By Tammy Swofford
September 20, 2013
They had scampered into Qom from Lebanon and Pakistan; as far away as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Great Britain was the nature of their hardship
The conference of the mice was now fully assembled in the city of Qom. These were no ordinary mice, of course. They were a special breed with jet-black coats and piercing scholarly eyes. Each one had a distinctive white patch on his head that resembled a turban. The mice had recently ventured forth from the land of two rivers: the cities of Karbala and Najf. They had scampered into Qom from Lebanon and Pakistan; as far away as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Great Britain was the nature of their hardship.
The lead mouse, Whiskers, had called for this great assembly. Outside the massive oak doors that housed the enclave were dozens of deputy mice who went about their daily administrative tasks on behalf of the approximately 20 black mice with the piercing, scholarly eyes. Exchanging small courtesies, they strained to listen to the muffled sounds coming from within the room. It was not the usual state of affairs, this brotherly call to arms. Their own part in this meeting was freighted with anticipation regarding the outcome.
Whiskers swept his gaze across the conference table. With a gaze that was both paternal and stern, he began to speak: “We have endured greater than 1,400 years of oppression. Our leadership has remained firm throughout the centuries in spite of acts of murder, torture and imprisonment. These things have not changed us as a people but they have made us into the people we have become. And because of our hardships we have learned how to survive. Our moral compass was established in Karbala and we found our voice through the words of a strong woman who stood against the tyranny of the hour.”
Squeaks of excitement erupted around the table. The mice ceased their feasting on plates that contained an odd number of dates. They daintily wiped their lips. One of the mice wiped the corners of his eyes as he remembered the travails of his ancestors and the challenges that remained. The conference of the mice was now officially engaged in a time of consultation and each one would have his say.
One of the more senior mice, known by his flair for drama, began to speak, “The American Bobtail is moving about again. This always means trouble for us. The Russian Blue is on our side as is the Dragon Li. But on the side of the American Bobtail is the Arabian Mau. In this latest venture, the duo seeks to target the comfortable nest we have made for ourselves in the land of Syria. We must not allow this to happen. Just as the Arabian Mau enacted their treachery years ago, they continue along the same deviated path. They align with the Bobtail in malice against us. But the people of the house maintain their own house. We will not allow the outcome to be determined by these enemies of the mice. We will not allow Syria to become as the land of Fadak!” At the mention of Fadak, hearty cries were heard round the table.
Another mouse began to speak almost as soon as the previous mouse was done speaking. Although he sported the decaying teeth of a mouse with advanced age, his tone was measured and strong: “The Bobtail sees us in the weakened state of a young Sajjid. But they would do well to focus their attention on the Hazrat Mahdi. We rule, based on our posture toward Intizar-e-Faraj.”
Just the mention of the Hazrat Mahdi caused tails to fly into the air and nostrils to quiver, as if picking up a scent. One of the youngest of the black-coated mice clapped his paws together in glee. “We are like the Ark of Noah! We shall be saved and we shall never drown.”
Whiskers raised his head ever so slightly, and again, all of the mice fell silent: “The American Bobtail and the Arabian Mau do not fear anything but the greater might. They would do well to consider the lessons from Surat al-Fil.” The mice looked at each other knowingly.
The room suddenly felt as if it were suspended in time. An emotional current began to link the black-coated mice seated around the table. It was the moment for which they were prepared. Black-coated mice travel into the past to view the present. As they plunged together into the deep abyss of history, with its churning waves and white-capped foam, they experienced an exhilarating emotion. A chant formed on their lips. Deeper and deeper, the mice descended to a place of utter desolation. As they moved together as a centrifugal legal force, a different centrifugal force began to create a fissure in the earth. Rising out of this chasm was what appeared to be a black corkscrew. Those who saw this phenomenon swear that it resembled the face of death. Then the corkscrew exploded across the sky as a large flock of carrion.
As the black-coated mice returned to the present, a deep calm settled across the room. A voice in the corner began to recite again and again in a moderate voice: “God holds the keys to the treasures of the unseen; none is aware of the unseen except him.”
Whiskers raised his head to speak one final time: “Regarding Syria, is it fitting that the American Bobtail and the Arabian Mau should mould the leadership of our house? Our truth lies in Ghadir Khumm. Our present is no different than our past. We have now ended our time of consultation. You are free to return to your jurisdictions.”
As the thick oak doors swung open, the deputies arose from their seats to stand in rank. The entourage of each of the black-coated mice moved toward their fleet of vehicles. The deputies could be seen politely opening and closing the doors of their Marj’a. As the last vehicle departed, Whiskers was overheard saying to his aide de camp, “Is there any air more pure than the air within Qom?”
Tammy Swofford is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal.