see if the others were interested: “Survey says ‘Rules Tend to Favor the Executive (until there are none left)’.”
“Rules or executives?” Jaleh said, laughing.
“You tell me? It sounds like some Wombat comic relief. I wonder if a Wombat guy did that for UC?” I asked.
“Or a Wombat woman!” Jaleh responded sharply.
‘A doctor,’ I thought to myself.
Jaleh downloaded an app with gusto and the documentation of the Revolution I was watching on my tablet continued on her own screen, “At this time, Giv, a popular newspaper for the knowledgeable people in Baug, established a focus group to survey the various opinions about the assassinated General Farrokhz and the Ayatollah Behrang.”
By now, Jahan powered up his laptop and we were listening in wi-fi stereophonic.
“The newspaper encouraged respondents to write their opinions about the slayings of General Farrokhz and the Ayatollah Behrang and to submit them to the contracted research group for publication. When the first round of survey responses were collected and published, what conclusions could be drawn by the newspaper and its readers was an embarrassment to the Imam. Some of the published opinions in the newspaper article highlighted the rivalry between Forooshar and elements of Babak’s regime. The article set forth a hypothesis based on the survey responses and other hard evidence collected by the newspaper, that the major causes of the terrorism and injustice in Baug could be traced to the struggle among Babak’s inner circle of cronies for power and domination of the country. The Imam’s associates persuaded him to deliver a declaration chastising the Giv Daily.
“In his declaration against the newspaper, Babak contended that Giv was a counter-revolutionary newspaper associated with the State of Flint, an entity founded upon principles of Judaism. He contended such a counter-revolutionary newspaper at odds with the Islamic Republic of Baug ought not to exist and should be abolished. The newspaper was closed for a time immediately following the Imam’s remarks, but not without some push-back. Giv’s publisher and some of its reporters were afraid of the possible repercussions they might face from RG or Forooshar if they published more of their editorials about Babak’s regime. If the Imam’s political party could turn on the Forooshar, they could turn on the Giv Daily; they were merely reporting the dispute as journalists. In response to the Ayatollah Babak’s accusations, Giv journalists brought to light the fact that its journalists had been persecuted and imprisoned under Amir, and it was therefore irrational to believe they were conspiring with Flint’s emissaries against the Ayatollah. In a special one-page publication, Giv mildly refuted some of Babak’s allegations against the newspaper and restated their national integrity and loyalty to Baug by editorializing that the newspaper had rallied for freedom from Amir’s dictatorial regime, but not to only then be silenced when confronted by an ultra-conservative religious right to replace him.”
I woke up from a pre-sunrise dream of my incarceration in the brig of the Transeckta Nuclear Power Facility in Tealandir back in the day. The investigator assigned to my case said, “Some do it a lot better than you.” Then the Rosana Judge asked me in the elevator lobby, “You going up or down?”
“Down” I said, falling into the elevator shaft as she giggled in tepid derision.
“Continued attacks on the Giv publication continued. The clergymen arranged fanatic groups to assemble in front of Giv’s offices and demanded they profess their allegiance to the Islamic Republic. The implication of the demand was that Babak’s religious zealots gave the newspaper an ultimatum: either obey the Ayatollah Babak or be considered counter-revolutionaries and executed as such. The newspaper continued to maintain its position that it could not simply ‘do what it was ordered to do,’ after all, it was a newspaper. The journalists claimed that democracy itself required freedom of the press and the right to print opposing political views. The Imam’s research committees sequestered copies of the Giv Azadi and began a coordinated program to hinder sales of the Baugi-Nationale-Azadi (a BNF-funded newsletter), the Noushin Azadi, as well as the magazines Tealandir Messavar and Omaniri Messavar. These publications were known to editorialize the ‘facts’ of a story with a spin or innuendo which often displeased Babak.
“Despite the pressure the Ayatollah Babak’s regime put on suppressing the creation, production and distribution of said publications, students sought all the more to distribute them as naughty contraband. One newspaper in particular, Paigaimani-Simin, implied Babak might turn into a fascist dictator worse than Amir. The Paigaiman paper bitterly defamed Babak’s regime for its regulation of the press. As far as the general public was concerned, the fact that Babak was suppressing and/or chilling free speech and freedom of the press was prime evidence Paigaimani-Simin journalists may have made some valid points in their published articles on the Ayatollah Babak’s Administration. The articles were based at least in part, on legitiamate data gleaned from the Giv surveys and invitation to write letters to the editor commenting on the recent assassinations of two of the Republic’s former leaders.”
I told Jahan and Jaleh of a recurring nightmare I have every few years or so since being incarcerated half-way through my training at the Transeckta Nuclear Power Facility in Tealandir back in the day: “The administrative Judge in my case laughs and suspends me indefinitely for fornication… . I saw a tweet yesterday, ‘Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”’ Maybe that’s why I had that dream again last night,” I said unconsciously while scratching my scalp.
“What did you go to jail for?” Jaleh asked.
“Fornication with a cleric’s niece…she embraced me. What did they expect? I remember the Judge asked, “What were you thinking?” I was too afraid to talk back.
“Strike a tune for the Gipper,” I said. Fur Auld Lang Syne: ‘Mr. Romanev, open this gate; tear down this wall!” I acted out, alluding to a dare to Xerxes’ President from the former Sargon President Ferdinand Nolan. I wasn’t funny, but we were starting to have a good time. Probably because our mission term was almost up.
I powered up my tablet on my way home on the train. Some twitter follower with the handle “@eternalsadness” began to follow me. When I got home, my wife Zareen began the harangue. It must be me. I guess it’s time to fill her with girth.
Waking up the next morning, I put on a kettle of hot water and listened to the only CD with a recording of Jaleh’s voice on it.
“Dr. Mahim Afshin was Rahmat’s nephew, and a prominent lawyer who had once served as a Vice-President of the Lawyer’s Institute. A few weeks before the closure of The Giv Daily, Dr. Afshin summoned the nation to attend the annual anniversary of Rahmat’s death at the former prime minister’s tomb. Though Rahmat’s tomb is about 100 miles from Tealandir, people who respected the deceased leader converged from the greater Tahmour region to visit the tomb which lay along a semi-paved road.
“The Ayatollah Babak tried to prevent people from paying Rahmat homage and sought to persuade them to honor the Imam instead. Babak ordered the gathering of special groups to march in the streets proclaiming the victory of the Islamic Republic and urged them to carry placards bearing his image. The people going to Rahmat’s tomb did not heed Babak’s warnings and more than one million people gathered at the site.
“Ayatollah Bahman, in his speech at Rahmat’s tomb, beseeched those assembled to avoid internal discord within the country. Commenting on the strained relations between Babak and Rahmat, Bahman implied that clergymen are often over-anxious to rule because they think they are wise in all matters simply because they may be wise in one. He commented further that the people should have the privilege, indeed the right, to choose their own leaders and government. Self-determination of the sovereign nation of Baug belongs to its citizens as well as to the clerics. The clergymen should only intervene in the self-determination rights of Baugi citizens if the democracy they have chosen fails.”
A Wombat-controlled twitter account sent out its daily message which I picked up on my phone in a tweet, “The most secret, clandestine peps will waive their privacy rights to be followed around by a drone to verify their clandestine secrets.”
“What did he say?” replied Shahrooz Shaya, who jumped in on the tweet from Wombat.
“Weird,” I thought to myself, and carried on with the DVD.
“The keynote speech which highlighted the day’s assembly belonged to Dr. Mahim Afshin. In his speech, Afshin described how the Baugi Democratic Front [BDF] differed from both the traditional Baugi National Front established by his uncle, Dr. Rahmat, and the ‘blundering’ Babak regime. He outlined the significant changes to the BNF platform since forming the new BDF party and how it would confront Babak’s Administration: The BDF would emphasize the separation of church and state in a constitutional Baugi government. Political and governmental duties would be administered by politicians, and the clergy the duty to fulfill their religious obligations to their respective congregations. The duties of politicians and religious leaders were not to be intertwined but rather, work along separate columns of leadership, one of political, another of religious authority.
“Most socially and politically active constituents were in favor of developing a renewed Baugi Democratic Front, but not at the expense of its future. Many were concerned a reformed party would take most of their members from the Baugi National Front with whom it often forms a coalition. This sort of ‘cannibalism’ would not benefit either party when it came to coalition strength, and would weaken the BNF indefinitely. One activist group within the BNF who saw opposition to the clergy weakening did not want to see the BNF and his sometime coalition partner the BDF unite in a newly formed coalition. Dr. Afshin demanded that the leaders of both the BNF and the BDF become more assertive when it comes to negotiating with the clergy’s political arms, the Imam Council and the Creation Party.
“The General Secretary of the Baugi National Front, Dr. Javed, was the foreign minister in Ferdows Farhang’s cabinet. Javed tried to resign from his position earlier, but Prime Minister Farhang wanted to keep him as a token BNF cabinet member and refused to accept his resignation. Although his resignation from the BNF would dissipate the recriminations the Imam might suffer from ‘aberrant’ party members opposed to the Imam’s vision for the Islamic Republic, it would also weaken the Baugi National Front. Javed felt as if his hands were tied. He understood that without a recognized leader to bolster their platform, the Islamic Republic would lend a deaf ear to mere BNF speeches. Maybe he’d be ‘better off’ personally retaining his seat on the BNF cabinet, but that did not make it right. The cabinet position in the BNF following his term in office as Farhang’s finance minister was supposed to have been temporary anyway.
The danger is, when one lies by telling speculative stories, new truths may by a-sort-of-osmosis, come out of the old lie.
“There’s a argument to make for working in an adversarial environment: it keeps one’s blade ‘ honed’, I said facing Jaleh; Jahan was repairing a tweeked betatablet.
“The virtue of practice,” said Jahan as he felt me looking at him. He kept current with state of the art digital electronics and gadgets that run on them.
I wanted to drown out my Sunni superior by turning up the volume on the UC lesson. I doubled the decibels.
“Javed publicized his disappointment with Shayan Teymour, Dr. Ibrahim Gulzar’s son-in-law, who was a ‘mover and shaker’ representing Baug in the Babak Administration in the Sargonian Capitol. Mr. Teymour had replaced Dr. Saleh Roshan, the former Baugi ambassador to Sargon, at Babak’s request, and refused to take orders from Dr. Javed. Javed alleged that Teymour, a student in the Sargonian Capitol, sent a telegram informing him that certain documents in the Baugi embassy there revealed Roshan had paid large sums of money to several Sargonian senators . When Javed heard this, he ordered Teymour to return the original documents to him in Tealandir as soon as possible. After a conference with his father-in-law about the documents, Teymour refused to send Javed the documents. Subsequently, without leave from the then Foreign Minister Javed, Teymour met privately with Cyrus Greystone, Sargon’s then Secretary of State. Javed stated in his resignation that if Teymour was to act without his oversight, there was no reason for Javed to continue to act as foreign minister in the Babak Administration. After Javed’s abrupt resignation, the BNF scrutinized Babak’s regime ever more closely, but as was anticipated, refused to act out as they no longer had him acting as an ‘insider’, keeping the Party informed of developments in the Administration.
“So now there was no ‘insider’ no infiltration?” I asked.
“Well, no listeners,” Jaleh said, watching the dumb expression on my face. “Yes, they were like howling wolves on the outside,” Jaleh said, licking her bottom lip.
“The devil’s on the prowl, looking for souls to devour.”
“Cannibals,” declared Jahan. “No justice anywhere. Not even in the press.”
“No peace, no justice,” I spoke out spontaneously.
“No Khalid, no justice-no peace,” Jaleh corrected.
“Know justice, know peace,” I muttered.
“What?” asked Jahan quizzically.
“No whirled peas,” I said.
“Oh,” responded Jahan, satisfied.
Jaleh continued, “Six hundred people: university students, employees, teachers and other educated groups implored the writers of The Giv Daily to begin rolling out newspapers again, promoting a ‘free press’, but the clergy organized three hundred vagrants to attack people at the ‘freedom of the press’ rally. Vigilantes were paid to hit the more ardent demonstrators with clubs and stones until they relented and the assembly disbanded.
“However, those assembled for the ‘freedom of the press’ rally did not scatter when attacked, but shouted out, ‘Down with Reactionaries’ in their native tongues. The assembly crowded along both sides of the street shouting protests against their attackers. Men held each others’ hands and made a wall around the women and children to oppose the mercenaries face-to-face. Despite repeated attempts to protect the women at the demonstration, some young girls suffered knife wounds. One of Babak’s fanatics stabbed a pregnant woman, infuriating the by-standers watching as the two factions clashed.
“The demonstration was a great success for the liberal front in that it carried home the importance of Baugi freedoms of speech, assembly and the press. Those who could read the paper were encouraged by free press supporters to engage with The Giv Daily and to share its journalism with the illiterates once the presses started to roll again. Meanwhile, the Ayatollah Babak was angered at the temporary victory the free speech organizers had won. Like a wounded snake, Babak set his clock to strike at the moment the Imam in himself told him would benefit Allah’s Kingdom to the detriment of all reformers who might be eradicated, God willing. Mainstream public resistance to Babak’s regime was beginning to take root in movements away from the Imam, but the foundation of an ‘Islamic Republic’ continued to stabilize the Baugi nation.
“Demonstrations gradually became less frequent and bloody. It must have come to the Ayatollah Babak during prayers that grumbling outside the mosque was a small price to pay for civilian peace. To draw people’s attention elsewhere, Babak convened a national dialogue on the question of the future of Baug, and what form of government it should adopt, an Islamic Republic, or ‘a regime like Amir’s?’. The clerics threatened ex-communication to anyone who did not vote for an Islamic Republic as a basis for the Baugi government. Babak and most if not all the clerics favored an Islamic Republic and made the statement that anyone who did not vote for ‘Islamic Republic’ would not be considered a Moslem. For their part, the educated population of Baug demanded a Republic that was not necessarily intertwined with Islam, but that contained a separation of church and state.
“Babak’s pronouncements on ex-communication for those who do not back an Islamic Republic in Baug created a de facto controversy The Giv Daily was only too happy to point out. A free-lance writer’s article appeared in the Giv quoting the Prophet Mohammed, ‘that anyone who uttered the sentence ‘I acknowledge that God is unique and Mohammed is his messenger’ would be known as a Moslem and no one could deny him that fellowship’ (emphasis added). The layman questioned Babak’s authority to ex-communicate Moslems who did not vote to institute an Islamic Republic in Baug by asking in the article, ‘Do you add anything to what the Prophet Mohammed has said?’ The writer went on to question the basis of Babak’s divine authority to innovate on traditional holy doctrines as religion was generally based on a consistent or ‘absolute truth’. To add or change what Mohammed had determined as the method by which one becomes identified as a Moslem, or changing scripture in any other way was a great sin to be avoided according to the commentator, and Babak had not avoided it. He intimated that perhaps Babak should not be followed as Imam if he is so cavalier as to promote Islamic doctrines contrary to its founder Mohammed.
“Babak did not give the free lance writer a response to the question he posed in the Giv article, but somehow his silence revealed his chagrin. He lacked a comprehensive knowledge of Islam that would put to rest the journalist’s accusations once and for all or he was treading water with Allah. Babak had been caught in his verbal bloopers before and now that political power was his, he did not want to be exhausted by yet another debate on religious disciplinary measures. He could not definitively win such a debate over ex-communication, so he let it pass without gambling on a desired outcome. He was tired of fighting for decades over the scriptural interpretations of the Holy Qoran. One of Babak’s most serious bloopers was his call for a holy war (jihad) against Amir’s regime. According to Shiet doctrine, Shiet leaders do not have the authority to urge Moslems to jihad. In the Shiet sect, declaring war is the sole right of the Absent Imam (the 12th Imam), who, according to Shiet belief, would emerge someday to bring all nations under the Islamic flag.
“As the legend goes, in the Ninth Century, the twelfth Imam, a five year-old child, hid himself in the cellars of his father’s house while marauding soldiers attacked the home. No one saw the boy thereafter, and it was told that God ordered the Imam to live in secret. Alms were a way ‘messages’ could be brought back and forth from the current deputy of the Moslem people to the 12th Imam.
“Babak said that anyone who wants to pay his khoms (1/5 of one’s income), or his Zakat (1/10 of the income of the wealthy Moslems) should deliver them to his deputy, who would in turn deliver them to the vanished child Imam. He also said the deputies would deliver any questions about religious rites to the absent five year-old. Through the knowledge the deputies acquired from their correspondence with the 12th Imam, they would be able to answer any questions people had about jihad or anything else. This traditional belief has been carried on throughout the ages: while the young Imam remains unseen, no Ayatollah can declare a holy war.”
“What are you doing?!” asked Zareen, as I was writing down my notes of the day’s activities into a tablet.
“Writing my notes,” I replied.
“Get to bed. I told you not to write when I’m here! I can’t stand hearing the clicking and seeing those wheels turning in your head from behind you.”
“Almost done… I’m coming…”
“I’m still waiting!”
“Six or seven seconds,” I replied.
“Soon enough, we were in bed, both exhausted. I woke up at 3 a.m. Zareen smelled of tobacco and was snoring. I was horny. I thought of the blonde café waitress with the white skirt up to her hips with the song playing “One Night Only, One Night Only (We’ve Only Got Until Dawn)”. The waitress asked me in my fantasy if I wanted company and took me to a back room around the corner. ‘How to get to it?” I thought to myself. At the same time I noticed her hips were much wider than Zareen’s. I told her to lie down on the daybed and started to rub her neck. I bet her skin was supple and soft, not like Zareen’s, whose was rough and dry. She would dig my backrub and would ask her bluntly, “You want my fat dick in your pussy?”
“Oh yes,” she would reply.
“Yes?” I asked, verifying how forceful she wanted to be fucked.
“Em-hmmm,” she purred. [It’s always good to get cunt scent first].
“Oh yes!” she would respond enthusiastically.
I got up out of bed, put some lubricant on my dick and pumped Zareen into Kingdom Come. “Sami gonna’ jump up and get his reward early in the day,” I remembered some comedian saying.
Upon leaving the house about eleven the next morning, Zareen said, “Get to work Khalid.”
“Okay Mama,” I replied, kissed her on the cheek and went to see Jahan and Jaleh at their warehouse about a kilometer east of Farzin Square.
Jahan was there when I arrived but Jaleh wasn’t. He gave me a DVD with Samisekt characters on its face and I assumed I was to review its contents. I went to a nearby café, put on my portable headphones, popped the DVD in the tablet and the story took me away as I began to listen:
“Babak’s regime prepared itself for a referendum on whether Baug should adopt a democratic or cleric-administered Islamic Republic. In the election, Babak gave sixteen year-olds the right to vote for the first time in history. The polling employees in charge of the ballot boxes were carefully chosen Babak devotees. They made every attempt to stifle the liberals’ attempt to institute a ‘Democratic Republic’ in Baug. Babak and his administration were so fearful of losing their political clout in the Referendum, they asked voters to make a fateful decision: either choose the Islamic Republic or be resigned to live under the oppressive spirit of Amir or some monarch like him. Besides the Imam’s psychological manipulation of voters, the Revolutionary Guardsmen nevertheless went ahead and stuffed ballot boxes with votes for the Islamic Republic just to make sure the Referendum passed.
“At the conclusion of the Referendum, the number of ballots cast for an ‘Islamic Republic’ tallied 20,000,000 in a population of 35,000,000 eligible voters. In Bahadur, Armee, Baugistan and Kouros, most of the eight million inhabitants did not vote for an ‘Islamic Republic’. Except for Kouros, all of these provinces were primarily populated by Sunnis hostile to Babak’s regime. Even in Sunni-dominant locales, votes cast for an ‘Islamic Republic’ overwhelmed those favoring a secular democracy. When the ratio of votes for an Islamic Republic in Sunni demographic precincts matched those of Shiet-dominated regions, poll watchers became suspicious voter fraud may have occurred.
“Besides the ballot-box stuffing, a large portion of the voting population cast their votes for an ‘Islamic Republic’ simply to condemn Amir’s regime and congratulate Ayatollah Babak for his victory over tyranny. If Babak’s regime is given the benefit of the doubt, the unduly high number of votes for the ‘Islamic Republic’ could have realistically reached as high as eight million. The additional 12 million votes in favor of the Islamic Republic were due to unethical and unrestricted voting procedures according to our sources. For his part, Babak promised the people before the voting began that the country would become ‘orderly’ if and when an Islamic Republic was adopted. He blamed the current disorder in the country on the lack of a definitive government structure with a president to preside over it. He claimed that if an Islamic government was adopted, the government would stabilize and clergymen could resume their appropriate place in mosques while lay candidates could be voted into office democratically as was customary before the revolution. Most of the people who actually voted for an ‘Islamic Republic’ in the Referendum had been persuaded by Babak’s rhetoric that to not vote for it was tantamount to sacrilege and they trusted he would not deliberately deceive them. He was widely respected as a leader with his own personal strengths and weaknesses as every human has whilst others saw him as a flawless seer who could not err in steering the nation under an Islamic tent. In short, Babak wanted the Referendum victory to enshrine the ‘Islamic Republic of Baug’ and the Imam’s place in it as Supreme Leader, into the fabric of Baugi society. In general, Baugis accepted the results of the Referendum and as time passed, they acknowledged the Islamic Republic’s efforts to commence reforms. Citizens reasoned that since the Imam was reputably closer to God than most, he could also interpret the will of God for Baugis more precisely than any Referendums could.
“The Referendum on the formation of an Islamic Republic came at harvest season. Babak used the icon Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Mohammed in the 7th Century A.D., as a focal point of thematic exhortation toward self-sacrifice. In former times, the caliph and his counselors decided to send armies to Baug and to the capitol of Emilio to preoccupy Moslem’s minds with the advent of Holy War. Similarly, Babak was searching for a way to make people work the forthcoming harvest philanthropically without getting paid. He made remonstrations to those who were able-bodied and out of work that they should volunteer to work the fields during the harvest for the welfare of the country. Because the newly developing regime had little if any money, they needed free labor. Babak’s Administration began a vast propaganda campaign in an attempt to persuade Baugis to volunteer to work the harvest.
“Babak requested that his people devote themselves to God in their thoughts and in their labor as a personal religious duty for the benefit of all Moslems. Everyone who helped in the harvest would earn a place in Paradise. Films presented on television depicted rural farmers that helped peasants harvest crops. Babak’s mediamen proclaimed on special televised programming that with everyone’s cooperation, Baug would not be required to import wheat or rice from abroad. If one paid attention to the details of the television program, it was obvious the ‘volunteer farmers’ on screen were Babak-employed actors, not farmers teaching peasants agricultural techniques. Despite the inability of the tv programs to convince people it was their duty to work, Babak achieved another underlying purpose: to preoccupy the minds of the public while he and his team prepared to address pressing domestic and geo-political matters.
“Babak decided to rule the country alone with the help of his BLO-trained guardsmen. He knew he could do the job better than anyone else, and asked the prime minister to prepare an Islamic Republic framework for him to approve by his written signature on parchment. After a month of preparation, the first draft of a constitution was ready for authorization. The basic structure and content of the document was adapted from the Fairusa Constitution, although the rights of Baugi citizens were more strictly limited than in Fairusa. Women for instance, did not have the same status as men, and were expected to remain subservient to their husbands, nor were they allowed to keep positions of influence in society. Female judges held over from previous administrations were dismissed. The only privilege of significance that women held equally to men was the right to vote. Babak’s interpretation of Islam was that women were essentially weak and irrational, and hence should remain submissive to their husbands’ commands. It was for this belief (that men and women were fundamentally different) that Babak would not trust any women to take stations of authority within the religious hierarchy or in politics.
“Babak went on to point out the sorry state of marital unions in Bahar and Kir with their skyrocketing divorce rates. He said marital instability arises when women are given rights equal to those of men. In Sargon of Kir, women were allowed and encouraged to become business professionals, and it was because of this fundamentally ‘unethical’ attitude regarding a woman’s proper role in society that Babak claimed caused so many unsuccessful marriages in the West.
“The other major divergence from the Fairusa Constitution was the Baugi government was authorized to exercise plenary control over all forms of media and the post office. The police were allowed to search persons and private property without a warrant [prior order of the court]. The lack of official controls over newly gained police powers such as search and seizure gave Babak immense plasticity to use the police force to do his bidding and curb the subversive activities of his subjects.
“The newly drafted constitution provided for a hierarchical structure of the secular government as well as for the roles of its governing clerics. Babak would hold the highest post and under him was a council of clergymen [hereinafter Council]. Beneath them, a consolidated executive and legislative branch of government consisting of a president, a prime minister, and parliament with ministers from each Baugi region. Babak and the Council could veto decisions of the executive department, and retain ‘supreme’ authority.
“Various factions feuded over the new constitution, and their viewpoints were openly published in Baug’s diverse newspaper dailies. It was clear to the educated that The Giv Daily wrote the most ‘objective’ or ‘fair and balanced’ articles on the new government and its constitution. In June of 1979, a decree from the Revolutionary Prosecutor was issued stating that Giv was a tool of Flint whose publication released provocative material seeking ideological subversion of the Islamic Republic. The Council closed The Giv Daily as it had done previously and held many of its employees in jail pending trial. The primary direct evidence the Council held against Giv and its employees to prove their guilt was that the confiscated Giv printing presses were manufactured in Flint.
“The Council had divers ways of labeling circumstantial evidence as prima facia, if not conclusive evidence of guilt. Soon, other newspapers in opposition to Babak’s regime were asked to make an account of their statements in the press and to explain the reason(s) for their ‘treacherous behaviors against the Imam’. Although Babak had formerly allowed newspapers to print whatever they wanted, such was no longer the case. Publications that were not sympathetic to Babak’s regime were shut down by the Council. The Executive Department of Baug, including the President and the Prime Minister knew nothing of the Council’s unilateral closure of opposition newspapers. The Revolutionary Public Prosecutor followed the statement of the Executive released the following day and reiterated all newspaper publishing houses that did not publish material favorable to Babak would be shuttered. The Prosecutor put off to a later date the question of whether those newspapers already closed would be allowed to print even ‘pro-Babak’ journalism.”
I wanted to go home as Khalid the husband. Maybe I wasn’t up to absorb this kind of material on the DVD today. I started thinking about how one can bring about one’s own demise by too much negative thinking. People who oppose me will seek my demise. They are afraid of the Sunni ‘outsider’. What might I bring to disrupt their routines? I want to be home with Zareen, but she’s at her mother’s.
Too tired to walk, I took the light rail home. While on board, I looked at the discs left to play. The next one in order read: “A NEW INVASION AND THE SOLIDIFYING OF THE AYATOLLAH BABAK-LED ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF BAUG”. As soon as I entered the flat, I put the disc in the DVD player. I went to the kitchen where Zareen had left me a tea setting. I boiled some water and steeped the fresh coriander tea Zareen had set aside on the tray. A voice came through the speakers which was unfamiliar. It sounded like it came from a younger individual. It sounded—like a new beginning.
“A few days after the Executive statement’s release, Revolutionary Guards attacked the Saiar Khalq party headquarters with tanks and occupied their building. A different group of Babak’s guards were sent to occupy the headquarters of Rostam Khalq, another political party with an armed militia incorporated into it. Rostam Khalq is an Islamic-Marxist group that refrains from a strict ‘anti-materialistic’ philosophy. The occupation of the Sargonian Embassy in Tealandir and the kidnapping of the 52 Sargonian citizens presiding there were staged by these two leftist khalqs.
“The Rostam Khalq was made up of mostly of students who resisted the Guards by lining up with their parents in front of the party-building. Ramadan, the month of fasting and prayer commenced during one of the confrontations between the Guard and the Rostam group. Rostam kept their fast and prayed in the street in front of their party-building. They requested Babak’s approval for the public fasting and prayer at the building, but their requests were not met with the Council’s approval. The Revolutionary Guard then brutally attacked the Rostam group and their affiliates and occupied their building as they had Saiar Khalq’s headquarters.
“The headquarters of the Bahram Party, pro-Xerxes communists by contrast, were granted the protection of Babak’s Guard and the ability to carry on its regular activities. The Revolutionary Public Prosecutor gave specificly defined permission to the Bahram Party to publish and distribute its newsletter. No one protested the inconsistent action of the Council because it would be futile anyway. The government could stifle any and all dissenters from official acts of the Islamic Republic of Baug.”
“As of 1979, the Lawyers’ Institute was discussing the Baugi Constitution, the various political parties and Babak’s staff. Dr. Hossein Paiman, President of the Lawyer’s Institute, spoke out in opposition to Babak’s platform. Paiman was subsequently elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Baugi National Petroleum Institute [BNPI] because he was well known for upright conduct, negotiation skills and benevolence. He had been a close friend of Dr. Rahmat and fought against dictatorship in Baug for thirty years. Because of his open criticism of Amir in the past he spent some time in prison. Dr. Paiman had achieved wide recognition and prestige since the fall of Amir and no one thought he would risk tainting his stature by speaking against the fledgling Babak regime, but he did anyway.
“Dr. Paiman criticized the new dictatorship saying that if only one person [the Ayatollah Babak] is allowed to speak on behalf of 35 million Baugis, Baug’s reputation as an ancient civilized government would be compromised. Paiman emphasized the basic joy derived from people’s freedoms: the ability to socialize, for example. ‘We are a rich country with 11 billion dollars in exchange currency. No one can call us mostazafin (miserables, Fr.) any longer.’ Paiman was referring to Babak and the clerics when he said this, because they had often called Baugis ‘miserables’ according to a legend in the Qoran.
“The Holy Qoran is narrated by a Pharoah of Farhoud. This Pharoah treated all people as slaves and referred to them openly as ‘miserables’ or mostazafin. Paiman spoke with a group of lawyers and it was recommended the Islamic Republic should adopt a constitution that corresponds with their own Baugi Islamic culture and traditions.
“The following day, Babak addressed a group of peasants and said that Baug did not need the advice of lawyers. He reasoned that the lawyers could not pray, so their knowledge was heathen. He claimed that Paiman wanted to betray the country to the interests of Sargon and Flint and that his pronouncements regarding the recommendations of his colleagues at the Lawyer’s Institute should be rejected outright. Babak reached out daily for the support of the illiterates saying that they did not need lawyers to survive and prosper as a nation. Every day that passed affirmed Babak’s teaching against heathen affluence. It was the Council’s firm belief that what the nation needed was adherants to the Islamic Republic Baug and to its cleric leadership. The Council maintained obedience and respect to the clergy are enough to warrant success in life. ‘God confirm you who follow us’, the clerics proclaimed to the peasants assembled to hear the Ayatollah Babak speak.
“Babak and the rest of the clergy threatened professionals such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, writers and physicians to obey them or suffer the consequences of punishment at their hands or that of their beloved illiterate followers. At this point, the Baugi Democratic Front demanded that people demonstrate against the clergy.
“People gathered at Tealandir University for the demonstration against the clergy. Soon, not only the University but the surrounding streets were overflowing with wall to wall protestors. At four o’clock in the afternoon, the gathering began to march toward the square where the prime minister’s office was situated.”
“At the beginning of the demonstration, itinerant drivers of the Ayatollahs’ Creation Party drove lorries, buses and ambulances containing Party members to attack the gathered BDF supporters. The 150 attackers were mercenaries hired by the Babak’s regime to break up the demonstration. They loaded ambulances with stones and bricks to throw at the crowd of 800,000 in attendance. Many of the demonstrators retaliated against the Creation Party, and Babak’s mercenary forces fled in the face of the formidable BDF-mounted opposition. When Babak heard that his rabble did not succeed in breaking up the demonstration, he called for the Revolutionary Guard, who was reinforcing the mercenaries’ positions, to disperse the crowds with machine gun fire into the sky. When Guards realized the machine gun discharges had no effect, they administered tear gas in the immediate vicinity of the BDF leaders. The crowd marched on, away from the Guardsmen shooting at them. Guards then pursued the crowd wearing gas masks, deploying tear gas against the retreating BDF demonstrators. As they did so, they infiltrated BDF strongholds with knives and dispersed the crowd huddled around them. Rocks, bricks and clubs unloaded from ambulances were used liberally by the Guards in their next wave of assaults on the BDF-led demonstrators. More than three hundred persons were eventually wounded in the attack. Despite the casualties, the demonstrators marched on. Well, not exactly marched…they read a manifesto in front of the prime minister’s office.”
“The plot thickens” I thought to myself, ejecting the DVD out of the player. I wandered back into the kitchen and asked Zareen what was for supper.
The next morning while still in bed, I popped in the next DVD in the series Jahan had given to me into a tablet. I was exhausted but getting paid. I had to continue to meet the deadlines. Bed will be the best place place to do a bit of work today despite what the Jagangiri king once told his son about working there. Take care Khalid, I told myself. Take care to monitor my work habits to see if they enhance overall performance. I didn’t want to burn out and fail to meet deadlines. The machine spoke to me. “We do what we can,” I remember that line from a Sargonian Engineering Professor’s lecture on a cassette tape from 1988.
“The night following the BDF assembly, Babak was frightened and claimed publically that three hundred people were wounded in the demonstration and all were members of the Creation Party of which he was a member.” The narrator had changed again. The young voice guy didn’t last long. Too bad, I liked him. It was back to the the guy that sounded like a character from the AMC produced television show MADMEN. His delivery was professional but he didn’t take risks and left editorializing and extreme inflections to a minimum. He had been through the feedback sessions and must have learned he got less flak when he let the listeners determine how they would interprete his telling of the ‘facts’.
“Following his allegation that three hundred Creation Party members were wounded, Babak ordered his Guard to capture Dr. Mahim Afshin, General Secretary of the BDF, and summarily execute him. Soon after Babak’s order went out, the BDF issued a declaration stating that Dr. Afshin did not order the shootings and was therefore not responsible for the three hundred ‘accidental injuries’ occurring at the demonstration. The BDF’s Board of Directors accepted responsibility for the demonstration, ostensibly putting Afshin in the clear, but Babak would not change his mind, and now he had BDF’s admission of responsibility as well; Afshin should be executed. Babak wanted revenge for the stinging criticism he endured from Dr. Afshin the previous month at Dr. Rahmat’s tomb.
“The Ayatollah Babak emphasized repeatedly in his campaign that the nation should keep a ‘unity of words’ and not try to contradict the Imam or the new government. He proclaimed that a ‘unity of words’ would avert discord and tamper down anti-Islamic attitudes around the globe. Dr. Afshin agreed with the Ayatollah that a ‘unity of words’ should prevail rather than negative thinking, but only if Babak was not the only one allowed to utter them! After this insulting remark of Afshin’s, inter alia, the Imam had sought to take the lawyer’s life more than ever.
“So, Babak sent his Guard to Afshin’s home to arrest him for collusion in the BDF Tealandir University demonstration, but Afshin was nowhere to be found. Then Babak ordered his Guard to the home of Afshin’s mother-in-law in further attempts to locate the fugitive. Not finding him there, the Guard was ordered to confine Afshin’s immediate family to their homes and have his mother-in-law, who was there at the Afshin home, arrested. Increased pressure was placed on Afshin’s family to help locate Dr. Afshin as his wife’s mother had been arrested and she was confined indefinitely at home with the Afshin children. Dr. Afshin was able to elude the Revolutionary Guard without a clue as to his whereabouts.”
A fugitive, I thought to myself.
“Dr. Afshin, a steadfast and brave politician who stood up to Babak when commentary must give way to criticism, became the overwhelming favorite in the up and coming presidential elections in Baug. Babak did not like the thought of one of his fiercest critics inaugurated as President of Baug, so he decided to eliminate him as a contender as soon as possible. Like Dr. Paiman, Dr. Afshin was the chairman of an oil consortium; his was known as the Baugi National Oil Association [BNOA]. The Imam set about to take Afshin’s Chairmanship away from him; his days were numbered.” I popped out the DVD and reflected on what may have been on the Ayatollah Babak’s mind concerning Afshin when Jahan walked in on me. Zareen must have let him into the house while I had been sleeping. Maybe Jahan thought I was dressed after he noticed the sound of the broadcast through the door went silent.
“We’re like two orbiting planets on opposite sides of the same system,” I told him.
“Zareen made me the coffee. Best coffee!” he said.
I rolled out of bed and put a jogging suit on over my sleepwear. We had espresso together; I hardly ever drink espresso. Tea is so much easier to prepare. The radio alarm in the entertainment center went off and we began to hear the Radio Sargon [RS] broadcast. The disc jockey said, “Sounds a little too much like ‘get off my lawn’,” referring to a line in a film by a famous Sargonian actor/director. It seemed as if the dj was directing his commentary to some tweets I direct messaged [DM’d] to him yesterday that the competing uses of public property in Baug were becoming hotbeds of litigation. Was the RS dj goading listeners on the fence to adopt his position with reverse psychology? If the dj were playing devil’s advocate, that workers have the legal right to take exclusive possession of property in a public trust, such as the grounds of a park, museum or university campus to ensure its preservation, he had a valid point although that didn’t make it right.
‘Let everyone on the lawn then, not only the custodians,’ I would argue back to the DJ. I read an online article about ‘The six million dollar custodian gave it all to charity,’ and realized I was stressing about a subject I could not win.
Jahan left when he had finished his second cup of espresso and I wrote the dj about the public trust doctrine. The proper international utilization of property in the public trust was on UC’s agenda as part of our assignment, so I went to the library to find out what else the SR dj may have been referring to in his ‘get off my lawn’ statement on the radio this morning. Almost as soon as I settled into my library stall, my cell rang, it was Jahan. “Let them on the lawn then,” I said, referring to the students on the lawn.
“What?” Jahan queried.
“Remember that SR dj on the radio today saying, ‘Get off my lawn?’, about private property owners excluding children from their lawns.”
“No.” Jahan replied wryly.
“Oh, well I’m going over the Baugi public trust issue UC wanted us to research.
“Oh, lawn parties,” he said. “All in good time my pretty, all in good time,” Jahan replied like the witch in The Wizard of Oz, and slowly hung up the receiver.
“Right,” I said. “Even private schools let us mortals use their library or visit their athletic fields every now and then,” I spoke into a dead receiver.
“Yeah, every now and then,” Jahan thought affirmatively to himself in the Jacuzzi.
The next day was more of the same after I got my breakfast of curds, bread and coffee at local family-owned market. Without having finished the bread and coffee, I started the DVD and continued the briefing dipping my bread in the café au lait, which was still hot.
“Babak realized that Afshin was very popular among the oil workers and sought to use his enemy’s loyalty base as leverage against him. Babak called into question the integrity of Afshin and the conditions oil service employees were required to perform under. The Ayatollah sent his son-in-law clergyman Aram Arad to investigate the BNOA working conditions, pay and benefits of its employees. Clergyman Arad did not find the employees dissatisfied with their conditions, but rather, they praised Afshin for the fairness he showed them. Despite having found no evidence of labor-relations violations, Arad nevertheless reported back to Babak that Afshin was not a good production manager. Afshin rebutted the charge he was a poor production manager by explaining that while he had been President and CEO of BNOA, oil production costs were cut in half while oil production was constant despite repeated shut-downs during the Revolution.”

