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About the author:
Dr. Maysam Yabandeh is a computer scientist graduated from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland.
Here is a short sample from the book:
“A little cleavage doesn’t hurt anybody,” Lynda shouts. She wears a light blue party dress with a deep, plunging neckline, which she has made by herself, along with a short matching skirt. She also has made a bow tie for Dad and a scarf for Mom but that is for later. It is going to be a lovely surprise.
It took two months to finish the dress, but it is all worth it. She is exhilarated about the admiration that she will get, not to mention the attention. Yes, the plunging neckline is a bit revealing but a little cleavage is quite stylish these days.
“A little!” Mom exclaims, her voice almost squeaky. “You can see the whole Grand Canyon down there.”
“Ple-e-e-ease,” Lynda pleads. “This is it.”
“Honey, don’t you think you are too pretty to dress like that?”
“This is the night. All the school will be seeing me in my new dress.”
“That’s… ah… what I’m afraid of.”
“I… I… I’ll wash the dishes. All the dishes. For the whole month.”
“Ms. Gonzales does the dishes.”
“I’ll do anything. Anything. I… I’ll make you a scarf, with yellow embroidered butterflies all over it; just like the one you loved so much.”
Pursing her lips, Mom tilts her head.
Lynda anxiously awaits a response, her eyes glued to Mom’s lips.
Abandoning Lynda’s gaze in the air, Mom crosses the colorful Persian rug to the fireplace. She adjusts one of the crystal owls she collects, moving it the slightest fraction of an inch. Taking a deep breath, she turns her sullen face back to Lynda. “No means no,” she says, hands on waist.
That is a slap in the face! Lynda did not want to take it this far, but what can she do when Mom is asking for it?
“Oh, I see,” Lynda says, mimicking Mom by putting her hands on her waist. “So it’s OK when you do it, but when it comes to me—”
“I’m the adult and… when did you ever see me showing cleavage?” Mom squeaks, her voice trembling. “In this family, we never do such a—”
“Really,” Mom replies firmly.
Lynda says nothing. Biting her lips and breathing angrily, she returns her mom’s daring glares. After a few moments of staring contest, she breaks the gaze and rushes into her parent’s bedroom.
“Where the hell you think you’re going, young girl?” Mom yells from behind. “Don’t you dare go in there. Hey, I’m warning you.”
Ignoring the warning, Lynda searches the bedroom.
“Aren’t you going to say anything?” Mom whispers to Dad, standing next to her. “Just standing there like a useless cucumber.”
The insult quickly triggers something inside Dad. Raising his head and pumping his chest, he puts on his most serious face, clears his throat, and calls Lynda with a surprisingly soft voice: “Sweetie, do you mind—”
Lynda storms out of the bedroom, holding the family photo album before her. She opens the album, showing a wedding photo. “See. See. Cleavage.”
“That’s… eh…” Mom sputters the words, gulping in between. “That’s different.”
“Different how?” Lynda asks, holding the wedding photo next to her cleavage.
Mom is still silent. A vein pops on her forehead. She must be running out of excuses to try out. Lynda and Dad privately have named it The Scarlet’s vein since the Scarlet Dickinson’s case. It was the first divorce settlement case in many years that Mom had lost, and it took almost two weeks for the popped vein to settle back to normal. Lynda is one inch away from winning this case. Her face celebrates in advance with a victorious smile.
“Answer me,” Lynda says, louder this time. “Different how?”
“That was my wedding day,” Mom says, bursting out. “I was with your Father and close family members. Not with a bunch of horny teens in a silly school party.”
Out of breath, Mom pants. She said what a mother should never say. That is a dangerous territory that she has crossed into.
The early victorious smile wears off Lynda’s face, replaced by a look of unleashed rage. Lynda’s noisy breathing now interweaves with that of Mom.
Dad’s awkward gaze switches rapidly between his wife and his daughter, never quite settling on either.
Tears welling up in her eyes, Lynda swallows hard against the lump in her throat. Gone way beyond touching a nerve, Mom’s unleashed remark has left a deep slash on Lynda’s heart.
“Is that what my Prom is to you?” she asks finally with a trembling voice. “Just a stupid party?!”
“Sweetie,” Dad jumps in when Mom subtly touches his hand with the back of her fingers, “I guess what your mom is trying to say is that the expectations are higher from decent families with deep, cultural roots.”
“Yeah,” Mom affirms.
“In those days decency was a trait well suited for a young girl at your age.”
