My upper left back molar aches gently. The filling fell out as I was eating salad, about ten days or perhaps a century ago, when we were holidaying by the Caspian. I visited an elderly dentist, a “family friend” of my parents, the following week. He filled in the craggy crater. I do not know whether the ache now is just the new filling “settling down”, or whether the nerve is agitated. I may need a root canal. The thought of a root canal fills me with anguish. I realise I hate my dentist in Halifax, but the one here does not inspire confidence either. Maybe I should visit a new dentist, once I get back? The ache supersedes the other ache I had from before, where a prior crowning wasn’t “settling down” satisfactorily. The elderly Tehran dentist also pulled my two remaining wisdom teeth, leaving a mass of mushed bloody gum behind. Two of my friends in Halifax had their wisdom teeth removed in Halifax and ended up having surgery. Despite my bloody torn gums and throbbing teeth, I eat kebabs, shishliks and barg and chenjeh as often as it is offered to me, chewing and tearing at the meat with my front teeth, guarding the tender backs with my tongue. Tears of pain spring to my eyes, but I still ravenously gnaw at sheep bones, like a caveman who has made his first kill in months, and won’t have another until spring.

I lie on the floor of the living room in my mother-in-law’s apartment in downtown Tehran, a child breathing softly on each side of me. Earlier, before they fell asleep, they were struggling through their usual battle of which child I should face, pulling and tugging at me, so I had to lie stiffly on my back. Now it is dark and silent. I stare at the ceiling, where a large ugly six-point bronze chandelier hangs, directly over my head. If there is an earthquake and it falls, it will squish my face. There are rumours that by next month, Tehran will run of water. 14 million people will shrivel and die from thirst. They put paraffin in full-fat milk and ice-cream. My father’s bladder has stopped working, and something is clipped to his penis to help him pee. Something something prostrate. His penis and prostrate have become public property, and everyone tells stories about the penises and prostrates that they know, of uncles and elderly husbands, which stopped working. My mother is constantly reminded of her bladder, which got shredded in childbirth. She couldn’t pee for two months. I remind everybody that I couldn’t pee either when I was hospitalized for my two c-sections, and I had something clipped there too.

In two weeks, we will fly back to Halifax, the children and I. Every day, an airplane falls down, and all of us seem to be flying all over the world. I know the thing I fear so much will probably happen when I am away, in Halifax- it is statistically more likely. It is the thing that all immigrants fear, most of all. And the thing will inevitably happen, as nature takes its course. What will I do then? Will I rip off my human mask and let the wild beast out, when it happens? I know I won’t- I have my children, who will snuggle up to me and squabble over me. They need to be fed and be taken to school, and this will keep me human. I think of my brothers and sister. What will keep them from turning into beasts, running about the streets, howling, when it happens? I don’t know.



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