The Giv Daily interviewed a political prisoner in a Tealandir jailhouse. I read through the article casually while listening to my assignment on the DVD. The reporter quoted the incarcerated man as saying, “I am still not worthy but alive. Because I am not worthy, you can make an inference I prefer to be alive than to maintain an apparent integrity or be executed.”
“Why do you feel as if you have to prove your integrity?” the reporter asked him.
“The charges filed against me,” the indicted man replied, ending the article.
The DVD was getting to the part about the judicially authorized executions in the newly instituted Islamic Republic of Baug:
“If one day went by without more than ten of Amir’s loyal subjects executed, it was an unusual day. Babak wanted the nation to be renewed by Islamic fundamentalism. Baugis grew accustomed to the executions and violent attacks meted out by the Revolutionary Guard upon uncooperative dissenters. Those who did not follow the laws of the newly formed Islamic Republic were severely punished. For example, the Revolutionary Guard caught a surgeon with a glass of whiskey after spending eleven straight hours in the operating room. His punishment: twenty-five lashes. The next day, when doctors, nurses and medical personnel arrived on the scene protesting their colleagues flogging by a barbaric Revolutionary Guardsman, the Imam’s Guard beat them with clubs.”
“Prime Minister Farhang, a moderate, made a call on Ayatollah Babak to plead amnesty for the political prisoners being held by the Revolutionary Guard since the struggle against Amir’s regime. Babak, stubborn as usual, would not hear of it and responded that ‘foreign agents’ and their conspirators must be punished. Babak had an ulterior motive to hold the prisoners. They would be offered up as a sacrifice so that Islam would flourish once again.
“After the executions of the prisoners, and the expiation of their sins against the Islamic faith, a pall of mourning and repentance swept over the nation. The Ayatollah Babak called for prayer and fasting. Factories were shut down and production slowed to a crawl. The theologians were apparently not familiar with the economic principles of supply and demand as the price of manufactured goods continued to rise under the clerics’ management. These economic theologians threatened to whip any merchants who sold their wares at a premium to the current rate. A ‘price freeze’ was instituted and stringently enforced by the clerics in order to tamp down inflation. Some merchants and salesmen were whipped in public for defying the clergymen’s demands, but the whippings did not improve the economy. Poor industrial production and management was at the root of Baug’s economic woes. Production continued to be weak in Baug because owners and managers were killed by Babak’s henchmen and replaced by unqualified cronies rather than more qualified personnel.
“In each factory, a member of the clergy was appointed to coordinate its personnel. Many of the employees refused to work under clergymen bosses. Others openly mocked them when they proved to be inept supervisors. In retribution of the workers’ antagonistic attitudes, the clerics managing the factories labeled them ‘communists’ that were too lazy to work and reduced their salaries by 50%. Jobs became scarce and food prohibitively expensive to most of the population. Babak’s economic advisor, Casper Basir, declared that everyone must consume only what is produced domestically within Baug; imported goods were temporarily disallowed. The result of this policy was that the price of eggs, fruits, rice, grain and meat increased by 300% and were not readily available even at those prices.
“Work on the Baugi Constitution was still ongoing during these months of 1979. The Constitution was bound to give Baug international credibility and the clergymen increased clout under the direction of the Ayatollah Babak as the country’s ‘Supreme Leader.’ Babak’s newly gained power to veto all governmental decisions of parliament, orders of the president or prime minister, had made him the new political and spiritual ‘dictator’ of the country. When the Referendum for the new Constitution was brought before the public, many districts and cities refused to cooperate. They felt their rights, or those of their fellow citizens were being neglected and abused. Despite the abstinence of many disillusioned voters, Babak’s regime men stuffed the ballot boxes with votes in favor of the Constitution’s approval and the Referendum was passed. There was now a new Baugi Constitution, voila.”
We can study art and the past through recordings, but culture, for that you need a petri dish.
I resumed the DVD.
“Ayatollah Babak found himself in an awkward situation when an assassination attempt was made on the life of the popular Ayatollah Darien. Darien escaped harm although his young bodyguard was slain. Vast congregations of Darien supporters then assembled in the bordering nation of Varshjian and the Baugi city of Darivsh. Babak’s Guard opened fire on Darivsh demonstrators, killing and maiming many. In Javed, the capitol of Varshjian, Varshjians fought against the Babak-backed insurgents and a civil war ensued.
“Residents of Javed and the Baugi city of Darivsh took over radio and television stations and occupied government buildings. The residents continually broadcast commentary derogatory to the new dictatorship by saying among other things, that Babak was an even worse tyrant than Amir. Demonstrators tore down Babak’s pictures displayed on the neighborhood streets and chanted “Down with Babak, down with Babak!”
I emailed Jahan: “Darien has cross-border influence?”
Jahan replied after a pause, “You could say that.”
I thought about cross-boundary issues and became fatigued. I went to a café for an espresso and put on the DVD at a cyber-desk built into a glossy clear and black plastic coffee table.
“Babak was a man seen by many as having a very arrogant visage although possessing a very timid disposition. He asked the Ayatollah Darien to meet with him regarding the uprisings in Darivsh and Javed, Varshjian. The meeting between the two was the most bitter they had ever known—they argued for hours. When Darien emerged from the meeting, he implored his followers for calm, to resume their routines and return to work. His followers however, refused to resume their posts. They considered Babak a murderer and continued to fight against his new regime. Many speculated the Ayatollah Darien had been coerced during his meeting with Babak to call for a return to work and an end to the workers’ strikes.
“Bahadur and Baugistan were two of the most troublesome areas for Babak to manage. In Bahadur, people were fed up with the massacres instigated or exacerbated by the Revolutionary Guard and irate citizens swept the Guard out of their province. In Baugistan, Guards fled for fear of their lives and residents there began to manage their own governmental affairs. After the departure of the Revolutionary Guard from Bahadur and Baugistan, Babak dispatched his army back to those areas and proclaimed that martial law would be imposed like it was ‘last year.’ A year earlier, Babak had pledged never again to impose martial law on Baugi citizens, which included Bahadur and Baugistan, but here he was twelve months later reneging on that pledge, threatening a crackdown.”
“When martial law is in effect, the rights and privileges of the citizens within its jurisdiction are subject to curtailment by the military at any time once notice is given ‘martial law’ is in effect. The military commander can arrest anyone he wants without probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and on very little if any evidence against the arrestee. During periods of martial law in Baug, all work in the justice courts was suspended and the military courts took over the workload of not only new cases, but of the subrogated cases transferred from the justice courts to stem the flood of litigation. The expediency of military court enabled judges to hear all ongoing cases, and provide consistency in sentencing for crimes related to the Revolution. Most Baugi military personnel had participated in the revolution under one banner of loyalty or another in addition to an allegiance to either Babak or Amir. To prevent the assembly of anti-government demonstrators from various associations, martial law imposed in Baug also prohibited the gathering of more than three persons at any one time in any one place. After Amir left Baug, Babak sympathized with the people who had suffered because of martial law, but when the time came for strict enforcement by his own regime, he utilized many of Amir’s repressive methods to quell social unrest.
“Babak opposed the interests of the Baugistanis and fighting broke out between them and the Islamic Republic. Babak’s forces overcame the Baugistanis and after the battle, the whole country was ready for peace. Ayatollah Darien admonished crowds to calm down and seek peace through tolerance and understanding; calm prevailed.”
“Meanwhile, internal strife in greater Baug, particularly in the capitol city of Tealandir, was growing worse. Babak and his advisors looked for a new situation that would rid them of their detractors, or at least silence them. The Council decided to create a social environment so that anyone who continued with public protests could be labeled and indicted as a Sargonian intelligence agent and tried in military court. Although the typical lifestyle of Sargonians intrigued them, many Baugis rejected it as sinful. It became evident that this was the purpose of the seizure of the Sargonian Embassy in Tealandir: to live by a new set of holy rules.
“While Amir was in Sargon for cancer treatment, gunmen, in the guise of students, took over the Sargonian Embassy and captured fifty-two of its staff, holding them hostage. Amir’s trip to Sargon provided an opportune moment for the Imam to confiscate the Sargonian Embassy and hold a number of Sargonians hostage, providing Babak with a modicum of clout as a mediator of sorts between the unruly hostage takers and the Sargon government.
“After the embassy seizure, it was maintained that the Islamic ‘students’ had captured the Sargonian hostages on their own initiative. In the next few days following the seizure, information was gathered regarding the incident. After study of the data, Babak took the position in the matter favoring the students’ incursion and occupation of the Embassy, but publically, he was low-key on the matter. The students’ action served a legitimate Baugi interest in the regulation of espionage within its borders. However, it wasn’t long before Babak openly condoned the action of the students as well as holding the Sargonian hostages it now considered spies. The imposition of martial law provided a legal rationale the Council needed to impose greater scrutiny on the issue of espionage, while lessening the rights of legal redress for those it held hostage at the embassy and others in prison. Perhaps the Babak regime had found evidence of espionage at the embassy or more simply, information was found at the embassy compound which the Babak-led government could use as leverage in private dialogues with Sargonian President Riymi Dauber.”
“As a statement of protest and divergence from Babak’s legal basis for holding the Sargonian hostages, Prime Minister Farhang tendered his resignation to the Ayatollah Babak. Farhang had asked to be relieved of his post earlier in his administration, but the Imam had not previously accepted it. After the seizure of the embassy however, Babak felt obligated and/or it had become strategically appropriate to accept Farhang’s resignation at this juncture. The resignation was a sign of ambivalence both parties, the Islamic Republic of Baug and Farhang, wanted to acknowledge to each other and the world. The clergy were uncomfortable with the hostage crisis as it was now touted in Sargonian newspapers and Farhang became an international media and UC darling after stepping down as prime minister.
“The Council wanted to keep Farhang in office because he was able to assuage the public into accepting the Islamic Republic. Farhang had been the Ayatollah’s token politician and since he held nothing more than an influential office in Baug’s fundamentally Islamic government, it would have been obvious to the world that if he kept his post during the hostage crisis he was merely acting as a ‘front man’ for the Ayatollah Babak. The only real power Farhang held before he resigned was influential, which, if anything, grew after he left office. He had no leverage in forcing a decision whether or not he stayed on as prime minister in Babak’s regime. Since the Council sided with the ‘students’ who took the Sargonian Embassy, there was little he could do to have them reverse their decision, which rested on Islamic law.
“In his first statement after the hostage crisis, Sargon President Riymi Dauber did not condemn Babak’s action [perhaps due to a foundation of espionage claims, inter alia]. Sargon admittedly needed Baugi oil and did not want to spoil its chances in future oil contracts because of any pre-mature statements made by President Dauber that could upset the Baugi government or its people.
“Dauber’s advisors did not evaluate the condition in Baug as well as they might have. Dauber’s diplomacy was seen by Shiet Moslems as ‘turn the other cheek diplomacy’. Whether true or not, Baug’s perception of Dauber’s diplomacy as politically weak plagued his administration for months following the storming of the embassy and the apprehension of fifty-two Sargonians by Baugi ‘students’. The Baugis seemed to have Dauber’s hands tied. Subsequent leaders and military advisors learned to interpret ‘turn the other cheek’ as ‘go back to center of gravity after the slap’ rather than to accept a form of disadvantage as ‘normalcy’ indefinitely. President Dauber did not add words of condemnation nor denounce the students holding Sargonians hostage: he was now personally responsible for their rescue. If Dauber wasn’t going to do anything about the ‘hostage crisis’, Babak certainly wasn’t going to mess with a bee hive without getting some honey from Dauber. Dauber’s reticence reinforced Babak’s resolve to continue along the same, stubborn lines of Islamic Republic reformation. He knew after the first Dauber statement on the hostages, Sargon would not act with violence. [The perception of Dauber as being too meek in response to the hostage crisis led many observers to believe a new administration was required in Sargon’s Capitol so that new tactics could be employed to free the hostages].
“Casper Basir retained his position as Baug’s foreign minister and unto that was added interim prime minister. Basir was known as a moderate politician and did not always reiterate the extremist line of most clergymen. Babak however, was initially dissatisfied with Basir’s performance in his new role. He felt Basir did not give due deference to him as a Great Ayatollah and Basir simply did not like Babak. As a result, Babak fired Basir from both his titles and appointed Armani Afsharadeh to be the new prime minister which included the duties of a foreign minister. Although Basir was recognized as Baug’s first prime minister after the Islamic Revolution, he was not able to turn his influence into political action during his tenure.
“In contrast to Basir, Afsharadeh relished the opportunity to shine before the Ayatollah. Prior to Afsharadeh’s appointment by Babak, the Revolutionary Guard had managed Baugi domestic issues during the imposition of martial law. Although still under the supreme leader’s supervision, Afsharadeh effectively replaced much of the post-revolution police power previously held by the Guard under provisional martial law edicts proclaimed by the Imam and his Council.”
“Babak and his inner circle claimed Sargon summoned Amir to Arezoo, the largest city in Sargon, as a ruse in order to arrange another coup in Baug. This claim did not hold up under scrutiny because it was needless for Amir to stop-over in Arezoo if he were actually planning to return to Baug as a triumphant king. When the issue arose at a UC meeting in reference to official business pertaining to the Sargonian hostages in Baug, Prime Minister Afsharadeh declared he would not attend the session on the docket of the International Court to address the matter. Knowing Sargon would demand answers pertaining to the hostages, such as to why they were abducted, their prospects and physical condition, as well as a demand for immediate release and remedies, Afsharadeh claimed UC and the International Court was at least partially controlled by Sargon and it was therefore unwise for him to attend a session that would pose a conflict of interest and be inherently unfair. Soon after the Afsharadeh-UC out of court ‘showdown’, Babak freed some of the Sargonian hostages and allowed them to go home; these embassy staffers were comprised mostly of women and Ponce-Sargonians, who were oppressed minorities in Sargon. Babak used this ploy to ease world-wide tension over the situation and to display to the world Islam does not discriminate based on race, national origin or sex, but respects women and the darker-complected Sargonian descendants of Ponce who had been enslaved by Sargonian settlers from the 15th to the 19th Centuries. It struck many in Baug as odd that Babak would discriminate against Sargonian white men of Bahari descent by continuing to hold them captive.”
I was tired and ejected the DVD from the tablet. Strangely, I realized I didn’t like my job so much as I liked Jaleh. She made the drudgery worthwhile. I picked up the phone and called her.
“Leh, could you tell me a story?” I asked.
“What?” She asked. I must have caught her in the middle of something.
“Are you busy?”
“Nooooowah.” She responded quizzically.
“I’m at about 569 on the DVD. You have a copy with you?” I asked.
“Could you read it to me over the phone or just play me your copy over the phone on speaker so we can comment as we listen together?” I asked.
“Sure, just a minute…why?” she asked, guarding against an improper advance.
“Bored,” I replied, not exactly lying, “and tired.”
“Me too,” she admitted. I was glad to hear that. Maybe it wasn’t a mistake to call after all. In a few moments, more quickly than I imagined, the DVD continued almost exactly where I left off… .
“President Dauber’s strategy regarding the hostages was to proceed step by step in negotiations with Babak and the Revolutionary Guard. When he found his diplomatic rhetoric ineffective, Dauber declared in a public speech Sargon would impose economic sanctions against Baug. However, these ‘sanctions’ did not include an embargo of food and medicine, the two most vital imports Baug received from Sargon.
“Baug did not need any imported commodities except food and medicine. It did not want Sargonian machinery, cars, factories, guns or coca-cola because it was still auditing materials they already possessed. Baug felt no pressure whatsoever from Dauber’s economic sanctions, especially when other countries trading with both Sargon and Baug did not take the sanctions seriously. During the embargo, Baug bought wheat (despite renewed Sargonian scrutiny) alongside other commodities from Sargon’s allies. In turn, Sargon’s allies bought more commodities than they needed from Sargon and with a little arbitrage magic, they found their way into Baug. Dauber’s trade sanctions provided for a longer, costlier and illegitimate route for the transfer of Sargonian goods to Baug, but did not halt their delivery. Coincidently, many more hands were getting greased because the goods had to be transferred and retransferred around the globe, creating goodwill, and inflation internationally.”
“Babak was particularly cautious in his diplomatic attacks against Sargon in general and President Dauber in particular. He knew the geographical distance between Sargon and Baug was prohibitive of a Sargonian incursion, but did not want to provoke the Sargonians into a war-like disposition. Rather, Babak would out-fast Dauber and test his religious scruples. The Imam knew President Dauber to be a tea-tottler and wanted a contest of discipleship. He also knew Dauber had been a commander on a Sargonian nuclear submarine, but what did Dauber know of him? He learned from his deputies inflation would spiral out of control for both nations if war broke out between them, but presaged Sargon had more to lose in that regard. Baug is protected by natural barriers of land surrounding the Gulf of Tahmour, and with many of Baug’s allies within close proximity, military action of any kind in the Gulf would be difficult for Sargon to coordinate. Dauber was pinned against wall; horns over the dilemma.
