Friday, December 12, 2008

Obama and the Mash Hassan’s Cows

Just two days ago my dear domestic help, Nancy, while complaining about the hard condition of life and bad economic situation, said:

“Hopefully your Obama will take care of the economy soon.”

“He is not my Obama, he is the

president-elect, and is elected by an overwhelming majority of people,” I responded.

“But I do not trust him.”

“Why not, if I may ask?”

“I don’t know, I just do not trust him. I mean I don’t like him”

Nancy is from Ecuador, a medical school dropout and a poet. The economy has driven her to the United States. But paying for a mortgage and taking care of three generations of single mothers, she really needs a better economy than this.

Being a poet, Nancy seems justified in taking her feelings into account on every issue, including when she goes to the voting booth. It also seems to me her poetic sensibilities would allow her to build her trust upon her likes or dislikes. But I think I have heard enough of this cliché, “I don’t trust him” from people who did not have the slightest poetic sense, to learn that the phrase is used as a euphemism for politically incorrect statements that they could never utter openly.

But the negative reaction to Obama among some Iranians is not racial, at least for many of them. I’m one of those who believe very strongly that Iranians are not racists. (I may sound a little biased, and as a matter of fact, when it comes to Iran and Iranians, I’m nothing but biased!) I do not have such a great argument in that regard beyond the general definition of racism, our history, and my extensive life experience and, for what it’s worth, my feelings.

Among all the articles on Obama, the most interesting was a very funny satirical poem by Hadi Khorsandi, which to do justice and not ruin his nice work I refrain from translating and

merely summarize.

Mash Hassan comes home after grazing his two cows in the pastor in a jubilant mood, demanding a feast of chicken, rice and eggplant from his wife. He is happy that Obama ‘has come’, meaning he has become elected. His wife jokes, “What does it got to do with you? First he has not ‘come here’, but is in the U.S.A. and second, what he is going to do for us? Does he make our cows give more milk or will his coming bless our bull with milk? Indeed, the situation would stay the same: ‘The same old door but with a new hinge.’” She goes even further, saying “He is not working for us, as you naively think. He has come to serve those who helped him to come. Don’t get so excited. This black man is not the same black man we knew in tales and legends; he is a black who has come to power with the white’s money, and give him a chance to see how well he will loot and rob. He is another Bush only with a fresh breath! He would add to the grief and mourning of Iraqis and Afghans! And all this Obamania? It is just the Khatami bacteria which has spread.” Poor Mash Hassan, convinced, takes his two cows and returns to the pasture.

But why did this poem generate such excitement? Is it really a realistic analysis, as some believed? Does our harsh social and political critic, really think that Mash Hassan (standing in for the Obamaniacs) is so naïve as to expect more milk from his cows after the election? Or do we expect a miracle, such as a lactating bull? Or it is his wife who is so stupid as to not understand that Mash Hassan, with all his simplicity and naïveté, might worry about global warming and other environmental hazards, genetically modified food, offshore drilling, nuclear waste, and the effect of them all on his cows. He might be worried that very soon, not only he has to feed them with chemical formulas, but he will have to play a video of a meadow for his cows not forget green and greenery. Limited as his life might be to his cows’ milk, he might, just might, be concerned about its quality rather than its quantity. Limited as his vision might be to the view of the pasture on which he let his cattle go to graze, he might very well be concerned about its revival and continuation to the next generation of cattle. Mash Hassan might very well be interested in uprooting the entire economic system. He might very well be interested in some changes in the system of social justice, he might even be more interested in a new revolution; but he might, just might, think that the ballot box is not such a good place for all of them, not even a good place to start the revolt.

I really feel sorry for Mash Hassan’s wife’s cynicism. Not only will the bulls not yield milk, but even her cows won’t be helped by Obama to increase their yield!

I am so happy that Mash Hassan and his wife do not constitute the bulk of the citizens in the United States, otherwise Obama would have had a hard time getting elected. (Could you imagine McCain/Palin in the White House? Complete with all the hair styling and accessories?)

But for the Heaven’s sake, why does his wife, in the spirit of modern feminism, not give him a chance to talk? He might say “No dear, Obama is not Bush, he did nothing and said nothing so far to indicate he is like Bush, but he gave the people of the world a hope, just a hope, that they can change the situation if they want to; that if things have been very bad so far, it doesn’t need to stay that way forever. A little hope of ‘Yes we can’ deserves a little happiness.”

I think Mash Hassan, knowing his wife better, is not convinced but is simply resigned. He knows, as the French say, she is a “jamais contente.” He knows she shows her cleverness by finding faults in everything. He knows that it is her way of being avant guard, to be opposed to the general consent, and disagree with whatever every one else, Mash Hassan in particular, finds agreeable. It is a bad habit that she has picked up, from God knows where, to see everything in black and white and not a gray spot to be found. And he knows above all that his wife talks irresponsibly without thinking about the consequences, without thinking about their implications.

I think It was very wise of Mash Hassan to pick up his cows and return to the pasture. I pray for him that in his way up there he finds some mushrooms to eat, instead of the feast he expected from his wife, and I hope he does not forget to keep his reed with him. I hope he finds a fountain somewhere, with a soft mossy rock next to it under a shady tree, a willow tree maybe, so he can sit, gaze at the pure water, and play his heart to his reed, softly and smoothly, and let his wife stay home alone and grump to her heart's content,

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