I got acquainted with Amir Mehdi through Sabir and The Russian. The fact remained that I knew so little about him. Sabir was friendly, The Russian was hard to go by and Amir, well Amir was terribly introverted (or so he was as far I was concerned).
“Why are you even friends with them you’re nothing alike. ” I asked him as the rest of the gang was asleep in a truck full of manure.
“Why are you? I heard you even had a fight with Trauer. Why did you still come?” he answered with a question, this was irritating.
“That is deflection.” I mumbled.
“The fact is that your answer is linked with your own question.” he replied, calm as ever. If there was someone who could pretend to be high on marijuana, it was him.
“Well, I don’t know.” I said after I struggled a while for a better answer.
“You don’t know but you want to hang on anyway.” he improved on my statement. This meant that this was HIS statement as well. We had a lot more common than we think.
“They are good men. Men fallen from grace at some points in their lives, now they have no one but each other. ” he whispered when he saw Sabir moving in his sleep.
“How is that?” I asked.
“They’re not like every one else. They think differently, there is even something childish about the way they do things. Before you ask how and why I put up with the Russian, let me tell you he is the most sincere person of the lot.” he even laughed in whispers.
“What about you. Where are you from?” I asked him. Apparently both of us were having a hard time going to sleep.
“Well I am from a town that is somewhere South in the New Republic. Where people don’t speak the tongue you’re so accustomed to. I left medicine and started work with a pharmaceutical company as a consultant…”
“Wait!” I interrupted. “You a Doctor? I thought you were a B.Pharm or something.”
“No, I am pretty much a Doctor like yourself. That is the problem with you, you assume so much, you start profiling people when asking them is the simplest and best strategy.” He combed his beard with his fingers.
“Also, why do they call you a preacher?” I asked.
“Because I preach.” He replied in a disappointed tone. “Isn’t it obvious?”
“What do you preach?” I asked him again.
“Nothing much at the moment, I am busy practicing what I am going to preach, soon.” he replied with out eye contact this time.
What was it? Shame, disappointment or dislike to my cross-questioning, I was willing to let the issue slide for the time being.
“Did he tell you about the time when he was in love?” came a voice from the other side of the truck. It was The Russian and he was awake. I was not sure how much of the conversation he had overheard.
“Iskandar, this is not the time for these things.” Amir tried to quiet him, he could have tried harder but he knew that you could not stop The Russian once he sets his mind to something. It appeared that he wanted him to talk about it.
“Well dear Doctor, it was around the time we met. He was in this terrible heart break state.” The Russian enjoyed the narrative, maybe he was a descendent of Tolstoy. “He sat at the coffee-house all day. We would go there often back then, Sabir and me, and we would find his body language and demeanor and lack of personal hygiene intriguing. Depression, I mean, we knew the signs. We chatted up and talked him out of depression.”
“Wait, you mean you chatted a guy to sanity?” I laughed, but it came out as a sneer. Part of my disliking to the antics of The Russian.
“Well he wasn’t exactly depressed and he needed support. Thats the only thing that was wrong with them.” he laughed.
In Mehdi’s eyes I noticed a strange appreciation for The Russian. I didn’t understand their complex chemistry but they were best friends never the less.
“Who was the lucky lady?” I asked Mehdi.
“I’d rather not say.” His face become grave, for the first time. Amir Mehdi was really upset at her mention.
“Well who was the lady?” this time I turned to The Russian for an answer.
Then something happened that shed new light on their relationship. The Russian opened his mouth reluctantly and with out uttering a word closed it. He looked at Mehdi, ashamed in some way. It was the first time I’d seen The Russian shy away from a topic. The big man who would intimidate Sabir Bey regularly was afraid of saying some thing that Mehdi might disaprove.
“You tell him, if you want.” he said to Amir.
“She didn’t exist.” he turned to me.
“What does that mean?” I asked him again.
“She wasn’t there, there was no real person. It was a hoax or something, there was no girl on the other side.” he clarified.
“You mean to tell me that you fell in love in a person who wasn’t there?” It made no sense to me.
“Yes, there was no such lady. I fell in love when I chatted with her on a social networking website. I was meticulous, I made sure that she was for real.” he smiled.
“This is not the States man, women who are on social networking sites keep their privacy setting on full. If some appear to be free game then its more likely a joke.” I sympathized.
“Well, the ‘joke’ was elaborate, complete with pictures, voice messages and above all sensitivity which I would expect from a real khatun. I was duped and I admit to it but that was cruel. So anyway, she called me to The Cafe and stood me up. I went to The Cafe for a whole month but she never came. I showed them the picture and no one recognized her. When she called me to The Cafe that was also the last time we had contact. I was devastated. I loathed myself for being such a fool. Then I met these guys in The Cafe, they helped me through those difficult times and turned to religion. I am a very happy man now.” he sounded cool.
“You sound relieved.” I added.
“I am, as horrid as this event was, I turned to God and I was not disappointed, I’ve never been happier since.” he replied, grinning ear to ear.
“He’s a real survivor.” laughed The Russian nervously.
The trust the honor, I understood, the part of their relationship that confused me was how did they go along. Mehdi was a strictly religious man, The Russian and Sabir were not. More over The Russian was dominant in personality, so was Sabir, how a mild mannered man like Mehdi not only fit in but also had some influence on them. How could this be possible, I did not know at the time.
The answer to this question was one of the biggest surprises awaiting me. Now is apparently not the time to talk about it.