Makhmalbaf Family Official Website - وبسایت رسمی خانه فیلم مخملباف

Script: Two-legged Horse

Tue, 23/05/2006 - 22:00

Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Kabul 2006

Two-legged Horse
1-Streets of Kabul, day
Mirvais has been a servant all his life. As soon as he was hollered by the wealthy, he ran for service and now Payeez, a wealthy man has requested for a boy servant for his lame son to carry him on his back and take him to and bring him back from school and attend him at home. Mirvais therefore, has taken every poor and hungry child he could find to Payeez’s home to see who will be the lucky one to be chosen as the servant.
Mirvais: Sweet children, wash your clothes, heads and bodies in the river. The master doesn’t want any dirty children.
Children wash their bodies in the water and pour water on each other’s clothes and make the clear water mud cloudy.
Mirvais: Wash yourselves thoroughly, sweet children. This is a good chance. Luck is not the camel of death to be dropping by every body’s house. Whoever becomes that lucky person it means that thousands of others have been unlucky.
One of the children: Do we look clean, Mirvais?
Mirvais: Yes you look nice like grooms.
The children step on to the dusty street from the water. Their clean feet become stained with mud again and while following Mirvais their wet foot prints remain on the ground.
One of the children: Mirvais, how much will he pay?
Mirvais: A person was denied to enter the village he asked for the village headman’s house! Find out if you will be chosen by the master first.
One of the children: If he accepts, how much will he pay?
Mirvais: If you are chosen you will be the lucky one. You will have a good living.
2-Lame boy’s house, continued:
Children enter the house after Mirvais. Payeez welcomes Mirvais. They embrace each other. The lame boy is riding the swing.
Mirvais: I picked the good ones. You won’t find any better or stronger boys in Kabul.
Payeez looks at the children one by one. He checks and holds their arms as if buying a slave. Given a chance he would count their teeth too. Finally, he picks one of them.
Payeez: (to his son) Do you like this one, son?
Lame boy: (still riding the swing) No I like the other one better.
And he shows a boy who looks more fragile than the rest. The lame boy signals him to come forward and once the child comes forward lame boy gets on his back. A couple of steps over and the child is about to fall. Mirvais comes to his rescue and grabs lame boy and puts him back on the swing.
Payeez: Dear children, listen well. Whoever is more nimble will win. Come forward one by one like horses.
Children come forward one by one and carry the lame boy on their shoulders once around the yard like horses. Lame boy holds on to their shoulders with both hands not to fall down.
Lame boy: This one’s body is too rigid, daddy. His bones pierce my body. This other one’s body is like cotton. It’s a nice ride but he can’t run fast. This other guy is too restive. He will throw me on the ground and my head may break. Yes, this one is good. All step back. He is good.
Children step back and look at the fortunate boy who has been granted with this luck.
Mirvais: You are fortunate my child. Serving in this house is nothing short of kingship.
Lame boy: Now trot.
And the chosen boy trots around the yard but he has no strength to carry along the lame boy. Payeez chooses a stronger dark skinned (swarthy) boy from among the boys and puts his lame boy on his back.
Payeez: What’s his name?
Mirvais: Call him boy, master.
Payeez: Did you tell him he has to be clean?
Mirvais: Yes master.
Payeez: Did you tell him to be polite?
Mirvais: Yes.
Payeez: Did you tell him we are a reputable family?
Mirvais: Yes master. Whatever your son asks him he will obey. What do you say boy?
Swarthy: I will obey sir.
Mirvais: (points to the lame boy) This boy’s name is sir. Nothing more or less. Now put the sir on the swing and from tomorrow come and take him to school. Then stay with him until he sleeps. You may go home late at night.
Swarthy: How much will he pay, Mirvais?
Mirvais goes towards Payeez and they whisper to each other and then he returns.
Mirvais: You are fortunate and a lucky boy. You will be making one dollar a day. Let’s go (to other kids) I will find you guys work too. Don’t loose hope. Despair is the devil’s word. God is kind.
When they arrive home Mirvais turns and holds his hands up towards the sky and prays and rubs his hands on his face.
Mirvais: Amen.
3-A house in shanty town, night:
Swarthy has a mad mother who like a dog has given birth to several children in the streets. Someone has come to take his mother.
Old man: (to the young man wanting to take away the mother) Go get a wife. Don’t go with her. You will be infected with a lot of diseases.
Man: (whose face is filled with acne): Who would give me a wife?
The woman’s children walk after her. Woman picks a stone and throws at them. The children run away but come to follow their mother again.
Woman: Leave, don’t follow me.
Swarthy arrives. He is carrying bread. Children gather around him. Even the stray dog comes to him wagging his tail. He is the bread earner of the street. Although each one of the children has a different skin color and looks but all of them were born by the same mad woman in this same street.
4-On the way to school, next day
Door to the lame boy’s house opens and he comes out being carried on Swarthy’s back.
Lame boy: I don’t like you, you jack ass. (pulls the boy’s right ear. Pain fills the dark skinned boy’s face but he keeps walking.) Whenever I twist this ear turn right. (twists his left ear) when I twist this ear turn left. (Swarthy bites his lips out of pain. He pulls both his ears) Whenever I pull both your ears turn around yourself. (and the boy turns around himself) When I make this sound with my lips stop you jack ass, noch, noch, noch.
Swarthy stops. A donkey passes by them. The man riding the donkey slaps and thrusts the donkey’s buttocks with a stick forcing him to move on more quickly. Lame boy forces Swarthy to hand him a stick from the ground. Then he thrusts his buttocks with the stick pushing him to run like a donkey. Now the city streets are seen from the lame boy’s point of view. In a couple of places Swarthy reaches a passenger wagon and in one occasion he speeds past the wagon and in another, he stays behind until he reaches school.
5-School, day
They arrive in school. Inside a tent, supposedly the school, students have gathered listening to the teacher. Swarthy stands outside the tent and looks at the class, teacher and students in envy. A couple of students go to the toilet. It is lame boy’s turn. Teacher calls Swarthy to take lame boy to the bathroom. There is no bathroom. The barren desert is the children’s toilet. Swarthy picks up lame boy and takes him away from the tent. Lame boy unties his pants’ string and writes something on the ground with his piss.
Lame boy: Read what I wrote.
Swarthy: I don’t know how to read.
Lame boy: I wrote your name. I wrote jack ass.
Swarthy: But sir you came to school today. When did you learn to write?
Lame boy: I had a private teacher jack ass.
Swarthy: Yes sir.
Swarthy brings lame boy back to the tent and continues to watch the class. When the school bell rings Swarthy carries lame boy on his back and brings him back home.
6-Return from school, day
School children walk down a street that stretches downward from a hill. They harass Swarthy. A few children get on donkeys and compare them with the lame boy’s donkey which is Swarthy.
One of the children: Our donkey is faster.
Lame boy: But mine can dance.
He pulls both Swarthy’s ears and Swarthy whirls around himself. Lame boy forces him to trot downhill and he does. At some point children are eating ice cream. Lame boy also makes Swarthy stop so he can buy ice cream. Swarthy watches children licking their ice creams and swallows his saliva and trots again on lame boy’s command but suddenly, he stops, pants and looks at a little girl that’s begging. Lame boy keeps whipping him but Swarthy stands still. Now he looks exactly like a donkey panting out of thirst. Lame boy thrusts the stick in his buttocks but Swarthy refuses to move until the girl goes away.
7-Lame boy’s house, day
In the house a pot is over fire with steam rising out of it. Swarthy pours the hot water into a tub and adds cold water from the pool. He has taken lame boy’s clothes off and he puts him in the tub and washes him.
Lame boy: Scratch my back with your nails to make the dirt come off.
Swarthy: Ok sir.
Lame boy: Not like that. You wounded my back.
Swarthy rinses lame boy and dries him with a towel and lays him down on his bed.
Lame boy: Now go get me some grapes from the vines.
Swarthy: Ok sir.
Swarthy goes to the yard. Grape bunches are hanging from the vines. Swarthy reaches out and even jumps towards the grapes but fails to catch them. He picks a broom from a corner in the yard and aims at picking grapes with its handle.
Lame boy: Not like that jack ass. Put something under your feet.
Swarthy searches the yard but does not find anything that he can step on to pick the grapes. The door is knocked. Swarthy opens the door. It is Mirvais along with a woman in burka. They enter and go straight to Payeez’s room. Mirvais sends the woman in and walks in the yard towards Swarthy. Swarthy is still jumping to pick some grapes but has not succeeded yet. Mirvais helps him and picks a bunch of grapes. The woman in burka comes out of the room and Payeez gives her money and woman leaves with Mirvais.
8-Shanty town, night
Swarthy arrives with bread and grapes. Children gather around him. The street dog also comes forward and wags his tail. Swarthy throws him a bone too. His mad mother appears coming in the distance.
9-On the way to school, next day
Swarthy is carrying lame boy on his back and trotting. In the slope of a street he steps on a nail and falls down. Lame boy screams. Swarthy reaches him limply and calms him down. Swarthy wipes the dust off his clothes and then looks at the nail that has pierced his sole and pulls it out. More blood covers his foot. Limply, Swarthy picks lame boy and carries him on his back until they reach school.
10-School, continued
Swarthy stands behind the tent and watches the children in envy. Teacher calls some students to the blackboard and asks them questions. Time comes for lame boy’s turn. Swarthy enters the tent and carries him to the blackboard so he can answer.
11-Return from school, same day noon
Swarthy is in race with other donkeys carrying other children. The children on donkeys brag about their donkeys. They arrive at the ice cream shop. Lame boy buys an ice cream for himself and one for Swarthy but he holds it in his own hand and only lets Swarthy lick it.
Lame boy: Eat and get strong. You have to cock fight.
With a bent head Swarthy voraciously licks the ice cream and then trots towards one of the children who is calling every one for a cock fight.
12-Cock fighting area, continued
Children with or without riding donkeys enter the area for cock fighting. Dust is raised in the air as they rush in. As if it is a real war field. Each has folded their hands on their chest and leaps towards the other severely banging themselves on to each other.
Lame boy: Fight, you pathetic children. I’ll fight with the strongest among you. Mine is a bay horse.
Lame boy pulls both Swarthy’s ears and he whirls around himself. Then lame boy draws his hands on Swarthy’s mouth like a bridle on a horse and becomes ready to attack. Then he moves on Swarthy’s back and heehaws. Swarthy rushes towards one of the children ready to attack him and knocks him down by one stroke. Cheering sounds fill the air from every side. The child on the ground gets a bloody nose. Terrified, angry and helpless under the lame boy’s weight, Swarthy is ready for another attack. Lame boy pulls his ears again and forces him to whirl and brag in the middle of the field.
Lame boy: Don’t be afraid, sweet boy. Come forward. I’ll send you to the grave with one stroke. My horse is a bay horse.
