Short story by Mohammad Tolouei published in Columbia Journal
Translated to English by Farzaneh Doosti
Addiction doesn’t disappear, it only changes forms. I was hooked on idleness, but now I’m hooked on work. I was hooked on weed, now I inject Ketamine. I was hooked on Azadeh, now I’m hooked on Jaleh. I was hooked on being free of family ties, but now I’m hooked on my father.
Why is addiction incurable? Why can’t I just head to a Laleh Park treatment session and proudly declare that I’ve been clean for a while and get heartwarming hugs from anonymous members of the addiction community, and then, once I’m liberated from their embraces, still feel clean? I don’t remember a single night when I haven’t asked myself what brought me to this point, but as morning approaches, I forget the question.
In the morning, I wake up with a hangover. Zia is fasting for Ramadan, so I don’t need to cook lunch. I sleep as late as I can before Zia feels bored and begins to fiddle with cabinet handles or turns on his mobile GPS. I go to the bathroom, turn on the faucet, take the Ketamine capsule and syringe out of the toilet tank, and inject it into my ankle. Where can I hide a sore? Among other sores. My ankles and legs are always marked with scars, I’ve had scars since childhood—I hit my legs on the walls and never know how it happens—so Zia would never suspect that the sores might be caused by shooting up.
Next, it’s time to immerse myself into water—it doesn’t matter if it’s warm or cold, it makes no difference on Ketamine, it disables your body’s thermostat. An addict can walk over red coals or jump into an icy lake. After that, I go out and sit under the breeze from the air conditioner.
Zia gets up and turns the AC off. “Get up. Don’t sit there or you’ll catch a cold,” he says. I don’t move, so he gets up himself and turns it off. Next I should ask what he has to do in Amir-Abad. My father has been staying with me since the first of Ramadan. Every morning he gets up, calls a taxi, and heads to Amir-Abad, leaving me to sleep till noon. When he gets back he fiddles with the cabinets and turns his GPS on. I don’t ask him why; I go to the refrigerator instead and take out a bottle of water, then I remember that Zia is fasting just as I’m about to guzzle it down. I should take it to my room, it’s better to drink it there as I turn on my computer and hunch in the chair.