The Sleeping Tulip

Amin A.
By Amin Ariana — August 2015

The day God created a problem larger than himself

Darkness, imprisoning me. All that I see is absolute horror; I cannot live; I cannot die; trapped in myself, body my holding cell.
Metallica, One

At five o'clock, the only channel on State Television began its children's cartoons program. I set my school bag aside and sat in one of the two well-worn chairs, the way pavlov's dog must have reacted to the sound of his bell. The other chair sat empty.

Nima tuned the FM radio in the kitchen. It went from static to intelligible voices, back to static. He suddenly stopped turning the knob on a channel playing an army march. The cartoon about the orphaned bee looking for his mother suddenly got interrupted on TV, broadcasting the same march in video. I glanced at Nima. He looked scared and confused. The footage to the march looked just a little too live for comfort: the corpses of dead soldiers were handed to their crying mothers, to a heavy-metal like rhythm; except the tears, tremblings and faints were real. A charismatic male voice began singing: 

Upon the Tulip Sleeping in Blood ;
The witness washing his hands from his life
Upon that one final scream
Upon the trembling tears of the mother

(Chorus)
We swear that our path shall be your path oh martyr!
We swear that our path shall be your path oh martyr!
All forward! All forward!
In one cry: Immortal is my homeland.

(Voice Over: We shall step in your footsteps until death.)

(I) swear upon the name of freedom
Upon the moment that you gave your life
Upon the exploding heart (of a whole nation)
To a witness rolling in his blood

(Chorus)

(I) swear upon the will of my comrades
The sufferers armed with faith
Upon the tired, offering their lives
Upon my heartened conspirators

(Chorus)

(Voice Over: We shall step in your footsteps until death.)

Most of the dead looked too young for war. The TV switched back to cartoons. I turned it off. Silence was piercing our hearts. Finally Nima broke it, trembling: "Their plan is to sacrifice children!" A tear rolled down his face. A key turned in the door lock and mom slowly stepped in, with our two year old sister in her arms: "Hurry up. We only have an hour left."  

"Mom, is God going to keep us safe?", Nima whimpered, but I interrupted very confidently: "There is no God, is there mom." She frowned in a mix of pity and confusion: "Someday you'll find him."

Dad's fists banged on the door: "You're cutting it close. Bombing raids are about to start. We need to get to grandma's apartment. She's all alone." He picked up the FM radio and extra batteries from the kitchen, as if sent by God to protect us.

"Dad, can God build a rock so large that he himself cannot destroy?" I asked, smiling, antagonizing Nima. Dad froze in his footsteps and turned to me with a question mark all over his face: "Wow, I think a Greek philosopher once asked that. It's a smart question! You're only seven, how did you think of it?" he asked. "In school they keep saying God is all-powerful. I'm wondering if he's more powerful than himself." I asked, watching Nima turn red with shame. "Yes, he's powerful enough to build a rock he cannot destroy." dad responded. "So he's weaker than that rock?" I said with pride, so that everyone could hear. He squinted for a few seconds, then slowed his tone: "For that moment, he is. But over time!" he raised his finger and both eyebrows, "Over enough time, he grows much stronger than the rock."

Nima looked relieved. "Do you believe in God dad?" he asked, as my mother's head turned towards dad in silence. "Not their God" he said, looking at my little sister. Then he opened the door and commanded us without a word to run for the stairs. The sunset bled red into the sky. The radio began ticking like a time bomb, in preparation for the red siren. The bombers under the shadow of darkness sped towards Tehran.

Dogma dies by facing itself in the field. Red Tulips outside dogmatic poetry survive by sleeping in the mountains.

The Iranian child soldiers who died in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war were romanticized as The Sleeping Tulips by the State Media.
The Sleeping Tulip

The Iranian child soldiers who died in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war were romanticized as The Sleeping Tulips by the State Media.


Amin Ariana is a software entrepreneur in San Francisco.

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This was a draft of Chapter 1.5 from the book:
Entrepreneurial Story Series

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