Makhmalbaf Family Official Website - وبسایت رسمی خانه فیلم مخملباف

Script: Sex & Philosophy

Thu, 01/07/2004 - 19:00

Mohsen Makhmalbaf
July 1, 2004
Sex and Philosophy
Tajikistan, City of Dushanbe
1 – Street, day:
A little boy rents out mobile phones. Passers by rent his mobile and the boy keeps record of their conversation time. The man comes. He rents the mobile from the little boy and calls his four lovers one by one. He brings out his chronometer from his pocket and pushes the button to turn it on. He expresses affection and love to each one of his mistresses as though each one is his only love. He sets a date with each one to meet them at 4 o’clock in the afternoon in his cottage. To each one he says: “Go to the usual place first, take the key and if it weren’t there, ring the door bell and enter.” He then turns his chronometer off.
Man: (to the boy) How much is it?
Boy: 8 dollars.
Man: I only talked for 4 minutes. That makes 4 dollars.
Boy: The words you said are worth over 8 dollars.
2 – Street, day, titles:
First lover buys flowers at the intersection and selects different flowers from the flower girl and arranges a pretty bouquet.
3- Second mistress’s house, day, titles:
Second lover puts make up on in front of the mirror; puts lipstick and eye liner on.
4-Hospital, day, titles:
Third lover, a doctor, removes her stethoscopes from her ears, takes her uniform off and wears a different dress.
5-Wine seller, street, day, titles:
Fourth woman gets off the cab. She buys a bottle of wine and runs to get in the cab and leaves. (titles end)
6- Cottage, around 4 o’clock:
First woman arrives and goes towards the trees further away from the remote cottage. She pushes dry leaves to the side and picks the key hidden underneath and goes towards the cottage. She opens the door, opens the curtains and the windows, places the flowers in a vase and facing the windows waits for her lover.
The second woman arrives and searches among the leaves for the key. Since she does not find the key she walks to the cottage and rings the door.
The first woman sitting inside gets surprised to see the second woman and refuses to respond to her ringing the door at first. But she hears that the woman outside calls the name of the man who is her lover. She goes to the door and opens it. Both women seem to be surprised at seeing each other.
2nd woman: Excuse me I think I have the wrong house. I am here to see Mr. X.
1st woman:  This is the right place, come in.
2nd woman enters and puts her flowers in another vase next to the other flowers.
2nd woman: May I ask how you are related to Mr. X?
1st woman: We are friends.
2nd woman: What kind of friendship?
1st woman: A love affair.
2nd woman: A love affair?!
The door bell rings. Both women look at each other. Then the first woman goes towards the cottage door and opens it. Third woman is standing outside with a bouquet of flowers.
3rd woman: Hello.
1st woman: Hello.
3rd woman: Excuse me I am here to see Mr. X.
1st woman: Right place, come in.
3rd woman: Isn’t he here?
1st woman: Not yet.
3rd woman: (enters) Can I take my coat off?
The 1st and 2nd women watch her and 3rd woman who is getting ready to take her coat off notices that the two other women are also in the same house where only she was supposed to meet her lover. In disbelief she puts her flowers in a glass of water and places it next to the other flowers.
1st woman: Better if we don’t question each other. He’ll show up any minute and will explain.
1st woman walks towards the window. Then the 2nd and 3rd women each walk to the window and sometimes subtly peak at each other. For once the 2nd and 3rd women look each other in the eye. From a distance the 4th woman is also coming. The women back up from the window but keep watching her. The 4th woman goes exactly to the same place as others to search for the key but fails to find it so she comes towards the cottage and rings the bell. All three women look at each other. 1st woman goes to the door and unlocks it and without opening the door returns and watches through the window. 4th woman slowly opens the door and calls for Mr. X in a specially luring way. Then she enters. She is holding the bottle of wine she brought with her but becomes surprised at seeing the other women in the house.
4th woman: Excuse me I think I have the wrong house.
2nd woman: No, this is the right place.
3rd woman: It seems that we are all at the wrong place.
4th woman leaves her wine bottle next to the flower vases. She looks at the flowers one by one first and then looks at each woman.
4th woman: Excuse me, may I ask who you are and why you are here?
2nd woman: I have the same question for you.
4th woman: Here is Mr. X’s house, my friend. I sometimes meet him here. Today too we were supposed to meet at 4 o’clock (looks at her watch) Of course I was late 10 minutes but I was supposed to meet him right at 4 o’clock. This time though I see you guys for the first time instead of him. I thought this house was his and only he and I used it.
3rd woman: The house is his but I also thought only me and him used it.
All four women sit. One of them smokes a cigarette. One looks out the window and one winds her watch. Finally the door  bell rings. All four run to the door and look at each other.
1st woman: Who is it?
Man’s voice: It’s me.
The women look at each other and no one initiates to open the door.
Man: Are all four of you here? (4th woman opens the door. Man enters with 4 bouquets of flowers.) Nothing is better than honesty. It was time to confess that I had simultaneous love affairs with all of you.
He holds each bouquet of a different color towards each one of the women. All four watch the man in amazement and refuse to take the flowers. Man fills up a large vase and places the flowers in it. He opens the wine bottle and pours wine in 5 goblets and offers it to the women. Except for one no one takes any glasses of wine.
Man: Life is too short. There’s no time to make it complicated. I tried hard to convince myself to be honest with you and myself. Now it seems as though we are living in a glass house and have nothing to hide. But he who reveals his betrayals can at least claim to be honest. I finally decided to have you confront each other and let you make your own decision. (takes a sip of his wine.) I love all of you but I have been asking myself for years: Is being uninterested in other women an indication of real love towards one woman? Of course I have my own reasons for my various loves. According to Renoir the French filmmaker: “The most dreadful thing in the world is that every one has his own reasons.” (and he hands glasses of wine to each woman almost by force and then he raises his glass.) Cheers to honest moments.
1st woman crashes her glass to the ground and runs out of the house in tears. Man follows her.
7-Forest, continued:
1st woman leaves in anger and man goes after her. They pass through thick poplar trees. It is autumn and leaves rustle under their footsteps.
Man: I called all of you to resolve a complicated issue by discussing it with each other. I wanted to ask you what the truth was. What was the truth of love? I am not a lewd person. I never went after another love except when I doubted one. Do you remember at all how we met?
Woman leaves and exhausted, the man stops and watches her go away.
8-Khojand or Tashkent Airport, flashback:
Announcement on the airport speaker requesting passengers to board the plane for Dushanbe. Gate opens and man, an only passenger, passes through towards the airplane. A couple of airport staff guide him through. One of them says: “Although tickets were sold out but the buss bringing the passengers is late and the aircraft has to take off with the least passengers.”
On top of the staircase the 1st woman (a stewardess) is standing, surprised that there is only one passenger. She waves at the man and smiles. But the man doesn’t notice that she waves at him. When the man reaches the staircase she smiles again and waves at him. This time the man holding a briefcase turns his head to see the person behind at whom she is waving her hands but sees no one. He stops for a moment on the stairs to take a breath. Stewardess smiles and waves her hand at him. Man also responds back by smiling and waving his hand. He goes up. Stewardess checks his boarding pass and guides him to his seat.
9-Inside airplane, flashback:
Man sits on the first seat in the first row and the airplane takes off. The stewardess explains how to use the oxygen mask in emergency times in English, Persian and Uzbekistani. She also explains how to exit the aircraft at such times and how to use the life vest but since there’s only one passenger in the carrier and out of duty she has to explain the procedures in three languages, she starts laughing at the situation.
When the airplane takes off, stewardess sits on her seat directly facing the man and closes her eyes. This is a good chance for the man to stare at her. When the airplane ascends further up stewardess opens her eyes and smiles at the man. It seems as though two long time acquaintances look at each other but the stewardess controls herself and takes her eyes off and listens to the speaker announcing that: “Duration of the flight is one hour and we’ll be offering warm and cold drinks.”
Stewardess: (hands the menu to the man): What would you like to drink?
Man: (looks at the menu): Hot coffee please.
Stewardess closes the curtain hanging between herself and the man. A moment later she straightens herself and places a cup of coffee in front of the man and goes behind the curtain and closes it. The man turns around and watches the empty rows of seats making sure they are all empty. Then he looks at the cup of coffee, takes it towards his mouth, ponders for a moment and puts it back down. He brings the chronometer out and pushes the button. The chronometer hand starts moving. He bangs on the curtain. Stewardess sticks her head out the curtain.
Man: My mother has taught me since childhood not to accept two things; cold coffee and cold looks.
Stewardess: Is your coffee cold?
She takes the coffee back and brings another cup with steam coming off of it. But she still maintains her cold look. She puts the coffee on the unfolded tray.
Man: I feel breathless. Would you give me some oxygen?
