An orange cab pulls over to the side of a busy downtown street. A woman looks at a crumpled piece of paper in her hand as she waits for her change from the cab driver. She gets out and turns right down a small alley. Above the door of a marble building she recognizes the word “COSMOS” calligraphically stretched under a gridded, skewed image of the globe. She fixes her hair and walks in.
In the office a man is sunken into his chair behind his desk. He has one hand on his belly and another helping to hold his phone at a forty-five-degree angle against the edge of his desk. His thumb keeps tapping and rubbing against the screen of his phone to the nonrhythm of a muscle twitch. There is a copy of today’s newspaper in front of him on the desk. On the cover there is a picture of a body lying on a stretcher on the ground. What seems like a rescue team is lined up diagonally with their backs to the camera, directing the viewer’s gaze toward an ambulance in the background. “The Mad Dog of Daesh Finally Bites The Hand That Feeds It”, reads the headline, followed by “Bashar AlAssad: Paris Just Experienced The Horror That We Have Lived in Syria Every Day For The Past Five Years”in red letters. She tilts her head from the newspaper image to the man’s face, sweeping her eyes across his cell phone, belly, and hand. She tells him she called in advance to arrange a visit to the newspaper archives. “You must be the lady with the demented mother! I’m going to have my colleague assist you. Just tell him the dates and he’ll bring the issues for you.”
A young man comes to guide her to the archives. She gets her camera out of her bag and turns it on. “The year is 1364, from Khordad to Esfand, every issue that was published during those nine months.”* From the top shelf the guy brings down a binder with a label that reads: “Khordad 1364.” She pauses to read the headlines, then asks him to start turning the pages. She takes a picture of the front page and crossword puzzle of every issue he brings down. “I’ve heard solving crossword puzzles is a great activity to prevent Alzheimer’s. I doubt it can help someone who is already demented though!”
They have been in the room for an hour when her camera’s battery dies. She asks the guy if they have the archives available in PDF. He shrugs his shoulders but mentions that they still have copies of the original prints from thirty years ago if she is interested in purchasing them.
She sits in the office waiting as they prepare the package of issues she has purchased. She takes out her phone from her purse. It is around 3 AM in Los Angeles. She opens her email app and writes:
“Got all the papers in print! Your dad will put them in the mail tomorrow.
She picks up a copy of today’s issue from the table in front of her and folds it, then takes a pencil out of her bag and starts:
Ancient Macedonian Capital
*The months and years are based on the Persian Calendar. They are the equivalents of June 1985 – March 1986, the same nine months the author’s mother was pregnant with her second child in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War.
**The events described in this piece are a combination of real life and fictional events based on the experiences of the author’s mother at the headquarters of Kayhan (Cosmos), a right-wing Iranian newspaper in Tehran.
GELARE KHOSHGOZARAN is a multidisciplinary artist and writer based in Los Angeles. She was the recipient of the 2015 California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists and the 2015 Creative Capital, Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant.