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TOE STORY (a screenplay)

October 5, 2017

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TOE STORY

    by
Dan Alexe
          
FADE IN:
INT. A ROOM, SOMEWHERE IN AFGHANISTAN - DAY
The rectangle of the camera reveals a dirty wooden floor and the
legs of a chair. The lower part of a woman wearing a burqa comes
into the frame. She wears plastic sandals on her naked feet.
Square clipped toenails and thin ankles.
                         MALE VOICE
           Sit down, sister.
She sits. The chair creaks.
                         FEMALE VOICE
           What’s this for?
                         MALE VOICE
           It’s for a movie. It’s called a casting. You
           shouldn’t worry. Everything is Islamic in
           it. If we take you for the role, you won’t
           need to show your face. All you need to show
           is your toes... Those that everybody sees
           anyway.
 The camera slowly zooms down onto the toes.
                         MALE VOICE
           And you’ll be paid for it.
           Please, swing your ankle.
She swings it.
Succession of women’s feet on the CREDITS.
THE TITLE:

TOE STORY

 

1.

FADE IN:
INT. CLEAN ROOM, WALLS LINED WITH BOOKS - DAY
A venerable OLD MAN with a noble beard closes the book he had
been reading and stares with a disbelieving expression at the
YOUNG MAN seated in front of him.
The YOUNG MAN is thin. Hungry eyes in a virginal face. Curly
black beard like a regiment of spiders. He is tense, but tries
not to show it.
                         OLD MAN
           You want to do a casting of women’s toes?!...

In this city?

                         YOUNG MAN
           Why would there be a problem? Is there anything in the   
Sharia that prohibits filming women’s toes? I won’t be filming their faces.
                         OLD MAN
           This sounds, first of all, like a base form of shirk 
(idolatry).

YOUNG MAN
Sir, in the surah 24, the one called Noor, the ayat 31 says: “speak to the believing women that they refrain their eyes and observe continence; and that they display not their ornaments, except those which are external”. Except those which are external, like their toes.

2.

                         OLD MAN
           This seems to me like a bad translation, my son.

YOUNG MAN
Oh, no, father, because the Arabic runs: “Wa qul-lil-mu’minaati yaghzuzna min’ abssaarihinna wa yahfazna furuujahunna wa laa yubdiina ziinatahunna ‘illaa maa zahara”.

The old man eyes him in silence.
                         OLD MAN
           I didn’t expect you to know Arabic.

YOUNG MAN
Al mu’minaat. The believing women. ‘Illaa

maa zahara : except those which are external.

                         OLD MAN
           Aha. And what would be the subject of what
           you want to film?
                         YOUNG MAN
           You know the story of the Mad Prince and the
           Fairy?
The old man shakes his head.
                         YOUNG MAN (CONT’D)
           It’s like this. The Fairy is so unbearably
           beautiful, that anyone who sees her becomes
           mad. The Prince knows this, but he insists
           so much on seeing her, that...
He stops. The old man encourages him to continue.

3.

                         YOUNG MAN (CONT’D)
           ...finally they take him to her. She is
           veiled, of course. They lift her burqa just
           enough so he could see her toes. And...
He starts gesticulating, with suddenly a possessed look on his
face.
                         YOUNG MAN (CONT’D)
           ...he goes out of his mind.
He starts making grotesque noises and gestures.
                         YOUNG MAN (CONT’D)
           When he regains his senses, they tell him
           “you’ve only seen her toes, think what
           happens if you see all of her.”
He stops acting. He laughs, apparently pleased with himself.
                         OLD MAN
           Lovely story. Yes, of course I knew it. It’s
           the story of Majnun and Laila.
                         YOUNG MAN
           Wait, it’s not over. I made up my own
           ending. Laila, the Fairy also falls in love
           with the Prince, and, so that they may live
           together without her killing him, she drinks
           a tincture of ugliness.

OLD MAN

Huh?

                         YOUNG MAN
           She makes a charm and she becomes an
           eyesore. Then, when she’s ugly, they live
           together happily forever.

4.

The old man still doesn’t say anything and keeps looking at him.
                         YOUNG MAN
           It’s a very simple story, which would teach
           the public simple, fundamental values with
           unpretentious metaphors. What we would see
           from the female character would be only her
           toes.
Seeing the old man’s hesitation, he hastens to continue.
                         YOUNG MAN (CONT’D)
           The screenplay has already been approved by
           foreign NGO’s and now all I have to do is
           find the appropriate toes and start
           shooting... You could say it’s an educational
           clip about pure love and devotion... without
           anything sexual about it... for certainly no
           Mullah in town would object to filming toes,
           the vilest part of the human body...
                         OLD MAN
           I thought the ass was the vilest part.
Watching the young man’s puzzled expression, the old dignitary
roars with laughter.
The young man starts laughing as well.
With an impatient gesture, the old man cuts him out.

OLD MAN
Your father was a great mujaheed. I will

           help you... mmm... Rahman, yes?
RAHMAN nods.

5.

                         RAHMAN
           We buried my father almost ten years ago,
           when we were refugees in Pakistan.
                         OLD MAN
           I know that. Listen, I think you can do your
           toe story. Meanwhile, I understand you also
           need a lodging. I will help you with that as
           well, until you find something. You know
           where the archaeological museum is? The
           curator is a cousin of mine. A woman of
           great learning. I will call her and ask her
           to help you find something.
Rahman leans forward and kisses the old man’s hand.
INT. THE ENTRANCE HALL OF THE OLD MAN’S HOUSE – DAY
The old man is leading Rahman out.
Suddenly, Rahman freezes in front of a big sitting Buddha made of
cracked stone.
                         OLD MAN
           No, no, don’t worry... I’m not an idolater. My
           daughter has brought some work home. She is
           restoring statues in the archaeological
           museum. All the statues that the Taliban
           have broken... You may have heard from your
           father that I was an art historian myself
           before becoming a judge. I studied in
           Moscow, where I specialized in all this... The
           Gandhara art... the Greco-Buddhist style... I
           can’t say it’s a frivolous thing... I let my
           daughter learn the craft of restoration
           with... (gesture) I don’t know what French
           NGO... So sometimes she brings stuff home.
Rahman goes round the statue, admiring.

6.

                         RAHMAN
           It’s magnificently restored.
He caresses the statue’s toes.
                         OLD MAN
           Say, what happens to the Fairy’s toes when
           she becomes ugly? Do they become horrible as
           well?
                         RAHMAN
           I haven’t figured out that part yet.
EXT. BUSY TOWN STREET – DAY
Rahman walks through the heat of the day.
Dusty, precarious. A dull grey sprawl of narrow streets.
Pedestrian rush hour. Garbage is piled up next to dumpsters.
Dumpsters are burning in the foul spring air. Dogs are feeding in
the piles of garbage.
Shops: chicken legs, cabbage, cookers, electronics, eggs.
Tattered old electoral campaign advertisements and mine-warning
posters litter the walls.
Rugs in the middle of the street, on the asphalt. Cars drive over
them.
A NATO military jeep cruises by, LOUD MUSIC on the radio, then
disappears around the corner. Yanks inside.
Poster with a muscled European-looking man showing off packs of
muscles bulging with steroids.

7.

Cinema posters with titles in Hindi and Persian, on one of them a
female face, tears streaming down from her eyes.
On another one: a man, half naked, his chest covered with wounds
oozing blood, clutching a machine gun.
Rahman strolls smiling through the dust, looking around, camera
bag on his shoulder.
He passes in front of the entrance of a Sufi shrine and stops to
look.
The short flight of cement stairs leading up to the square
entrance is set between the window of a shoe shop and a pharmacy.
A green curtain hangs over the entrance.
From inside comes the muffled sound of a female dhikr, a mystical
ceremony. Rahman stops to listen, as the musical recitation
inside ends.
Female feet appear on the stairs.
As they come out, the women wrap themselves in their burqas, with
short dignified gestures. Most of them are covered from head to
toes.
Rahman pretends to read the labels in the pharmacy window, as the
women’s feet come down the stairs, one after the other, at eye
level.
Most women wear the same kind of plastic flip-flops and slippers.
Their toenails are dirty, thick and keratinous.
Some others wear sports shoes and trousers under their burqas.

8.

The last pair of feet stop for a couple of seconds.
Their possessor wears jeans under an expensive coat and the
marble-like feet are set in very elegant leather sandals.
The plant of the feet is elongated; the vault of the plant is
very arched, while the toes are long and neatly separated.
The toenails are oval and almost transparent, with a thin top
margin whiter than the rest and set in an obviously well cared-
for ring of pink flesh.
Raman’s jaw drops and his eyes swipe the woman’s slim body up to
the uncovered face.
When their eyes meet, she lifts both her arms and rearranges the
headdress down on her face. He jumps aside to let her step down
and pass.
Down on the pavement, she turns her back to the young man and
walks away.
He watches her walking determinedly away, past the body-building
poster.
Without another look for the shrine, he starts following the girl
keeping at a distance.
At the first crossroads, while she prepares to cross the street,
she looks to the left and sees him. She pulls the veil upon her
face.
She suddenly crosses the road, without looking right or left.
He follows her and is almost run over by a huge decorated truck,
horns blowing tremendously.

9.

When she arrives safely on the opposite sidewalk, she sees his
reflection in a shop window.
She hurries away, stiff and dignified.
Finally, while trying to cross yet another large street, she has
to stop because whistle-blowing cops make frantic signs to all
pedestrians to clear the road. An official convoy passes at high
speed, dark windowed four-wheel drives and NATO armor-plated
humvees.
Coming behind her and looking ostensibly left and right at the
other waiting pedestrians, he asks:
                         RAHMAN
           Can I help you, sister?
She shakes her head, looking away, what’s visible of her face
showing extreme annoyance.
On the other side of the road, Rahman’s step slows down when he
recognizes the gate to the old judge’s house.
The girl stops on the threshold of the judge’s courtyard and
turns to face him, somber eyes and lips pressed together with an
expression of infinite contempt.
He stops too, at a safe distance and lowers his eyes, fixing his
gaze on her feet.
He suddenly recites, voice slightly trembling:
                         RAHMAN
           “How happy the king that is mated by thy
           rook!
           How fair company has he who lacks not yours!

10.

                         RAHMAN (CONT’D)
           “I desire to fling heart and soul at your
           feet;
           Dust on the head of the soul which is not
           the dust on your feet.”
He waits, smiling shyly.
Face set in stone, she takes over:

A pause.

              GIRL
“I have closed the passage of the lips, and
opened the secret way;
I am free in one moment from the desire of
speech.”

GIRL
That’s gay poetry, ahmaq (idiot).. Rumi’s

love poems were written in praise of a man.
Such poetry you can go and declaim in the
bazaar... Kandahari merchants are very fond of
it. You might gather enough to buy yourself
a better shirt...
She slams the gate shut.
He remains there, eyes fixed on the corrugated metal gate.
CUT TO:
EXT. IN FRONT OF THE ARCHAEOLOGY MUSEUM - DAY
The bombed-out carcass of the museum, on a hill overlooking the
city.

11.

The museum has bullet-pocked walls. A cement flight of stairs
leads to the entrance.
INT. THE MUSEUM - DAY
Rahman enters the building, camera on his shoulder, passes in
front of a row of decapitated statues.
He crosses a series of halls, some of them roofless and brightly
lit by the morning sun.
INT. OFFICE IN THE MUSEUM - DAY
The curator is busy talking over the phone. She is an energetic
woman in her late forties, with a lock of hair elegantly hanging
over her high forehead from under the veil that she has pushed
back.
After ending the phone conversation, she smiles to Rahman and
points to the chair in front of her.
                         CURATOR
           Rahman, yes? My cousin recommends you. It
           seems that he was very close to your father
           in the old days. I’m Spojmai. In what way
           can I help?
                         RAHMAN
           Would you first let me express the feeling
           of trust that overwhelms me at this very
           moment when I see how you receive me? You
           are of a kind nature. I can see it in your
           eyes. You seem to be one of those rare
           beings that do good actions not out of duty,
           but because they feel the need to do it.
           Allow me to take advantage of that.

12.

SPOJMAI

(smiles)
How can such a young person speak so
bizarrely about human nature? How brazen, to
tell me immediately that I am a rare being.
In exchange for that, I hope you have a lot
to ask for.
              RAHMAN
Some feelings have a value only when they
come out spontaneously. Even if I didn’t
have anything to ask, I would find
something, only in order to be able to
express my gratitude to you.

SPOJMAI

(laughs)
Such gross and clumsy flattery shows me that
you must have a keen sense of humour. So be
it. Come on, what do you want?
              RAHMAN
I came to make this film. I believe in this
rewriting of the Majnun and Layla story. I
would like to be able to stay for a couple
of months, work on this and go away with the
subject packed in my bag. All I want is to
work, but I can’t afford to live in a hotel.
I also need to obtain the help of
intelligent and cultivated people, like
yourself and the judge, who could help me
with organizing the casting and with
convincing the religious authorities that
there is no wrongdoing in filming a woman’s
toes.
              SPOJMAI
Are you a good Muslim?

13.

                         RAHMAN
           (fervently)
           I can’t say that I am good, but I constantly
           try to mend what I have identified as my
           shortcomings. From what I know, I have never
           did anything wrong deliberately. I am also
           initiated in the Qadiriya brotherhood, and
           the first thing this morning, after the
           discussion with the judge, was to go to the
           Noori Baba shrine.
                         SPOJMAI
           In the morning it’s reserved for women.
                         RAHMAN
           Yes, I saw that. I will return there, but I
           was glad to see that the shrine hasn’t been
           touched by the bombings.
                         SPOJMAI
           Because Noori Baba was a saint. This is very
           good. A Qadiri. I hope you don’t smoke.
He shakes his head.
                         RAHMAN
           Bibi Spojmai, I have five hundred dollars, I
           am serious and hard working. Could you help
           me find a room, not too horrible and not too
           expensive?... until I finish my film?
Spojmai looks him over in silence. She frowns, slightly nervous.
She seems embarrassed and puzzled.

14.

She calls out.

Shugufa!…

SPOJMAI

              RAHMAN
I am sorry that I should disturb you so
much. I’ve seen a guesthouse right close to
the museum and I am sure that I could afford
a night there. I will then dispose of the
whole day tomorrow to find something. Thank
you for your time.
              SPOJMAI
That is Bibi Malalai’s guesthouse. It is
horribly expensive. Only foreign NGO people
live there. Wait. I am trying to imagine
what would suit you better.
              RAHMAN
What would suit me is simply some silence, a
bit of sun, and a mattress... or a rug to
sleep on.
              SPOJMAI
My dear, you’ve been so open from the start,
so let me also ask you directly: are you
really just a solitary young man who wants
to film a modern version of Majnun and
Layla? I am asking myself whether I can put
you up in a respectable house. You make a
very good impression... I am only worried
about your age.
An old, swarthy and wrinkled female servant, veil-less, with
inquisitorial dark eyes appears with a tray of teacups and
sweets. Her toenails are tainted with orange henna.
She places the tray on the table, pours ceremoniously a cup of
tea and pushes it towards Raman, looking askance at him.

15.

                         SPOJMAI
           I remember the time when I could sit for
           hours in a cafe, sipping tea and watching
           the spectacle of the city. I suppose you
           were not born then.
She pours some tea for herself.
She watches him drink.
                         SPOJMAI
           Shugufa, this young gentleman is recommended
           by my cousin, the judge.
           Where could we put him up for a couple of
           weeks? Somewhere with electricity, running
           water, not too expensive.
Shugufa is eyeing him.
                         SHUGUFA
           Can’t think of anything like that.
Rahman gets up.
                         RAHMAN
           Please, do not worry too much, I will find
           something.
Spojmai checks him over hesitatingly.
                         SPOJMAI
           Come on, let me show you something.

16.

INT. A DARK STAIRCASE – DAY
                         SPOJMAI
           I lived in Paris all these years. I studied
           architecture, then came back. We are an
           exploded family. Half of us live in
           Australia.
They climb to an upper floor of the museum.
                         SPOJMAI
           (pointing to a door)
           Here’s my room. I made myself an apartment
           in the museum since a bomb razed my house.
They climb yet another staircase.
                         SPOJMAI
           France... That’s a country where a woman can
           remain unmarried without anybody inquiring
           into the reasons... You don’t have to lie
           pretending to be a widow, like I do here.
Choosing expertly one of the huge keys, she unlocks a door
leading to an enormous attic, filled with unmatching furniture,
broken statues, bad taste paintings in superb frames, old
weapons, books.
                         SPOJMAI
           Here. You could stay here for a while, and
           without having to pay anything. As I said,
           the only thing that worries me is your age.
           In another part of the city, I wouldn’t have
           allowed you in. Fortunately, my only
           neighbours here are the NATO barracks and
           Bibi Malalai’s guesthouse, where there are
           only foreigners.
She looks around with a dreamy expression.

17.

                         SPOJMAI
           It’s like the setting of a film about the
           end of the world... I always thought that the
           end of the world is actually a dream about
           wealth and riches. People who have such
           dreams and who see themselves as in a
           trance, wandering through ruins, want
           actually to profit of all these riches
           without an owner. Robinson Crusoe is a
           softened version of this fantasy: he is
           alone on his island, but possesses the full
           cargo of a ship carrying everything
           necessary to rebuild a new little world, a
           solitary world of abundance and endless
           enjoyment of an undeserved loot.
           So this will be your temporary kingdom.
                         RAHMAN
           A cupboard would be enough for my needs.
           As long as I have a rug to sleep upon, I’m
           fine. I don’t even need books. Why read
           history, or psychology, when one of these
           objects tells me more than I can bear to
           know?
                         SPOJMAI
           Come on, come on... Nobody comes up here.
           Also, there’s no electricity. You’ll have to
           recharge your camera in my office. Also, I
           will ask you to keep quiet.
                         RAHMAN
           This would make me so happy!... I will not
           be a burden for you, you will see.
                         SPOJMAI
           Where will you eat?
He makes a dismissing gesture.

18.

                         RAHMAN
           Oh, I’ll go out for some naan and kebab...
           Even just naan will be enough for me.
                         SPOJMAI
           Nonsense. Shugufa will cook for you. Now
           come and eat something.
INT. GUESTROOM IN THE MUSEUM - EVENING
They squat opposite to each other, while old Shugufa is placing
food on a napkin spread on the floor.
                         RAHMAN
           Have you ever made anyone as happy as you
           are making me now?
                         SPOJMAI
           You are overdoing this part. Please eat.
                         RAHMAN
           Would you allow me to put some order in that
           attic?
She looks at him chewing silently, and then she nods.
                         SPOJMAI
           Toe Story, huh?
INT. THE ATTIC - NIGHT
It is a dark night. Rahman is walking around the attic, an oil
lamp in his hand. He is arranging the room, cleaning, dusting
objects, placing them on shelves and tables, contemplating them,
shifting them around.

19.

INT. THE ATTIC - DAY
In the morning, warm sun piercing through the window. The room is
decorated, looking like some curiosities cabinet in the old
baroque paintings.
Rahman jumps up and runs to wash in the sink.
A knock on the door.
Shugufa comes in with a plate of food.
She puts it on a table, then she looks around, startled.
She claps her hands in amazement.
She runs out of the room and down the stairs, shouting:
                         SHUGUFA
           Mash’allah! Bibi Spojmai! Come and see!...
EXT. ENTRANCE OF THE SUFI SHRINE - DAY
On the sidewalk opposite the shrine. Rahman pretends to read a
paper.
Women come out and climb down the stairs in pairs, talking and
giggling.
The girl appears, feels his distant presence and walks down the
stairs of the shrine and away with a sovereign gait.
Their eyes meet.

20.

She presses her lips, preparing an imprecation.
His eyes show humble, defenseless expectations.
He lowers his stare, humbly.
With a superior air, she gathers her burqa around her and passes
her way, without looking at him.
He follows her from afar, the distance between them revealing an
almost familiar pattern.
INT. MUSEUM HALL – DAY
Rahman is fixing his camera on a tripod, lens pointed downwards
towards the legs of a chair.
Spojmai comes in leading a limping old lady with an inquisitive
look.
                         SPOJMAI
           This is Bibi Malalai. You will probably find
           her toes of great interest.
                         RAHMAN
           Sit down, Bibi. Let me check the light.
Bibi Malalai sits.
                         BIBI MALALAI
           Did you go through this as well?

21.

                         SPOJMAI
           Oh, no, I got my share of filmed glory a
           long time ago. I was Miss Afghanistan,
           remember?
Rahman looks up at her, surprised.
                         SPOJMAI
           You wouldn’t say that today, would you?
THROUGH THE LENS:
Bibi Malalai’s toes are crooked and a number of them are missing.

AT THE DOOR

              BIBI MALALAI’S VOICE
Stepped on a grenade, dear. Otherwise, I
would have had more than a chance of
becoming Miss Afghanistan myself.
              SPOJMAI
Thank you, Bibi. Rahman here could certainly
think of a role for your toes.

BIBI MALALAI (to Rahman, before leaving)

Come stay at my place, you will meet lots of
foreigners.
Spojmai closes the door, turns to Rahman.
                         SPOJMAI
           I rather like myself as an impresario.
           Memories of old skills are coming back.
           Well?

22.

                         RAHMAN
           She’s good... We’ll keep her. But I will have
           to find a special role for her. She could be
           the Fairy after the transmutation.
EXT. ENTRANCE OF THE SHRINE - DAY
He stands on the sidewalk, not even pretending to read.
The first women appear and descend the staircase.
Rahman’s face is beaming with humble expectation.
The girl appears as well, accompanied by the swarthy servant
Shugufa, who carries a basket.
They come down whispering to each other.
In passing him, Shugufa throws him an indignant look.

RAHMAN

Salaam.
They ignore him and walk away.

He follows them.
EXT. A BAZAAR - DAY
The girl and the servant glide through the stalls, among mounds
of raw meat, raisins and huge, sectioned bloody watermelons.

23.

Smoke from meat on grills. Carcasses of cattle and sheep hang in
shop windows, some with facades painted in shades of pink and
blue.
Loudspeakers pour out a steady stream of Indian music.
In the tangled alleys, attached sheep and goats snort under
swarms of flies.
Men watching a cockfight and shouting out their bets.
The servant keeps stealing glances at Rahman. The two women buy
apples.
They stop to watch a begging Gypsy with a tame dancing monkey
wearing a Nazi iron headgear. He sings and the monkey, kept on a
short leash, dances in the middle of a crowd of happy onlookers.
Suddenly, the crowd pushes Rahman towards the two women.
He struggles hard not to touch the girl. She turns to him and
faces him.
She has taken a bite from an apple. She looks him in the eyes.
Her face turns into an expression of disgust.
She throws away the apple.
Rahman jumps and grabs the apple, which has rolled until stopped
by a pile of garbage.
He holds it in his hand and turns it round to find the trace of
her teeth.

24.

He looks straight at her.
She returns the stare.
He sucks gently, but forcefully the juice from the bitten part of
the apple.
Laughter around, but most people are still watching the monkey.
She shrugs and passes by him, followed by Shugufa the servant,
who shakes her head.
Rahman throws the apple in the girl’s way.
It rolls in the dust in front of her.
She stops for a second and deliberately crushes it under her
heel, her toes getting dirty with dust and juice from the apple.
She now walks away with a quicker step, but the servant stays
behind for a couple of seconds, just enough to see Rahman lifting
the crushed pulp from the soil and putting it in his mouth.
Rahman walks after the two women, smiling, chewing the thing as
if it were some fruit from Paradise.
INT. SPOJMAI’S OFFICE – DAY
The girl and Spojmai hug each other warmly.
                         THE GIRL
           So, auntie, who’s the young man who lives
           here in the museum? Even Bibi Malalai told
           me about him. I suppose if Bibi Malalai

25.

                         THE GIRL (CONT’D)
           knows about him, the Suprem Court must be
           informed by now.
                         SPOJMAI
           Horsheed, dear, a very nice character,
           recommended by your father. He won’t stay
           long.
                         HORSHEED
           (repeating sarcastically)
           “A nice character, recommended by my
           father”. Since when is my father supposed to
           understand anything about the nature of
           living people?
Spojmai lifts her eyes towards the ceiling, taking the heavens as
witness for such a lack of filial respect.
                         HORSHEED
           (her face suddenly darkened)
           He’s been following me everyday for the last
           week. I would like you to tell him to leave.

SPOJMAI

           (surprised)
           Horsheed, dear, I can’t!... Not like that, all
           of a sudden. I have offered him my
           hospitality.
                         HORSHEED
           Oh, you can. I’ll show you how. Where is he?
INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – DAY
Rahman is toying with his camera.
Spojmai and Horsheed come inside, both of them somber-faced.

26.

Rahman, at the other end of the attic, freezes.
Horsheed throws her veil on a chair.
                         HORSHEED
           You should come closer, if you want to hear
           what I have to say.
                         RAHMAN
           I’m not so sure. When you come closer to a
           phantom, it fades away.
He comes slowly towards her. He kneels and makes a gesture of
worship.
Spojmai is watching the scene with bulging eyes.
                         HORSHEED
           This posture is very ill suited for what

you’ll hear.

                         RAHMAN
           It is perfectly suited for what I will
           answer.
She shrugs.
                         HORSHEED
           I ask you to leave this building and to stop
           coming to the shrine. Or should I stop going
           there myself?

27.

He turns pale.
                         RAHMAN
           Your wish is an order for me.
She turns her back on him.
He clears his throat.
                         RAHMAN
           “I have put duality away, I have seen...”
                         HORSHEED
           Oh, spare me, please, this pathos. You’ve
           seen too many Bollywood movies. Yes, I hear
           that you are good with words... But what you
           showed me in the market place was the
           adoration of a dog. This made me feel
           offended. And sick.
                         RAHMAN
           Your purity could not be soiled by my
           impersonation of a dog...
                         HORSHEED
           I see you start another discourse. I will
           cut it short. Let me ask you something.
           Would you please answer me honestly? Anyway,
           the smallest lie would immediately make me
           despise you even more.

(sadly)

28.

                         SPOJMAI
           Please sit down.
                         HORSHEED
           I will stand, if you don’t mind.
She takes a pose, resting her thigh against the wall.
                         HORSHEED
           I hear you came here to make a film, and I
           suppose that when you saw me, you imagined
           introducing me into the economy of your
           daily routine...

It’s true.

RAHMAN

              HORSHEED
You are young and an easy pray to small and
dirty temptations. By watching me... you
project me on a screen, which allows you to
do your dirty job, something that my father
had the folly to encourage.

It’s true.

RAHMAN

              HORSHEED
At least you are not a liar. I understand
you will stay for an unbearably long time.
It is unbearable not only because I have to
suffer every day your dirty stare, but also
because you have abused my family’s
hospitality. I used to sleep in this museum
when working late. Now I can’t anymore and I
will be forced to go home early because of
you.

29.

She pierces him with her eyes. Her lips are trembling with
indignation.
                         HORSHEED
           It makes me mad when I see how you twisted
           everybody’s mind. My father and my aunt,
           because they lived abroad and loved their
           Western life, they were afraid of appearing
           retrograde, so they took you in. But nobody
           asked me, like always in this country.
She stomps the ground with her foot.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           You have no right to make me think of you
           everyday. I do not want to have men in my
           mind. I do not want to have to think of
           filth and perdition. My mind is directed
           towards my art and towards God. So, get out
           of here.
He pales and leans against the wall.
She sees his wretched state, and her victory seeming total, she
becomes slightly less vehement.
                         HORSHEED
           It is possible that you didn’t realize the
           gravity of your acts. I don’t think you are
           a pervert. I suppose that you commit these
           evil acts instinctively, but the confusion
           that you seem to go through now plays in
           your favour.
She stops and watches him.

30.

                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           You know, you don’t need to carry that
           camera around all the time to show that you
           are an artist. That camera is something
           extremely violent, and it is irrelevant
           whether you are filming toes, or any other
           part of the human body. Did you try to
           imagine how I feel when you point those eyes
           at me, making me feel that you have a webcam
           behind your eyes? You make me feel impure
           with your stare. Tell me, is it true that
           you get a secret delight imagining that my
           toes, which look so perfect - and now
           because of you I am forced to wear socks in
           summer- that my toes reflect all my secret
           untouched beauties?
They both look at her feet. She is wearing woollen socks with
coloured stripes.
                         RAHMAN
           It is true.
                         HORSHEED
           Your evil act is not to have gazed at me
           every day, with your mouth wide open... I know
           myself that I am beautiful. What is evil is
           that you extracted a secret vile pleasure
           out of my appearance. You are a coward. You
           have no right to try to reveal to a pure
           young girl pleasures that love only can
           reveal... You, who obviously cannot love!... Was
           I clear enough?
                         RAHMAN
           Yes. I see that I have lost...
                         HORSHEED
           You have only lost your pagan little
           shameful pleasure. Now go and film toes
           somewhere else. Or film your own.

31.

                         RAHMAN
           Please. Let me explain to you... Let me find
           my words. I am not very well right now.
           I never felt anything dirty in my head or in
           my heart about you. When I saw you, I was
           simply transported by your beauty, but
           without thinking anything...
                         HORSHEED
           And this beauty pushed you to try to
           transfer to me your moral confusion.
He opens his mouth. She stops him with a gesture.
                         HORSHEED
           I really don’t see why I have to talk like
           that, but did you ever consider even the
           total and definitive social gap between us?
                         RAHMAN
           Please, understand that there was no plan in
           my head!... I was just admiring you without
           even thinking... Or if there was a thought, it
           was that your toes are worth infinitely more
           than my soul.

HORSHEED

           (indignant)
           My toes will rot in a hole when I die, but
           your soul will have to meet your creator. I
           will not permit such insanities in front of
           me, or you will lose the little esteem that
           I...
She grabs her veil without looking at him.
                         HORSHEED
           This meeting is over.

32.

                         RAHMAN
           I didn’t realize I was so seriously under
           your spell. Or, when I did, it was already
           too late. Please, believe me, it is not me,
           it’s you. No, I’m not saying that you are
           responsible, no. But you will do this again
           and again to other people, because...

HORSHEED

           (mockingly)
           That’s why I should have worn a total burqa,
           like everybody else... Which is what I shall
           do from this day on... I want you to get out
           of here by Friday, otherwise I will inform
           my father about all this.
She throws the veil over her head and walks out of the room,
followed by a silent Spojmai.
Rahman remains dumbstruck, expressionless, arms hanging limply,
staring into the void.
INT. THE JUDGE’S HOUSE – DAY
Horsheed rushes in.
Her old father turns towards her, smoking, and he suddenly
freezes.
                         FATHER
           What happened?

What?

HORSHEED

              FATHER
Is anything wrong?

33.

                         HORSHEED
           N-...  No, no. Why?
                         FATHER
           You look strange. I never saw you like that.
                         HORSHEED
           How do I look?
                         FATHER
           Uh... Scared.
INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – DAY
Spojmai knocks. She enters.
Rahman is spread over his couch, motionless.
                         SPOJMAI
           I certainly did not expect anything like
           this when I accepted you.
He closes his eyes full of tears and shakes his head.
Spojmai puts her clenched fist in front of her mouth.
                         SPOJMAI
           Rahman, it is only a moral pain, right? Tell
           me that nothing really happened!... You didn’t
           fall prey to some... to... You didn’t really
           expect that some day you could...?
He pushes himself up, regaining some force.

34.

                         RAHMAN
           How can you believe such a thing?
He falls back on the couch.
INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – LATER
Feverish, he lies on his back, shaking.
Spojmai and the servant are watching him.
                         SHUGUFA
           He wouldn’t eat anything. He has the evil

eye for sure.

                         SPOJMAY
           Look, we won’t throw you out in this
           condition, of course... But... How could I pull
           you out of this?
                         RAHMAN
           (in a weak voice, to the servant)
           Would you bring me some of her food? I think
           I could eat that. I only want some remains
           from what she eats. Certainly I deserve at
           least what you would throw to a dog.
The two women exchange a puzzled look.
INT. KITCHEN – DAY
Horsheed is picking up some food from a platter, chewing slowly,
lost in thoughts and balancing her naked foot.
The old servant enters carrying some dirty plates.

35.

                         SERVANT
           Your father says it was delicious.
                         HORSHEED
           (absentmindedly)
           Sure.
The servant comes to look at her plate.
                         SERVANT
           You are not really eating... (pause) That boy

is very ill.

                         HORSHEED
           Please, stop talking to me about that
           madman, otherwise I will lose my temper and
           my father will think again that there is
           something wrong with me. He doesn’t even now
           that Spojmai lodged the lunatic inside the
           museum for such a long time.
                         SERVANT
           I suppose she can’t throw out someone who’s
           ill. If I may... Just a little thing...
                         HORSHEED
           (impatiently)

What?

                         SERVANT
           I talked to your aunt and she knows this
           remedy as well...
                         HORSHEED
           What remedy? Speak up.

36.

                         SERVANT
           Well, it can’t be an easy burden for your
           soul to know that someone is slowly being
           wasted away because of you. He is really
           possessed... So, if would allow me...
She produces a plastic bag.
                         SERVANT
           You are not finishing it, anyway.
                         HORSHEED
           My God!... I didn’t know my aunt was as
           ignorant and superstitious as you are...
She points to the plate.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           If you think a good Muslim should eat what
           we usually throw to the dogs, please take
           it... But don’t you start talking about him
           again.
The servant empties the plate in the plastic bag.
                         SERVANT
           Never, never, I swear... Unless you do it.
She goes out with the bag.
INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – DAY
He lies on the couch, feverish, under a blanket.

37.

Spojmai and the servant come in together with a plate on which
the remains from Horsheed’s lunch have been rearranged.
                         SPOJMAI
           You want me to reheat it?
Rahman shakes his head fixing the plate. They place it on a
little table close to the couch and leave.
He painfully lifts himself on an elbow and with his fingers moves
some cold rice around on the plate.
He picks up a bit of meat, puts it in his mouth, closes his eyes,
falls back on the pillow and starts chewing slowly.
INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – SOME TIME LATER
Old Shugufa knocks and comes in carrying a cardboard box. She
smiles.
                         SERVANT
           Today she ordered a pizza from that
           restaurant in the centre.
She opens the box, pulls out an aluminum plate with the pizza.
                         RAHMAN
           (protesting weakly)
           But it is intact.
                         SERVANT
           No, no. You see? She chewed the crust here
           on the borders. She wasn’t hungry.

38.

She puts it on his lap, arranges his pillows and he starts
eating.
INT. HORSHEED’S ROOM – DAY
Horsheed sits cross-legged reading distractedly. A plate of food
is close to her on the carpet.
The servant comes in.
                         SERVANT
           I should go to the museum now.
                         HORSHEED
           (pretending to read)

Well, go.

                         SERVANT
           I should take the food.
Horsheed shrugs without looking.
                         HORSHEED
           Take it.
The servant squats on her heels and inspects the plate.
                         SERVANT
           But you haven’t even touched it.
                         HORSHEED
           I’m not hungry.

39.

                         SERVANT
           Take at least a little bite.
                         HORSHEED
           (hissing, irritated)
           You take a little bite. It wouldn’t matter,
           anyway.

SERVANT

           (gently)
           It would. Otherwise it doesn’t function.
           (pause) Please...
Horsheed sighs. She throws the book away, grabs a chicken
drumstick, takes a bite and slams it back on the plate.
                         HORSHEED
           Here. Take it to the dog.
Trying to remain expressionless, the servant takes the plate and
carries it away.
INT. KHORSHEED’S ROOM – SOME TIME LATER
She sits in front of a plate of food, a book in her lap. Tries to
read.
She turns a couple of pages, closes the book, looks at the food.
She starts taking little bites from everything.

40.

INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – DAY
The servant comes in with her bag. She opens it. She is beaming.
She arranges the food. She carefully places a little bottle close
to the plate.
                         SERVANT
           Use this carefully. This is powerful stuff.
He looks at her, intrigued.
She whispers.
                         SERVANT
           Water from her bath.
Slowly, Rahman pulls himself from the cot and manages to sit. He
pulls a slug from the bottle, swallows and closes his eyes for a
second. He seems in a much better shape.
                         RAHMAN
           Sister, I want to thank you very much.
Shugufa smiles, mouth open, and nods.
                         RAHMAN
           Listen, I want to explain something to you.
           You know that I have what people might call
           the evil eye. This is not always given
           voluntarily, and comes not always from evil
           persons. Your mistress is not evil, but she
           put a spell on me. There are beautiful
           creatures who can harm us if we don’t
           protect ourselves. This is how God made
           things.

41.

Shugufa nods.

Yes.

SHUGUFA

              RAHMAN
Just think: the sun is good and beautiful,
but it burns and kills if we don’t protect
ourselves. Water is marvellous, but it rots
what it covers... Now, in such things we have
to follow the old traditions, the customs of
the simple people from the countryside. The
food helped me, but my soul is still ill and
heavy. I’m not cured yet. What I would need
is little things that have been in contact
with her, things that she uses and throws
away.

Like what?

SHUGUFA

                         RAHMAN
           Like... Like the hairs that remain on her
           comb. Or... bits of clipped nails, especially
           if they are from the toes... Or used socks...
           Remember those with coloured stripes... See if
           she doesn’t wear them anymore...
The servant stares at him, expressionless. She doesn’t seem
astonished, but doesn’t say anything.
                         RAHMAN
           Did you understand me? You know that I am
           right and that only this functions when
           someone gets the evil eye.
                         SERVANT
           Yes, I know, but then the spell is rejected
           back on the person who originated it.

42.

                         RAHMAN
           (hurriedly)
           No, no, that’s only when it was thrown
           willingly. In this case, there was no
           willing spell... You know what? Forget what I
           said about the evil eye... It wasn’t that, it
           was like what I said about the sun... My soul
           got sunstroke. I exposed myself too much to
           the sun.
The servant watches him, still thinking.
                         SERVANT
           Do you swear that there is no evil...

RAHMAN

I swear.

Shugufa, the servant, comes in, making a funny face.
Rahman smiles to her.
She comes closer to him. She has her hands behind her back. She
smiles too.
She hands him a little parcel.
                         SHUGUFA
           First time I steal something in our house.
He opens the package...
It is...

LATER

43.

A pair of crumpled black fishnet stockings!...
He looks up at her, beaming.
INT. HORSHEED’S ROOM –DAY
Horsheed is lying on a cot, pale and feverish.
A female doctor is taking her pulse.
The father stands behind, worried.
                         DOCTOR
           You should try to make her eat something.
                         FATHER
           Is it serious? What does she have?
                         DOCTOR
           She’s exhausted. Burned out. I think it’s a

depression.

                         FATHER
           Depression?!... What reasons would she have
           for being depressed?
The doctor just stares at him with blank eyes.

44.

INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – DAY
Shivering, he puts on her stockings. He then sits on the couch
caressing his legs.
The fishnet stockings are torn in places, and his toes come out
through the net.
He leans over and picks up the bottle filled with bath water. He
takes a slug, shivers, thrusts his head back and drinks it all,
staring at the ceiling.
Footsteps are heard. He quickly sits and brings his legs under
him.
Shugufa comes in empty handed and with an angry look.
                         SERVANT
           You should give me back everything I brought
           you from her. I shouldn’t have done that.

But…

RAHMAN

                         SERVANT
           Please, I am just a simple ignorant woman,
           but don’t let me threaten you with something
           else. It’s very good that you recovered. Now
           please give everything back. I should
           denounce you for this.
He looks at her without moving.

45.

                         RAHMAN
           Will you please wait outside?
                         SERVANT
           You don’t need to get up. I’ll gather them
           myself.
She picks up a comb, checks it, puts it in her bag, looks around.
                         RAHMAN
           Please, please, I’ll do it. Wait outside.
She looks down at him. She sees the stockings. She walks quickly
out and SLAMS the door.
INT. JUDGE’S HOUSE – DAY
Horsheed sits, still shivering, but looking slightly improved.
Her father is holding her hand.
                         FATHER
           Horsheed, there isn’t something happening in
           your life or soul, is it?
She gives him a quick look, checking his face, and shakes her
head.
Her father taps her hand.
                         FATHER
           Look here. You know how much I trust you.
           Promise to me just one thing: that you will
           never let any man touch you.

46.

              FATHER (CONT’D)
The only man who will ever touch you will be
the one whom you will marry. Will you
promise me that?

Yes.

HORSHEED

                         FATHER
           Do you swear it?
                         HORSHEED
           I swear it on God.
                         FATHER
           I believe you. You know that I do.
EXT. ENTRANCE OF THE MUSEUM – DAY
Weakened and stern, Horsheed is walking towards the entrance,
through the heat of the day.
Rahman is waiting at the foot of the stairs.
She sees him. Her eyes narrow and she has a sudden expression of
disgust mixed with a beginning of fear.
He is nervously wriggling his hands, as if in a prayer.
Instead of walking away, she walks toward him, decidedly, with a
somber face.
He has a pitiful look and seems incapable of saying anything.

47.

She stops, stares at him.
Her lips tremble.
Her eyes lose their hard expression.
She turns her back and walks away from the museum.
He looks on silently as she walks away.
INT. HORSHEED’S ROOM – DAY
Horsheed sits staring somberly at a point in space.
Spojmai comes in.
She sits down in front of her niece. She takes her hands in her
own.
                         SPOJMAI
           He talked to me. He doesn’t want you to
           suffer. Tell him again to go and he will
           leave forever. I will pass him the message.
                         HORSHEED
           That’s very noble from him.
                         SPOJMAI
           Dear, you know as well as I do that there
           would be no future to such a relation.
Horsheed starts silently crying.
(whispering)

48.

                         SPOJMAI
           (reproachfully)

Dear, dear…

                         HORSHEED
           What? Do you think I’m love with him? If I
           loved him, I would know it immediately. It
           would be a feeling clear and sharp as a
           blade. No, I don’t love him, but his eyes
           hurt me. Why did he crush me with such a
           humble love? It’s not fair.
INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – DAY
Horsheed comes in without knocking and walks straight to him.
                         HORSHEED
           Dog! You are an animal, with animal
           passions. I am ashamed of this beauty of
           mine, which transformed you into a beast.
           See? You are not even listening, you are
           like a trembling dog, you understand the
           master’s fury, but not his reason for it...
                         RAHMAN
           Shugufa told you everything.
                         HORSHEED
           Stupid dog!... I knew from the beginning what
           she was up to. I chose to let her do it. I
           pitied you. I was ashamed of my beauty, if
           it is doing this to someone. If my front
           teeth were missing, would you still love me?
           I would have the same heart, I know, but
           what if I were disfigured...?
                         RAHMAN
           You would be like that Fairy who becomes
           ugly in order to spare her lover’s sanity.

49.

                         HORSHEED
           You think you have an answer to everything,
           huh? Master of the word...
                         RAHMAN
           Words are my beauty.
                         HORSHEED
           Beauty? Look at yourself. You don’t even
           dare move in front of me. And I accept your
           detestable adoration, because it’s the
           adoration of a dog. Before you came, I was
           pure. I never thought of skin and toes. For
           staring at a patch of skin and at ten toes
           you lost your mind and made me lose my
           purity.
He protests feebly.
                         RAHMAN
           You keep going on about purity.
                         HORSHEED
           Oh, yeah? In what state of mind do you think
           I was when taking a bath and knowing that
           you would drink the water? That you had lost
           all natural disgust and self respect?
           Listen: the man who will be my husband will
           have to have seen my soul; he will not be
           one to abandon himself to such a violent
           vision of my shape. You are just a dog!
Pause. Both are breathing heavily.
                         HORSHEED
           But you are my dog.

50.

He is so struck that he seems to faint. He suddenly falls on his
fours and advances towards her feet with his head lowered.
                         HORSHEED
           Don’t you dare touch me!...
He looks up at her.
                         RAHMAN
           “A man who would have seen your soul!...” And
           you think I haven’t seen it?
                         HORSHEED
           Get up. I know you did.
He gets up slowly and keeps at a distance.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           And I have seen yours. I know how you are
           inside. You are a faithful and devoted dog.
He has an ecstatic expression.
                         RAHMAN
           Oh, thank you, thank you...
He swallows hard.
                         RAHMAN (CONT’D)
           I will adore you from afar. Do not worry,
           for me you are perfect as a virgin. If you
           were losing this quality, you would become
           someone else. (pause) This future husband of
           yours, what a responsibility for him, the
           day when his rights will become your duties...

51.

He fixes her with his stare.
                         RAHMAN (CONT’D)
           But I feel myself extremely guilty. Listen:
           I’m gambling now with the happiness of my
           life, but I have to tell you, in order to
           deserve being your dog. No, I can’t say it
           if I keep looking at you.
He shows her his profile, looking away.
                         RAHMAN (CONT’D)
           I hope my sincerity will protect me from
           your wrath. I felt like dying when you
           ordered me to leave the city... I didn’t want
           to die without seeing you again. So... apart
           from the food, I also obtained some of the
           objects you are using... and I transmitted
           back into them a part of the magic that
           irradiated inside me... So... I want you to know
           that your presence here that you attribute
           to your free will... is the result of your own
           magic... because I am your mirror...
Her face is suddenly deformed with rage. She shouts.
                         HORSHEED
           You did what? You invoked the demon? Oooh,
           you are really worse than I thought. You, my
           mirror? I hate my image in this mirror!...
He falls again on his knees, silent. He doesn’t dare look up.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           A filthy animal with a filthy mind. I should
           kick you in the snout.
On his fours again, his face is close to her toes.

52.

                         RAHMAN
           Yes, I’ve eaten all the bits of nails, and
           other things. I wanted to throw back to you
           some of the spell you put on me.
                         HORSHEED
           But that’s black magic!... You invoked the
           devil?!... You... You... Coward!...
She pierces him with an angry look, lips trembling.

He sobs.

              HORSHEED
You have almost sold your soul to the devil
because of me. (on a sweeter tone) So you
were really suffering, wretched animal.
Well, you deserved that suffering.
              HORSHEED (CONT’D)
 (lowering her voice)
           You are my dog. Will you be my dog?
He gasps for breath.

HORSHEED

Be my dog.

He is slowly starting to cry. His rash breath touches her naked
foot, and tears fall on her toes.

53.

                         HORSHEED
           I might be cruel, especially when I see
           weakness, but I am loyal. I can’t reject
           someone who risked his soul for me. You were
           sick; I made you healthy again. I will not
           let you lose your soul. Poor soul, you
           abandoned yourself like others give
           themselves to God. Don’t cry, I’ll keep you.
           I’ll keep you on an invisible leash... mad,
           noble animal.
A close-up of his face, crying now calmly, his face almost
touching her toes, but not daring touch for good.
                         HORSHEED
           You do well not to touch me. I swear to God
           that you will never do. I am a virgin and I
           will remain one. The rest... we’ll see.
INT. MUSEUM’S WORKSHOP – DAY
Horsheed rushes in with a happy look, whistling, wearing
sunglasses and jeans under the burqa.
Spojmai is putting together the pieces of a statue, which form
the head of a Greek-Indian female goddess.
Rahman is sorting out bits of broken stone.
They look at each other with huge silent smiles.
                         HORSHEED
           Ah, finally a Friday without the perspective
           of being bored to death.
                         SPOJMAI
           (pointing to the statue)
           Should we start with this one?

54.

                         HORSHEED
           Wait. I have to feed my dog first.
She walks to him, takes something out of her bag and dangles it
in front of his face.
He opens his mouth and thrusts his head forward to get it, but
she pulls her hand back and teases him.
They repeat the game a couple of times.
Suddenly, she throws the bit of food in the air and he adroitly
claps it with his mouth, slamming his teeth and making a dry
sound of closure and swallowing, just like a dog.
                         HORSHEED
           I always hesitated having one of these
           unclean pets; now I would miss him, were I
           to lose him.
Spojmai puts her pieces of stone back on the table.
                         SPOJMAI
           My children... I know, I feel, that you will
           not deceive me... but you should never forget
           that the danger in this relationship comes
           less from the outside, than from yourselves.
                         HORSHEED
           Don’t worry. We’ll stay pure. Otherwise, it
           would be not only deceiving you, or my
           father, but it would also mean deceiving
           God. We are just soul mates.

55.

              RAHMAN
We are real, profound believers... because we
see the beauty of all this...
                         HORSHEED
           Please, no Rumi.
                         SPOJMAI
           Still... Horsheed... How many days are there
           since you wanted to chase him from the city?
           And now you started telling your father that
           you would like to spend the nights at the
           museum again, because walking back home at
           night would be dangerous...
                         HORSHEED
           Well, it would be, wouldn’t it?... And taxis...
           Pfff... Taking a seat in a stranger’s car at
           night!... And driving with my father could be
           even more dangerous.
Rahman is just looking at them, silent, with an unchanged smile.
                         HORSHEED
           Look at him. He masters the word, but when
           he sees me he is like a drunk!... He delights
           in everything I say or do. This dog, if I
           beat him, it would make him happy, because I
           would touch him...
                         SPOJMAI
           Sometimes you scare me, both of you.
           (to Rahman)
           Do you consent to being called a dog, a
           thing, a fetishist and a drunkard? Are you
           happy with these insults?
He looks at her as if hearing these words for the first time.

(brusquely)

56.

LATER

              RAHMAN
Dear Spojmai, if you had listened to the
intonation of her voice, you would have
understood... When she said “You are my dog”...
I don’t think any other man will ever hear
anything like this from her mouth...
              SPOJMAI
Children, I see you are playing with sin,
which might be in the nature of youth, but
please don’t play with your reason.
              RAHMAN
There will be no sin. We will never touch.

We promised.

Spojmai has spread a carpet in the middle of the room and covered
it with food.
                         HORSHEED
           Look at this dog’s face!... He has such an
           art of receiving that I find it useless to
           give.
                         SPOJMAI
           Dear, dear, be careful. Both of you. Shugufa
           is faithful, but you shouldn’t scandalize
           her too much. Ok, let’s chat for a while.
           Let the dog walk around us for a while,
           instead of forcing him to stare at you with
           these white eyes.
                         HORSHEED
           Yeah, one can only read stupefaction on such
           a face. Believe me, I tease him for his own
           good.

57.

Horsheed picks up a slice of watermelon, passes the purple flesh
of the slice along her lips, like a flute, and hands it over to
Rahman
Rahman starts munching it like a rabbit, swallowing the crimson
juice, which is slowly dripping down his chin and chest.
Horsheed takes another slice, repeats the game, but this time she
licks the flesh of the fruit.
Rahman takes it, rolling his eyes like he was fainting and starts
eating it ecstatically.
They both engage in biting slices of fruit and passing them to
each other.
                         HORSHEED
           See? Dogs have no feelings of disgust.
She picks up a radish, bites half of it, examines the other half,
holding it by the tail. She bites the remaining half and hands
him just the green stem.
                         HORSHEED
           I touched it, and that should be enough for
           you.
He eats the green stem.
She chews, thoughtfully. She gathers some breadcrumbs and rolls
them into a dirty-looking grey little ball.

58.

                         HORSHEED
           Just think of it: this little ball made of
           breadcrumbs is worth nothing. Nobody would
           want it, not even a beggar, but my dog would
           implore me to give it to him. Is there
           anything viler than this, or more
           insignificant? I didn’t even put it to my
           lips, but I touched it. Nobody on the whole
           planet would want it, but since I made it,
           for him it is precious.
Spojmai looks silently at her and nods slowly.
                         HORSHEED
           If you can explain this mystery to me, I
           will give you the little ball.
                         RAHMAN
           You put some of your soul into it. And if it
           would come out of your mouth, it would be
           the sweetest of kisses.
                         HORSHEED
           No, that would be too ecstatic. I’m not sure
           you would survive.
She rubs it and rolls it on the skin of her forearm. She wipes
drops of sweat with it.
                         RAHMAN
           That’s what the alchemists were doing.
           Transmuting vile matter into eternal youth.
She bites the top of a hardboiled egg, which proves to be not so
hard, because a yellow liquid pearl remains hanging on her lower
lip.
She hands the egg to Rahman.

59.

He rubs it against his lower lip, smearing it with the yellow
moisture of the yolk.
                         SPOJMAI
           Be careful, children. You promised. Don’t
           get intoxicated with sensuality.
                         HORSHEED
           Believe me, I could sleep alongside this dog
           without the slightest worry.
                         RAHMAN
           And I would have no personal merit in this.
           Your trust is the greatest protection
           against any false step.
                         SPOJMAI
           Anyway, my boy, you are more serious when
           you contemplate her than when you pray.
                         HORSHEED
           Oh, you’ve seen him praying!...
LATER
The three of them are praying silently, bowing on the carpet.
They get up with happy faces.
                         HORSHEED
           Since he looked at me in the bazaar with
           those hungry eyes, I am a better person, and
           even... I... I think I pray better.

60.

She leans forward and whispers into Spojmai’s ear.
                         HORSHEED
           What will become of me when he leaves?
Spojmai is stony faced.
                         HORSHEED
           Go away! I will make you mad!...
Rahman shrugs.
INT. THE MUSEUM’S WORKSHOP - DAY
Horsheed is patching together the head of a statue.
Rahman is watching her doing it, transfixed.
                         RAHMAN
           Can I film you doing it?
She shakes her head, slightly smiling.
                         HORSHEED

Not my face.

                         RAHMAN
           Of course not.
He unpacks his camera.
He starts filming her hands.

(to Rahman)

61.

PAUSE
She smiles.
              HORSHEED
Are you already tired of my toes?
              RAHMAN
Your toes were only a promise of what was to

come.

              HORSHEED
Nothing will come.
              HORSHEED (CONT’D)
Everything is there already.
Rahman is beaming while filming.
The camera pans slowly from down up, from her feet to her hands.
It stays there, on the fingers carefully pushing bits of mortar
into a crack on the face of the statue.
                         HORSHEED
           I can make you suffer...
She thinks it over.
                         HORSHEED
           No, I can make myself suffer.

62.

INT. THE ATTIC – EVENING
Horsheed comes in trembling, with a triumphant air.
                         HORSHEED
           My father said there would be no problem if
           I wanted to sleep with my aunt.
He is unable to say anything, looking at her as if in fear.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           Spojmai is panicking. I told her we would
           place some knives between ourselves.
They spread blankets on the floor.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           You will have half of my nights, if your
           love reaches the devotion necessary to be
           able to sleep with a virgin.
They place food all around them and sit in the middle.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           Both she and Shugufa love me so much... if I
           came to them with a dead baby, they would
           just take a shovel and follow me without
           asking.
She points to the victuals.
                         HORSHEED
           I’m thirsty. Hungry. Feed me.

63.

                         RAHMAN
           What would you like to eat?
                         HORSHEED
           Whatever you would cut with your teeth and
           would give me from your lips...
She lies on her back, opens her mouth.
He presses the flesh of a couple of red oranges in a glass, fills
his mouth with the juice.
He comes over her and, without touching her, lets the juice drip
into her mouth...
Some of the juice spills from the corners of her mouth and,
blood-like, is flowing down her neck in thin rivulets...
She throws back her head and makes gargling sounds.
She sits up and wipes her mouth.
                         HORSHEED
           Can you save me from my instinct?
                         RAHMAN
           We will have to fight every day.
                         HORSHEED
           We? What are you here for? You have to
           protect me.
She gets up.

64.

                         HORSHEED
           You worry me... You seem to control me too

much. LATER

They lie face to face on different blankets.
Their heads are close.
                         HORSHEED
           There surely couldn’t be anything wrong in
           feeling someone’s breath.
                         RAHMAN
           Of course there isn’t. Otherwise God
           wouldn’t have made us aspire the air into
           our lungs. Every second we breathe atoms
           from someone else’s breath. The atoms of the
           air are so delicate, that maybe at this very
           moment we inhale something that was breathed
           in by Alexander the Great.
           No, your breath is so pure, that it seems to
           be a unique matter, something that only you
           can produce.
                         HORSHEED
           Do angels kiss?
                         RAHMAN
           All the time. And because they are not made
           of earthly matter, but of something
           ethereal, they fusion when they do that.
           They have a fluid envelope. They pass into
           each other.
                         HORSHEED
           I would love to come into you.

65.

                         RAHMAN
           The rent is very high.
They blow warm and cold into each other’s face. They make funny
faces.
                         HORSHEED
           And what would the angels say if they saw us

kissing?

                         RAHMAN
           They wouldn’t be too happy. I am sure they

are envious.

                         HORSHEED
           You confuse me. You take my soul so quickly
           from lust to sainthood!... How then can I love
           you without offending the angels?
                         RAHMAN
           Stay a virgin. You will thus be loved both
           by them and by me.
                         HORSHEED
           Why then did you talk about that forbidden
           fruit? Do you want me to offer it to you?
                         RAHMAN
           When I breathe you, I don’t want anything

She pouts.

           else.
They blow again into each other’s face.

66.

                         HORSHEED
           Funny. You desire me so much that you are

vibrating.

                         RAHMAN
           I do not think that everyone could feel what
           we feel now. Otherwise this world would be
           ruled by kissing.
                         HORSHEED
           What is your power? Where does it come from?
           Could you make me be as strong as you are?
                         RAHMAN
           But you are strong!... You abstain yourself
           from everything impure as much as I do.
                         HORSHEED
           If you only knew what is in my soul!... How I
           am overwhelmed by desire!...
                         RAHMAN

So am I.

HORSHEED

           Are you?
They approach their heads.
                         HORSHEED
           It is like drunkenness.
                         RAHMAN
           What do you know about drunkenness?

67.

LATER

              HORSHEED
I once emptied a full glass of vodka.
They lie very close, face-to-face, and, with their mouths open,
they breathe each other’s breath.
                         RAHMAN
           Open your mouth.
She opens it and roars like a panther.
                         RAHMAN
           Stay like that.
She remains with her mouth open, making noises as if gagged.
He examines the interior of her mouth.
                         RAHMAN
           Yes, everything is there.
Staying with her mouth open, she tries to pronounce correctly.
                         HORSHEED
           What do you mean, “everything”?
                         RAHMAN
           All your teeth and all the pinkish rest.
She shuts her mouth and pulls herself up on one elbow.

68.

                         HORSHEED
           Now show me yours.
He shakes his head.
                         RAHMAN
           I have some missing molars. I wasn’t raised
           on a scientific diet, like in your rich
           family.
                         HORSHEED
           Good. I couldn’t stand you if you were
           perfect. I’m sure you would be vain. You
           would look at other women.
She falls silent.
                         HORSHEED
           Maybe you did already. I hate your past.
                         RAHMAN
           You can’t hate nothingness. You can’t hate a
           void. There’s nothing there, don’t worry.
                         HORSHEED
           Have you ever been attracted to another
           girl? I hate her already. Are you still...
           pure? Are you like I am?
                         RAHMAN
           The purity of a man is different from that
           of a girl. I didn’t leave anything behind.
           There’s nothing there worth remembering. My
           heart is a page with only your name stamped
           on it...

69.

              HORSHEED
Yuck!... That should be so boring, reading

such a book…

              RAHMAN
Behind me, in my past, there’s only work and
yearning for God.
              HORSHEED
But are you like I am?
              RAHMAN
I could answer yes, but then you would come
with other questions and get into places in
which someone like you has nothing to do.

(Stubborn)

I want in.

HORSHEED

              RAHMAN
Listen, this is the first time that I say no
to one of your demands. I forgot everything
from my past when I first saw you. I refuse
to remember. ...
              HORSHEED
Did you ever look at other women? The way
you look at me?
              RAHMAN
I don’t know... It might have happened, in
the world outside. But I never...

70.

                         HORSHEED
           I hate you!... Why did you need to look at
           other women, when all you hoped for was that
           someone like me would exist? I can’t accept
           that. I’m leaving.
He stares at her, as if dumbstruck.
She gets up, walks toward the door, opens it.
She stops, her back rigid.
                         HORSHEED
           If you let me pass this threshold, you lose
           me.
He gets up, walks to her and slams the door shut.
She turns and faces him.
                         HORSHEED
           That’s the way, bravo. But I still have to
           punish you. You need to suffer a little bit.
           Be fair and choose yourself your punishment.
           Don’t force me to choose for you.
                         RAHMAN
           I don’t want to be punished when all I did
           was being honest with you.
She stomps the earth, impatient.

71.

                         HORSHEED
           You can’t be more honest than I am. Give me
           the means to torture you, Rahman. Come ooon,
           I’ve done so much to please you, can’t you
           give me a little pleasure in return?
                         RAHMAN
           Do you really want to see me suffer?
                         HORSHEED
           If it’s a suffering invented by yourself, it
           will be sweet for me.
He closes his eyes, thinks hard, with a painful expression.
                         RAHMAN
           Take out your handkerchief, kiss it, rub
           yourself with it, put it inside your
           garment, rub yourself with it down, down, in
           the secret of your sweaty skin... and then,
           instead of giving it to me, throw it away.
Her eyes spark with a malicious expression. She takes out her
handkerchief, licks it, smells it, and sticks it slowly inside
her bosom.
Her hand dips deeper inside her garment. She is now apparently
rubbing her belly. She closes her eyes.
                         HORSHEED
           Is this still spiritual?

