Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Know-It-All Radio

I ate my breakfast while thinking about that damn radio again. Silence filled the room. The only noise was me chewing on my eggs. I stared at my reflection in the glossy silver shine of my aunt’s radio. Its black speakers reminded me of nets; nets that caught my attention.

Inside the nets, a silver ball in each. Eyes.

A cassette player in the middle of the radio. A nose.

It spoke not even English, but Farsi, a language foreign to me.

What I saw was a robotic face staring at me with mirror-like eyes. I saw myself stare back and it gave me chills. The chill felt like a cold finger that ran down my spine.

Clara washed the dishes, but then took notice at me not eating my eggs anymore, because I was full. “Vatche?!”

“What?” I took a sip of my orange juice in a mug that said Saturday Evening Post.

“Eat your eggs,” she dropped the dish she was washing back into the dirty sink.

“I’m full, Clara.” I lifted myself out of my chair.

“I don’t care, Vatche, if you’re hungry or full. You have to eat a lot of eggs, because it provides a lot of protein that you can’t get in vitamin pills. It’ll make your brain stronger and help you think better at school.”

“And who told you all of this?” I dumped the eggs in a trashcan.

“The radio,” she pointed.

“Well, I don’t believe it’s the radio telling me,” I said to her as I exited the room, “it’s you.”

I went upstairs to my room to do work like I do every Saturday. My aunt invaded my room to put some clothes away, “You know the radio says that if you do well in school, get a high SAT score, and a high GPA, you can get into UCLA. They said UCLA is a great school.”

“Who are they?”

“The radio show hosts,” she folded and dropped the socks into my drawer like an airplane would drop a bomb on a city.

“The radio seems to be talking a lot about teenagers like me nowadays, eh? How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t want to go to UCLA, anyway? I want to enter UC Irvine because of their creative writing program.”

“Pfft, writing? You think that’ll get you money.”

“Money? I’m not worrying about money, because I know if I follow my passion that the money will come.”

“The radio told me that—”

“The radio told you this, the radio told you that. I’m sick and tired of that creepy radio, anyway. Since you got it last week, I’ve been getting the chills.”

She dropped the last bomb into my sock drawer and retreated to the kitchen.

I tapped away at the keys until my cousin rang the doorbell. He had just come from Iran as a refugee. He lived alone, so it wasn’t unusual for him to drop by now and again.

I gave him a big bear hug. “Saimon, how are you?”

“Good, good,” he slapped a smile on his face after seeing me.

We both walked into the kitchen, where our ears were collided with noise. The radio was blasted and spoke a language I have yet to understand, Farsi. The radio and this program was the source of all of Clara’s “information.” I looked at Saimon and knew he understood Farsi, as well. So, I decided to put Clara’s radio information to the test.

Saimon and I sat down. I grabbed a napkin and a pen that was already on the table and started scribbling down fast. We both listened to the muffled, static-filled voices of the announcers on the radio show. I translated whatever I could understand in the fast jumble of incoherent words, but in English. A rough translation.

“Saimon, what does this say?”

“Well this word, khaza, means food,” he pointed.

“Just read them all,” I handed him the napkin.

Bahoosh is smart. Madrase is school. Sabet cardam means proven. And pzeshg is a doctor.”

“Food. Smart. School. Proven. Doctor.”

I sat there amazed that Clara was telling the truth about the radio show. She came to the room. “Hi, Saimon! How are you?”

“Fine, fine,” he went up to hug her.

I sat there frozen in thought with the napkin in my hand.

“Vatche, do you want anything to eat?”

I sat there in silence for a moment. I crumpled the translated words in my hand. I felt the ink rub against my fingertips like blood. I felt the bitter taste in my mouth. Defeat.

“Yes, please.”


Anonymous said...

And the morals are: 1. Always eat your eggs 2. Always obey your elders 3. There's always room for more.

Vatche said...

Thank you for the comment, Anonymous. Though I learned my lesson, I'm still going to follow my dreams of being a writer and go to UC Irvine, but I will now eat my eggs gratefully.

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