“Without realizing all the consequences of their action, the Sargonian Government deported some 2,000 Baugi students who were no longer able to pay tuition at Sargonian schools due to the effect of the economic sanctions imposed on Baugi students and their benefactors in Sargon. President Dauber appeared on television stating that all Baugi students who were not presently enrolled in a school on Sargonian soil were to be deported. What happened as a result of this policy was that most of the students who couldn’t pay their tuition and were sent back to Baug were politically “anti-Babak”. Baugi students in Sargon who could pay tuition were pro-Babak, just how the Ayatollah had wanted it! The consequences of Dauber’s tuition pay or leave policy included pro-Babak forces left in Sargon allowed to blend in with unsuspecting university students who established new organizations and funded existing ones to support the broadcast of propaganda to their members through tape-recorded messages sent by telephonic means. Pro-Babak ‘students’ in Sargon threatened to terrorize and assassinate high-ranking Sargonian government officials if military action was initiated against Baug.
“Deporting Baugi students and visitors continued in Sargon during the Dauber Presidency. It fact, the senate of an incorporated state within Sargon approved a bill that prevented 3,000 Baugi students from continuing their studies there. The state based its jurisdiction for the expulsion on the fact that their state-funded universities were under their domain and control. The representative from the state who delivered the proposal reasoned that if Baugi students go back home, they will act as disruptors to the Babak regime and reforms will take place due to the anti-Babak sentiment thrown into the mix. The representative envisioned returning Baugi students to Baug, and in return, the Sargonian hostages would be released. The uncoordinated Sargonian public relations campaign from a single Sargonian state targeting Baug back-fired on Sargon as a whole. Sargon did not foresee the tendency of the deported Baugi students, who may have been sympathetic toward Sargon before, feel the deportation somehow tainted them. They were ‘dirty’ for being processed as quasi-criminals and deported and were ‘dirty’ because rejection by their former Sargonian hosts meant the denial of the prospect of becoming naturalized Sargonian citizens. As rejects from Sargon, they would be ‘damaged goods’ when they arrived in Baug and would have to prove their loyalty to the Ayatollah Babak or die. Some of these students may have invested a great deal in their education abroad and had nothing now to show for it but a few photographs. Worse, they had to face the heckling of the mob and the possibility of being conducted to Babak’s ‘de-programming crew’.”
As we listened together, I wondered what Jaleh was thinking about knowing that she has been one of the students deported from Sargon in 1979. I wondered if her recollection differed from the representations on the DVD’s. She had told me once about Babak’s Revolutionary Guard, how they referred re-matriculating students like her to intense questioning and sometimes arrest following their overseas stint in Sargon.
“Is that how it was Jaleh?”
She stopped the DVD player. “It’s about goodness,” she said the Guards would say as they inspected the disembarking passengers coming off the jets at Tealandir Airport. They’d be looking at profiles they had assembled of everyone on the passenger manifests. “I was…and still am, a virgin,” she said. Once I proved it, they mostly left me alone. There was a momentary silence and she continued, “Why do Baugis demonstrate against Kir? The Council told demonstrators that ‘Sargon of North Kir disrupts Baug’s political system and brings poverty and dictatorship wherever they go’.”
“A little psychology taken in secondary school would be enough to know that if one is told enough times and in a strategic manner that Sargon of Kir is no longer an associate but an adversary,” Jahan added, “it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Some will take the advocated side no matter how unreasonable or disadvantageous to them.”
Jahan stopped by Jaleh’s flat while we were on the telephone together. He was working on a proposal for a gas-fired power plant near Tealandir. He joined us on a second telephone line and popped one of his silver-colored discs with Samisekt characters on its face into his tablet and played it over the phone’s broadcast microphone in place of the one Jaleh and I had been listening to.
The narrator spoke in Arabic. “The pain of the sanctions would be as real to the returning deportees as it was to those already living under them. Generally speaking, distance and tension bring division between countries. If Baugi students were immersed in Sargonian culture, they would have more to say about Kir than what Ayatollah Babak told them about it. By the immersion of foreign students into Sargonian universities, the spiritual, political and cultural influences in the controlled and insulated environment often played a diplomatic role once the foreign student returns to his or her home country. As far as Baugis who studied in Sargon in the late 1970’s were concerned, the osmosis value of allowing them to continue to study indefinitely until they ultimately paid or worked off their tuition fees outweighed the cost of deporting them to a hostile Baug adverse not only to their future aspirations but Sargon’s as well. Babak’s regime was pleased that by deporting anti-Babak students from Sargonian schools, the Islamic organizations within Sargon could operate unchallenged by their pro-Babak counter-parts. Islamic propagandists would then be able to commence their operations on a large-scale, without opposition from Baugi voices that would diffuse them. In regard to ‘reform’ in Baug, I submit ‘a change of attitude of an extremely changeable people could conceivably occur.’
“As soon as Sargon deported the Baugi students back to their home country, Xerxes opened their doors to Baugi students and declared they would accept 20,000 Baugi students who wanted to study in its country free of charge. Within five years, Xerxes would have expert propagandists in Baug telling students who to fear—Sargonians. If Baug fell under increased Xerxesian influence due to sanctions and the severance of diplomatic relations, who would Sargonians have to blame but themselves? Not only that, Xerxes would also have the intelligence they could glean from the deported students who attended Sargonian universities.”
“In the midst of these events, Xerxesian troops stormed through Papavererum, Baug’s eastern neighbor, and occupied its territory. Guerilla warfare was taking place in various Papavererum provinces and Xerxes alleged the uprisings were stirred up and led logistically by Sargonian undercover agents.
“Sargons reaction to Xerxes’ allegations included deploying naval ships to the Gulf of Tahmour. The new ship deployment alone was not a strong enough signal in and of itself to cause Xerxes much concern that Sargon was sending a hostile war signal their way. The convoy could have been sent due to the hostage crisis, so more ships in the Gulf did little if anything to alter the dilemma Xerxes was facing in Papavererum. Sargonian officials thought that the Papavererum government would send Xerxes back to Xerxesion territory, but the Xerxes propagandandists were so persuasive, Papavererum made no requests of assistance from the Sargon even after the convoys of ships arrived in the Gulf. Because the Papaverereese did not revolt outright against Xerxes, Xerxesians were confident their position and influence in Papavererum would only grow.
“Sargon took advantage of Xerxes’ invasion of Papavererum and proposed a defense treaty between Baug and itself against a Xerxesian invasion. Immediately upon receiving Sargon’s defense proposal, the clergymen, along with Babak, refused the offer. Dauber’s intelligence sources had twice now missed the mark in reading the ‘buzz’ of Baugi civil and governmental sentiment. Under the circumstances, with daily demonstrations taking place against ‘Sargonian Imperialists and Drones in Baug’, it turned out the Sargonians looked ridiculous proposing to ‘help’ Baug against Xerxes. It would have been more logical, albeit perhaps not politically correct, had Sargon been silent until Baug indeed requested their assistance. As it happened, the clergy got a hold of the missive from Dauber’s office and started to disparage Sargonian Christians as ‘naïve and presumptive’. This was the clergy’s grand opportunity to rail against the Imperialist Sargonians, saying ‘It [Sargon] is so forward that they cannot rest from their foreign policy of aggression [even as they see others on the attack]’. Baugi diplomats repeatedly declared they were not threatened by Xerxes, and would act independently or multi-laterally with third party allies in Papavererum should hostilities break out. If Xerxes were to attack them, Baugi and Paparvererum guerillas would mutually defend each other’s homeland as an active unit.”
“Followers of the Ayatollahs Babak and Darien fought against each other in the province of Varshian. Babak’s Revolutionary Guard overcame Darien’s followers, and the survivors from the Darien opposition were put on trial. A religious judge sentenced more than ten of the anti-Babak reactionaries to death. The mass execution infuriated the people of Varshian, and demonstrators gathered from the suburbs to their capitol city of Javed to object to the death sentences. When Babak’s Guard arrived, they were to eventually open fire on the crowd to ‘restore order’ and the Varshian people only became angrier. They raided banks and governmental buildings and then set them on fire once they had been looted and gutted. With smoke-filled streets, and all of the surrounding buildings ablaze, the Guard fled with their machine guns in hand back to their bases. The natives took over the television and radio stations and began broadcasting propaganda against the Ayatollah Babak and his regime. This was a serious defeat and an outrage in the eyes of Ayatollah Babak. His army divisions stationed in Varshian flipped and joined protesters in chanting ‘Down with Babak’ due to the injustices they attributed to the Imam for suppressing their human rights.”
At times, I see Jahan as a tough rooster who doesn’t like a rival in his midst. I decided to work without him around whenever possible. Jaleh will be safe with me. I wonder why he doesn’t let me alone with her for very long. When the DVD was completed, we said goodbye to each other on the three-way line. Arabic was my native tongue, but Jahan and Jaleh understood the DVD as well if not better than me.
Zareen and I wanted to go on a sight-seeing vacation to a body of water in the Far East. She assigned me a wall-scrubbing job in the kitchen and I did it early on the next the day while she went to visit her mother. When the dishes were done and the bed made, I had a bowl of cous-cous and started in on the research. Jahan and Jaleh’s job with me seemed to be complete. I guess we all realized at once I’m a competent adult with “issues.” To me, an “issue” is not so much a negative attribute as it is a sign, in this case, to work alone.
“After the course of a few days, Babak summoned army personnel from all parts of the country in order to abate the Javed rebellion. The rebellion was well under control when Varshian officers who had initially joined in the fighting against Babak’s regime were summoned to appear before a council of clergymen in Tealandir. The officers thought they were being transferred to a more stable post when they were summoned, as transfers customarily were processed out of Tealandir before re-assignment. Once they arrived in the capitol city however, they discovered their situation was grave. They were accused of complicity in the planning a coup d’etat against the Ayatollah Babak with the Sargonian government. After their arraignments, the Varshian soldiers were tried and found guilty by the ulama (priest) of sedition and sentenced to death. The execution of various individuals often paralleled their association with any group or groups that held an anti-Babak bias. Groups or individuals openly opposed to the Ayatollah Babak or to the Islamic Republic of Baug were suspected of sedition. In this environment, the number of executions escalated rapidly. Babak’s feud with Ayatollah Darien was about to get heated.
“Propaganda from Babak’s regime continued to be distributed more frequently in Baug. Clergymen who were formerly Babak supporters sent letters and telegrams to the Ayatollah Darien asking him to dissolve the Varshain Islamic Party [VIP] because their membership in the party was a prima facie case of treason against them in the Baugi Islamic courts. Babak-led clergymen persisted in regarding members of VIP as ‘agents of Kir and Israel’.
“The Ayatollah Darien was supported by more than three million members, most actively in the provinces of Varshian and Darivsh. The clergy supporting the Ayatollah Babak wrote letters and remarks that were printed in the daily newspapers and periodicals, including satirical responses to Ayatollah Darien’s suppositions and emphatic denials of wrongdoing. In response to the mocking of his statements and beliefs by clergy of Babak’s persuasion, Darien defended his followers by denying that the VIP caused the unrest in Javed. Darien went on to allege clergymen working in Babak’s Administration were responsible for the uprisings due to the approval of the Guard’s oppressive tactics including the excessive use of force against the demonstrators in Javed. Darien claimed the reason for the rebellion was that the clergymen, in their ambition to control Baugi politics, ignored too many of the VIP members’ inalienable rights. He asked the clergy, ‘If the two million members of the VIP were all conspiring foreign agents whose behavior was worthy of death, it was a shame that the Imam Council had failed to direct these people in a manner befitting to God.’ He asked the clergymen working under the auspices of Babak’s Administration to repent of their hooliganistic behavior and regain their composure as theologians.”
“In Shahin Shalizeh, a Gulf seaport on the southern flank of Baug, more demonstrations broke out against the Ayatollah Babak. The Revolutionary Guard opened fire on the people of Shahin Shalizeh, and sporadic battles ensued for several weeks. After about one hundred inhabitants of Shalizeh were killed, the Shalizeh surrendered to Babak’s army. Although anti-Babak protests in various parts of the country were being treated with severity, regional will behind the resistance movement was tamped down but not altogether extinguished. Revolutionaries with their own visions of leadership were waiting in the wings for the proper opportunity to show their discontent for Babak’s version of an Islamic Republic.”
“Babak ordered the election of a president for Baug’s new government. About 1,000 candidates applied for the position, so a Revolutionary Council organized a new secret police organization to be utilized by the clergy to investigate the backgrounds and political tendencies of each of the candidates. Babak used many of the officers who were not executed in the purges to renovate and lead the OIHSB under his authority. These officers worked under Amir in the former regime, so they knew how to structure such an investigative-enforcement agency. The new OIHSB investigated the backgrounds of the candidates and delivered their report to the decision-making Council overseen by the clergy. The Council in turn handed the list to Babak, and unacceptable candidates, such as those belonging to or having belonged to the Rostam Khalq, a radical Socialist political party, the Baugi National Front and other popular independence groups were eliminated from the roster. Citizens of Varshian, Armee, Kouros, Bahadur, Baugistan as well as Bluchestan and the coastal provinces were upset with the cuts to the presidential nominee candidacy list because they were disproportionately affected by them.
“As minority provinces and opposition organizations began to promote their political platforms and talking points, Foreign Minister Armani Afsharadeh, aspiring to be president, falsely declared he had directed the Isthmus government of Central Kir to arrest Amir and that following his election as president, he would go to Isthmus and personally return Amir to Baug to stand trial for his crimes. Although Afsharadeh’s statements were debunked by the Jahangir Broadcasting Company [JBC] as a hoax, Afsharadeh, as acting superintendent of both radio and television broadcasting in Baug, censored the JBC reports from domestic broadcast until after the election.
“Despite Afsharadeh’s foray into misinformation to attain the office of president of the Republic, Casper Basir ultimately became the first elected President of the Islamic Republic of Baug. In his acceptance speech, Basir said that his administration would focus on an increase in domestic production, controlling inflation and to continue to negotiate a release of the Sargonian hostages. He added that he would bring order to a Baugi government which had descended into chaos as a result of the ineptitude of numerous managers and statisticians who led the country after Amir was deposed. Basir believed the students who held the hostages should return to the classroom while he worked toward achieving their release.
“Zareen,” I called into the bedroom, “You were here in Tealandir. Did some of the students try to manage everything like in Lord of the Flies?”
She finished what she was doing and came into the den. “They were no more ‘flies’ than you are.” She looked upset. Zareen had wanted a baby after she told me the doctor said she was too old to have one.
“Why bring a child into this mountain of shit and flies,” I told her at the time. “You think family makes up for the shortcomings of our youth you’re saying Zareen?”
“Family conquers narcissism,” she replied.
“I leaned on you and now we’re leaning on each other—I guess your training at the academy was worthwhile, but I don’t want kids.”
“I don’t either,” she said, reassuring me.
“Not in this shithole,” I muttered, not believing the premise behind the cliché.
Luckily, I hadn’t heard from Jahan or Jaleh and had almost completed listening to the last set of discs on the revolution. I wonder what happened to that short-skirt hostess at the sidewalk café? I typed in “romper” on my tablet and looked at a few negligee models before starting the program entitled
“Babak had the hostage taking ‘students’ retain the Sargonians captive at their embassy, contrary to Basir’s plan for their expedited release. Basir was incapable of political or military action contrary to the consent and logistics of the Imam because Babak had power to veto any presidential decision under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic. Babak was almost gloating Basir had sought the release of the hostages by executive order because he could demonstrate to the public his veto power was superior to the mere ‘creative ideas’ of Basir. The Supreme Leader Babak made Basir look like a subordinate ‘fly’. It is interesting to note that before the Basir-Babak dispute broke out over whether the ‘students’ should return to school, candidate Afsharadeh took the position the ‘students’ who were occupying the Sargonian Embassy were communists and should be expelled immediately. Babak’s veto power was stronger than a two-on-one half-court press and trumped what he considered a secular world of ‘flies’.
“Although Babak declared repeatedly before the presidential election that domestic order would return to Baug, the election of Basir did not change the structure of the new constitutional government. Babak’s veto power let all of Baug know who had the final say. The president under the Islamic Republic of Baug’s Constitution was merely a ceremonial figurehead to agree with, or legitimately challenge the Imam’s authority on political matters such as the confinement of the Sargonian hostages.
