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Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven

Roya is excited to be back in school to see Kyan again. She is reminded again of the protesters. She finds Kyan in the cafeteria, and he tells her he has missed her. She tells him about the protesters and he begins to say something, but two men walk by and he stops. He then has to leave, but they make plans to meet again the next day. Roya calls Shireen asking to come over and meet her new baby. Roya goes to Shireen and notices she is acting strange. She introduces her son Behrang, which reminds Roya of Samad Behrangi, author of The Little Black Fish. Things are awkward and Shireen goes to put the baby to sleep. When she comes back Shireen makes some forced small talk. She finally says, while facing the window, that this would have been easier over the phone, but remarks that there’s really no good way. Roya is confused and Shireen won’t look at her, but she finally tells Roya she does not want her to call or visit. She tells her Eemon doesn’t approve of their friendship, that he thinks she is shallow. Roya claims he does not even know her, but Shireen defends her husband saying his judgment is rarely wrong. Eemon does not want her getting mixed up in the wrong society. Roya asks why she even let her come to her home, and Shireen replies she has something to give her. She leaves the room and comes back with things they had written together, Roya’s letters, a photo of them and the Phillips notebook. Roya begins to cry and runs out of the house. She runs back to her house and throws the papers on the charcoal fire in the kitchen, but the cook grabs the diary out telling her it is too big and heavy to burn.

Roya meets Kyan in the cafeteria. He recognizes something is wrong and comforts her. She learns Shireen moved with her husband to Tehran. Months later, her aunt brings her a newspaper pointing to an article about a bank robbery, saying she’ll want to read it, that it concerns her friend Shireen. Roya begins reading about a robbery where three men were killed. Her father comes in and tells her to continue reading. It goes on to say three more members of Fadaiyan were arrested. She does not know what Fadaiyan is. Ali Payan, a key member, was shot and killed, Eemon Arfa, believed to be the mastermind behind the robbery, was in critical condition and Shireen Payan was captured at their operation base. Their child was unharmed. Pedar and her aunt grill her as to whether she knew or was involved with this. Roya walks to school and buys two different newspapers along the way. In the cafeteria, she reads them paying attention to the details. They paint an evil picture of Ali, Eemon, and Shireen, calling her an accessory to the crime, taking care of the terrorists. The whole school is abuzz with the news, but refuse to call them criminals, many having respect for the Fadaiyan, an opposition group. That night Roya re-reads the Phillips diary, finding new meaning in the words Shireen wrote.

Days later Kyan tells her they have taken three more, and she asks if he knows of the Fadaiyan. She starts to speak but tells her they will talk another time where it is safer. She asks if he is one of them, but he responds he is not selfless enough. She notices students are leaving class and he tells her it is a silent protest.

Roya goes to visit Mrs. Payan. She begins to apologize for her loss, but Mrs. Payan loudly announces that there will be no tears spilt for terrorists. She explains the government has allowed them to give Ali a proper burial, and that most insurgents don’t get so much as a line in the obituaries. Roya learns that they are being watched, which is why Mrs. Payan is acting so strange. Behrang is with Eemon’s parents, and Eemon is due for surgery that week. Shireen is in jail and Roya asks to visit her. When Mrs. Payan asks why she would do such a thing, she tells her this is what friends do. Roya leaves and sees a few people hanging around. She wonders which one is there to watch her.


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