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The Pahlevan and the Adamac

(The Hero and the Puppet)

I wrote the original version of this story as a disguised political story many years ago in my native language. The puppet dictatorship was replaced by another dictorship as I wrote Soon the barbarian hoards attacked and razed the village.

Javad Hashtroudian


The barbarians were getting nearer. Pahlevan (the hero) was getting old. All the young men in the village were challenging him to wrestling matches. They knew that he was the champion, defeating him would be the greatestof honors. Sooner or later one of them was bound to pin him. Yet he could teach them a thing or two before he retired. He needed to find the right novice to teach. Maybe he could groom the next master before his timewas up. But where could he find someone deserving of his attentions? He needed someone with the basic strength of character as well as muscles. His protegee would have to be a youth of potential and chivalry.
In the tea houses and gymnasiums he searched. Pahlevan sought the master to be. A humble and willing student was needed. Power came not just from exercise of the biceps, but gallantry had to be promoted, ethics had to beperfected. A master, first of all, was a master of the self. Only later would come the holds and moves.
In vain he searched. Pahlevan sought one of the old ones, not old in body but of a morality of a time long past. But in those days, in those times, any virtue, that was hard to find. Time seemed to pass faster and faster. Sooner or later he was bound to be pinned, and then by whom? No doubt it would be some ignorant upstart.
He searched and searched. Pahlevan could not give up, but could his old decrepit body keep up? He knew the tricks.He had the moves. His spirit was willing. Yet he was old. All the young men of the surrounding villages were tested. Most were rejected out of hand. Some were good, but good was not quite good enough. A few were excellent, and yet they each lacked that extra something which would set them apart and would make them the right candidate for the next master, the next champion, the new Pahlevan. And the barbarians were soon at hand....
Time was running out. Pahlevan was not getting any younger. Soon he would be gone, and if he did not find a replacement hero, the village could be in jeopardy. As the Pahlevan, he owed it to the villagers to find his replacement.
One day Pahlevan was walking by the sea side. The bright blue sky was reflected in the deep azure of the water. The hot sands were massaging his feet and the crashing surf was music. Pahlevan was feeling good. He had been challenged by the Khan of Ayalati, and he had managed to best him even though it was a great struggle. He was nearly pinned, but at last he had reached deep within his soul and pulled out an inner strength hidden beneath his broken down exterior. A trick here, a pull over there, and the Pahlevan had managed to use the Khan's own greater strength against him to win the wrestling match. The crowed became ecstatic. "Bravo, bravo Pahlevan," they cried out. The Khan, being a decent sportsman, gave a great feast in the honor of the great Pahlevan. There was plenty of free food. Musicians played. Dancers gyrated their midriffs. The acrobats were impeccable. The multitude were pleased.
Now a few days had passed and Pahlevan felt of two minds. He was happy at his victory. Yet now even more aware of his mortality and the danger without, he felt dejected and defeated at the prospect of not finding a suitable replacement. Then he saw the hulk. It was a great tree trunk washed ashore. With difficulty he pulled the tree trunk to his shed and started to carve. He disappeared for a while, and was nowhere to be seen. The Pahlevan used his imagination as the source of his creation and then he was lost in the land of hidden mystical dreams. He prayed day and night to the village gods and other assorted deity. He chiseled and meditated. Soon the Adamac had limbsand arms and a head.
Rumors were spreading thick and fast. Pahlevan had at last found a worthy pupil to teach and to cultivate. When the populace saw Adamac following Pahlevan they all wondered at his muscles and physique. Here was an Adonis embodied in a Hercules. Adamac was a perfect example of manhood. He was strong, heroic and chivalrous. Pahlevan would walk three yards ahead and Adamac would follow with head bowed.
A while passed and at last Adamac had his first wrestling match. Adamac had been an excellent student. He had learned the holds, the tricks and the pins. At first Adamac was beating his opposition but then for a while Pahlevan became tired and lost his concentration and could not guide Adamac. The opponent was tough and gallant. He threw Adamac unto the mat. He twisted his arm. Adamac squirmed in pain. At his scream the Pahlevan jumped up, he moved his hand sharply, shouted something to the Adamac, and encouraged him to pin the antagonist. The crowd roared its approval. They carried the Adamac on their shoulder. They raised him up high.
Soon the fame of the Adamac increased with his prowess and feats of strength. In Isphehan he beat Isphandiar Khanthe great Mogol's great grand son. In Bokhara he bested Amir Ali Mirza the unconquered. In Bombay Adamac obliterated the bombastic Said Yogi. In Baghdad he had an audience with the great Khalif Al Rashid.
After two years of travel Pahlevan and Adamac returned to their humble home in their unpretentious village withmuch honor and glory and tales of heroic deeds. The villagers rushed forward to welcome their heros home. That night the young men of the village drank many toasts in honor of their new champion. Pahlevan was tired and went to bed. Glass after glass of aragh was imbibed. The young men praised the Adamac. He was their hero. He was invincible.They admired the Adamac for being the chosen idol yet they resented his master for rejecting them. Deep in their heart of hearts they knew if only they had been taught by him the glory would have been theirs. They joked and laughed at the Pahlevan. They knew that the Pahlevan was old and decrepit. He was just a parasite living off hisgreat student they kept telling the foolish Adamac. As the night wore on and bottles after bottles of aragh were emptied the conversation became bolder and bolder.
By dawn the village louts had filled the Adamac's head with empty delusions of grandeur. Shortly the Adamac and his followers stumbled out of the may-khaneh and went in search of the Pahlevan. Once and for all they were goingto show him who was to be in charge. Through his drunken haze, Adamac screamed, "Hey, Pahlevan, you coward,where are you? Come and learn your lesson."
They woke up all the villagers as they screamed their way towards the Pahlevan's shack. Pahlevan had tears in hiseyes when he saw the angry Adamac rush towards him. He said, "My son, my life, what has happened to you? Please go to bed. You are tired and you don't know what you are saying."
The crowd still recovering from the previous night's excesses was yearning for a spectacle. "Fight. Fight,"they screamed. Someone brought the mats from the zoor-khaneh. The Pahlevan had no desire to fight the Adamac.He tried to walk away from the bout. The mob surrounded him and left him no room to escape his fate. Every onecalled him a coward. They knew he was weak. They knew he was a foolish old man. They could smell blood. A few ofthe older men tried to help disperse the crowd but it was of no use. Pahlevan ran toward his home. He nearly reached the safety and comfort of his empty abode, but they would not let him escape. They grabbed hold of him, pushedhim back, and threw him into the arena.
The match was to be extremely one sided. Adamac was at the peak of his youth and prowess. He was the paragon ofstrength and vitality. He was the athletes' athlete. He was power and grace personified. The Pahlevan was a poor example of age not knowing when to quit and abdicate in the favor of youth. He did not know his true place in society. In fact, he should have died and been buried many moons past.
Yes, the match was exceedingly one sided. The Adamac threw the Pahlevan around. He kicked him in the stomach even though this was illegal. The ugly crowd roared their approval of this treachery. One hold after the next went by. Adamac played with Pahlevan. He toyed with him. He pretended to be hurt and then he would kick the old manin the kidneys laughing a vicious laugh like a hyena. Soon it was to be over.
The old man was obeying all the rules and rituals of wrestlers of old. He preserved their code of fair play and chiverly. For a moment he was pinned. Soon it was to be over. There was nothing more to do but to surrender to his superior apprentice. He raised his hands to signal his acquiescence and submission, but the crowed would only be satisfied by his total annihilation. Rather than remembering all the times he had championed the village and protected them, all they could remember was the number of times he had pinned them. At last they would have their vicarious revenge. The Adamac hit the Pahlevan once more in the kidney even though this was totally illegal. Tears welled up the eyes of the hero, intermingled with his enfeebled blood. It was no use. There was to be no mercy for him from this crowd. There was to be no mercy for him from this Judas of a disciple. He had to do something to save himself.
Everything happened so fast, that no one could quite explain what happened next. The Pahlevan used a hold of last resort. He performed the one trick he had never taught his apprentice. He whispered some mysterious words in anunknown tongue. There was a flash of light. Some strings were cut. All that was left on the wrestling mat was Pahlevan crying under the morning sun, besides him a pile of fire wood. The crowd withdrew ashamed. "My son... my son...," the Pahlevan whispered.
That was the last anyone saw of the Pahlevan and the Adamac.... Soon the barbarian hoards attacked and razed the village.