Shut up.

RAHMAN

              HORSHEED
This is how you should talk to me, my

master.

72.

Her hand comes out with the handkerchief. She examines it with an
indifferent expression and then she throws it away.
He starts crying silently.
She falls on her knees.
                         RAHMAN
           What are you doing?
                         HORSHEED
           I didn’t think it was possible to love you
           more than I already do. But when I see you
           crying like that, I see the magic being that
           you are. You... beautiful creature. I tried
           to torture you... I don’t know why... and
           you conquered me again with your weakness...
           I know now that you are as much of a coward
           as I am... How could I not love you? Death,
           only death could be stronger than you.
She lifts her both hands behind her head, letting her hair fall
down.
                         HORSHEED
           Before you came, I didn’t know what a boring
           life I was living. Oh, how you made me lose
           myself that day, when you ate the apple that
           I had thrown away...
                         RAHMAN
           Get up, dear soul...
                         HORSHEED
           If I get up, I won’t be humble anymore... You
           know, when I called you a dog, I was biting
           you in my head... But also... You are a dog,
           because I am not allowed to touch you... Were
           you happy, when you were my dog?

73.

                         RAHMAN
           Yes, I was... but who am I today for you?
She reflects in silence.
                         HORSHEED
           The man to whom I give myself every day.
                         RAHMAN
           Beautiful... And who else?
                         HORSHEED
           The man who will leave me here and go away
           when his film is over.
He groans, not knowing what to say.
                         HORSHEED
           When you leave me, I will be this monstrous
           thing: a widow and a virgin at the same
           time.
He remains silent.
                         RAHMAN
           Your father would never agree for us to get
           married. You said so yourself.
She sends him an unpleasant stare.
                         HORSHEED
           I know now what you are hiding. Do you
           masturbate a lot?

74.

              RAHMAN
A lot!... Why a lot? Of course I don’t... But
why do you think it would be a lot?
              HORSHEED
Well, a little or a lot...
              RAHMAN
Of course I don’t.

HORSHEED

You lie.

              RAHMAN
Of course I do. Why do you ask that?
              HORSHEED
I think all men masturbate.
              RAHMAN
Well... don’t you?

(impatient)

I don’t.

You lie.

HORSHEED

RAHMAN

                         HORSHEED
           I do. A lot. But only in little things.
She gets up from her knees.

75.

                         HORSHEED
           I can make you suffer...
                         RAHMAN
           You said so.

HORSHEED

           Better still, I can bring suffering upon
           myself, and then you would suffer as well.
LATER – NIGHT
They have turned out the lights.
Moonlight is coming in through the curtains, drawing the
silhouettes of the Buddhas.
They lie face to face, breathing heavily, without touching.
Their eyes are wide open.
He opens his lips...
                         HORSHEED
           Shhhh... I don’t need your words.
INT. THE ATTIC – MORNING
They lie in same position.
He is asleep, breathing heavily.

76.

She lies wide-awake, watching him intently.
He opens his eyes and smiles to her.
                         HORSHEED
           You are snoring, my lord and master.
She gets up and goes to the mirror on the wall.
She sees herself and shivers. Swollen lips, black-rimmed eyes, a
Bacchante’s face.
                         HORSHEED
           It is horrible that happiness can have such

a face.

They hear footsteps and start gathering the stuff from the floor
quickly.
A light knock on the door.
                         SPOJMAI’S VOICE
           Children, get up.
Horsheed runs to the door, opens it.
Spojmai enters and throws a quick look around.
She sees Horsheed’s face and gapes in amazement.
                         HORSHEED
           Don’t worry. I am more proud of this night
           than I would be of a crown.

77.

                         SPOJMAI
           Do something to your face. Your father is
           bringing some foreigners to visit the
           museum.
She grabs Horsheed by the hand and drags her out of the attic.
                         SPOJMAI (CONT’D)
           Rahman, lock yourself inside and don’t move.
INT. BATHROOM – DAY
Horsheed washes herself and arranges her hair.
Spojmai, her back to a wall, is watching her with a transfixed
expression.
                         HORSHEED
           It’s not sensuality, do you understand? I
           would be happy to be his sister. I could
           then kiss him and hug him. I showed him my
           armpits... and he almost fainted.
                         SPOJMAI
           Yes, dear, but don’t forget that he is a

man…

                         HORSHEED
           No, he is my dog. Is he talented? Is he a
           genius? I don’t even care.
                         SPOJMAI
           I think I will become mad before you both.
           You don’t even distinguish anymore whether
           you are happy, or whether you suffer. Are
           you so sure that you can contain yourself?

78.

                         HORSHEED
           You heard him. Yes, I am sure of myself. And
           of him too. When I see his moist eyes, and
           tears dripping down his face, my heart
           sinks. I wouldn’t mind him seeing my naked
           flesh... but pity would break me down.
                         SPOJMAI
           Dear, dear, I’m afraid for your future.
           Where does all this lead?
                         HORSHEED
           Last night, I prayed God to reverse all
           this, to take me back before I met him. He
           didn’t do it. My heart remained as warm as
           before. As long as I can still pray, I am
           pure.
                         SPOJMAI
           And how long do you think you can carry on

like this?

                         HORSHEED
           I don’t know... Years?
She sees in the mirror Spojmai’s stony face.

Months?

HORSHEED (CONT’D)
              SPOJMAI
Where will you both be in six months?
              HORSHEED
We won’t touch!...

79.

She throws the cotton she was using in the sink and screams.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           I swore it!... I want to honour my father...
           and also the burden his trust puts on me.
                         SPOJMAI
           I, myself, would not be able to live in this
           state in which you seem to thrive. Forgive
           me, but I can’t convince myself that you
           both can be happy like that.
                         HORSHEED
           Suffering, happiness, aren’t they the same
           thing, according to the character of each
           person? Paradise would be for me to live
           forever here, with you both.
She checks her face in the mirror with what seems to be the
beginning of satisfaction.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           Without me, he would have loved you.
                         SPOJMAI
           Don’t be silly.
They smile to each other in the cracked mirror.
                         SPOJMAI (CONT’D)
           When you were a little girl, I used to take
           you on my knees and I was asking you: would
           you like me to be your second mother, the
           one which is never harsh to you, the one who
           only cajoles you and caresses you?... and
           you were answering yes, yes... Your father was
           so hopelessly clumsy with you... I became your
           mother, in a way... No? Yes?

80.

Horsheed turns to her and runs into her arms.
EXT. THE SQUARE IN FRONT OF THE MUSEUM - DAY
Cars are stopping in front of the museum.
Drivers jump out and open car doors.
Horsheed’s father and a number of foreigners go up the stairs of
the museum, chatting.
Spojmai and Horsheed wait on top of the stairs.
Horsheed shakes the hand of each of the foreigners.
The father is chatting happily.
Bibi Malalai, limping, closes the cortege of visitors.
THE ATTIC’S WINDOW, SEEN FROM THE OUTSIDE
Rahman’s is watching intently through the curtains.
His face becomes somber.
                         BIBI MAMALAI’S VOICE
           You get wireless Internet in my guesthouse.
INT. THE ATTIC
Rahman shuts the curtains and starts pacing about the room.

81.

EXT. THE SQUARE IN FRONT OF THE MUSEUM - LATER
The foreigners are leaving, shaking hands again with Spojmai, who
remains on the stairs.
Horsheed follows her father into one of the cars.
Before getting in, she turns and waves her hand in Spojmai’s
direction, but in doing so she also waves towards the upper
windows of the museum.
THE ATTIC’S WINDOW, SEEN FROM THE OUTSIDE
Rahman is watching with his jaws clenched, hidden by the curtain.
INT. THE ATTIC – LATER
He is still walking around the attic, hugging himself as if he
were cold, arms clasped.
Muffled footsteps and a light knock on the door.

It’s me.

HORSHEED’S VOICE
Rahman opens and she glides in gaily, wearing a light summer
dress.
She stops when she sees his expression.

What is it?

HORSHEED

82.

He stares at her silently.

What?

HORSHEED

                         RAHMAN
           You shook their hands!...
She hesitates for a second, with an incredulous expression.
She suddenly throws back her head and starts roaring with
laughter.
She stops when she realizes that the laughter is becoming
artificial. She looks at him.
                         HORSHEED
           Welcome back to reality.
Suddenly, she is angry.
                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           If you would trust me, you would have seen
           this rare thing. A woman whom everybody
           examines and admires and whose only thought
           is: if he saw me now, would he feel how I
           close myself to these people, how I keep
           myself for him, for only his gaze counts for
           me?
He is searching for words, mumbling.
                         RAHMAN
           I adore you... You are...

83.

HORSHEED

           (angry)
           Idiot. You don’t really know how I am. I am
           horribly jealous. So jealous, that I could
           not live for a single more second if I
           suspected you. So how dare you doubt me?
She checks his tortured expression.
                         HORSHEED
           Now, why do you suffer like that?
                         RAHMAN
           Your beauty oppresses me.
                         HORSHEED
           Why are you trembling?
                         RAHMAN
           If you stop loving me, I will lose my
           mind... or worse.
                         HORSHEED
           If you can’t carry on with this drunkenness,
           maybe we should find a form of severance.
He groans and moans.
                         HORSHEED
           What’s on your mind? Don’t wring your hands
           like that, little man, speak up.
                         RAHMAN
           I... don’t know... You’re right, it must be
           a form of doubt...

84.

HORSHEED

           (angry)
           Doubt!... You doubt me?!... You suffer from
           cowardice, that’s all... Come, tell me your
           thoughts... What’s that doubt?
                         RAHMAN
           I realised that if you were not an angel, I
           would become mad. I understood how one could
           kill out of love. And I am afraid to see to
           what degree I became your slave.
                         HORSHEED
           Some day I’ll be your slave to the same
           degree, but I will not let myself be
           frightened. I will lower my head and accept
           my yoke. You know, if I were a whore, or an
           evil woman, you would be lost. In my hands.
           I could eat your soul.
He throws himself on the floor in front of her, face down,
sobbing, lost.
                         HORSHEED
           Turn face up.
He rolls silently on his back, arms spread, chest heaving.
She knocks away her shoes.
                         HORSHEED
           Since I have stockings, it means that
           technically I won’t be touching you.
She starts walking on him.
She puts a foot on his face... stands on one leg...

85.

She then steps backwards to his chest, examining his expression.
She walks on his face again, then back.
She bends over and looks... there’s blood around his mouth and on
her socks.
                         HORSHEED
           Did you bite me?
                         RAHMAN
           It’s my lip...
She steps off him, bends over again and with her finger takes a
red drop from her sock and puts it in her mouth.

He groans.

              RAHMAN
You love me!...
              HORSHEED
You lick my feet, doggie... I lick your soul.
She also lies on her back on the floor, her knees up.
They are both lying, motionless.
She is breathing painfully.
His breath is also harsh.

86.

Slowly, she pulls her dress up to her chest and spreads her legs,
slightly, while her chest is heaving heavily.
When he realizes what she is doing, he closes his eyes and keeps
them tightly shut.
                         HORSHEED
           Look. That’s also me.
He shakes his head.
                         HORSHEED
           Well, get your camera, if that helps you to
           keep sane.
He doesn’t move for a couple of seconds.
He then leans to his right and searches blindly along the wall.
His hand finds the bag.
He pulls out the camera and starts fumbling with the buttons
without looking in her direction.

Look at me.

HORSHEED

He doesn’t lift his face.
                         RAHMAN
           You scare me.

87.

                         HORSHEED
           You think you are weak, but it is me who’s
           trembling...
He directs the camera towards her.
She remains lying, her legs spread widely.
                         RAHMAN
           (through the eye of the camera)
           The angel who conceived your body poured
           into it more light than was necessary.
Horsheed jumps up from the floor and fixes her dress with a bored
expression.
                         HORSHEED
           That comment wasn’t necessary, but thank you
           nevertheless.
She walks over to the mirror and arranges her hair.
                         HORSHEED
           Once I poured shampoo in a bottle of water
           and I asked Shugufa to wait until she would
           see you drink it. She said you simply drank
           it, reverently, like it was water brought
           over from Makah.
LATER
They lie on their couches.

88.

