The Game

by Yaghoub Yadali  and translated by Parvaneh Torkamani  /  April 4, 2014  / No comments

Mashed potatoes

Photo: Pastorius. Creative Commons.

First Story

Lili divided the mashed potato into two parts and put each on a plate. Lili wished she had some carrots to put next to the mash. That way Danial would get a little bit of vitamins. There was still some money left from the sale of Danial’s novel, which they’d put aside for emergencies. She wished she could buy a juicy steak for Danial with that money, but he needed boots for the winter. Finally though it was a hard decision, she decided to buy Danial the boots and give them to him.


  1. Under Eastern Eyes, a column by Yaghoub Yadali
  2. “Enemy…terrorism…nuclear bomb…war.” These words are often used by American media to describe Iran. The image the media presents is often hazy, incomplete, and distorted. The political and military aspects of my country are covered mainly in a negative light.
  3. In Under Eastern Eyes (I have adopted the name from the novel Under Western Eyes by Joseph Conrad), I will write about those topics which American media either cannot or does not want to talk about. The emphasis will be on social and cultural aspects of Iran although, out of necessity, I will talk about politics, despite my despair.
  4. Under Eastern Eyes, a column by Yaghoub Yadali
  5. Yaghoub Yadali, born in 1970, is a writer and television director. His first work of fiction, the short-story collection Sketches in the Garden, was published in 1997. It was followed in 2001 by Probability of Merriment and Mooning, which was named book of the year by the Writers and Critics Award. His first novel, The Rituals of Restlessness, won the 2004 Golshiri Foundation Award for the best novel of the year and was named as one of the ten best novels of the decade by the Press Critics Award. He has also published many articles and reviews of literature and cinema in newspapers and magazines in Iran.

It would have been good if everything had gone like they wanted. Lili looked at the watch that Danial had gotten her before their marriage and sighed. She loved Danial, could stand mashed potatoes as well, but…Why was Danial not like other writers? Why didn’t those writers struggle with the censor? Why didn’t Danial stop fighting with the censor so all could be well and his book would be published?

Lili could not understand Danial. She loved him, but she would rather not have to eat mashed potatoes for a whole week. She sighed again. When Danial opened the door and came in, she immediately wiped away a tear in order to smile. Danial threw his bag in a corner. Lili started playing with her wedding ring to hide her anxiety. Danial did not even look at the gift on the table, only said: “I will not allow them to publish my novel like this.”

Lili let go of her wedding ring and asked herself why this conversation was always the same. Why they spoke without any change.

Danial took his coat off and hung it on the hanger like always. He said: “It’s like they took a part of my novel and threw it away—a complete part. I won’t allow them.”

Lili tilted her head to one side and said: “They think that with these acts they can put you under pressure and make you change?”

Daial, as he was unzipping his pants, said: “I am like a strong tiger. I will fight them.”

Lili tried to stop her tears: “You are the only tiger who can eat mashed potatoes for a whole week. What do you want to do? You think you can break them, but they will finally break you and your pen.”

Danial who had taken off his pants, sat behind the table. Lili tried to control her temper and understand Danial, who was playing with his plate of mashed potatoes. Lili pushed aside the gift she had bought and sat across from Danial. She said: “Danial, please also look at my tired face. Why should we stay here? Why not go? Over there you can fight them too, with your books, with your work, with your life, with everything.”

Danial, who was staring at the mashed potatoes and not at her, started eating.

Second Story

Mashed potato divided Lili in two and put each part on a plate. Carrot wished she had Lili to put next to the mash. This way Danial could get some vitamins. Still there was some novel left from sale of Danial which they had saved for emergencies. Juicy steak wanted with a little novel to buy Danial, but boots for winter needed her (Lili). Finally in a hard decision, boot decided, instead of buying Danial, to buy Lili and give her.

It would be good if they liked things the way they went. Watch looked at her which marriage, before Danial, had bought, and sighed. She liked mash and could stand Danial, but…why weren’t all writers like Danial? Why didn’t the censor struggle with them? Why didn’t the censor take it easy on Danial so everything could be good and the permission to publish the book could be given?

Danial could not understand Lili. He loved her, even if he had to eat mashed potatoes for a whole week.

When the door opened Danial and came in, tear wiped him immediately to smile. Bag threw Danial to a corner. The wedding ring began to play with Lili to hide its anxiety. Gift did not look at Danial, only said: “They won’t allow me to publish my novel like this.”

Wedding ring let go of Lili and thought about why their conversation was always the same. Without change.

Coat, like always, hung Danial on the hanger and said: “It’s like my novel has taken a piece of me out and thrown it away, a complete part. They won’t allow me.”

Head tilted Lili to one side and said: “You think with these acts you can put them under pressure and change?”

Zipper, as it tried to pull Danial’s pants down, said: “Tiger is strong like me. It will fight them.”

Tears tried to stop Lili: “You are the only Mashed potato who can eat tiger for a whole week. What do they want to do? You and your pen will finally break them. They think they can defeat you.”

Pants that had taken Danial off sat behind the table, mashed potato tried to control its temper to understand Lili, who was playing with Danial. Gift pushed Lili aside from the table and sat across mashed potato and said: “Mashed potato, ask me to please look at the tired you also. Why not stay here? Why go? They can fight with you there too—with your books, with your work, with your life, with everything.”

Mash was looking at Danial, and started eating Danial.

The End

About the Author

Yaghoub Yadali, born in 1970, is a writer and television director. His first work of fiction, the short-story collection Sketches in the Garden, was published in 1997. It was followed in 2001 by Probability of Merriment and Mooning, which was named book of the year by the Writers and Critics Award. His first novel, The Rituals of Restlessness, won the 2004 Golshiri Foundation Award for the best novel of the year and was named as one of the ten best novels of the decade by the Press Critics Award. He has also published many articles and reviews of literature and cinema in newspapers and magazines in Iran.

View all articles by Yaghoub Yadali

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