“Basir was restrained from making any decisions unilaterally, but dutifully ran his policy ideas through Council and Committee channels and directly to the Imam to achieve desublimation from the status quo. Parliamentary Ministers were chosen by the Council and served ‘at the pleasure of the Imam’ with state-sponsored militias at their disposal. Basir knew of this and used his persuasive rhetoric rather than police power to influence parliamentary decisions. Certain administrative committees, working as agents of the Ayatollah Babak, did not obey Basir’s orders nor did they respect his viewpoints. The longer the discord continued, the more the president became subordinate to their committees since they could report adversely on his activities to the Council and the report would eventually end up drawing the attention of the Imam’s inner circle of clerics and Babak himself. Post-revolution bureaucrats were another buffer of influence that diluted the control between the Baugi president and the Imam. Babak saw the weakness in their administrative power however, and now that Basir knew his place, Babak would swat some committee ‘flies’ to humble the rest.
“Babak was being courted and lobbied by influential communist organizers. He was attracted to Xerxes because of their common opponent, Sargon. Since Baug was currently at odds with Sargon, Babak looked to Xerxes to bolster Baug’s defense deficiency suffered as a result of the Sargonian economic sanctions.
“To stabilize his government, Babak arranged for a tumultuous event to occur in Baug. He ordered universities to transform themselves into Islamic schools that prepared students for the priesthood. He objected to the former educational system in Baug based largely on Western secular values and perspectives. Giving as examples of ‘superfluous’ the subjects of physics, chemistry and mathematics, Babak advocated the incorporation of neglected courses such as religion and jurisprudence into the curriculum. The universities were preparing students for an ‘irreligious life’ Babak said, unless their education was highly tempered with an Islamic foundation. He claimed the sciences premised their proofs upon an agnostic denial of divine creation and of the resurrection of the chosen after death and thus were false teachings. He believed that schools should no longer be co-educational but that only males should attend the universities. Women, he said, were meant to wear veils and be kept separate from the men in order for them to stay at home with their matronly chores.
“Babak sent his messages to the students through the Office of the President, Casper Basir. Basir, still relegated to functionary status, conveyed Babak’s statements to the public through the appropriate committee channels. One message in particular stated in no uncertain terms that if students did not obey the Ayatollah Babak, they would be punished at their schools by the Imam. Dissenting students responded by stating through their spokesmen that they would follow the dictates of their national Baugi heritage regardless of the Ayatollah Babak’s threats, and would refuse to obey ‘medieval customs’ of the invading Moslems of the Seventh Century A.D. In retaliation for the lack of respect with which dissenting students addressed the Imam’s edicts, organized student revolts at campuses around the country were met with swarms of vagrant Babak supporters attacking the young apostates with clubs, stones and knives.
“The Revolutionary Guard commended the action of the loyalists who punished the apostate students. During the first day of fighting, students were killed at each disrupted campus and dozens of others injured. The student population of ‘Greater Baug’ resisted the Islamic Republic’s authority over them despite the violent clashes. Each and every day, groups or gangs of Babak devotees rushed onto a selected institute or university campus and attacked targeted students attending there.”
“Zareen, did any of the university’s teachers die in these clashes between the students and and clergy?” I asked.
“Look it up on google,” she said and continued sleeping.
I continued with the lesson while Zareen was asleep and tried to be quiet so as not to disturb her further. “One of the most severe attacks inflicted by Babak loyalists occurred at Tealandir Technical University where twenty-two people were killed and three hundred injured. At Sherveen University in Saman, five students were shot to death and one thousand injured by Babak’s Guard in a single day.” The rabble of vagrants appeared to have gone legit I thought to myself. What must Wombat analysts have thought of this outcome?
“In the Baugi city of Simin, students began a counter-revolution against the Ayatollah Babak. Babak’s regime did not yet have the reins on the radical youth parties which had paved the way for the Imam’s rise to political power in Baug. The youth parties opposing Babak wanted some pay-off for their efforts and they wanted it now!
“The student groups were no longer of the Ayatollah Babak’s fold. They quickly surmised the Ayatollah’s move to require religious studies and jurisprudence put them in the sights of his next target, the disobedient and university student. Babak did not relent in his prosecution of the ‘students’ who overtook the Sargonian Embassy and held Sargonian hostages captive. They had ‘unclean hands’ and were not able to seek redress in Baugi judicial forums without Babak’s authorization and he would not give it. They found themselves in a ‘catch 22’ where time, evidence and the international community were all working against them. Where once a catalyst, hostage takers found themselves regarded as merely chumps used to fill a blank spot in Babak’s timeline to establish his ideal of an Islamic Republic of Baug. The radical communist students among the hostage takers soon were demonized as redundant pests or underworld thugs to be used only if and when required. One thing was becoming clearer as a result of the Ayatollah Babak’s proposal to reform the Baugi academic curriculum: there would be zero tolerance for further hostage taking of any kind. The communist youth gangs were anathema and expendable heretics if they did not fall in line with the Ayatollah’s reforms under the new administration.
“Sargon severed all relations with Baug during Babak’s attacks on communist youth gangs. In reaction to the Sargonian move, Baug sought closer political and economic ties to Xerxes even as Xerxes was warring with its neighbor and sometime ally Papavererum. Puzhman and other common market countries in the West quickly followed suit and refused to negotiate with Baug. Isolated, Baug negotiated with Xerxes to draw up a mutual-defense treaty which excluded both countries from taking sides in the Xerxes-Papavererum conflict. The withdrawal of Sargon from Baugi vital interests benefitted the Baugi regime in that Babak was able to use the spectre of Sargon as a patience-destroying catalyst during the accusatory phase of his battles with domestic rivals. His rivals may have been more eloquent, but if they were conspiring with Sargon, what good were they to the Republic? Sargon’s boycott of Baug played well into the hands of the Supreme Leader as he was in charge of the courts and could restrict the content of media reports from abroad. Any accusation of a domestic conspiracy tended to favor the Ayatollah Babak and place a proverbial cloud over the integrity of his adversaries. Newscasters and the press ran stories favorable to Babak and the public drew inferences from the coverage that the clerics were always right. Babak was able to use fear and tactics such as these to unite the country against their common enemies, Sargon and Flint.
“Let’s have lunch,” said Jahan after I picked up his call.
I heard Jaleh eject the DVD from her tablet and say “Let’s go eat something Khalid!” in the background ostensibly addressing me.
The DVD research was almost complete and we might not get another chance to see each other before moving on to new projects with other colleagues.
Moving on, I thought to myself. “Okay,” I said.
At lunch we didn’t mention the revolution or power generation. It was as if we were in the middle of a geometry problem and I forgot what the theorem was we had originally set out to prove. All I could concentrate on once I smelled the hot food was getting some and sharing it with my friends. The restaurant was more formal and expensive than usual; I guess this was a going-away party of sorts, a celebratory dinner. What had started out as tag-team storytelling ended up as a moment of sharing what we alone believed to be a definitive history of the ‘Baugi Revolution,’ but none of us spoke too much. The food was too plentiful and delicious. The food and jasmine tea were delightful together. As we sat and ate together, I sat up straight and began to be more attentive to Jaleh and Jahan who had just started a conversation together. They were talking of their family. I didn’t know their families and felt like I was lost again in the middle of a geometry problem of postulates, proofs, corollaries and theorems. Although confused with their conversation, the food was a happy escape.
“How’s Zareen Khalid?” Jaleh asked after her conversation with Jahan ran its course regarding the prospects of their next assignment.
“Oh, she’s fine,” I replied.
As we left the restaurant, I found out Jahan and Jaleh were leaving to visit their extended family at a celebration in Behrouz, a small village 40 kilometers South-East of Tealandir.
Jaleh said she’d pick up the materials she gave me upon their return as she kissed me tenderly on the left, then the right cheek. Before departing, Jahan smiled at me. He held Jaleh’s arm as they crossed the busy street. “Goodbye Khalid!” he said before looking out for passing cars. “We’ll call you in a couple of weeks!” he said a little louder so I could hear him over the traffic.
When I got home, Zareen was in a tender, quiet mood. It was time to tie up loose ends while she was conciliatory and tell her about why we were in Tealandir, but I put it off. The material was supposed to be confidential and I still had a bit more of the final DVD to complete. I’d think of something non-committal, vague and ambiguous to say to her, giving her the gist but not spilling any beans, but I couldn’t formulate the proper bullshit because it would be bullshit. Zareen deserved something other than BS.
I retreated to a small room in our flat, about the size of a large closet that had a door at either end, and inserted the final UC disc into my tablet and resumed listening to the audio it contained.
“The people of Bahadur would not hear of the Ayatollah’s antics and began to express in violent terms, their opposition to his entire regime. Babak had by now modified his rhetoric to include Xerxes as an agent of subversion along with Sargon and Flint. Nevertheless, the mighty island nation of the far-east, Fereydoon, recommended to President Dauber that he avoid all military action against Baug because it could move Babak into a complete alliance with Xerxes. In April of 1980, an intelligence leak disclosed Baug had been negotiating with Sargon’s adversaries, Xerxes and East Gaspar, for the past two years. Up until that time, these sensitive and tense negotiations had been successfully concealed from non-parties to the agreements. Babak’s rhetoric against Xerxes had been mis-information.
“On April 29, 1980, when Baug’s negotiations with Xerxes were announced, Sargon President Riymi Dauber authorized a rescue mission to recover the Sargonian citizens held hostage at their embassy in Tealandir. The mission was to involve eight helicopters that were to land 200 miles south-east of Tealandir in the open desert. From the outset, the mission went awry. One of the choppers got lost in a sandstorm, another had a mechanical breakdown and a third collided in mid-air with another aircraft. Dauber scrubbed the mission after concluding God’s hand may have intervened, spoiling his executive action. Sargon’s advisors agreed with President Dauber, the mission could not recover without reinforcements and reinforcements would be seen as indicative of escalation, which was the whole point of the secret helicopter rescue mission in the first place—to avoid escalation of the use of force. Dauber did not consider the scrapped rescue mission a moral defeat but an act of God’s will. He later told a reporter in retrospect he would do nothing different during the hostage crisis since “no one was killed’. After mission control relayed their orders to abort, the helicopters involved in the rescue plan that were still able to fly returned to their bases either in Farhoud, or aircraft carriers stationed off Baug’s coast in the Gulf of Tahmour.
“On July 27, 1980, Amir died in a hospital bed at the Hediyeh Military Hospital in Farhoud despite surgeons’ attempts to arrest late-stage cancer and excessive bleeding. According to one source, Sargonian reporter Samantha Arezoo, Amir’s Sargonian doctor Marko Drummond said the cause of Amir’s death was infection. Chemo-therapy treatments necessary to arrest Amir’s spreading cancer weakened his immune system to infection—which led to the bleeding. As far as Babak and his collaborators were concerned, Amir’s death would not expedite the release of the Sargonian hostages. There were complex factors involved in the hostage crisis that prevented the death of Amir to act as a quid pro quo to free the hostages. There really was no simple solution to the problem, but Amir’s death could only help the cause of the 52 Sargonians still held hostage.”
So that’s why we’re here! A hostage of history! I thought to myself. I didn’t start the shit. Don’t let anyone say I started this. I thought of how my report to UC would be written, from the vantage point of really being held hostage. We didn’t start this crap…or did we? I thought, thinking of a thesis: restart, starting over…forgiveness…lack of absolutes, trust, baby steps, accountability and verification. “No one was killed,” Dauber had said. I thought of how the Baugi expatriates who fled the country when Amir was deposed are ideally situated to intercede as diplomats of Sargon to reestablish closer ties to Baug, their country of origin. I suppose it will be their descendants who will carry on dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Baug. Yes, things have changed…but who was it that said “The more things change the more they stay the same”? “Ain’t it the truth, ain’t it the truth.”
About a week after Jaleh and Jahan had departed, I got a secure text from Jahan telling me the Baugi power-grid mission had been delayed for at least six months.
I was fatigued and missing REM sleep. My time clocks were screwed up. I wanted to “sleep for two weeks” like my housemate in college said after completing the last of his undergraduate exams. I went to bed while Zareen spoke with her argumentative brother on the phone. I didn’t wake up in a start as I did the last time Zareen and I slept together, nor did I arise to take a piss. A couple of dreams went by and I enjoyed them. My closing report to UC wasn’t due until 16:00. They don’t give you much time to wrap things up. All I had to do was fill out the correct form online and submit it. Not having to get up early had a soothing effect on me and I would still have time to practice a bit of yoga.
I got up before Zareen and spotted the disc I hadn’t finished across the living room on a corner-table beside the loveseat. I put the DVD into the entertainment center, programmed it to the segment where I had left off and picked up a feather duster. I moved the duster it back and forth over the ornaments and table-top while I listened to the audio and occasionally glanced up at the screen when prompted by the narration. I’d be finished with DVD in time to make Zareen breakfast. She’ll undoubtedly put me on wall and basin-scrubbing duty tomorrow. No longer in a hurry, I paused the DVD player while I put the duster away. It was getting warm outside. I opened the windows in the front room and could feel the June sunshine on my face and torso. I looked outside and saw a few neighbors’ kids playing in the street—it was Saturday morning. I resumed the lesson, this time turning the volume up to 6, just enough for the neighbors to hear a muffle outside the door, and closed the windows.
“The Baugi ‘students’ holding the Sargonian citizens captive at their embassy demanded certain conditions be met before any steps to release the hostages would be made. Among these demands was the return of Amir’s Sargonian investment properties he purchased while governing Baug. The Baugi student-reactionaries also wanted apologies from the Dauber Administration for damages caused by alleged crimes perpetrated from the beginning of Amir’s reign in 1953 until it was determined he be removed from power by the North Bahar Treaty Organization [NBTO]. Many of the radicals and/or reactionaries also demanded a ransom be paid for the release of the fifty-two hostages, to be divided among the various factions who opposed Amir’s regime and helped steer Baug toward the Islamic Republic they helped create through opposition. The reactionaries also demanded that the Islamic Court of Baug be granted jurisdiction to decide the magnitude of restitution due Baug for the bravery of its ‘freedom fighters’ in liberating the country from tyranny and oppression following the coup against Rahmat in 1953.
“When Amir left Baug for good in 1979, there was no organized ‘information central’ in Tealandir or anywhere else in the country for Western news sources to coordinate their activities. The media scuttlebutt was that Sargon was engaging in ‘secret investigations’ of the emerging Babak Administration at all times before, during and after Amir’s demise. In response to Western media sources that reported the ‘students’ holding the hostages were not enrolled ‘students’, reactionaries claimed the Sargonian hostages were not diplomats but foreign agents actively engaged in the destabilization and overthrow the Babak regime! The rhetoric had already escalated past the point of yesterday.
“The reason Babak kept the Sargonian Embassy and its hostages in Tealandir on ice was not solely to get Amir extradited to Baug for trial. The Sargonian presidential election of November of 1980 was approaching and if Baug could influence the election, one way or another, the victor would ‘owe them one’. A covert quid pro quo may have led to the Baug-Contra Affair, but this source does not conclude any military agreements between the interested parties included the upcoming Sargonian elections. Matters remained fluid enough on the Baugi side to enable Babak to operate without relying on any written agreement[s] to act unilaterally. Babak not only knew Islam, he knew world history, and he refused to get backed into a corner by the West.
“There are other matters undisclosed to the general public which kept Sargonian hostages confined to Baug for such an extended period of time, but it is probable President Riymi Dauber’s loss to Ferdinand Nolan was a substantial mitigating factor setting the stage for the release of the hostages. Only 60% of the hostages were expected to return home alive if the [helicopter] mission had been a success? One might conclude upon closer examination of the helicopter extraction mission that President Dauber and his military advisors had a broader scope of ‘rescue’ in mind than would be reported by roving investigative journalists. Even if the media were able to report on the many confidential, secret and top secret materials touching the helicopter-rescue mission, it probably would not have improved Dauber’s chances for re-election in 1980.
“The rescue mission may have failed but negotiations between the two countries, although mostly covert in nature were about to thaw. The hostages were released as Ferdinand Nolan was being sworn in as Sargon’s 40th President on January 20, 1981. Journalists had spin-offs to write about along with the inauguration: the release of the hostages and the personal and professional stories of all involved [that weren’t sworn to secrecy, but even those might spring a leak ].
“To this day Baug continues to help shape a better fit between Sargon and itself. In Spring of 2015, for instance, Baug appointed its first female ambassador to represent its interests vis-à-vis Sargon after 35 years without official diplomatic relations between the two countries.”
This account of historical fiction was told to me, Khalid, by the cousins Jahan and Jaleh, with the help of the UC interactive system. The jury is still out on whether or not to judge others from one’s own set of shoes. Maybe Baug and UC crews will co-produce a joint venture entitled The Discernment Series. What a glorious mission that might be.
Copyright ‘M’ as told to John Rubens (July 7, 1980, 1981); The Iranian Revolution: Iran’s Struggle with a New Father, as told to and edited by John Rubens (1980, 1981).
Compilation Copyright ‘M’ and John Rubens, Installment 77: An Account of ‘M’ (1980; 1981, online 2014)
Skyscraper Heavens
Copyright John Rubens
May 25, 2015

