Monday, April 28, 2014

"The Familiar Stranger: A Page From My Life"; by Payman Akhlaghi (2014)

A Page From My Life: The Familiar Stranger
By Payman Akhlaghi (Draft 4)

(*) First published on Monday, April 28th, 2014, at Facebook.com/PAComposer, under The Familiar Stranger...

I took the bus today, the third time in years, the first time mostly for the sake of it. I felt strangely related, reconnected, if not necessarily reunited, with my environment, an experience that I had missed through the past many years of driving in Los Angeles. Yet, somehow, the ride also made me feel like a tourist. I saw things, on that very familiar crowded road, on those very familiar streets, that I had not noticed before. In a way, I was taking a vacation for an afternoon to a place where everyone in the world goes to spend their holidays: my very city.

Of course, I could not have been just a tourist. If anything, the sheer contrast of the ride underscored how much I had grown into an extension of the city, even as an outsider, if not a stranger. I could see this in the way I was driven to ask the drivers some basic questions, which I could have indeed answered by myself from the posted signs and brochures; and the shame of it afterwards. The dependence of a wandering tourist had momentarily silenced the confidence of the resident.

I notice that such existential juxtapositions have been a common element of my life so far, as a Jew growing up in Iran, as an Iranian Jew developing in America, as an Iranian American Jew living in LA. Whether I'll ever lose that multiplicity of identities, it seems to afford me readily a more unique perspective on society and the world. Perhaps, it was always the same for many a Jew before me, those eternal outsiders within, with a burning desire to belong, whose dual status was revealed in their comprehensive thoughts and cosmopolitan stands.

Sunday, April 27th, 2014, Los Angeles

© 2014, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is a composer, pianist and piano teacher based in Los Angeles. His repertoire covers Classical music, as well as Persian (Iranian) Music, Pop Music, and Film Music. For information on the lessons in the Greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Encino, Brentwood, etc. please call: 310-208-2927. Thank you.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Pensive Cutout; Short Fiction by Payman Akhlaghi (2014)

The Pensive Cutout
Short Fiction by Payman Akhlaghi (Draft 5)

(*) First published on April 18, 2014 at Facebook.com/PAComposer under The Pensive Cutout (Fiction).

I clutched the cup of cappuccino, sat in the patio of the coffee shop, and opened a large volume to an entry about tropical butterflies. Those wings. Those colors. Those streaming dreams. One red butterfly with large black dots shook its antennae, flapped its wings, flew out of the photograph, sat on my shoulder, and whispered into my ears, "Oh, man, why an encyclopedia? Next time, try some magic." Then she flew back into the book, chose another photograph, and sat therein still. A shiver ran through my body. It felt as if I was about to shoot sticky spider threads out of my wrists. It felt as if I was about to spew some octopus ink, or howl and shriek in fear and agony. But instead, I grew some long whiskers, and a paired set of claws. I woke up to the sound of the morning alarm, panting, soaked in perspiration.

I took a blow dryer to myself, shaved some tiny shreds hanging from my armpit, taped and painted over a small cut in my right thigh, straightened my left leg, put on a white shirt and a black tie, forwent the coffee, and pondered the long day ahead, to stand still for hours, to smile at every customer. I opened the window, bored and confused, and I let the wind carry me to my job, near the top of the escalator, inside the department store.

© 2014, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

(*) Payman Akhlaghi is a composer, pianist and piano teacher based in Los Angeles. His repertoire covers Classical music, as well as Persian (Iranian) Music, Pop Music, and Film Music. For information on the lessons in the Greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Encino, Brentwood, etc. please call: 310-208-2927. Thank you.