Monday, January 25, 2010

The Man in the Mask

I was 19 years old. My parents had moved to Kansas to live with me the year before. We were officially refugees in the US. My parents’ property and belongings in Iran had been confiscated by The Islamic Republic of Iran, because we were members of the Baha’i Faith. My father had advanced prostate cancer that had spread to other parts of his body. My mother was still recovering from a major heart attack. We were terribly poor and my parents’ medical bills were piling up. Neither one had health insurance. The little bit of money that they had managed to bring to the US was depleting. Those years were terribly difficult for my parents. I was young, and I had hope, but they had lost all that they had worked for all their lives and were living in a foreign country in poverty.

We lived in a cheap and roach infested apartment in the worst part of Lawrence, Kansas with a lot of really scary neighbors.

One day when I came home, my parents told me that a young man, named Tom, who worked as a maintenance man for the apartment complex had told them that there was a way that their medical bills could be reduced. Since my parents didn’t speak much English, they wanted me to talk to him and find out what could be done. I talked to Tom. He told me that he knew a man who was a humanitarian, always helped people, and was also very rich. He said that this man could help us by paying some of the medical bills and also making arrangements with the hospital in reducing the amount of the total medical bills. It sounded great. I was eager to meet this guy and see how he could help us, although I thought it sounded too good to be true. Then Tom said that this man always wore a mask, because his face was burnt in some kind of accident and no one had ever seen his face. That was kind of odd, I thought, but I agreed to meet him at our apartment with my parents present if he wanted to talk to us.

A few days later, Tom came and said that the guy who was going to help us wants to have breakfast with me alone one morning at 6:00 AM and discuss my parents’ medical bills. I should be ready to be picked up by him at that time. Neither my parents nor I were comfortable with this arrangement. I had never met this guy and was not about to get into his car at 6:00 AM and go somewhere for breakfast. I asked Tom why he wants to meet me at 6:00 AM anyway. He said because he has to wear a mask and he is not comfortable in crowds. He only goes out when it’s dark. The story was getting more bizarre.

On the appointed day, right at 6:00 AM the doorbell rang. I opened the door. What I saw was scarier than I had expected. I saw a relatively tall man who was wearing a rectangular tin mask with two holes for eyes and one hole for the mouth wearing a black cape with purple lining and black boots standing in front of me. My heart dropped, but I maintained my composure. My mother had a horrified expression on her face. In Persian, our native tongue, I told my mom to maintain her composure. We invited him in. He asked me if I wanted to go with him and talk to him while having breakfast. My parents said that they have prepared breakfast, and we can eat and talk at home. Then he said that he was fine and didn’t want anything to eat. My mom insisted on bringing him some tea. He said that he would never eat in front of others, because that would require him taking off his mask. I wondered how he was going to have breakfast with me if he never takes off the mask in front of others. He apologized for the particular mask he was wearing saying that his other mask was dented recently, so he had to wear this one. All I could see from his head was his strawberry blond hair. From his voice I could tell that he was a young man, maybe about 30 years old.

The guy talked to us for about 20 minutes. He looked at my parents’ medical bills. Wrote down some information and told us that he could help us and would get back to us.

Not surprising to us, we never heard from him. My parents and I agreed that this guy wanted to take advantage of our desperate situation and get me to go with him to God knows where.

About two months later, I heard on TV that the leader of a satanic cult in Kansas City had been arrested. They had found human remains in his basement. It was a cult involved in human sacrifices. A photo of him, showed him sitting on a big chair, wearing a crown and a black cape. Chills ran down my spine remembering the guy who came to our apartment wearing a similar cape.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Picture

This picture was taken of me by a friend when I was talking to him on Skype. It is the picture that he could see on his monitor. He then emailed it to me. All this technology is so amazing.

I have been sick and also very busy and, therefore, have not posted anything. But I'll have something in about a week.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Genghis Khan

I, finally, went and saw the Genghis Khan’s exhibit in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. It was a fascinating exhibit with many relics from that period. I knew a little bit about Genghis Khan, since Iran was one of the countries that was invaded by him in 13th century. I had read about the death and destruction that the Mongols brought to Iran. It was a dark period in the Iranian history. But I learned so much more yesterday.

Genghis Khan was a brilliant man and a great politician who unified the nomadic Mongolian tribes and created this amazingly well organized and highly skilled army. They conquered what would constitute 30 countries in today’s world in the span of 25 years, far greater than the areas conquered by the Romans, Greeks and the Persians. I learned a lot about medieval warfare, weapons and war tactics, unusual topics, but quite interesting. What a different and violent world they lived in.

Genghis Khan also promoted freedom of religion and brought the first written language to his people by borrowing the script used by people in western Mongolia. Although he was a shamanist but his main wife was a Christian. He had many wives and also had the pick of whomever he wanted in lands that he conquered. A recent study has shown that the ancestry of 16 million men in the world today can be traced back to Genghis Khan, which means one in every two hundred men in the world today is his descendent. It was said that he spread his DNA 800,000 times more than the average man.

Many cities were destroyed and population wiped out by Genghis Khan and his army. The combination of his brilliance, drive and inhumanity has made him the greatest conqueror the world has ever known.