from the Persian Serendip

There were once three princes who were sent to discover the Americas. Behrouz, the first son, got there easy. The sun showed him the way. Maybe he was lucky. He raised peaches and lemons, pruned the unkempt branches. Mostly he praised their silence. He remembered, “This is why we’re given two ears but only one mouth.”

Emad, the second son, didn’t make it. The continents grew immense, stubborn. Maybe he was destined for Europe, to live between. He analyzed the words to see how they made a man. Mostly he wanted to tell the ocean his reasons. He taught, “Bring back the mirror of justice. It will reveal the guilty, ensure peace and tranquility.”

When the third son, Nima, crossed continents to see Behrouz, there were enough pages in his calendar. Maybe he got used to the sun returning. He patiently gathered the seasons. Mostly he trusted the logic of rain. He promised, “I want to quit smoking but first I’ll try a pipe, which is better than cigarettes. Don’t you think?”

One day, Emad came to visit Behrouz and Nima. Everyone was excited: the dining room, the cameras, the cypress by the porch standing guard against the sun. They wanted to hear his stories. But Emad had other things he kept inside. He said, “Look, you should do this. See, she is like this because.” Remembering: Why didn’t you ask me? Why did no one come?

Maybe Emad was right. Behrouz was the favorite. Their uncle without a child had paid his way. Behrouz bought a house. The economy grew. And the weather was always better in California.

Things got worse when they discussed money. Behrouz didn’t care to talk about it, especially so loud. Maybe he didn’t need to. Emad was successful. There was the degree to prove it.

Nima got to hear them and brought the voices home. He had bought a condo, wanted guests. Late in the night, when even the stars sleep, he asked to take back the years. The ones he spent having dinners at Behrouz’ home, the conversations he couldn’t remember.

So this is how the second son got to replace the first. Nima trusted him. They wanted more.

When their mother got sick, they all sat in her white room, with its full size mirror doors, blaming her for everything. She didn’t understand. They were doing well. At her bed, silence and the photos were her after-hours guests. “Why can’t we forget? And who’ll braid my hair?”

The brothers sold everything they shared but a name. No one needed to talk anymore. Everyone was listening. When she left with the morning, leaving the doors and casements, each went back to his home—to start over.