... I know I will be killed in the deserts of Africa. In the deserts, away from everyone’s eyes. Poker told me this. He knows things about my death. Even about my birth …
Poker has a flute, and every time he comes to see me he is high. He knows a lot about plants. I think he owes this to the Afghan Groundskeeper. That’s the name Poker has given him.
The Afghan Groundskeeper lives on this floor. Just across from my apartment. A thirty-something-year-old with black hair and black eyes and thick, luscious lips. Sun-burnt skin covers his entire strong, agile body.
I have no interest in intimate relations with him. I consider him an insider and this kills my desire for intimacy with him. It is always like this. It has always been like this. Insiders are undesirable.
He is alone almost all day. But we usually spend a few hours together in the middle of the night. It is the only time when you don’t hear the sound of something being chiseled and carved come from his apartment. At that hour of the night, the only sound floating around is the sound of our whispers. Slow, uneven whispers with a despairing yet eager rhythm. His apartment looks like the realm of an empire. There, everything is under the rule of the Afghan Groundskeeper; the windows … the small fractions of light … the wood shavings … and even the Queen. The Afghan Groundskeeper is leading her from the forests. With carving knives and steel chisels.
The Queen is still a bust. A bust made of wood from Mediterranean trees. The Afghan Groundskeeper is carving her from the changing seasons. With an innocent, naked body. All day … in the dark. He carves … carves … carves...
Translated from the Persian by Sara Khalili