Trailing Dedication:
Thanks to my wife Lucia, my mother Arlene and her husband Kon for their support, to ‘M’ and his family who told me the events of the Iranian Revolution in 1980 which served as source material for this work of historical fiction.
I would also like to thank the Jesuit priests of Blessed Sacrament Hollywood, Pontifex, the Eternal Word Television Network [EWTN], the Wall Street Journal online, Wikipedia, the tweets of the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei, the tweets of Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, authors Kirby Wright and Anthony Bourdain as well as representatives from Xlibris publishing including Patrick Ruiz, Nikki Birch and Didi Rodriguez for their consistent guidance and encouragement.
Others have been helpful and influential in the writing of this book, among them the University of California at San Diego, Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, The Constitutional Rights Foundation,, Bill Gates, Microsoft Word,, Microsoft Surface Pro, Rich King Casting, The Department of State of the United States of America, Dell Computer, Lenovo Computer, Shadofo Barush and Julian and Kaye Barnett.
Special thanks to social philosophy Professor Michel, Schiller International University, Strasbourg, France, the Institute Internationale d’Etudes Francais at the Palais Universitaire, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France, Joan Didion, Michel Butor, John Dunne, the Magic Castle and the Magic Castle Hotel for their technical assistance.
The reason I can’t see is because I am that blind. Do we really need to see each other that close anymore anyway? Cow eyes are different lenses making love out of war. “Hey cow!” I screamed out the window of the moving car. She looked me from her big brown eyes.