Stewardess pulls the oxygen mask out, puts the elastic around the man’s head and opens the gauge. Pretending to be slightly sick the man looks at the woman’s cold eyes. Stewardess goes behind the curtain again and closes it. Man starts drinking his coffee with his oxygen mask. Then he rings the bell on the seat handle and stewardess appears from behind the curtain.
Stewardess: Did you call?
Man: Take oxygen away from me but not your smile. (and he hands her the mask.)
Stewardess: I am glad you are feeling well.
Man: If you close that curtain again I’ll get short of breath.
And he opens the curtain. Stewardess sits and now the distance between them is so close that it seems two lovers are sitting next to each other to chat  in private.
Man: It’s strange I have a special feeling.
Stewardess: Are you ok?
Man: I’ve never been in a situation like this. (stewardess ignores.) How many people do you think have been in a similar situation?
Stewardess: What situation?
Man: One passenger one stewardess, in the sky right across from each other. Just like the first man and woman on earth who encountered each other. Had it been anyone else in our place they would have turned it into a romantic situation. If it were a novelist he would write a love story. If it were a film-maker he would have made a romantic film and if he were none of these he would create a real love. (he looks at the window; the airplane passes through the clouds.) Which passenger has talked about love before, next to these beautiful clouds and a pretty stewardess?!
Stewardess: I am just a stewardess and have to attend my duties. We have been taught to get so close to our passengers that they would feel at home and keep our distance as much that they wouldn’t think we are related to them.
She closes the curtain and hides herself from the man. The man for a few moments looks at the fluffy shiny clouds that seem to extend to eternity. Then he notices the closed curtain and presses the button on his seat handle.
Stewardess: (opens the curtain a little.) Yes?
Man: A cold coffee and a cold look please.
Stewardess closes the curtain to avoid man’s annoyance and ignores his calls. Man rings again.
Man: (in English) Excuse me cold coffee please and a cold look.
Stewardess furiously closes the curtain and the man rings again for several times. And the stewardess opens the curtain.
Man: Cold coffee and a cold look please.
And the woman smiles and bashfully closes the curtain. A moment later she brings a cup of hot coffee and smiles at the man. Man looks at her and takes the coffee from the tray and the woman goes back behind the half-closed curtain. Man goes to the bathroom and combs his hair in the mirror. Then he closes the toilet bowl top, sits on it and takes a piece of tissue and writes the address at which he wants to meet the woman on it. He exits the bathroom, sits on his seat and closes his eyes. When the stewardess comes he holds the address against her without opening his eyes.
Man: My mother says when you ask a woman for a romantic date don’t look her in the eyes so she can freely reject the offer. This is called democratic love.
Woman looks on. Man waits with his eyes closed. Woman leaves and closes the curtain. Moments later stewardess peaks through the curtain. Man is still waiting with closed eyes holding the address in his hand.
10-Dushanbe Airport, day, flashback:
In the illusive heat of the sun the airplane lands on the ground as if a pigeon.
11-Place of meeting the stewardess, day, flashback:
Man and the stewardess meet at some place. Man brings out a chronometer with a chain out of his pocket and pushes the button so it starts working.
Stewardess: What’s this watch you keep winding?
Man: It’s not a watch. It’s a chronometer. I record my happy and romantic moments with it.
Stewardess: How much time has accumulated?
Man: About 20 hours. If I keep romancing for 10 more hours it will add up to 30 hours. That means I’ve had one hour a year of useful time.
Stewardess: Why do you do that?
Man: I measure the time volume of my romantic memories. Look at that butterfly. I always pitied that butterflies lived for one day only. I used to ask my mother: “When do butterflies have time to fall in love?” My mother said: “That’s why they constantly revolve around flowers. Perhaps in that one day, they have a more useful life than us. My mother says that if you want to have a useful life you have to revolve around a flower.” Truly what’s the time volume of your romantic memories?
Stewardess: Me?
Man: Yes you.
Stewardess: (bashfully smiles) In fact nothing.
Man: You mean you never fell in love?
Stewardess: No.
Man: Is this also an aerial regulation that stewardesses should have a stone heart?!
Stewardess: Well in fact I fell in love once. I didn’t realize it myself. My mother found out. There was a boy in our neighborhood. When I left the house he stared at me in an annoying way. I was scared of him. I would get breathless and my heart beat fast. I told my mother about it. She said: “Dear you have fallen in love. Heartbeat is indication of love.”
Man: Is your heart now beating too fast?
Stewardess: No.
Man: Would you let me hear your heartbeat?
