Conscription, Convenience, Copulation

Lucinda Palme

Conscription, Convenience, Copulation


Tuesday morning. September. An autumnal month. September is not only a rainiest month but also nicknamed as the rainbow month. Rainbows appear. At times, there will be two rainbows: arch after arch standing next to each other: two crescent moons above and below one another.

Celine Engström sat at the dining table in their rented flat on a second-hand contract. She scoops a spoonful after spoonful of muesli overflowing with milk into her mouth and checks her feed on Instagram. The flood of photos on her Instagram continues to flow uninterruptedly. She watches them. Photos show the weather in Gothenburg: autumn, rain, wind, rainbows, and a spell of sunshine. She likes few of them, ignores many of them. She adds an emoticon of happiness to the photo of two rainbows.

A spoonful of muesli jerks as she tries to put into her mouth but she manages. Milk dribbles from the sides of her mouth dotted with grain and cornflake. She pulls a piece of paper from the roll of tissue paper and cleans her mouth. She gets engrossed again: Instagram. Her phone rings. She ignores. The caller is not on her contact list. The caller’s number is displayed on the screen. She ignores the call. The caller calls again. She dismisses the call. The caller calls again. Irritated, she dismisses the call again. Promptly, the caller sends a text message: ‘Brother’s mother died. Tell Farshad. Thanks, Celine.’

Celine strides in the living room of the single-bedroom flat, surprised and shocked and sorrowful at the death of an unmet woman. She hardly knows anything about the dead woman except she was the mother of her boyfriend Farshad Nabizada. She thinks, why did the caller call me?

Farshad has left half-an-hour ago. He works at a Volvo office on another side of Gothenburg as a member of the technical team in embedded technologies in trucks.

Celine answers to herself, Farshad unreachable? She calls Farshad. There is a dead response from his mobile phone. What happened to his phone? She rings again but no response. She knows, his boyfriend has the habit of spending time not only to excrete in the commode of the bathroom but also reads, checks the social media, talks and listens. Bathroom is his private zone and comfort zone and conducts his personal affairs from there that are not related to their relationship. She finds the phone by the radiator next to the commode in the bathroom, and she picks it up, and puts it to charge in the living room

Farshad Nabizada and Celine Engström are living together. One can say, cohabitation; one can say, fornication. The relationship fulfils convenience and copulation: fosters the needs of their bodies and helps their finances to live like they wanted: eating, travelling, attiring, and partying. The next step in the direction of a marriage or having baby is on their to-do list but who is going to raise the issue has been the unexpressed issue between them: How? When? Who?

Celine gets ready to leave to work at Chalmers University of Technology. She is an administrator in one of the departments. How to reach Farshad, she thinks as she sits by her shoe-rack to choose which pair of shoes to wear out of eight pairs of autumnal wear. Her mobile phone rings, she answers. ‘Selina,’ says the caller. It is Farshad, and informs her about his phone and the news of his mother.

‘I’m sorry,’ she says, ‘at what time are you leaving?’


‘Sorry, your mother…’

‘Spoke to my family,’ Farshad says. He has left Iran a decade ago and has been living in Europe and in Europe he landed in Sweden as a student and progressed towards employment without interruption.

‘Can I come with you to the airport or should I do anything?’

‘I’m not going.’


‘If I go I’ve to serve in the army. My conscription is due.’

‘If you have to serve you have to serve today or one day,’ Celine says.

‘Will talk about that later. Shall we go out for dinner tonight?’

‘If you want to…but,’ she says and goes speechless. ‘Is that important? Are you sure?’



Celine wears her rain-resistant autumnal footwear and gets out of her flat. She walks, and she asks herself: how can you live with a man who doesn’t honour his mother if not his mother country?

—Lucinda Palme