The survivors And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead; nay, but alive, but you do not perceive. Qur’an, the female cow, 154 Hamed got out of the taxi and paid the driver. Then he turned back and saw the name of the street he was heading to: Martyr Amiri. Tears rushed to his eyes and he though: “You promised not to mess things up, now don’t begin to shed tears, even before seeing him.” He crossed the street and entered “Martyr Amiri” street. The street was no different than any usual street. It was a bit dirty; you could see junk on the ground here and there. You could feel the heavy cover of dust on everything, on the ground, on the houses, on the windows, on the people. But it had its share of beauty, and you could feel the same kindness of old Tehran streets in it, since the street had kept its old shape as it was possible in a city such as Tehran. Hamed followed the address he had in hand. When he reached the number twenty four he stood before its door. But then a voice from behind him called him. “Excuse me; do you want to speak to anyone?” Hamed turned back and saw that! the person who called him was a young man. “Yes, I wanted to speak to Kazem Amiri.” “That’s me.” “Oh, hello, nice to meet you.” “Do I know you?” “No… But I’ve heard about you when your mother was pregnant with you. You were born in the last year of the war.” “But who told me about you?” “Your father.” “Ah.” Hamed expected a little more emotions. But the boy neither showed emotions nor interest. “So you were with my father, in the frontline?” “Not only that… I was saved by your father, in the middle of war, but he himself was martyred. In fact, he sacrificed his life for me.” “Really?” “Yes.” “Then why did you want to see me?” This boy was acting strange, Hamed thought. How he could be so indifferent? “I thought you might like to see me.” “What for?” “Well at least I’m the only one who knows exactly what happened to your father.” “He’s dead; he’s in his grave, and he’s not coming back and that’s exactly what happened to him.” “He’s not dead…” “You mean he’s alive?” Kazem said that with irony. “No, I mean he’s a martyr.” “And where’s the difference?” “Hey! Don’t speak in that way! How you dare… How can you consider martyrdom and death to be! equal?” “Death is death.” “You’re not proud of your father? Or do you feel like any other orphan?” “Well, they give me easier access to university, and I’m not going to use it, so no.” Hamed was disappointed. All that passion, all those hard fights, all those sacrifices, all that suffering, all and all, just to protect this nation, and what was their reward? Even their sons wouldn’t give a damn! “Don’t you want to know how your father died?” He said this in a begging voice. “Tell me, if it makes you happy.” And Hamed told him… told him about those dark nights lighted by the light of bullets and explosions, about those mines and the people who walked on them, so that other people could pass, told him about when he was alone with Ahmad Amiri, Kazem’s father, and a grenade was thrown before them, then Ahmad threw himself on the grenade, making his body a shield, and when the grenade blew it didn’t hurt Hamed, just threw him on the ground, but blew Ahmad to pieces, and if Ahmad didn’t do this, Hamed was dead as well as him. Hamed was excited, and he was close to beginning to cry. Kazem stayed indifferent, but the bitterness of his face grew more. Yes, how bitter, how cold, how tired, the eyes of this boy were! “Well, thank you for telling me these.” “You don’t feel honored?” “No.” Hamed didn’t insist anymore. “Why have you come to me now? After eighteen years?” “I couldn’t find your address, I got it at last from your uncle. I saw him in a shop by accident, and then I couldn’t gather the! courage to come to you.” “Excuse me if I offend you sir… But if my father died for you, what have you become? Who did he die for?” Hamed could now feel tears on his eyes, ready to fall, but he controlled them. “No one… I’m no one. Just working in a bookstore. Completely forgotten. Yes, you’re right; I couldn’t earn what your father gave me.” “Don’t be sorry, he wouldn’t be someone special if you killed yourself to save him.” “And he’s a martyr now…” “Maybe he’s really in a better condition than us.” “He is… He’s in God’s Paradise, and he’s with Imam Hossein himself.” A nasty silence fell between them. “You’re right; maybe your father is the one who is in a! better condition.” “Yes, he is.” “But don’t you really feel any… grief? Or honor? Or anything?” “I’m tired. I’m too tired to feel this or that way.” “Anyway, I just wanted to see you… And tell you how your father died.” “It really won’t make any difference for me.” “Can you at least… at least… understand what your father did? Why he did it?” “Not really.” “We fought… We gave martyrs… so you could live happily today.” “Well I live in any way but happy But I assure you, what you did, you did! for yourself.” “You really can’t talk this way You can’t deny all those sacrifices! We are the burnt generation, we were burnt!” “Yes, and we are the ashes remaining from you.” Hamed didn’t answer to this one. Kazem continued after a short pause. “You killed and died for your own ideals, and you left us with no ideal. You fought because of your faith and hope but you left us neither hope nor faith. So, please don’t talk to me about sacrifices. We were the ones which suffered your sentence. Goodbye.” He left Hamed without another word. Ideal, faith, hope… and love. The boy was right, these were the words they though about during those days, yes, in a pool of blood, their heart was full of love. The boy didn’t know one thing: Hamed didn’t feel those emotions himself anymore. Maybe he was luckier than the boy, because he once felt them, but what now? Nothing. His heart was blank for ages. Tired of these bitter feelings he left the street. In the main street he decided to walk to home, instead of taking a taxi. He looked at the name of every street he passed: Martyr Amiri, Martyr Nouri, Martyr Ahmadi, Martyr Kushani brothers, Martyr Khalili, Martyr Khatami, Martyr Nourpour… They seemed to live in every street; they seemed to be present in every each house, those martyrs, the ones who didn’t survive. And now, he didn’t hold himself anymore, he let the tears roll down his cheeks.