Elaborative Footnote Supplement
Synopsis Footnotes:
[1] See, Installment 77, An Account of ‘M’; Call No Man Father at
[2] Marcuse, Herbert, One Dimensional Man (1964, 1968 paperback ed.)
[3] See, id., 1968 paperback edition at 137, fn. 6
Textual Footnotes:
[1] Marcuse, Herbert, One Dimensional Man (1964, 1968 paperback Ed.)
[2] id.
[3] A basketball enterprise originating from Harlem, New York City
[4] Conceptually- (v. Data-) driven, Professor Norman, Cognitive Psychology, University of California at San Diego
[5] The Bathroom Joke Book (2003) by Russ Edwards and Jack Kreismer
[6] French idiom “that’s life”

[7] Gymnasium is that level of schooling common in Bahar after secondary school where one prepares for specialized study in the university or to leave school after graduating to join the workforce, the military or clergy.
[8] Subliminal suggestion, unintentional or deliberate, by the subsidization of education administrators
[9] See, One Dimensional Man, id., “Welfare and the Welfare State” (1968 ed.) at 48 et seq.

[10] Julian Barnett of Marin County, California on Y2K containment policy

[11] See, One Dimensional Man, id. at Ch. 9: “The Catastrophe of Liberation”

[12] robe; apparel worn primarily throughout desert regions of the Muslim world

[13] See, Niccolo Machiavelli’s 16th Century political treatise, The Prince. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (16th Century work at the end of chapter 18): “In the actions of all men, and especially of princes, where there is no court to appeal to, one looks to the end. So let prince win and maintain his state: the means will always be judged honorable, and will be praised by everyone.” Philosophy beta [online edited March 30, 2012 at 15:08].
[14] See, Herbert Marcuse, on the theory of the dialectic and containment [e.g., an expanding balloon needs an escape for gas or will burst] [from Social Philosophy Professor Michel lectures, Schiller College, Strasbourg, France; Universite de Strasbourg, Strasbourg France (1978-1979, 1983)] [In 1969, Marcuse wrote An Essay on Liberation celebrating liberation movements toward self-rule and sovereignty distinct from the authority of its predecessor overlords].
[15] From the Social Philosophy lectures of Professor Michel, Schiller International University, Strasbourg France, 1978-1979. See, Herbert Marcuse, on the theory of the dialectic and containment [e.g., an expanding balloon needs an escape for gas or will burst] [In 1969, Marcuse wrote An Essay on Liberation celebrating liberation movements toward self-rule and sovereignty distinct from the authority of its predecessor overlords]. I found these balloons at my doorstep later in the day I wrote footnote [14], above. These six must have blown over to my door in the breeze from the Magic Castle, Hollywood. At first, I thought I was hacked. Still, strangely prescient. I put the balloon bag in my wife’s Cadillac to take to the kids at work and three of the balloons popped in the heat the next afternoon while still in the vehicle. The three that remained found their way to a cute Ukrainian-American boy accompanying his father to Tashman’s Screens and Hardware. The balloons brought a joyful smile to the young boy’s face according to my wife Lucia.
On May 27, 2014, Mother Angelica of the Eternal Word Television Network said not to get caught up in societal “balloons” that are not God. If the balloons are not part of God, they are by implication, at best a distraction not to amuse or lose oneself in for more than a moment before moving on to union with Him. [Catholicism more than loving your neighbor, it’s about “becoming Christ” so one can give that to others. “You are the bread of the communion,” she said. “Balloons” are a potential pitfall, not Jesus].
[16] “Whimpy” was a character from the cartoon Popeye who always asked to pay for his hamburgers on credit.

[17] Matthew 23: 9, “And call no man your father upon earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”
Care of: EWTN online: Re: Don’t get trapped or lost solely in one’s own psyche.
In his daily homily Pope Francis explained that it takes more than intellectual assent to truly get to know Jesus – we must also develop a personal relationship of joy through prayer and works.
“Ideas by themselves do not lead anywhere and those who pursue the path of their own ideas end up in a labyrinth from where they can’t get out again!” the Pope stated in his May 16 daily Mass.
Addressing those present with him in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, the Pope explained that getting to know Jesus is the most important work in our lives, and warned that just studying about him or having an idea is not enough.
Noting how often times those who pursue their own ideas end up trapped in them, the pontiff pointed out that “It’s for this reason that heresies have existed from the very beginning of the Church.”
“Heresies are this: trying to understand with our minds and with only our personal light who Jesus is,” he observed, adding that “A great English writer wrote that a heresy is an idea that’s gone crazy.”
“That’s right! When they are ideas by themselves they become crazy…This is not the right path!”
Going on, Pope Francis said that in order to really get to know Jesus there are three doors that we must open, naming the first as “praying to Jesus.”
“You must realize that studying without prayers is no use. We must pray to Jesus to get to know him better” he noted, explaining that “the great theologians did their theology while kneeling.”
“Pray to Jesus! By studying and praying we get a bit closer… But we’ll never know Jesus without praying. Never! Never!”
Pope Francis went on to say that the second door we need to open is that of “celebrating Jesus,” because “Prayer on its own is not enough, we need the joy of celebration.”
“We must celebrate Jesus through his Sacraments, because these give us life, they give us strength, they nourish us, they comfort us, they forge an alliance with us, they give us a mission,” the pontiff observed, adding that “Without celebrating the Sacraments, we’ll never get to know Jesus.”
“This is what the Church is all about: celebration” he repeated, stating that “the third door is imitating Jesus. Take the Gospel, what did he do, how was his life, what did he tell us, what did he teach us and try to imitate him.”
Entering these doors “means entering into the mystery of Jesus,” the Bishop of Rome continued, “and it’s only in this way that we can get to know him and we mustn’t be afraid to do this.”
Bringing his reflections to a close, Pope Francis encouraged attendees to think “about how the door leading to prayer is proceeding in our life,” warning that “prayer from the heart is not like that of a parrot!”
“How is prayer of the heart? How is the Christian celebration in my life proceeding? And how is the imitation of Jesus in my life proceeding? How must I imitate him?” he asked.
“Do you really not remember!” the Pope chastised, explaining that “The reason is because the Book of the Gospel is full of dust as it’s never opened!”
In opening the bible [sic] and reading it “you will discover how to imitate Jesus” the pontiff observed, so “Let’s think about how these three doors are positioned in our life and this will be of benefit to everybody.”
[18] Mark 10:27

[19] TMI stands for “too much information”
[20] See, La Modification (1957) [The Modification] by Michel Butor, widely recognized as the first modern anti-roman [Fr., anti-novel].
[21] Matthew 11:30

[22] Word “swagger” as used by Peggy Noonan in Wall Street Journal online op-ed column regarding authority to liberate Nigerian Schoolgirls: May 16, 2014: “America has forgotten how to exercise power without swagger. … Peggy Noonan @Peggynoonannyc; Peggy … as the story of the kidnapped girls…[from google search online 05-19-2014, quoting WSJ online].
[23] See, The Communist Manifesto (1848) by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
[24] “1. Authoritative permission or approval that makes a course of action valid.” From The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition, (1992) by Houghton Mifflin Company.

[25] Catch-22 (1961), novel by Joseph Heller wherein the protagonist wanted to get out of active military duty under a theory of being insane but one could only plead insanity if one was sane (aka “damned if you do and damned you don’t”).
[26] A song lyric from the musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), A Film by Jim Sharman
[27] Prohibition agent in the serial, The Untouchables (1959-1963) based on the memoirs of Elliot Ness and Oscar Fraley, produced for television by Desilu Productions.
[28] Marketplace; often uses partially outdoor retail space for sales
[29] Compare, Ecclesiates 1:2 “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” [KJV]
[30] See, Mark 13:7; see also Ezekiel 38-39.
[31] Compare the French word “Salon” [“House of” Fr.].
[32] Novation: to substitute a new payee for an old one. Compare, politicians that give political donations found to be tainted to charitable organizations of their choice.
[33] Compare the stories of the Joseph [see Genesis 41:41 et seq.] and Moses in pertinent part: [Exodus 12: 40-42 et seq.].
[34] U.S. Constitution, See, post-Civil War Amendments 13 and 14 (circa 1865).
[35] See, Esther 9:32, for an example of a writing instituting a legal record with religious significance after bloodshed: “And the decree of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim; and it was written in the book (emphasis added) [“book”, above, may refer to the ” the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia” see Esther 10:2]; “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Matthew 21:13; See also, Isaiah 56: 7-8 in pertinent part: “[M]ine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.” See also John 10:16, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”(King James Version, Holy Bible). “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.” Psalms 18:30 (KJV); compare also theory of quantum mechanics “folding space” as explained in Brian Greene’s book The Elegant Universe (1999) and Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century (1998) by Michio Kaku. [Thanks here go to my youngest brother Steve Rubens, who was reading Visions for a class at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and gave me his copy when he had finished—hard cover baby.]

[36] See, Matthew 4: 19; Mark 1:17 [The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D. (1995)]; see also, Ecclesiastes 9:12.
[37] See 2 Timothy 3:1 [Re: “last days”]
[38] RT as abbreviation for “Retweet”
[39] See, Freudian Psychoanalysis and Jungian theories of the collective unconscious.
[40]The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (16th Century work at the end of chapter 18): “In the actions of all men, and especially of princes, where there is no court to appeal to, one looks to the end. So let prince win and maintain his state: the means will always be judged honorable, and will be praised by everyone.” Philosophy beta [online edited Mar 30 ’12 at 15:08]. Although it is disputable whether Babak had a court to appeal to due to the concept of “clean hands” in legal equity, at the point in time of Babak’s “diplomatic tactics” to defend the State against those who would diminish it in Kouros and Bahadur, “the end justifies the means” is not entirely to be dismissed as a defense to some of Babak’s acts of State to maintain order while tamping down revolutionary fervor.

[41] See, Utopia (1516) More, Thomas; a novel about inhabitants of an imaginary island seeking an ideal political and cultural system.
[42] Compare: One Dimensional Man, [(1964, 1968) 1968 ed. at 17-18]
[43] See, id. at 22
[44] See, Catch- 22 (1961), a novel by Joseph Heller wherein the protagonist wanted to get out of active military duty under a theory of being insane but one could only plead insanity if one was sane.
[45] Holy Bible, Book of Mark 2:22, “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” [KJV].
[46] See, Rollerball, A Film by Norman Jewison (1975). Screenplay by William Harrison, adapted from his short story, The Rollerball Murders.
[47] “The Gipper” was a collegiate football player in the film Knute Rockne, All American (1940), a biopic written by Robert Buckner and directed by Lloyd Bacon. The future of football was at stake at a mid-western Roman Catholic University, and the whole team as well as its fans rallied around George Gip, or “Gipper” as he was known, to win the big game and keep the football program at the school. The Gipper, an important team member, passed away tragically part-way through the film, which prompted his teammates to cry, “Let’s win one for the Gipper!”
[48] See, One Dimensional Man, id. at 194 (1968, 6th Edition paperback) re: The Economy and Ideology of Industrialization
[49] proto-type

[50] Khalid’s source, ‘M’. But see “REPORT OF THE STAFF’S STUDY OF ALLEGED MISCONDUCT BY MEMBERS OF THE SARGONIAN HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES INVOLVING THE FORMER GOVERNMENT OF BAUG. See also REPORT OF THE STAFF’S STUDY OF ALLEGED MISCONDUCT BY MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES INVOLVING THE FORMER GOVERNMENT OF IRAN.” A. Raymond Randolph, Jr., Special Counsel, Robert A. Bermingham, Chief Investigator, Beverley C. Lumpkin, William J. McDonnell, John J. Moriarty, Richard J. Powers, Investigators (October 24, 1979).
[51] See, 1 Peter 5:8
[52] See, Dr. Gene Scott, PhD. Stanford University [Theological Sermons on Religious Fundamentalism versus Individual responsibility and accountability]; see also, Matthew19:7-9: “[Moses instructed Jews to give writ of divorcement ‘because of the hardness of [their] hearts…but from the beginning it was not so.’]” KJV
[53] The Wizard of Oz (1939), A Film by Victor Fleming
[54] e.g. Madonna recordings; but for culture, see, Dialectic Reasoning, “What grows in the petri dish?”
[55] Subsituted in place of a former party, in this case, the previous Baugi prosecutor[s].
[56] Matthew: 5:39; see also, Luke 6:39
[57] Lord of the Flies, A dystopian novel by Golding, William (1954).
[58] In sports lingo, a 2-1 refers to two players on one team using leverage against their outnumbered opponent.
[59] departure; see, Marcuse, Herbert, One Dimensional Man, Chapter 3: “The Conquest of the Unhappy Consciousness: Repressive Desublimation.”
[60] Id.
[61] ‘Mr. George’ of San Carlos, California told me in 1967, “The umpire is always right,” but he was an [little league] umpire.
[62] latin: “this for that” also legal, see, “consideration”.
[63] Adapted from “not a moment too soon”, e.g., “yesterday was too late [for you to get here son]”.
[64] The Cowardly Lion commenting on politics from The Wizard of Oz (1939), A Film by Victor Fleming
[65] A top-secret, yet illegal exchange which breached sanctions against Baug set in place during the Dauber Administration in order to circumvent laws set up by the Sargonian Congress which forbad the Nolan Adminstration from funding rebels fighting communists in Southern Kir during the 1980’s.
[66] Covert Baugi source
[67] As time passed in Sargon, “leaks” of confidential and secret information became more commonplace and even accepted. See, i.e. Foreign Affairs, A Publication of the Council on Foreign Relations [One article in Foreign Affairs noted “leaks” were encouraged as a form of public disclosure but must be anonymous and Federal employees were admonished to burn bridges traceable to the leak].
[68] Mark 2:22, “And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.” [Original King James Version]


About johnrubens

B.A. ; J.D. ; author of anti-novel "Skyscraper Heavens".;
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