A tough boy comes forward. Lame boy uses his hands on Swarthy’s mouth as if pulling the bridle and then moves himself on his back and heehaws. Swarthy jumps like an arrow released from a bow and bangs himself on the rival. Both fall back from striking on each other and lame boy almost falls from Swarthy’s back which makes every one in the field laugh. Lame boy controls himself.
Lame boy: Are you laughing at me? I’ll show you what laughter is. Move back.
Lame boy pulls Swarthy’s ears and makes him turn around in the field in order to make the crowd gather in order. This time the tough boy presses his teeth together and stares at Swarthy, head bent. Crowd cheers for the tough boy. Swarthy becomes frightened and wants to flee the field when lame boy pulls his ears and slaps him on the face and heehaws. Swarthy runs towards the tough boy and both bang on to each other. Swarthy looses balance and gets knocked down and lame boy also tumbles down on the ground. Crowd uproars in ridicule. Swarthy carries lame boy whose nose is bleeding on his back and runs away from the field.
13-On the way home, continued
Swarthy feels shameful. A beggar on a wheelchair passes by them. Lame boy looks at the wheelchair in envy.
Lame boy: I never liked you. I’ll tell my dad to buy me one of these wheelchairs and fire you.
They reach the street. Again, the girl is begging. Swarthy stares at her and lame boy heehaws for him to pass but Swarthy is fascinated still by her. The girl goes from car to car holding her hand out and begging for money with a superficial sorrow. In moving from one car to another, her gypsy looking dress dances in the air as if the birds on her skirt start flying. She even comes forward once and looks in awe at the boy carrying another boy on his back. For a moment she forgets about her superficial sorrow and smiles. Swarthy feels a heart squeeze and desires to bang the lame boy, this shameful load on the ground in front of the girl’s feet and express affection to this girl but lame boy thrusts the stick into his buttock and heehaws. If it weren’t for the pain in his buttocks, Swarthy would not have moved for a thousand years. He would turn to stone in this very street and would let a love statute to be made out of him but now the repeated pain in his buttocks forces him to trot, however, he wished that lame boy would once again pull his ears and make him whirl around so he would look at the girl one more time before trotting away.
14- Lame boy’s house, an hour later
Lame boy is sitting in the pool. Gold fish swim around him. Swarthy brings him grapes on a dish and wants to scratch his back clean with his nails.
Lame boy: I don’t like you. You are weak. I’ll tell my dad to buy me a wheelchair so I can go to school by myself.
Swarthy: Tomorrow I’ll cock fight more powerfully.
Lame boy: Don’t show up from tomorrow.
Sound of door knock is heard. Mirvais has come again with a woman in burka. He takes her to Payeez’s room and comes back to pick grapes from the vines.
Mirvais: (to lame boy) Are you happy with your servant?
Lame boy: No, I wish him dead. He is too weak.
Mirvais: I’ll change him sir. I’ll bring you a strong boy.
Lame boy: No, I want to buy a wheelchair. I don’t want any boys. I’ll go to my mother’s grave with the wheelchair.
Mirvais: May God bless your mother. She died and left your father alone.
The woman in burka comes out and Payeez pays her money and Mirvais and the woman leave.
15-River, night
Swarthy goes with bread and grapes. He hears a sound in the darkness of the night. He goes forward. His mother is in the water and some men are trying to pull her out of the water.
One of the men: Come out of the water. You have syphilis and you’ll infect the whole city.
The mad dirty woman speaks in delirium. Swarthy dives in the water and throws her hand around her neck and pulls her out of the water. Woman keeps speaking in delirium.
Woman: No one gives me any money. I tell them my children are hungry but no body pays me. Every body just uses me for free.
Swarthy’s siblings of all ages gather around him and fight over bread and grapes.
16-Wheelchair on the way to school, next day
Swarthy is denied entry to the house. Lame boy is leaving on a wheelchair. Swarthy comes forward. Lame boy pushes him away. Swarthy follows wheelchair with envy. Lame boy rings the bell to let passers bye know he is coming. And Swarthy follows the wheelchair feeling sad over loosing his job and fascinated by the wheelchair that takes lame boy like a king by hand strokes. Once, when lame boy becomes tired of rolling the wheels and stops to take a breath, the chance prevails for Swarthy to come forth and push him but lame boy refuses him and pushes him away from his wheelchair and wipes Swarthy’s dirty hand stains on the wheel with his saliva and sleeve and swears at him. But Swarthy keeps following him. He is still hopeful that lame boy will get tired of riding the wheelchair and let him do the pushing. Plus, pushing a wheelchair is much easier than carrying the slick body of a lame boy. But if he is refused that job, how will he take bread and grapes for his sick mother and younger siblings? So he goes abruptly forward.
Swarthy: Sir, I’ll wash my hands and push your wheelchair.
Lame boy: Go get lost. I don’t like you. You are too weak. You threw me down on the ground yesterday. My head still hurts.
Swarthy: I will push the wheelchair sir.
Lame boy: Go get lost or I’ll throw stones at you.
Swarthy: Sir, let me push your wheelchair.
Lame boy: Give me that stone. (Swarthy bends to pick a stone and hand to him) Not that one. Give me the big one.
Swarthy hands the boy a large stone and runs back and lame boy throws the stone at him. Swarthy comes forward again.
Swarthy: Sir, let me push your wheelchair.
Lame boy arrives at school on wheelchair.
17-School, continued
Lame boy enters the tent but he has difficulty to get off the wheelchair. He asks the students for help but no one helps him. He signals Swarthy to come and help him. Swarthy runs forward and takes him off the wheelchair.
Lame boy: Go get me some stones.
Swarthy leaves and brings some stones and gives them to lame boy. Lame boy throws all stones at Swarthy to drive him away from the tent. Why does Swarthy become humiliated but does not leave? He is still hopeful that the lame boy’s inevitable difficulty in getting on and off the wheelchair will bring him back on his job. If he were to leave his daily earnings by every stone that was thrown at him he would have died of hunger by now. It is better one gets hit by a stone and be sworn at but take bread and grapes home at night. So one must be patient. And he had learned patience by his hunger. The bitterness of all swear words would be forgotten when his head would get dizzy out of starvation and his hands and feet would loose strength and he would fall on the ground. The only thing that always scared him were these conditions. He always told himself that when he felt dizzy and his eyes went black out of hunger and he fell on the ground and had no power to walk, what would happen if someone wouldn’t show up and put some sugar in his mouth? Wouldn’t his boy like his dog that was given poison by city hall officers swell and dry up under the hot sun next to the slime in the dried gutter? Wouldn’t his body decompose and gradually turn into stinking black slime?
The stone that lame boy threw at him cut his chain of thoughts that he was speaking out loud. Lame boy was calling him by swear words and hand signal. Swarthy abruptly runs and reaches lame boy. He realizes that the school bell is rung and students have left class and no one has helped lame boy in getting on the wheelchair. Swarthy puts lame boy on the wheelchair and pushes him forward. Lame boy hits him again and pushes him away from himself.
18-Return from school, continued
Swarthy backs off. But follows lame boy at the tip of his shadow reflected on the ground. This is called following one’s shadow. That is becoming someone’s shadow. To be or not to be. Living like the dead. The other children whatever they were, they were themselves but Swarthy had become the shadow of the lame boy. The hell with a piece of bread. If it weren’t for hunger he would have sat in the street and watched the birds fly on the girl’s skirt. If he had money he would call this girl a thousand times and would put one Afghani in the girl’s small but deceiving hands so she would wonder and forget about her superficial sorrow and smile and like when she begs money from cars she would pray for him and smile at him and he would dare to hold her hand and give her all the money he had and told her: “I love you, beggar”
Lame boy’s loud scream cut these thought too. The naughty children of the street especially the tough boy who had won the cock fight yesterday are pushing the wheelchair downhill and lame boy in spite of pushing the brakes with his hands, is speeding freely downward towards death. He is going down to crash into the valley off of the end of the street where trashes are collected and turn into trash himself. And now he is so helpless that he is calling Swarthy as if calling God. Swarthy that has come out of a romantic ecstasy suddenly runs to catch the wheelchair in the downhill. The wheelchair rolls and Swarthy runs and before the wheelchair crashes from the lofty fall into the valley of trashes Swarthy crabs the wheelchair and slips onto the ground and rolls in the dust and controls the wheelchair and now before being humiliated and rejected by the lame boy he steps back. But lame boy without acknowledging that Swarthy has saved his life just continues to go on his way. Swarthy follows him again like a shadow. On the way home a nail makes the wheelchair tire flat and sound of air coming out of the tire fills the street and both the lame boy and Swarthy stop. For a while, they both listen to the sound. What a strange sound it is. As if someone in humiliation and humor gives the raspberry. As if a sick person dies of breath shortness. Then Swarthy goes forward and pulls the nail out of the flat tire and says something jokingly.
Swarthy: Sir, the tire got flat but it didn’t shed any blood.
And the lame boy ignoring this humor which is not clear whether it is humiliation or appeasement starts to move on with the tire that halts and makes a sound until they reach where the girl is begging. Swarthy comes out of the thought of the lame boy and being a shadow to him and becomes fascinated by the girl. The girl begs from cars with an almost crying face. The lame boy is now tired. He can not even cross the street. So he calls Swarthy to come and carry him and take him but Swarthy is bewildered by the girl. In his thoughts he is speaking with her out loud.
Swarthy: Come girl take this one Afghani bill.
19-Same place, same moment, imagination
Girl comes forward and Swarthy holds his hand out to the girl and girl takes the money and prays for him and Swarthy puts money in her hand again and he keeps doing it over and over and the girl smiles at him and Swarthy grabs her hand and puts the rest of the money in her hand and says to her: “Girl, I love you”. And the girl smiles and turns and leaves and the birds on her skirt fly.
20-Return to reality, same moment
Girl gets some money from a car and walks to another car. Lame boy throws stones at Swarthy and brings him with him.
Lame boy: Hey jack ass, come and carry me on your back.
And Swarthy runs and carries him on his shoulders and bends to push his flat wheelchair and lame boy grabs his ear and pulls it.
Lame boy: Turn right my donkey.
Swarthy turns right. Lame boy grabs and pulls his left and right ear.
Lame boy: Whirl around my donkey.
Swarthy lets go of the wheelchair and whirls and the girl stops begging and looks at the boy that madly crosses the street from among the heavy traffic. Until the boy disappears behind the wheels of heavy trucks.
21-In the lame boy’s house, an hour later
Lame boy and Swarthy are playing in the pool. They splash water on each other and wash each other’s bodies. And Mirvais who has brought a woman again picks a bunch of grapes and throws at them and both eat from the grapes. The woman in burka comes out and leaves with Mirvais. And the two boys dry each other with a towel and Swarthy picks lame boy and lays him in his bed.
Lame boy: You sleep too.
Swarthy also lies down on the bed next to lame boy.
Lame boy: Have you seen my spiders?
Swarthy: No sir.
Lame boy: (points to the ceiling where spiders spin webs.) There they are. That’s the father and the other is the mother.
Swarthy looks. Spiders are spinning webs.
Lame boy: Scratch my back.