“Yeah,” Mom affirms more strongly.
“Oh, yeah,” Lynda fires back, turning to Mom. “Then welcome to my era! We are Generation Z, and that’s how we roll.” Lynda proudly gestures to her cleavage.
“Oh, Darling,” Mom cries, throwing herself into her husband’s arms with a dramatic motion, resembling Hitchcock’s 1940’s Rebecca.
Dad soothes Mom, caressing her gently. “See what you did?” he says, his voice hardened, shooting an angry gaze at Lynda. “Happy now? You hurt your mother’s feelings.”
“Oh please,” Lynda says dismissively. “Even in Hollywood, this overly dramatic acting is out of fashion. Watch some new movies for God’s sake.”
Dropping her act, Mom turns back to Lynda. “You talk this way to me, your mother,” she growls. Brows knitting together, she separates herself from Dad’s embrace. “Just because of an Indian boy?” Teeth grinding, a condescending tone crawls into her last words.
Disgusted by the remark, she fixes her cold, dead eyes on her mom. “Now we’re talking,” she fires back. “Here we are again. Your real problem is with Michael.”
“Who the hell is Michael?”
“I think Rajneesh mentioned that before, honey,” Dad whispers softly, leaning down toward Mom. “Apparently, he pretends to be Michael B. Jordan.”
“He doesn’t pretend,” Lynda snaps. “He was ranked the hottest guy in the high school yearbook. He’s really Michael’s look-alike.”
“His eyes, maybe,” Dad argues, “But the nose is a little—”
“Oh my God,” Mom yells at Dad. “Are you seriously discussing this?”
“Is the issue,” Mom continues, “whether Rajneesh looks like Michael Jordan or—”
“He does,” Lynda interrupts. “He really, really does. And don’t you dare tell me he doesn’t,” she expresses her demand in a begging voice.
“Your mother is right, sweetie. You know we love Rajneesh—”
“His name is Michael.”
“I mean Michael. And it was all cool when he would stay the night over to study with you—”
“Hah!” Mom sneers at Dad’s naiveté. Lynda restrains her smile.
Still not getting it, he continues with the same sincere tone.
“But when it comes to real life, you want to pick a man that appreciates how amazing and special you are. Someone from our own people.”
“And Michael is what? From another species. What kind of racist shit is that?”
“Language, Lynda,” Mom warns gently.
“No no no no no no no. I don’t say that because Michael is black, I mean brown, I mean… help me.”
“Indian,” Mom shouts.
“Thank you. Indian,” Dad says, letting out a relaxed breath. “We love Indian food, and you know it. But at the end of the day, they are still different…, culture-wise.”
“Michael knows nothing about his heritage. His favorite food is cheeseburger.”
“Yeah, but still deep inside—”
“His parents are MIT graduates. He was born and raised in Boston—”
“Yeah, but deep, deep inside they are still—”
“Oh for God’s sake. I’m done with this shit. I’m going to Prom with Michael, and I am wearing my sexy dress,” Lynda says, pointing to her cleavage.
“You can’t,” Mom says calmly, looking away.
“Sure I can. I’m wearing it right now.”
“You can’t go to Prom, not with Rajneesh,” Mom continues with the same irritatingly confident tone while turning to Lynda.
“Who’s gonna stop me?” Lynda asks, fear growing in her tone.
“I forbid you.”
“Honey, perhaps—,” Dad interjects.
“You stay out of this.”
“You forbid me? Do I look like a child to you?”
“You are under 18.”
“So?” Lynda says with a trembling voice after gulping.
“By the power vested in me by the state of California,” Mom says in her most formal voice, “I shall involve the law enforcement in the matter should any man, including but not limited to Rajneesh, attempts to take my underage daughter from my house, against my will, a crime punishable by up to 20 years of prison according to California penal code, Section 207.”
Lynda is defenseless when her mom employs her lawyer skills. Like a pitiful puppy seeking shelter, she turns her face to her last resort, Dad. Perhaps he can protect her from Mom.
While flinching, Dad watches Lynda’s pain with sympathy. But sympathy is not enough. With her eyes, Lynda begs for his support. Lowering his gaze, Dad takes a step back, almost behind Mom. Dad’s support is out the window.
Lynda is on her own. Tears running down her face, she holds back a sob and turns to Mom. “You… with your lawyer shit. You always do this to me. You always do this,” she says and runs into her room before she bursts out crying.