Waiting for the Paradise Bus

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By Ramyar Mohammed

Translation by Lanyas Atta*

With additional editing by Hannah Fox*

I’m standing at the bus station. It’s already 4pm. Although I’m sweating, I also feel cold. I’m waiting for the bus to arrive, staring at everyone — at the others who are waiting there too and at those who are passing by, at those with expensive cars and at some driving past in cheap ones. I have a strange feeling that they all got together and decided to stare at me. They look at me with devilish eyes, like they’re trying to curse me. Half an hour passes, but the bus still hasn’t arrived. My freezing body merges with the cold air. I’m still sweating and I really want to smoke, but I don’t have any cigarettes. Everything that keeps running through my mind is killing me. I look up at the sky. I hate Winter. The days are too short. It shouldn’t be like that! In this fast-moving era, time passes by so quickly! I’m still standing here and the bus isn’t coming.

It’s almost 5pm. I don’t know what I’m doing here, but a few days ago I heard people saying, “That bus comes here every day, picks people up, and transports them to a place at the highest level of happiness.” I’ve heard rumours that the destination is a place like heaven, and people don’t feel sadness or sorrow there anymore. Some have left and given up waiting, but others are staying.  I hear someone saying, “I’ve seen it with my own eyes! The bus definitely stops here every day!” … Who knows? Maybe they’re right?

It’s 6pm now and it’s totally dark. The street lights don’t work. While the remaining people are waiting, a man jumps out from the crowd, and positions himself on a rock where he starts to recite a poem:

You people,

You who are seeking for happiness,

You who are escaping from boredom,

I believe hope is the scariest thing a human can ever have!

From the first day of our existence,

We hope for a beautiful day, but Camus was right, when he said:

“We get into the habit of living, before acquiring the habit of thinking.”

But the way I see it, our habit is hope,

A hope that kills like poison.

And, our hope is in this imaginary happiness

That we’re all waiting for and trying to reach…

But we can only find happiness inside ourselves,

We can’t find happiness anywhere else!

We have to look for it inside ourselves.

It seems like the people are quite impressed by his words, but after a few moments they turn their backs and continue waiting for the bus. It’s about 6:30pm. A very cold wind is blowing. It’s obvious that it’s going to snow. I’m wearing a brown scarf, a pale yellow coat and black jeans. My hands are in my pocket, almost frozen. The poet left straight after what he said, but there are still a lot of people here, including me. It seems late and people are getting bored. Time is running out and I’m shaking from the cold. I look around. There are only two people left now. I check my watch: “God! It’s 11pm!”

Losing hope, I walk over to sit on a block covered in snow. My bottom is freezing, but I don’t care much. The snow keeps falling on my head, and I feel tired, but how can I sleep when I’m waiting here for the happiness bus to arrive? The other two people have left too. Now it’s only me. I’ve always carried a sense of hope in my chest. The hope of a good day was always in the back of my mind, but now this hope is becoming destructive.

The coldness turns my lips blue, but the bus still hasn’t arrived. It’s almost 12am and I’ve lost my hope now, but something is holding my feet and stopping me from leaving, even as the cold continues to get worse. Suddenly I remember the words of the poet:

We can only find happiness inside ourselves,

We can’t find happiness anywhere else.

Waiting here, my body is getting colder… as cold as the hope in my heart… as cold as my life. My body is tired too and I can’t open my eyes anymore. Either I’ll sleep forever, or I’ll wake up from the sound of the bus horn.

 

October 2020

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* Ramyar Mohammed is editor and Digital Director at Kurdrawm English. He is the author of a book with the name (On the wall behind me There is a crack), which is a collection of four short stories, and published in a print addition by Kurdrawm in 2021.

 

* Lanyas Atta is a translator at Kurdrawm English.

 

*Hannah Fox is a sub-editing and Co-translator at Kurdrawm English. She has B.A. in English Literature, and now she is studying for the Master degree in English Literature.

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