Swarthy: Ok sir.
Swarthy lays him face down and scratches his back with his finger tips.
Lame boy: Lower, yes, further down, yes that’s good. I’ll give you one of my spiders.
Swarthy: Which one is mine sir?
Lame boy: Take the mother and I’ll keep the father. No, take the father and I’ll keep the mother.
Swarthy: Yes sir.
Lame boy: I don’t want some of my toys. You can take them.
Swarthy: Yes sir.
22-Shanty town, night
Swarthy carries a bag on his shoulder. When he opens it he has brought more bread and grapes than the previous days. Some dolls and toy guns and cars are also among the bread and grapes. The children fight over having them and cry. The dog that sees Swarthy is not paying any attention to him barks and wags his tail.
23-On the way to school, next day
Lame boy is on Swarthy’s back again and Swarthy is trotting.
Lame boy: (He pets his head in a friendly manner) Go slowly you’ll get tired.
Swarthy: You’ll be late for school sir.
And runs fast.
Lame boy: (rubs his hands on his mouth like a bridle) The hell it will be late. You’ll loose your strength and won’t be able to cock fight.
Swarthy: Yes sir.
And Swarthy walks gently like a dancing horse. It is a good day for Swarthy. He has gained back what he had lost. He is pleased that lame boy has accepted him as his donkey. And whenever a donkey passes by him he becomes excited and shows off to the donkey. He races with the donkey and even alluringly blocks the donkey’s way. Lame boy is happy too. Sitting on the warm body of a human that speaks with you and listens to you is much more preferable than sitting on a cold metal wheelchair that stops working by a nail stroke.
Although the weather is hot and his body sweat has mixed with Swarthy’s sweaty body but lame boy feels that his feet are used to the body heat of his biped horse. To the movement of his body under his feet. To the waves of pleasure that he feels from the body of the biped horse. No, he will never drive him away. On the contrary, he embraces Swarthy and caresses his face and neck. He pulls his ears to the left and right. He pulls them hard but not violently so the horse will not run away from him. Only he wishes that his feet would be encased with hooves so that he would sound like other horses when walking. So that he could ride on him all over Kabul and conquer its streets. He wished that he could tie him to his wheelchair like a wagon horse so that he would pull it like a cart and take him away. He even sees that picture in his imagination. The thoughts that he expresses to himself are cut off by a bear’s howl.
24-The Zoo, continued
Poor unfortunate bears are captured in a cage, yawning. The two boys walk towards the animal cages. Lame boy asks Swarthy to copy the behavior of all the animals and imitate their sounds. Lame boy humiliates Swarthy for failing to do that.
Lame boy: I brought you to the zoo to make you wild. Will you get wild when we go cock fighting, my horse?
Swarthy: Yes sir.
Lame boy: Can you run like a horse?
Swarthy: Yes sir.
Lame boy: Can you lacerate like a wolf?
Swarthy: Yes sir.
Lame boy: So let’s go fight the kids, my horse.
And he thrusts his buttocks with the dry stick and Swarthy takes off like the wind and takes lame boy with him.
25-Cock fighting area, an hour later
Dust has covered the area. Boys are fighting two by two and they tumble on the ground. Now it is the moment that the field is evacuated for a tough fight. Lame boy is riding Swarthy and the tough boy is standing face to face with him. Howling sounds are heard in the field. Lame boy whips Swarthy’s buttocks with the dry stick and heehaws. Swarthy runs towards the tough boy and knocks him down with a stroke. Tough boy gets up again and gets ready to attack. Lame boy prepares Swarthy for another attack by pulling his ears. Tough boy furiously squeezes his teeth together. Silence casts over the little field in anticipation of an ominous consequence. It seems as if the dust is also suspended in the air. Lame boy caresses Swarthy’s head with his hands.
Lame boy: Don’t be afraid my horse. You are powerful. You will knock him down. You will smash him under your hooves. Don’t be scared my horse. Go forward.
And thrusts his buttocks with the dry stick. Swarthy takes off and by a stroke knocks the tough boy down. Cheering sounds fills the air. Some enter the field and raise the tough boy. His friends message his arms and one of the children comes to the middle of the field as the referee.
Referee: Quiet. Quiet. I will count and you let go of the opponents. Three, two, one.
Lame boy thrusts Swarthy’s buttocks with the dry stick and Swarthy is taken off of the ground and strikes the tough guy whose friends have thrown in the field. The tough guy falls down again. Cheering sounds are heard again. Blood squirts out of Swarthy’s nose and he pants out of agitation.
Referee: Quiet. Quiet. This is the last time. Whoever knocks down his opponent will become the king of Kabul. He will be more of a king than Zaher Shah. He will be more of a king than Davood Khan.
Lame boy caresses Swarthy’s head and kisses it.
Lame boy: Don’t be afraid my horse. You are powerful. Only one more time.
But Swarthy is frightened. If they let him go he will flee in a split second. Now he is crying out of the painful blow to his head.
Swarthy: Let’s run away sir.
Lame boy: One more time my horse. You are powerful. Don’t be scared. I will buy you ice cream. Don’t be afraid. Once more. Be careful no to throw me down.
Crowd of children make commotions in the field and cheer for Swarthy. Swarthy wishes to escape and go to a place where he wouldn’t suffer so much for a piece of bread. He wishes that he had no feet but he had money instead and would be riding on someone else’s shoulder and instead of cock fighting would go to visit the girl. And he would see the birds fly on her skirt. That he would grab her hands and put whatever money he had in those hands. That he would see her smile and dare to say to her: “I love you the beggar girl of the desert. I will marry you when you grow up and I will not let you beg. You will only beg from me. You will wear your skirt full of birds and come with your sad face and beg me and I will put the hard earned money in your hands and you turn around and birds will fly out of your skirt.” The magic of the birds on the girl’s skirt drove him crazy. He wished he was one of those birds. The drawn bird on her skirt so that he would neither become hungry nor would he have to let anyone ride on his back.