                         HORSHEED
           (heavy breathing)
           I have this mad desire to offer myself to
           you... to be your thing... like a bitch...
           like an animal... Giving myself to you, the
           only irreversible thing... Those moments...
           when I would be just anybody, panting and
           moaning like any peasant girl... poor,
           humiliated, your possession for ever...
           There’s such ecstasy in being able to give
           what you have most precious. Like someone
           who’s insane... or like God...
They turn their backs to each other and start hugging and kissing
their respective pillows.
She stops and looks at him.
                         HORSHEED
           What kind of a man are you? Why did you kiss
           the pillow? Why didn’t you put your lips on
           mine?
                         RAHMAN
           Because anybody else would have done it,
           because they would have been driven by
           instinct.
                         HORSHEED
           Oh, you must be an evil man, to be able to
           control yourself so much. So you push me to
           consent to all this spiritually, but you
           also want me to conceive the consequences of
           the big caress. You don’t want to take, but
           to receive, right? This exigency of yours is
           oppressive. You control yourself too
           much!... My intuition tells me that you
           should be less reserved, less lucid, less
           systematic.

89.

                         RAHMAN
           I love you so much as a virgin, that I’m not
           sure I want you to become a woman. You would
           then be a different person.
LATER
They lie together in the dark.
                         HORSHEED
           Rahman, you did something inside me... It’s
           like there was a swamp there, deep inside,
           in the dark, and you disturbed it and now
           unknown creatures came out of the slime and
           haunt me.
INT. THE ATTIC – MORNING
They get up stretching and yawning.
He searches for the camera, opens it, pulls out the tape from the
previous evening and hands it to her.
                         HORSHEED
           What? Oh, no, I don’t want it. I trust you,

master.

Still lying down, she opens her handbag, finds her lipstick and
starts dreamily drawing toes on the cassette.
INT. FATHER’S ROOM – DAY
                         FATHER
           Do you guess why I called you?

90.

Silence.

              HORSHEED
(smiling sweetly)
You want to exhibit me to some more
foreigners? It rather disturbs me in my
work, you know...
              FATHER
I would like to exhibit you to your
potential husband... I mean, I wouldn’t really
force you, but... Your uncle comes from
Australia with your cousin... My only
nephew... I would like you to like him.
              HORSHEED
(breathing heavily)
You would like me to like him?
              FATHER
You know I would not force you.
              FATHER (CONT’D)
There is no harm in meeting your own family,
           is there?
She shakes her head, pale.
                         FATHER (CONT’D)
           Good. I almost said no to him in the
           beginning. He dared ask whether you were a
           virgin. I suppose this is what Australia
           does to people.
She gets up to leave.
                         HORSHEED
           Please, don’t bring them to the museum.

91.

INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – DAY
Rahman is dumbstruck.
                         RAHMAN
           Your father wants you to marry his brother’s
           son?
She keeps silent, fixing him, trembling.
                         HORSHEED
           Well, after all we are a good traditional
           family... I suppose...
                         RAHMAN
           Use Western medical arguments. Tell him your
           children will be born blind.
                         HORSHEED
           He says we are of a solid stock. It won’t
           happen. (dreamily) This might actually be
           true, you know...
           (silence)
           What should I do?
                         RAHMAN
           You can’t act on your father. His decision
           is taken; it might even soon become public.
           You have to act on the cousin. From the
           beginning of your first encounter.
He starts pacing about the room, thinking, fists clenched.
                         RAHMAN
           I need to see the man. I’ll be at the
           airport to watch them when they arrive. Your
           father will not spot me. I’ll make a plan
           after I see him.

92.

LATER
They lie in the dark, back-to-back, motionless.
Simultaneously, they both start howling and crying, wetting their
pillows.
Their shoulders shake uncontrollably.
They both turn and see each other face to face.
They rapidly roll over again, back to back, and start crying
anew.
EXT. AIRPORT – DAY
The small, rundown, building of the airport.
A plane is landing.
The façade of the airport is covered with an enormous picture of
commander Massood.
NATO trucks, dogs, Afghans dragging around huge bags and cases.
INT. AIRPORT – DAY
The father is pacing back and forth in the waiting hall, smoking
and answering people’s greetings.
In the crowd of waiting onlookers, Rahman, wearing dark
sunglasses, hidden behind some grinning Sikhs.

93.

Travelers start streaming out of the international zone; waiting
relatives or friends jump to hug them, greet them, grab their
luggage.
The judge’s brother and his son are dressed like Westerners.
The son is slightly older than Rahman, heavily built, a powerful
figure.
The two old brothers hug and kiss, clapping each other’s back.
Rahman is watching intently, his lips pressed tightly together
into a thin line.
INT. THE ATTIC - DAY
                         RAHMAN
           You will have to repel him, contradict him,
           and make him feel wrong on everything, be it
           only the weather report.
She nods silently.
                         RAHMAN (CONT’D)
           And talk a lot about religion, faith and
           devotion to God... This, normally, should be
           enough to put most men off.
She nods, smiling sadly.
                         RAHMAN (CONT’D)
           Be calm, cold and polite. This kills off
           immediately any love assault. He might
           complain to your father, and your father
           will reproach you this. Then you come into
           action. You will complain to your father

94.

                         RAHMAN (CONT’D)
           about any possible scene or irritation that
           this cousin would display. This will make
           your father’s patience wear off.
He stops to look out through the window.
                         RAHMAN (CONT’D)
           But, first of all and most important: lots
           of religion!... You  won’t have to lie.
           After all, we are really innocent and hidden
           inside God’s bosom.
                         HORSHEED
           I told my father that if he brings the
           cousin to my workshop here to show me off, I
           would destroy my work in front of him.
                         RAHMAN
           Excellent. We’ll cover some lumps of plaster
           with wetted towels, so that you don’t really
           have to ruin the real stuff, and when they
           come, all you’ll have to do will be to start
           throwing away everything into the garbage
           tank. You’ll do it silently, coldly, without
           saying anything.
                         HORSHEED
           (as if in a dream)
           I’ll be introduced this morning.
INT. JUDGE’S HOUSE – DAY
The father, his brother and the nephew are seated chatting.
Horsheed and Spojmai come in.
Old Shugufa enters also, carrying a tray with refreshments.

95.

                         FATHER
           So, Horsheed, Jamsheed was asking himself
           whether he would still recognize you, after
           all these years in which he didn’t bother to
           find time to visit us... and here is Mustafa,
           a great lad for all I see and a man with a
           brilliant future.
Mustafa jumps up and thrusts his hand in her direction.
Horsheed doesn’t take the hand.
She only nods, staring at her own feet.
                         HORSHEED
           Uncle... Cousin... Salaam.
A second of surprised silence on all sides.
                         FATHER
           Is this how you receive your cousin?
Horsheed looks at him with a perfect expression of astonishment.
                         HORSHEED
           Should I jump and kiss him, father?
Embarrassed silence.
                         FATHER
           Well... You could at least behave in a more
           friendly way.
                         HORSHEED
           Is this an order, father?

96.

              FATHER
Well, yes, it’s an order.
              HORSHEED
(to her cousin)
Sir (aqa), my father has led a mujahedeen
group during the wars, so he behaves like in
an emergency situation. I am curious to see
whether you will accept a friendship imposed
by command.
              MUSTAFA
Why... No... Miss... Sister... this would have
no value at all.
              UNCLE
I think, Horsheed, that when you get to know
Mustafa better, you will start liking him
very much.
              HORSHEED
From what point of view?
              FATHER
From all points of view.
              HORSHEED
A man one likes from all points of view is a
man one is supposed to marry.
              FATHER
Well, then...
              HORSHEED
Sir (aqa)... cousin... I don’t know what our
fathers decided, but I suppose that if you
had a personal plan, you would be well
qualified to present it yourself.

97.

                         MUSTAFA
           My dad and your father only told me about
           your beauty, which appears to be beyond
           description.
                         HORSHEED
           If this is so, I am not aware of it and I
           get no satisfaction from it.
                         FATHER
           My daughter is unbearable!... Well, she’s an
           artist, what do you want. Come on, let’s
           visit her workshop...
                         HORSHEED
           Father, didn’t I tell you...
                         FATHER
           Yes, you did, but come on, you can’t be so
           serious on this...
                         MUSTAFA
           Sir, I think she doesn’t want to...
                         FATHER
           Oh, please, stop this, after all it’s in the
           museum... It’s a public place. Spojmai, come
           on, you have the keys.
INT. THE MUSEUM WORKSHOP – DAY
They all come in.
A series of shapes wrapped in wet shrouds are lined on tables and
against the walls.

98.

The uncle and Mustafa look around, simulating admiration. The
uncle tries to unwrap one of the figures.
Horsheed lifts it, walks to the dustbin and throws it inside with
a big BANG of broken plaster.
The Father swears and jumps to her, grabbing her by the arm.
Horsheed faces him, her lips trembling.
                         HORSHEED
           Are you going to hit me?
                         FATHER
           I certainly should.
                         HORSHEED
           You hurt me already.

FATHER

How so?

                         HORSHEED
           You twisted my arm. I’ll keep the trace of
           your fingers.
                         FATHER
           That’s not true. Show me.
The father tries to roll up her sleeve.
                         HORSHEED
           And now you undress me in front of the

guests.

99.

Spojmai intervenes and pulls back the father.
                         SPOJMAI
           Come on, stop it!...
Horsheed turns toward the guests, trembling.
                         HORSHEED
           I regret that I’ve been forced to destroy my

model…

                         FATHER
           You’ve “been forced”?!... I can’t believe my

ears!…

                         HORSHEED
           I thought people in our family kept their

word.

                         MUSTAFA
           I regret giving you so much trouble on a
           simple visit.
                         HORSHEED
           Sir, you certainly are not to blame for
           this. I don’t know what you have been
           promised, but my father should have known
           that I am not for sale. I am a person. I
           might seem cheap and provincial, for you who
           come from Australia, but I have a soul and
           even thoughts of my own.
                         FATHER
           Gentlemen, how about a visit to the bazaar?
They all leave in awkward silence.

100.

INT. FATHER’S OFFICE – DAY
Horsheed and her father are seated, facing each other, tense.
                         FATHER
           Where’s the young man who’s filming the toe

story?

                         HORSHEED
           Aunt Spojmai gave him a room in the museum.
                         FATHER
           (slightly irritated)
           I know that. He was supposed to move out
           after a while.
He takes her by the arms and looks straight into her eyes.
He is tense. Her lips are trembling.

What?

HORSHEED

                         FATHER
           You took an oath. You swore something to me.
                         HORSHEED
           So I did. I always keep my promises.
A stand off for a few seconds.
                         HORSHEED
           Nobody has ever touched an inch of my skin,
           if that’s what you want to know. No man has

101.

                         HORSHEED (CONT’D)
           ever even touched my toes. I am as pure as
           when I was born.
                         FATHER
           I believe you. Please, understand me... I
           didn’t suspect you of anything... It’s just
           that my brother has been enquiring around,
           and Bibi Malalai went to tell him...
                         HORSHEED
           (with an incredulous face)
           Bibi Malalai? I have to put my word against
           Bibi Malalai’s word? Father, father, don’t
           let yourself fall so low.
                         FATHER
           I’m sorry. I was only hoping that... Anyway,
           Spojmai has to get rid of that boy. I don’t
           want any suspicion surrounding you.
She stands up and walks to the door.
                         FATHER
           By the way... I find Mustafa a very boring
           person, indeed. But at least I let my
           brother see that we tried.
EXT. IN FRONT OF BIBI MALALAI’S GUESTHOUSE - DAY
Bibi is fiddling with the lock of the gate of her guesthouse.
Horsheed crosses the road from the museum and walks over to Bibi
Malalai.

102.

                         HORSHEED
           Salaam, Bibi. Have you finished for today?
           Would you like to see my workshop?
           (laughing)
           You’ve been in the museum, but you must be
           curious about my atelier.
Bibi arranges her headscarf with a cynical expression. She speaks
in a syrupy voice.
                         BIBI
           Sure. That would be a real pleasure.
They walk over to the museum.
                         HORSHEED
           I’ve only shown it to foreign guests until
           now... And to my father... He found it...
           mysterious.
Bibi climbs the stairs repressing an ironic smile.
She stops on the top of the steps, waiting for Horsheed to unlock
the door.
                         BIBI
           My dear soul, I knew you were an intelligent
           young lady, who can take a friendly advice.
           I said so to your father, but he wouldn’t
           listen.

