By Hamid Taghavi
May 26, 1998
During my fifth grade finals, some friends and I convinced ourselves that the best way to study for our tests was to go to the farming fields in the outskirts of Tehran because fresh air and the tranquillity of nature were more conducive to studying. Or so we justified. And there we went.
We rode our bikes to some vegetable fields by a river, near some hills called "Kooh Sangy." It was one of those lazy days of late spring, when the weather begins to go from warm to hot and the blanched earth greens with weeds and vegetation. There were farms all round on both sides of the river. It was perfect for studying. But first, we had to relax and become mentally ready. So, we bought a watermelon, found ourselves a shady spot under some trees by the river and ate the melon. We fed the watermelon rinds to a donkey nearby whose owner was working on his field.
Later on, when we were exchanging jokes (as part of the mental prepration for the finals, of course) there was a big commotion and we found the donkey's owner in an angry argument with another farmer. Apparently, after eating our delectable watermelon rinds, the donkey had been aroused and had attempted to date the other farmer's attractive she-donkey. No telling if it was the watermelon rinds (aka "Viagra for donkeys") that had done it, or it was just that time of the year.
The owners were separating the donkeys and fastening them to trees while arguing. The he-donkey was objecting to the intrusion by braying and trying to break free. I'm sure his intentions were honorable. Nevertheless, the other farmer whose gheirat had been bruised, was yelling: "Nobody violates my young donkey. Nobody. Who knows what kind of diseases that child-molesting donkey of yours is carrying. You should have tied down your damn donkey so that it doesn't go around trying to ride innocent she-donkeys." Yes. What would the neighbors think?
"It's all your own fault. You shouldn't let your donkey graze near my donkey. My donkey has feelings too. If I was a donkey, and your donkey had come around batting her eyelashes like that, do you think I could contain myself? It's not my donkey's fault that your donkey seduced him."
"My donkey has never seduced anybody in her life. My donkey has never been 'touched.' You just mind your own donkey and let me worry about my donkey."
"Well, if you take care of your donkey the way you take care of your cow, your donkey is going to be the mother of two bastard calves soon."
This accusation immediately infuriated the other owner. He started waving his hands in the air, yelling: "Hey, which infidel told you those calves were bastards? They are prefectly legitimate. It was all arranged. Stop spreading rumors and damaging the reputation of my cow. Me and Mash Hashem agreed between the two of us to let his bull and my cow, you know..."
"Well, if you and Mash Hashem agreed to let your cows, you know... then why don't we agree between the two of us to let my donkey and your donkey, you know..."
"Because my donkey isn't of age. It's not ready to, you know... yet. Besides, if they, you know..., what if my donkey gets pregnant? Then, heaven forbid, the baby-donkey may take after your ugly donkey and I don't want my donkey to have an ugly baby like yours. As if it's not bad enough that my donkey would have to stay home and nurse the ugly baby-donkey instead of carrying loads for me, I'd also have to put up with the disgrace of having a bastard, no-good, ugly baby-donkey. In the meantime, your playboy donkey goes around, still carrying loads for you, eating watermelon rinds and chasing after other she-donkeys."
At this point, the male donkey who couldn't resist the animal magnetism of the she-donkey, freed himself and took off chasing her. The owners stopped arguing and began running after their donkeys. We promptly (and gladly) left our books and ran after the pack to see where the donkey love would lead. The gheirati owner kept hitting the horny donkey with his shovel, but the power of love was stronger than the shovel blows of a protective owner. The he-donkey would not give up his quest for some youknow. They ran through fields, and other villagers following the donkeys, and we followed the farmers, and some other villagers followed us.
"Bi-sharaf, let go of her," yelled the he-donkey's owner to his animal while throwing rocks at him. "You've disgraced me."
"Get your ugly donkey off my donkey," yelled the she-donkey's owner to the other farmer while landing more shovel blows. "I just washed her this morning."
"Mash Ya'ghoob, have pity on him," yelled some lady. "For God's sake, let him start a family. The poor beast is rotting."
By now, we kids were tired and stopped while the rest kept on running, donkey after donkey, farmers after donkeys, villagers after farmers. It was a story of two lovers caught tragically in a family feud, much the same way as Leily and Majnoon, Romeo and Juliet, Hatfields and McCoys. Sadly, we, the inquisitive pupils of science, never found out if the he-donkey and the she-donkey ever, you know...
* Also by Hamid Taghavi
* Divine food: The life and times of tahDig