The clamor of the crowd and the referee shouting to call the two opponents to a fight. But Swarthy has resorted to his amorous fantasies. Is love an escape from fear? Is love an escape from the struggles of life? The dry stick in the lame boy’s hand flies in the air like a sword and with utmost power strokes Swarthy’s buttocks. The sound of Swarthy’s fantasies is cut off and he jumps from the ground like a horse and like lightening strikes the tough opponent. The tough opponent is knocked down on the ground and rolled in the dust. His blood garnishes the ground. Clamor of pride and joy by children. The whole field is filled with dust and commotion. The winner of the game is Swarthy. But why are his eyes dreadful? Although every one calls him “two footed horse” or “the two footed horse won”, yet he wants to escape and why does he escape through the steep streets of Kabul to far away lands.****
26-On the way home, continued
The lame boy buys two cone ice creams and in a slow motion scene puts one cone ice cream in his and another in Swarthy’s mouth. Swarthy, exhausted, thirsty and frightened rubs his lips against the white cold of the ice cream that looks like a mountain summit. His eyes understand this coolness. Again, he rubs his lips against the whiteness of the ice cream as if a hot summer is melting a frozen summit. But this is not the end of the event. He snatches his ice cream from the lame boy’s hand and jumps at once and dashes off like a swift-paced horse and reaches the beggar girl and hands her his ice cream. The girl with her superficial sorrow turns and sees the ice cream before her. Up until today no one has given her anything but small change. She looks at the lord of this generosity. Two black eyes on a frail and sweaty face are in front of her. Only Einstein can calculate the time of two exchanging glances between a beggar girl and a two footed horse as compared with the speed of light. Two pairs of eyes meet each other at the speed of 300,000 kilometers per second. They understand, accept and embrace each other, become pregnant and give birth to children only to raise them and send them to the war and then burry the martyred body of their children and mourn for a lifetime. The girl licks the ice cream and smiles a little and turns and leaves and lets Swarthy watch the birds fly on her skirt and leave.
Lame boy: You are such a jack ass. Why didn’t you eat the ice cream yourself? Why did you give the ice cream to the beggar?
Swarthy: Because I love her.
Lame boy: Why?
Swarthy: Because I love her.
27-Lame boy’s house, an hour later
Lame boy goes into the pool. Now they are playing with each other in the pool. They wash each other and mix their food together and eat from one dish with two spoons. Lame boy lets Swarthy dry himself with his towel and ride his swing moving back and forth like fantasy and he lets him sleep in his bed and he asks Swarthy about the beggar girl and Swarthy says that he is in love with her and lame boy says:  “let’s both of us fall in love with her” and Swarthy responds that it can’t be so. And the lame boy asks how is it that two people can eat from one dish and play in one pool and dry up with one towel but they can’t fall in love with one girl? And Swarthy says that love is not spiders to share with each other and lame boy says:  “then I will take back my spiders. And spiders keep spinning webs in the corner of the ceiling.
Lame boy: Then leave. I don’t like you. Go to your crazy mother you jack ass.
28-Shanty town, day
Swarthy comes home empty handed. People have gathered around by the swamp pulling out his crazy mother by a rope.
One of the people: Come forward you’ll drown. Don’t go back. Help us save you.
Mad woman: No one pays me money. Every one wants me for free.
One of the people: Don’t pity her. Stone her right there. She will infect the whole town.
The lasso thrown by people towards the woman gets stuck in the woman’s head. People pull her but she doesn’t come out. Swarthy throws himself in the water. His siblings cry in the banks of the swamp.
One of the people: You will drown. Don’t go in, kid. Leave that crazy woman alone. If you bring her out she will go back in. Filth goes after filth.
Swarthy grabs the rope and reaches his mother and helps to pull her out of the swamp. The woman drenched in stinking slime falls on the ground next to the swamp.
29-On the way to school, next day
Lame boy is going to school on Swarthy’s back. By twisting Swarthy’s ear lame boy changes the direction to school until they stop in front of the beggar girl. Swarthy stops moving automatically and gazes at the girl. Lame boy pulls his ears and takes him all the way to the girl. Girl does not look at them and continues to beg from passers bye and drivers in the street.
Lame boy: Hey girl look this way.
Girl turns around and sees swarthy ears in lame boy’s hand. Lame boy takes out an Afghani bill out of his pocket and hands it to the girl. Girl reaches out and grabs the bill. Something runs in Swarthy’s face that he perhaps doesn’t know what it is. Is it humiliation or jealousy? As they walk away, lame boy turns and sees the girl waving her hand for him. So he pulls Swarthy’s ears again and turns him around and they stop in front of the girl again. This time he takes out a five Afghani bill and in front of Swarthy’s face holds it towards the girl. The girl reaches out to grab the bill and the lame boy grabs the girl’s hand and squeezes the five Afghani bill in her palm and just like Swarthy’s dream says: “I love you.” And the girl takes the money, smiles and disappears in the crowded street and for the lame boy, birds fly out of her skirt. And the lame boy thrusts the dry stick into Swarthy’s buttocks and heehaws and they gallop away. The girl follows them still begging for money but lame boy says that he has no money and whenever he does he will come to her.
What is Swarthy running away from and where does he want to go? His ears in the lame boy’s hands are his guide. His left ear is pulled and he turns left. His right ear is pulled and he turns right. The dry stick strikes his buttocks and he takes off to run to the deserts around the city and he goes to the cemetery.
30-City cemetery, day
The bay horse neighs and stops. Lame boy in search of his mother’s grave finds himself wandering over the graves. Everywhere there are tomb stones on the ground and flags waving in the wind. It seems as if lame boy’s mother’s grave has been lost. It is a search in vain. Swarthy’s snorting doesn’t help and trotting from one side to another in the cemetery is no resolution. There is not even one person in the remote cemetery to be asked where the lame boy’s mother’s grave is. A man comes to the cemetery. They ask him about lame boy’s mother’s grave. The man seems crazy and holds a bottle of vodka in his hand. He bangs the two glasses on to each other and instead of answering them dances and shouts as if he has come to a party of the living.
Drunken man: Hello to the residents of the cemetery. Sleep well that doomsday is near.
The crazy man sits on a grave. He fills his glasses with vodka and makes a toast and starts speaking to the grave. Finally, lame boy’s mother’s grave appears under the bare feet of Swarthy. Swarthy puts lame boy down and brings water in a pot left on a grave and pours it on the tombstone. The mad man seems to be drinking vodka and talking to the dead in the grave.
Lame boy: Mines killed my mom and cut me in half. My feet are buried next to my mother. See half of me is under the ground. If I had my feet I would have been taller than you.
Swarthy: Yes sir.
Lame boy: My mother was pretty like that girl. My father had found her in the street. My mom used to beg with the gypsies when my dad saw her one day. When he married her every one ridiculed him but my dad left every one to live with my mom until the war started. My dad took my mother and they fled the city and that’s when she went on a mine in ???. She died and I was cut in half. Now pour some water over my feet’s grave too, my horse.
Swarthy: Yes sir.
Swarthy pours water over the grave of the lame boy’s feet and they leave the cemetery.
31-Streets, continued
Children are returning from school.
One of the children: The teacher won’t let you in tomorrow. You have to bring your dad.
Lame boy: Don’t even talk about it. It was my mother’s death anniversary today. My dad will go crazy at home today.
One of the children: Will you rent your horse?
Lame boy: No.
Same kid: 10 rupees.
Lame boy: 100 rupees. My horse is bay.
Same kid: 20 rupees.
Lame boy: 50 rupees. Don’t think that I want your money for myself. I will pay this to a beggar as charity for my mother’s soul.
Same kid: 30 rupees.
Lame boy: 40 rupees. But you have to pay first.
The boy brings money out of his pocket and puts it in lame boy’s hand. Lame boy caresses Swarthy’s head.
Lame boy: Take him there and come back my horse. Sit tight that it is a nimble horse. Be careful not to fall that your mother will be mourning for you.
Swarthy puts lame boy on the door step in front of a house and carries the other boy on his back. The boy puts his fingers in Swarthy’s mouth and pulls both sides of his mouth like a bridle. Swarthy’s teeth appear. When the boy moves his hanging feet, Swarthy runs like a horse. Other children cheer.
Lame boy: Come on. My horse is bay. 40 rupees for whoever wants to ride. I don’t want the money for myself. I will give it to a beggar for my mother’s soul.
Swarthy returns. He is panting out of exhaustion. He lets the boy down. Another  boy that has paid gets on him and heehaws. Swarthy trots away. The previous boy comes forward.
Boy: It’s a good horse but he needs to have a bridle on his mouth for a good ride.
The boy goes home and brings out an empty soda bottle and with a knife cuts a piece of its end and makes a hole and passes a rope through it and gives it to the lame boy. When Swarthy returns lame boy calls him and puts the bridle on his mouth and ties the rope behind his head. Street children laugh and one of them brings a small saddle from home and places it on his back. Lame boy is delighted with joy and heehaws his horse and this time instead of pulling his ears he pulls the bridle and goes around the street and strikes a stick on Swarthy’s buttocks objecting that he hasn’t yet learned to walk with the bridle.
Lame boy: If you don’t give a good ride tonight I won’t give you any hay.
When lame boy returns towards the children he sees that they have made a pair of shoes for Swarthy out of wood and as the saddle is placed on Swarthy’s back they tie the shoes to his feet with a rope and another kid brings nails, hammer and rusty horseshoes to pound on his soles.
One of the children: We are pounding hooves on his feet.
Swarthy stampedes and runs away and children follow to catch him and lame boy tries to stop him by pulling the bridle back. Swarthy reaches a fall and inevitably stops. The children catch him and they bring one of his feet up and pound a hoof on his wooden shoe. Tears shed on Swarthy’s face.
Lame boy: (caresses his head) Don’t cry my horse. I will double your wages from tonight. Hey guys, who wants to rent a horse? This horse is costly. He gets 2 dollars a day. I have rent him out to cover the costs.
The tough boy appears and stares at Swarthy. Tough boy brings money out of his pocket and puts it in lame boy’s hand.
Lame boy: No, this is not enough. You are heavy. It will cost 100 rupees.
And the tough boy brings more money out of his pocket and puts in lame boy’s hand.
Lame boy: Bring me down. Hey my horse, show him that you are still strong under his weight.
Children put the lame boy on the door step to a house and tough boy gets on Swarthy’s back. Swarthy bends under his weight. But tough boy grabs his bridle and pulls it and fastens himself on the saddle and puts his feet in the hanging pedals and starts thrusting a stick in his buttocks. Swarthy takes off out of pain and the sound of his hooves fills the street.
Tough boy: Hey, on my way to goat-snatching game.
And he leaves. Children run after him. Left behind, lame boy screams and yells.
32-Goat snatching game area, an hour later
Jockeys snatch dead goat from each other to throw in the middle of the field. Racing horses are panting out of thirst and people cheer for every move they make. Again, lame boy is riding Swarthy and upon children cheering him, comes near the herd of horses. As if he is in the race also. Horses neigh.
33-Returning home, an hour later
Lame boy riding on Swarthy’s back reaches the girl. The girl turns and sees lame boy like a king in front of her and looks in amazement at Swarthy who’s been saddled and bridled like a horse. Swarthy shies away. For a moment in his imagination, he throws lame boy down and puts the girl on his back and gallops away. But this is only a fantasy. The money in lame boy’s hand is more real than his fantasy. The beggar girl extends her hand to lame boy. Lame boy holds his rupees in front of her eyes. The girl’s eyes sparkle upon seeing so much money, supposed to be given to her. She comes closer and holds her hand out to take the whole money. Lame boy grabs her hand, looks her in the eye and puts one afghani in her hand.
Lame boy: I love you girl. Would you like to ride my horse?
The girl looks at his horse. Swarthy also looks at her. If the girl gets on his back he will take her where no one can reach her.
Lame boy: I asked if you like to ride my horse.
The girls nods in affirmation.
Lame boy: Then follow me to my house and I will let you ride him there.
The girl looks scared and nods her head in negation.
Lame boy: See how my horse neighs. Neigh, my horse.
Swarthy neighs and the girl’s eye sparkle with delight.
Lame boy: If you want me to give you all this money come to our house.
And he heehaws Swarthy and pulls the bridle and moves on.
The girl still begs like a whining beggar but since she can’t get any money, she leaves them. Lame boy throws some money on the ground to attract her again. The girl picks up the rupee from the ground and follows them. A boy passes by Swarthy pulling a wagon like a horse carrying passengers. As the boy pulls the wagon he turns and looks at Swarthy who is saddled and bridled. They both think of each other. Which one is destined to be the other? Will the boy pulling the wagon be bridled like Swarthy one day or will Swarthy work for himself like that boy?
Lame boy: Hey girl, come get the money. Come closer.
And he throws another rupee and draws the girl’s attention already going  to beg from others. They reach home. The girl picks the last coin and runs away.
34- Lame boy’s house, an hour later
Lame boy is sitting in the pool and Swarthy scratches his back.
Lame boy: I told Mirvais to bring you a present today. Guess what it is my horse.
Swarthy: Bread.
Lame boy: Nope.
Swarthy: Shoes?
Lame boy: Nope.
Swarthy: Shirt?
Lame boy: Nope.
Swarthy: Ice cream?
Lame boy: Nope, nope, nope.
Door is knocked. Swarthy goes to the door and opens it. It is Mirvais with a woman in burka again. He has brought an artificial horse head. Swarthy says hello and Mirvais places the horse head on his head.
Mirvais: Was this what you wanted sir?
Lame boy: (laughs) How beautiful. Trot around the yard.
And Swarthy whose head is now a horse head trots around the yard and sound of hooves is heard from his feet.
Mirvais: What else can I do for you sir?
Lame boy: Come forward. (Mirvais comes forward) Bring your ear close.
Mirvais brings his ear close and lame boy says something in his ear.
Mirvais: Ok sir.
And he leaves. Lame boy calls Swarthy again and he comes with his horsy head and scratches lame boy’s back and he dries lame boy with a towel and lays him in his bed. Door knock is heard. Swarthy opens it with his horsy head. Mirvais has brought the beggar girl. He takes her straight to the lame boy’s room and he throws Swarthy out of the house.
Mirvais: Take your head too to get used to it.
35-Streets, continued
Although Swarthy is alone but he has his horse head on and although no one is riding him, he is trotting. He passes an area where some two wheeled carts are lined up. He walks away but a thought brings him back. He takes his horse head half way off to see well. A boy is guarding the carts. He puts his horse head on and goes towards one of the carts to steal it. He pulls the handle and stands in place of a horse. The guard boy comes forward to stop him. Swarthy attacks him with the cart and strikes him with a blow. The boy tumbles on the ground and Swarthy takes the cart and flees. Those running after him fail to reach him. In between cars a two footed horse is pulling a cart taking it away with him.
36-Shanty town, dusk
Raged people have plunged the mad woman in a ditch to stone her. The woman’s children are crying.
Mullah: Any one who has not ever committed a sin may throw the first stone.
A child biting an apple in his father’s arms, upon seeing people with raised hands ready to throw stones, throws his apple towards the mad woman. The woman is stoned.
37-Streets, same time
Swarthy is taking passengers. He stops at one point and lets his passengers off and takes money and leaves.
38-Shanty town, night
Swarthy enters with the cart and bread and fruits. The dog wags his tail for him. He brings bread and fruit for his siblings but they are crying. He asks them why they are crying and the children only respond by crying. The dog takes him to the spot where his mother was stoned to death. Some people who waited to see his reactions peep here and there. Swarthy stops by the stones. The dog barks. He pushes the stones away and his mother’s bloody hand sticks out. He is stunned. He remains silent for a moment, and then loudly neighs and leaves. People peep from all over the shanty town. Sound of neighing fills up the whole night.
39-Shanty town, the morning after
Swarthy has boarded all his siblings on the cart. He has put his horsy head on taking the children with him on a road that stretches to eternity…
Mohsen Makhmalbaf