HORSHEED

What advice?

                         BIBI
           Oh, but you know very well, you clever

little girl.

103.

                         HORSHEED
           I have no idea what you are talking about.
                         BIBI
           No? You don’t?
She threatens Horsheed with an amused index finger.
                         BIBI (CONT’D)
           And the toe obsessed young man? The one with

the camera?

                         HORSHEED
           (opening the door)
           Come on in, we’ll be better inside to
           discuss all this.
INT. THE MUSEUM WORKSHOP – DAY
Horsheed opens the door and lets Bibi in.
Looking around, Bibi lets out an astonished “Aaaaah!...” only
half simulated.
She walks around the workshop, peering at the objects at close
range.
She points to a fat, smiling, longhaired Buddha.
                         BIBI
           She’s fat and funny, but such a shameful
           naked figure!... One can see her nipples.
                         HORSHEED
           It’s a man. It’s a Buddha.

104.

                         BIBI
           (incredulous)
           You’re kidding me!...
                         HORSHEED
           Our ancestors were Buddhists... They used to
           revere this fat man’s nipples.
                         BIBI
           No way!...
She leans over to see better.
                         BIBI (CONT’D)
           Not my ancestors, young lady, not mine.
           Yours, maybe. Mine have always been good
           Muslims. Hm. This place is full of nipples
           and nakedness... And, you, poor girl, you have
           to touch all that every day.
She turns over to face Horsheed.
Suddenly, at that precise moment, Horsheed SLAPS her in the face
so violently that Bibi is THROWN against the Buddha, which
promptly FALLS on her.
Bibi opens her mouth for a howl, but Horsheed shoots with her
right foot into the old woman’s belly.
The old lady curls up with silent pain.
Horsheed pulls her up by the hair and twists one of her arms
behind her back.

105.

                         HORSHEED
           Don’t make any noise, or I’ll break your

arm.

                         BIBI
           (in pain)
           Oh, God... You are... mad...
Horsheed twists her arm with more force.
                         BIBI
           (breathless)
           Please... Aaaargh... Stop, no, please!...
Horsheed pulls at her hair even more, forcing the old lady to
face the ceiling.
                         HORSHEED
           Why? Why did you do that?
                         BIBI
           This is horrible... Let me go!
                         HORSHEED
           No, you are horrible, a disgusting insect...
           Why did you have to do that?
                         BIBI
           I can’t speak... I can’t breathe... Let me go!
Horsheed lets hold of the old woman’s hair and arm.
Bibi gulps a couple of times, swallows and suddenly jumps up and
runs limping toward the door, SCREAMING hysterically.

106.

                         BIBI
           Heeelp!...
Horsheed catches her before she is able to open the door, grabs
her neck with both hands and starts strangling her.
The old woman shows the white of her eyes and tries to wrestle
off Horsheed’s hands.
                         HORSHEED
           Listen, stupid old cow... Stupid, because when
           you went around saying things about me you
           didn’t realize how mean I could be...
Horsheed lets go of the old woman’s throat. Bibi leans her back
against the wall and holds her throat, panting.
From one of her pockets, Horsheed fishes out a handful of
crumpled bills.
                         HORSHEED
           Look here. This is what it takes to have you
           killed. I could pay anytime not only to have
           you shot in the face, but also your idiot of
           a son, and even his donkey. And, believe me,
           I would come to piss on your tombs. So... Now
           you know whom you are dealing with.
She throws the handful of bills into Bibi’s face.
                         HORSHEED
           Take this and go away. And when you spend
           it, remember... This is how much you are
           worth... plus a bullet in your ugly face.
She holds the door open.

107.

                         HORSHEED
           May God protect you.
                         BIBI
           (almost inaudible)
           May God protect you too.
The old woman runs out limping.
Panting, Horsheed rests her back against the wall.
She starts sobbing silently.
Rahman appears on the threshold.
                         RAHMAN
           You didn’t have to do that, you really

didn’t…

              HORSHEED
Oh, yeah? And why not?
              RAHMAN
Now everybody will find out about us. I
don’t think she can be stopped.
              HORSHEED
(exasperated)
Oh, you are so helpful and optimistic, thank
you!... Wouldn’t you be a bit of a coward
too?

(panting)

108.

              RAHMAN
Look, stop that. I really think we shouldn’t
remain here. We should run away. Hide
somewhere.
              HORSHEED
Where to? Do you have any idea? Did you make

any plans?

              RAHMAN
(now he is exasperated)
What plans? What are you talking about? You
said there was no future!...
              HORSHEED
I can’t believe what I’m hearing!... I’ll
tell Spojmai to throw you out. Or... No... You
stay. I’d better go to Australia, after all.
Give me that tape on which you filmed me
naked.
              RAHMAN
(incredulous)

Why?

              HORSHEED
What do you mean why? I don’t want you to

have it.

              RAHMAN
(breathing heavily)
You don’t want me to have it!... Do you
think I could use it, or what? Post it on
the Internet? Watch it together with your
father?
              HORSHEED
What?!... Are you mad? You really have a

filthy mind.

109.

                         RAHMAN
           Filthy mind!... You knew that all along and
           you liked it!...
                         HORSHEED
           I was liking it!... I was!... So you are
           really convinced that it’s finished between
           us. Oh, you give up so quickly!...
                         RAHMAN
           (changing his tone)
           Come on, Horsheed, come ooon... Don’t ruin our
           love for something like that.
                         HORSHEED
           “Our love”!... You are talking as if it were
           a child, or something...
Rahman steps towards her and opens his arms with a pained
expression.
                         RAHMAN
           Horsheed, please!...
                         HORSHEED
           Don’t take on that humble expression again.
           You really look like a beaten dog. Give me
           the tape. Give me all the tapes!... I want
           to be sure. You were never going to make a
           film anyway.
                         RAHMAN
           I will certainly not give it to you.
                         HORSHEED
           Then I’ll go and tell my father.

110.

                         RAHMAN
           Tell your father? Your father would kill you
           with his own hands.
                         HORSHEED
           Aha. And maybe a mob from the neighbourhood
           will come shouting: “We’ll fuck the whore
           and then stone her”... And you would run away
           meanwhile. What a despicable creature!...
           I’ll go up and get the tapes myself.
With a resolute air, she steps towards the attic. Rahman block
her way.
                         RAHMAN
           No, you won’t. You have to trust me.
                         HORSHEED
           Don’t touch me.
                         RAHMAN
           (blocking the passage)
           I don’t touch you. See? You are almost
           touching me.
                         HORSHEED
           Aha! I am touching you!... Things only
           happen to you, huh? You take no
           responsibility.
                         RAHMAN
           Oh, yeah? Who came to you? Who took the
           initiative? Who made a fool of himself in
           the bazaar in order to attract your
           attention?

111.

                         HORSHEED
           That’s what you are good at: making a fool
           of yourself.
Spojmai rushes in, alarmed.
                         SPOJMAI
           What are you doing? What’s going on?
Horsheed walks resolutely towards the exit.
                         HORSHEED
           Make sure you see him off tomorrow. This
           time for good...
Her pace is heard in the staircase.
                         HORSHEED’S VOICE
           I’ll get that tape.
Trembling, Rahman clutches his chest looking at Spojmai.
                         SPOJMAI
           No, no, you can’t faint again.
INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – LATER
He is systematically crashing all the cassettes with a stone
Buddha.
After crushing them, he jumps on them and from time to time he
picks up one of them and the tape to pieces.
Spojmai enters and looks at what he is doing.

112.

He stops for a moment, gives her a stony look.
                         RAHMAN
           If someone asks, you will tell them that I
           lost everything.
                         SPOJMAI
           It would have been enough to erase them.
She walks out, carefully closing the door.
INT. RAHMAN’S ATTIC – MORNING
He has made up his bag. He walks around the big room, arms folded
on his chest, hugging himself.
Spojmai opens the door.
                         SPOJMAI
           They are here.
           (worried)
           Are you ready?
He points to the bag.
She doesn’t say anything. She holds the door open.
He picks up his bag and the camera and goes past her, walking out
and down the staircase.
ON THE STAIRS
Spojmai extends her hand to him.

113.

Rahman takes it, looking her in the eyes.
                         SPOJMAI
           Well, good-bye then.

RAHMAN

Bye.

                         SPOJMAI
           Horsheed sends you her good-bye as well.
                         RAHMAN
           How kind of her.
Spojmai gives him her hand a second time.
                         SPOJMAI
           Well, good-bye.
EXT. IN FRONT OF THE MUSEUM – DAY
The light is blinding and Rahman, while stepping out, closes his
eyes for a second.
The jeep is waiting. The father sits behind the wheel, his
brother in the other front seat. Mustafa sits in the back, arms
folded, beaming.
                         RAHMAN
           As-salaam aleikum.
There is a chorus of answers.

114.

                         FATHER
           Get in, boy.
He gets in and crumbles in the back.
INT. DRIVING CAR
                         UNCLE
           So you are the man with the camera...
                         FATHER
           Poor boy. He wanted to make this nice movie
           I told you about, but he lost all the
           footage of his casting...
The uncle laughs, slapping his thigh.
                         FATHER
           Jamsheed. This isn’t funny.
He turns slightly his head towards Rahman, while driving.
                         FATHER (CONT’D)
           Please, don’t feel offended. It’s only that
           we are very happy. We just concluded
           Horsheed’s betrothal to Mustafa. They are
           now returning to Australia for the
           preparations.
Mustafa beams and sighs, seemingly happy.
                         FATHER
           And, about your tapes, I think there is at
           least one that was saved.

115.

While driving, he fishes the red-smeared cassette from his pocket
and waves it in the air.
                         FATHER
           My daughter gave me this for you. She took
           it by mistake when she gathered some stuff
           from the museum.

MUSTAFA (sneering)

           Would she have qualified for the role?
           I mean, was she any good?
                         UNCLE
           Mustafa, please watch your manners. You are
           only betrothed for the time being.
The father hands the cassette to Rahman, over his shoulder.
                         FATHER
           I didn’t check it, of course.
                         MUSTAFA
           Anyway, we couldn’t have watched it. I have
           a much newer camera, for which I use a
           totally different kind of cassette.
He picks up one of them.
                         MUSTAFA

These!…

                         UNCLE
           My boy, I don’t know you, of course, but
           believe me, you should get yourself a proper
           job.

116.

The father stops the car, waits for Rahman to get out.
                         FATHER
           I understand you are not flying abroad.
           Here’s your terminal.
INT. THE KABUL AIRPORT. INTERNAL FLIGHTS - DAY
Long queue of people advancing very slowly. Pilgrims, dignified
enturbaned old gentlemen, veiled ladies, screaming children.
A couple of Western military are watching the scene, smoking.
A porter rushes to take Rahman’s bag, but he wouldn’t let go of
it, shaking his head absent-mindedly.
He arrives in front of the control booth.

CUSTOMS OFFICER Documents, brother?

FADE OUT

117.

From → Paraphernalia

2 Comments
  1. Un cylon permalink

    Ieri mi-aţi înveselit o zi tristă la serviciu.

    E o greşeală de redactare la pagina 69, replica Horsheedei nu e precedată de numele ei.

  2. ionutangel permalink

    russia has nothing to offer .
    dictatorship? poverty? mafiocracy ? brainwashing?kgb mafia? horrible sounding language? praising the “beloved leader”?
    no,thank you.
    everybody try to run away from russia. even majority of russians will try to flee russia ,if they will have a choice .
    in 10 years russian oil reserves will be depleted and russia will be in free fall ,together with all its vain and empty arrogance

    .

    legi necesare pentru a elimina agresiunea canina:
    -pedepsirea abandonului cu inchisoare pe viata
    -pedepsirea inmultirii cainilor fara autorizatie
    -sterilizarea si inregistrarea obligatorie a cainilor
    -dresajul obligatoriu al cainilor,pentru a preveni contactul nedorit,atacul ,sau latratul
    -pedepsirea celor care isi lasa cainii sa atinga sau sa se urce pe alti oameni fara acordul acestora
    -interzicerea folosirii cainilor la munca,paza sau circ.
    abandonul de animale e tentativa de omor pentru ca:
    -animalul poate ataca ,mutila sau ucide pe cineva
    -animalul poate muri sau trai o viata plina de suferinta.
    de aceea cred ca pedepsa sugerata de mine e chiar moderata comparativ cu gravitatea faptei.

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