Stewardess becomes bashful but she stops and turns around looking in the distance and the man puts his head on her chest. Camera slowly moves closer to her face; her heartbeat gets louder and louder. Man looks at his chronometer. Now the chronometer sounds like heartbeat. Man comes out of the woman’s picture and picks a small violet. He gets up and places the violet exactly on the woman’s chest.
Man: Now I want to hold you.
Stewardess: Why do men are always after women’s body?
Man: Because I love you and I want to prove it to you.
Stewardess: Is making love proof of love?
Man: I make love therefore I am. That’s my philosophy.
Stewardess: I am being loved therefore I am. This is my philosophy. I want to submit my body to someone who has captured my soul. I love myself only when someone else loves me. The image I have of myself is not the same as what I have seen in the mirror. It is what the society thinks of me. But human society is full of indifferent passers by. Only sometimes when some one passes and turns to look at me again I feel that I exist. I must have existed to have been seen more than once, although this is a woman’s philosophy in a male dominant world.
Man closes his eyes and smells the flower on the woman’s chest and listens to her heartbeat. Then slowly brings his head towards the woman’s face like a creeping snake and gets ready to kiss the woman’s lips but before his lips touch hers he gets slightly slapped. Man withdraws. He is surprised and starts doing the same thing over. He smells the flower, listens to the woman’s heartbeat and brings his face over towards the woman’s lips but before kissing her he gets a mild slap. Now man is waiting with eyes closed and the woman whose heartbeat is clearly heard is mildly slapping him on the face but unclear whether they are caresses or punishments. The chronometer is hanging from his pocket and swings back and forth like a pendulum. Now the woman is silent and her heartbeat slows down. She closes her eyes and man opens his eyes and mildly slaps her on the face instead of kissing her. After a few slaps woman leaves and man slowly brings up the chronometer and stops it.
12-Forest, present time:
1st woman leaves in tears and man runs after her. He talks to her about what made him doubtful about of his love.
Man: All loves are results of a few ordinary incidences. Had I not been the only passenger on that day our love would have never emerged. The formation of this love was the result of a man and a stewardess being alone on a flight. If instead of you there was a different stewardess in that airplane that day, perhaps someone else would be running away from me today and if some other man had boarded that plane as the only passenger, perhaps you would have been chased by someone else today If I had traveled by train or car that day, no love would have been created in the sky. If you and I had met on earth and if you hadn’t laughed that you had to explain the safety procedures in three languages then I would have felt shy to talk to you. Also if those clouds didn’t extend to eternity that day we wouldn’t have felt so romantic towards each other. Our love was the result of a few ordinary incidences and that’s why I doubted the love that was born in the sky. I was looking for an earthly love in the sky but you didn’t even let me kiss you. Do you know how much our happy memories of our love measure up to? (He stops and winds the chronometer backward to change the time.) 2 hours and 20 minutes. (woman leaves in  a hurry and man shouts.) I am 30 years old but have not even had a romantic life as long as a butterfly’s one day life. (man runs and reaches the woman.) I bought you a chronometer as farewell gift. 2 hours and 20 minutes of it belongs to us and 10 minutes belongs to your heartbeat in childhood. You can record the rest from now on.
13-Cottage, continued:
Man brings two chronometers out of his pocket and places them in front of the 2nd and 4th women.
Man: (to the 3rd woman) I already gave you a chronometer. (to the other two women) Before saying good bye I want you to keep these chronometers as keepsake. Duration of our romantic rime together with each one of you  is recorded on each chronometer. You can record the rest from now on and before dying take a look at it and see what your useful time had been.
Wines are drunk and women hold empty glasses. Man fills up the glasses and all women and the man raise their glasses and bring them down towards the table and toast each other and drink but the 2nd woman instead of toasting throws the wine on the man’s face.
2nd woman: You took even this memory away from me. I thought toasting each other was something that only you and I did but now it is clear that this is some kind of a game you taught everyone. You have left no special memory for me. (she starts leaving and picks the chronometer, spins it around the chain and throws it toward the man.) Be ware of the energy of two things; love and rage.
Man: (goes towards the broken chronometer. He picks it and runs after the woman. Chronometer is working. He pushes the button and chronometer stops.) No action is good or bad on its own. Only its role on putting things in order makes it good or bad.
14-Forest, continued:
Man runs after the 2nd woman and tries to explain why he has doubted their love and reminds her of how they met.
Man: The day I met you I had a guest over; a famous poet who had come to our city. I had intended to spend the whole night with him and learn from him but suddenly you showed up and turned my poetry night into a night of romance.
15-Street, wine seller, flashback:
Man and the poet are walking side by side. Both are drunk.
Poet: (reading poems)
         Again I am mad, I am drunk.
         Again my hand and my heart shake.
         Again I feel like I am in a different mood.
         Don’t scrape my cheek unintentionally oh
         Don’t dishevel my hair unintentionally oh  
         Don’t disgrace me oh heart.
         The moment of reunion is near.
Both men enter the tavern and drop their empty wine bottles in trash cans.
Man: What’s your favorite wine, Sir?
Poet: Doesn’t make a difference.
          Wine does no more than just make we  
A couple of young guys standing by the tavern recognize the poet and gather around him and ask him to be their guest for the night. The poet apologizes for not accepting. Man and the poet come out of the tavern into the street. They drink their wine while walking.
Man: Sir why don’t you pay attention to your fans?
Poet: They are not my fans. They are my murderers.
Man: They love your poems.
Poet: Listen dear, if I am supposed to live for 50 years and one of them kills me one day before my fiftieth birthday we consider him a murderer. And this is only when he has wasted one day of my life but if that same person wasted one night of my life at 49 he is not called a murderer. That wasted night is time but its nature is lifetime. Not even one moment of life should be wasted because of politeness. Do you understand my point?
Man is silent listening to the sound of a woman’s heels coming from behind.
Poet: Did you get my point?!
Man: Yes I did. I learned it. It is called time. Its nature is lifetime. Not even one moment should be wasted because of politeness. (He turns his head back.) Are you coming?
Woman: Yes.
Man: Follow me. (he presses his chronometer’s button and walks faster.) Sir, why don’t you walk in the streets for a little while. I’ll be back and take you.
The poet sees a woman with high heels following the man and they get far. The same young fans come towards the poet.
Young guys: We won’t let you go unless you read us your latest poem. We are among lovers of your poems.
Poet looks at the distance at the man following a woman in high heels.
Poet: Modern poet’s example of poetry
          I said.
          It’s life.
16-Cottage, night, flashback:
Man has poured wine and hands one of the glasses to the 2nd woman. Woman wants to drink it up but man stops her.
Man: We have to make a toast with each trying to hold our glass lower than the other’s. that means whoever’s glass is lower he/she is more humble in love.
They lower their glasses in turn until they reach the table. Then they toast each other and before the man drinks his wine the woman stops him.
2nd woman: Again.
And then they begin the game of holding the glass lower than the other again. They drink the wine and woman takes her shoes off and throws in a corner. Half naked man goes towards the shoes, slides his hands in the shoes and imitates the woman’s walking. Chronometer is working. Then while holding the shoes and banging the heels together man comes forward and places his head on the woman’s chest and listens to her heartbeat but it seems he hears nothing.
Man: Listen to my heart now and see how you have made me breathless.
Woman puts her head on the man’s chest. She hears his heartbeat. Again man puts his head on the woman’s chest but doesn’t hear anything. He hangs the chronometer around the woman’s neck. The chronometer’s ticks sound like a woman’s heartbeat.
Man: Have you ever fallen in love?
2nd woman: No but many have fallen in love with me.
Man: How do you know they have fallen in love with you?
2nd woman: Their face turn red like yours. They become breathless like you. Sometimes even they burst into tears.
Man:  What else?
2nd woman: Nothing. They possess me and leave. Then I remain alone and to take revenge I decide to make another one of them fall in love with me. I start walking in the street and go with the first one who gets provoked by the sound of my heels.
Man: So you don’t love me?
2nd woman: No.
Man: Why?
2nd woman: Because you don’t love me either.
Man: But don’t you see how my heart is beating for you?
2nd woman: That’s temporary.
Man: I’ll stay in love with you forever.
2nd woman: I have experienced men’s eternity a few times. It doesn’t even last a year but I don’t know why you men come after me?
Man: Get up let’s go walk outside.
17-At the lakeside, night, flashback:
Man and woman walk in the darkness.
Woman: I’ll spend my life without having anyone to love me. I talk without having anyone listening to me. I suffer without arousing anyone’s pity. Yet again I get involved with men. But I don’t know why you men get involved with us?
Man: (kicks a stone.) Destiny, you kick the stone of our existence as much as it’s meant to roll.
Again he kicks a stone. In the quiet of the night other stones start rolling with the first stone’s movement. A car appears from a distance, passes by them and throws its light on the lake for a moment. They withdraw not to be seen. From their point of view a man and woman are embracing each other half way in to the lake.
18-Forest, present time:
Man goes after the woman and talks.
Man: If you hadn’t broken up with your boyfriend and hadn’t come in that street, love wouldn’t have happened between us. If I hadn’t been influenced by that poet’s words on not wasting any moment in life your footsteps wouldn’t have become so important. If I hadn’t been drunk that day I would have seen you more real. If one separates his lover from the set of conditions that yields their meeting the first time, everything changes. Our love was the result of a few ordinary incidences. If I hadn’t been drunk. If you hadn’t broken up with your boyfriend. If the poet didn’t speak beautiful words.
2nd woman: Like my husband, like my other lovers you weren’t loyal either.
Man: What is loyalty? An absolute faith in a relative love.
2nd woman: But I had fallen in love with you. I had gradually come to love you.
Man: You broke the chronometer but it still works. 3 hours and 10 minutes is the amount of our happy memories together. Record the rest yourself from now on.
2nd woman: I won’t forgive you.
Man: Living in a world in which no one is forgiven is living in hell.
2nd woman: Living in a world in which everyone is forgiven is also living in hell because everyone has been shamelessly given a chance to do wrong.
Woman takes the chronometer and throws it aside. A butterfly flies up from a flower. Man returns and woman walks away.
19-Cottage, continued:
When man enters the house the 3rd and 4th women are having an arguement. Upon his entrance 3rd woman leaves and man tries by blocking the door to stop her from. But the woman slides out from underneath his hands.
4th woman: (shouts) Leave her alone. Don’t go after her. If you do everything will be over between us.
20-Forest, continued:
Man runs after 3rd woman.
Man: As long as you loved me all of you thought you owned me and this was not love. It was love for something you possessed. At the most you loved me because I loved you and that was not love either. It was just give and take. You did not love me. You were in love with my love for you. So that means you loved yourself.
21-Watch shop, day:
Man and 3rd woman enter the watch shop and man shows a couple of chronometers to the woman. Woman points to one of the chronometers that she likes. Man pays for it and they leave.
22-Cottage, day:
Man and woman are sitting in the cottage. Both press the buttons for their chronometers. They start working and man and 3rd woman start kissing each other. Each one holds their own chronometer in his/her own hand and as soon as they stop kissing they stop the chronometers too. Then they look at each other. They gaze into each other’s eyes and start the chronometers and kiss again. Camera shows the chronometers and fingers against the chronometer hands engaged in what we don’t see.
Woman: Let me teach you something now.
She brings out 2 stethoscopes from her purse, puts one on the man’s ears and one on her own. Then they hold it against each other’s heart and listen to their heartbeat. When their lips get closer to each other they press the chronometer buttons and their heartbeat goes up. A butterfly starts flying in the cottage. Now the man and the woman with stethoscope on the heads and chronometers in hand are I each other’s arms.
Man: What’s your opinion of love?
3rd woman: Romantic love stories other than the fact that they happen have no other meaning.
Man: Have you ever fallen in love?
3rd woman: Yes.
Man: How many times?
3rd woman: Once.
Man: When?
3rd woman: Now.
Man: Stop lying. I am talking about the past.
3rd woman: Can’t call it love but I have liked a few.
Man: You mean the one that raised your heartbeat more than others?
3rd woman: My memory is not good.
Man: That’s bad. One lives by ruminating his memories.
3rd Woman: Then you talk.
Man: Of what?
3rd Woman: Of your first romantic memory.
Man: When I was a child we lived in Russia with my parents. There it had cold winters and the hills around our house had so much snow on them that the kids used to ride sleds. My playmate was a girl called Nadenka. She was afraid of sliding with the sled and only watched me ride it. One day I convinced her to ride with me. I took her to the top of the hill and had her sit on the sled in front of me. I sat in the back and wrapped my arms around her waist and we slid down. Nadenka got so frightened that she thought she would die before we reached down. The sled slid down like a bullet shut out of a rifle. Cold wind whipped our face and roared in our ears. Nadenka was scared breathless. Suddenly I felt like teasing her and sounding like the howling wind I whispered in her ears that I loved her. When we reached down the hill Nadenka looked so pale and her hands were shaking. She looked at me with anger and said: “I won’t ever ride the sled even if you kill me.” Then we grabbed each other’s hand and walked around. Nadenka was waiting to hear the words that I had whispered in her ears again but since she did not hear anything she started doubting whether she actually heard someone express affection for her or was it her imagination in the howling wind.
Finally she pulled my hand and said: “come, let’s ride the sled one more time.” We went over the hill again. Nadenka became pale again and started shaking out of fear as if she regretted. Heedless of her begging I put her in front of the sled and wrapped my arms around her waist and pushed the sled down with my feet. When the sled started to speed up and the wind whipped us on the face and howled in our ears I roared in her ears like the sound of wind that “Nadenka, I love you.” When the sled stopped at the bottom of the hill Nadenka who looked so pale and fearful looked at me and felt like she was imagining things.
When it got dark and I was taking her home she waited the whole time to hear that sentence from me again but heard nothing and became hopeless.
Later on, she felt that whenever she was riding the sled and falling down from a hill into the arms of a valley challenging death, the wind would whisper in her ears that it loved her.
When summer arrived and snow melted I used to see Nadenka going up the hill opening her arms as if begging the wind to blow in her ears and whisper those words for her again.
Years later when I came here I heard that one day when Nadenka was on the hilltop a dreadful storm had thrown her on the rocks and killed her. See how sad my first romantic memory is?
3rd woman: (touched by the story) Yes it was very sad.
Man: But this sad memory was not my real romantic memory. This was a story by Chekhov that I narrated . You have to rewind the chronometer.
3rd woman: For me reading a love story or seeing a romantic movie is like thinking of my own romantic memories.
23-Forest, present time:
Man runs after the 3rd woman.
Man: You were a realist. Unlike others you said that you would submit your soul to someone who would better possess your body. I was not negligent of that.
24-3rd woman’s husbandry, flashback:
3rd woman is driving an ambulance in her medical uniform and enter the husbandry with the man. 3rd woman turns the siren off and gets out. A girl is milking cows inside a barn and empties the bucket in a bathtub. 3rd woman brings the man to the tub side.
3rd woman: Too aristocratic, isn’t it? Man is bound to triteness. We are all born after moments of triteness between our parents. No one is born out of love. Every one gets born after triteness. (she gets naked behind the curtain and slides into the tub.) In my youth I was so eager to find the meaning of love and I wanted to submit my body to someone that captured my soul. But now I submit my soul to whoever captures my body better.
Man goes towards the girl milking cows. He takes away the milk filled bucket from her and drinks. Milk pours down from the sides of his lips. Then he puts his feet in the tub and pours milk over his half naked body.
25-Forest, present time:
Man runs after 3rd woman.
Man: All loves are the results of a few ordinary incidences. If I hadn’t come down with an infectious diarrhea and didn’t end up in that hospital where you were on call that night and if you hadn’t asked me what my job was and if I hadn’t told you I was a poet and if you hadn’t revealed that you liked poetry we wouldn’t have had this quarrel now. You said yourself that love has nothing to offer except that it happens. Neither the falling in love of two persons changes anything in the world nor does the separation of two lovers takes anything away from the world. These are routine ordinary humane incidences. All of the world’s romantic affairs have had no effect on the world as much as the damage to the ozone layer has.
3rd woman gets in the ambulance and leaves. She turns the lights and the siren on.
26-Hospital, night, flashback:
3rd woman in medical uniform has pulled up the man’s shirt examining his stomach and listening to his heart beat.
3rd woman: What did you eat?
Man: Rice with herbs.
3rd woman: Try not to eat herbs these days. A parasitic disease is prevalent these days. How many times have you had bowl movements today?
Man: Once.
3rd woman: Once? Once is not considered diarrhea.
Man: I’ve had one bowl movement but it took all day like someone wanting to discharge himself.
3rd woman: I have to give you an IV injection. Extend your hand.
She brings a bottle of serum and injects it in the man’s hand.
3rd woman: What’s your profession?
Man: Poet.
3rd woman: But that’s not an occupation? I like poetry too and sometimes compose poems. But I am a physician. What’s your occupation?
Man: I don’t feel well now. If I get well my job will be falling in love all the time.
3rd woman: But falling in love is not an occupation.
Man: Truly, I make the world that I despise bearable with love. Have you ever been loved by a man?
27-Cottage, continued:
Man enters the house. There’s no one in the house. All women have left. He closes the windows and curtains, cleans the house to leave. It’s already dark. Suddenly the mobile phone rings. Man gets surprised. He looks for the sound and finds the mobile.
Man: Hello,
4th woman: I left the mobile so I could talk to you.
Man: Well say it.
4th woman: Now I have no rivals. The other three had little tolerance so they left and you and I are left alone.
Man: So why did you leave?
4th woman: I don’t feel safe in that house. Come to my house, will you?
Man: Yes I’ll be right over.
4th woman: Not now come at 8 o’clock at night.
Man puts the half empty wine bottle in his pocket and picks all the flowers and comes out and closes the door.
28-Streets of Dushanbe, dusk and night time:
Man walks in the streets. Once in a while the sound of a woman’s heels grabs his attention. Sometimes we follow him towards the 4th woman’s house from behind the heels of a woman. An airplane crosses the sky and man looks up. An ambulance passes with sirens on and man stops and looks at it speeding away.
29-4th woman’s house, night, present time:
Man reaches 4th woman’s house. He rings the bell. 4th woman opens the door and welcomes him. She grabs the flowers and places the half empty wine bottle next to another bottle on the table. Again the door bell is rung and a man comes in with a bouquet of flowers and gets shocked at the sight of the man. Woman introduces them to each other. Twice again the door bell is rung and woman goes to welcome two other men.
4th woman: I owe my honesty tonight to this man. It was time that I confessed that I had love affairs with all four of you at the same time.
One of the men: (gets up) You whore.
And he leaves the house. Woman runs after him. Now the three men are alone together.
2nd man: This woman has deceived us all. I was such a fool to want to discover my future wife in this woman.
Woman returns and 2nd man also leaves in anger. 4th woman runs after him and 3rd man goes to the phone and before the woman returns makes a few romantic calls to few women and sets a date with all of them for 10 o’clock that same evening in his house. The woman hasn’t returned yet so 3rd man pours wine for himself and the man.
3rd man: Nice to meet you. Did you watch the television last night?
Man: no.
3rd man: They were interviewing a hundred year old man who looked 40. They asked him about the secret of his youthfulness. He said: “I was indifferent towards this century’s issues.” He said that if we don’t consider life as a game in this world, it will cause us anxiety and worry. (drinks his wine.) What’s your opinion?
Man: About what?
3rd man: I think loyalty is boring when a love has come to an end. I am myself afraid of the permanent presence of women. I even fear the permanent presence of love. Once someone asked me what loyalty was. I said a cold future for a hot past. A past that was perhaps hot in one moment. Love is the miracle of one moment. No miracle is guaranteed to last with a contract if it won’t last on its own. (drinks wine again.) You are so quiet.
Man: What should I say?
3rd man: Do you feel zealous? Zeal in men is nothing but jealousy in women. Only the name is different. You seem too serious.
Man: No, all serious matters in the world ridiculously seem like a joke. In arranging the causes the effects are already obvious in a foolish way.
3rd man: But you didn’t state your opinion on loyalty.
Man: Without loyalty, our life turns into hundreds of dispersed unstable feelings. Just like the loneliness crisis of westerners.
3rd man: What is love? Living with someone? Or living until death with someone?
Man: I don’t know but every mistress has revealed an unknown part of the mystery of love. Although I feel that in the modern world the possibility of love blooming is terribly endangered.
4th woman enters and 3rd man says good bye to her and asks her to attend the meeting he has with his friends at home at 10 o’clock in the evening and he leaves. Now man and 4th woman are alone together.
4th woman: I hope you are not offended. There’s no complaint on anything mutual. If we women are whores you men are too. Besides this is the beginning of the East’s perversion. The West has gone to extremes in homosexuality. Sexual freedom is yet to begin in the East.
Man: (gets up) Ok now it’s time that I get furious and leave your house and you should come after me and try to justify your infidelity but I’ll leave. Are you ready to speak up?
4th woman: Yes but before that I want to hug and hold you. To me making love is forgetting about the sufferings of being.
Both slowly move towards each other and look each other in the eyes. When they get too close they press their chronometer buttons and their heartbeat is heard. Then the chronometer buttons are pressed again and they stop working.
4th woman: What’s the difference between the first kiss and the last?
Man: The first one is sweet but the last one is bitter.
4th woman: So were you ever able to live as romantically as a butterfly’s one day life?
Again the chronometer buttons are pushed and it seems as though they are kissing each other. Or their shadows on the wall indicates a kiss. Again the chronometer buttons are pushed and they stop working.
Man: I came up with a different idea today. I thought that if instead of 40, 60, 80 or a 100 years we would live for a thousand or ten thousand years and we made love the whole 10,000 years what would come out of a man and a woman’s relationship in the year 9999?
Again the chronometer buttons are pushed and the hands start turning and the heartbeats become louder.
Man’s voice: Leili and Majnoon and Romeo and Juliet are the products of the last century. Different times have begun now and we have no sexual deprivation but we are deprived of love.
Chronometer buttons are pushed and hands stop turning. A butterfly starts flying. End credits.
July 1, 2004