The First Crime

Chapter 1: Childhood in Ahvaz


by Saeed Tavakkol

No one has ever been sentenced to a sever punishment called education as young as I was.

“I don’t know how to punish him anymore, I ran out of ideas, I’ve tried everything.” I heard my mother saying this with tears in her eyes to my father the night before my sentence was carried out.

I was three years old then.

The next morning I was trailing my father with a gloomy face to the Mactab. (Those days in our town, house-wives who had some education taught neighboring children under school age for a small fee in their homes. The curriculum was learning alphabets and listening to the teacher reciting Koran)

As I was following my father, I realized that where I was going could not be a good place. I knew my freedom was to be taken away from me.  For a few hours a day I had to be in a jail called Mactab with a mandatory hard work called learning.

The first day, three older kids and I sat down on the floor and quietly listened to our teacher reciting Koran in Arabic. I could barely speak my own language. After one hour of listening to words of god in a language incomprehensible to me, I politely asked permission to use the lavatory and left the room.

Pee was a bliss. I enjoyed my pee time as long as I possibly could and returned to finish my sentence. And when I did, I tried so hard to stay awake, be a good boy and learn but my eyes were not under my control. They kept rolling up and down and left and right of the little strange room searching for distraction, anything to distract me from hearing the monotonous tone of our teacher.

Suddenly I noticed an unusual piece of garments hanging on the wall and joyfully asked, “What is that?” The teacher looked to where I was pointing and replied, “It’s my husband’s coat.” And I continued, “But it’s too big and heavy. It looks like a mule’s saddle.” Kids burst in laughter and judging by the Mrs. Badami’s facial expression, I knew I’d said something very wrong. I knew well, I would be punished for making others laugh. Punishment was not a foreign concept to me, but how she was going to carry it out was puzzling.

Despite my pessimistic expectation, she demonstrated her kindness by taking me to their small kitchen, locking me in and saying: “You’ll stay here all day until your mother picks you up”. And this mild reprimand filled my little soul with joy and gratitude for my very first educator. After a few minutes that my eyes were adjusted to darkness, I found myself in a very little kitchen with a ceiling blanketed by a thick black layer of smoke generated from the kerosene cooker, a kitchen filled with the tantalizing aroma of Ghormeh Sabzi.

As I sat there in solitary confinement anxiously waiting for my sentence to be over, the delicious scent of stew simmering on the cooker shattered my resistance to hunger. I was lifted by the aroma of the heavenly cuisine and drawn toward the boiling pot. Carefully, I nudged the pot’s led aside burning my hand just to see the heaven with my own eyes.

I swallowed the moisture in my mouth and went back to the corner thinking maybe my real punishment was to be hungry in presence of food. I was drooling over my growling stomach.

I desperately wanted to go home. I was hungry and I didn’t want to learn.  The logic was simple. I couldn’t forgive my parent’s for such cruel punishment. As I was sitting hungry in the corner before the boiling pot, I solemnly vowed to be a good kid if the torment ended immediately. My wish did not come true.

I cried and then fell asleep and when I woke in sweat I was even hungrier.  The waiting prolonged and hunger got the better of me. My solitary confinement seemed as long as a life sentence and hunger was intolerable.

The only way I could survive that torment was to do the wrong thing. This was the first time in my life that I conscientiously made a difficult choice

I lifted the lid and a beautiful piece of meat shone my eyes. Then I carefully plucked the delicious piece of lamb from the top and slowly raised it up to the rim to let it cool and to admire its beauty. I held my sinful beauty up in the air for a few moments longer and opened my mouth to embrace life.

That day, I committed my first and most delicious crime of my life. I gorged the entire piece at once with a great deal of enjoyment and equal amount of guilt. And suddenly the door opened and Mrs. Badami appeared in the frame. The green juice of Ghormeh Sabzi was still running down my shirt, my fingers were all greasy and the lid was off the pot.

She violently plucked me off the ground and threw me out of the kitchen cursing me furiously. She then left the other kids alone in the room, twisted my ear and dragged me all the way home in that embarrassing condition.

I was tip toeing the entire way with my right ear clutched in her left hand. And when my mother opened the door seeing me in that condition I saw my death in her eyes.

I was expelled from Mactab. From that day on I hated school.


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more from Saeed Tavakkol

I never liked school but not

by st (not verified) on

I never liked school but not learning. I always loved to learn.

Check out my web site please. Most my artworks and writings of all sorts are there now.

In Ahvaz I lived on Hafiz and Naderi.


Where was your neighborhood?

by Bacheh Ahwaz (not verified) on

Saeed jan where did you live in Ahwaz? Your story brought back so much memories.

Bianca Zahrai

Very nice!

by Bianca Zahrai on

Thank you for sharing. Although I don't share your disdain for education, I enjoyed reading this piece immensely.