A geography lesson

This is Masoule


A geography lesson
by Ali Ohadi

[In Persian]

Masoule is a village, settles on the slope of Alborz mountains.

Masoule lies up about 800 meters above the sea.

The houses in Masoule are pinned to the belly of the mountain as the roof of the below house is the yard of the above house.

In between the houses in Masoule, where ever the slope of the mountain permitted, lie small paths for residents to approach their residences.

From somewhere at the top of the mountain, a narrow water pours down intensely through the rocks, flows to the beneath of Masoule’s feet, down in the valley, prolonging to the sea, way off Masoule.

The symphony of murmuring water echos everywhere through the alleys of Masoule.

There are settled or hanged pots of plants and flowers out or in front of the windows all over Masoule, in which most of them are shepherd’s needle.

In one of the houses in Masoule which glues to the belly of the mountain, live a family of a widow with her three children.

Maryam, the youngest in the family, is 12 years old.

Maryam is attending to the first class of the only secondary school in Masoule.

Maryam knits small poppets at her free-times and pin them on a cardboard. She has learned knitting at the school.

Every afternoon when Maryam is back home from the school, she takes the cardboard and goes out.

Maryam used to sit on the little platform in front of the door, until the sunset. She sells her poppets to tourists and visitors, 200 toomans (25 cents) each.

Maryam believes in Islam and Imam, not letting tourists take any photo of her.

In a rather warm June morning, I buy a poppet from Maryam for 400 toomans. Maryam looks at me and the notes surprisingly. She smiles and let me take some photos of her.

As I want to leave, she sends her greetings to my wife.

- “I don’t have any” I say.

Maryam looks at me wondering, asking me: “How do you live then?”

I don’t know what to say to Maryam whom in her 12 years’ life hasn’t been out of Masoule at all. Up til this moment I haven’t thought either how I could live without a wife!

Maryam is still looking at me, expecting some explanation, or some excuse maybe!

I ask her if she will marry me. Maryam laughs.

For a while her look goes around on the houses which are glued to the mountain. Because I’m still waiting there looking at her, she says with a shame:

- My father won’t give me to you.

- “But what is wrong with me?” I ask her. Maryam looks at her poppets and mumbles:

- You’re older than my father!

As I look at her without a word, Maryam adds:

- You’re as old as my grandfather.

- “What’s wrong with me if I’m born a few years earlier” I ask her.

Her face turns red: “Nothing is wrong with you.”

She looks around again and says I should choose a girl who’s graduated of school. She points to one side with her head:

- “Zahra has finished her school” Maryam says while laughing.

I look to the direction Maryam points. Few meters away from us, a girl wrapped in materials, is standing in front of a whort door. When I look at her she plunges in the hole and closes the door.

Maryam laughs again: “See! she likes you!”

- Don’t you like me, then? I ask Maryam.

“Yes, I do!” she answers ... “but I can’t marry you. I have to finish my school first”.

I tell Maryam that I can wait for her.

- You’ll be dead then. Says Maryam.

My laugh echoes in the narrow alleys of the village.

I notice a woman at a window above our heads, witnessing our talk. She smiles, telling me apologisingly that Maryam is engaged with her cousin. The woman says they are going to marry in two years.

Maryam touches her poppets gently.

- “But Maryam has not finished her school then”. I try to communicate with the woman in the window whom supposed to be Maryam’s mother. The woman looks at the water which runs away to the bottom of the valley, shrugs her shoulders and disappears in the darkness behind the window.

Maryam’s look comes up to my shoulders for a while, follows the bed of the water through the rocks down in the valley. It continues far from Masoule, joins the river, ends to the Caspian Sea.

I’m not married yet.

I’m waiting in a café along the water, down the valley, looking forward to Maryam become graduated from the school!

[In Persian]


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Ali Ohadi

سلام به همگی

Ali Ohadi

چه خوب شد که من سری به این بخش نظریات زدم، و ضمن شرمندگی از این همه لطف، از خواندن برخی نظریات، یک کدو تنبل روی سرم سبز شد!!!

در مورد "خواندن متن" و "داستان" و "روایت" و "قصه" و "طنز" و... البته تفاوتشان با واقعیت، چیزی ندارم بگویم، چون تصور می کنم "خواننده"همه ی اینها را خوب می داند، انشاء الله.

اما در مورد قضاوت در باره ی آن مرد چهل پنجاه ساله و "پدوفیل" بودنش و ووو

یاد یک لطیفه ی قدیمی افتادم

مردی روی لبوهای داغ یک لبو فروش دست گذاشت و گفت؛ عجب اناری

لبو فروش نگاهی کرد و گفت؛ معلوم می شود انار را هم نمی شناسی

مرحمت زیاد


Lighten up people!

by Majid on

I think most of you took the story teller wrong!

By no mean I see him as a pedophile, this is a light hearted story of an innocent conversation between a torist and a local young girl.

You've got to be kidding me if you really think he sits there in the cafe waiting for her to graduate from school !

I liked this story and please don't go ahead and label me as such!

P.S. Read the Persian version, you might think differently.



by Anonymous...WOW (not verified) on

WOW...lighten up.

All these references to what "Westerners" would think or worrying about how "they'd" interpret this is very revealing of insecurities those who left comments have.

You have to read in the context of the culture something takes place in not where you are (LA?).

The little girl's remarks reveal her innocence. He's not "hitting on her." He's making light of a possible concern of his that, at his age, he still hasn't married. FYI, he's completely joking about marrying her at the end. It's supposed to be funny.

If you do not get his humor, I'd venture that you have been outside of Iran for quite some time or exposed to so-called "modern/Western" ideas so much that you find your ancestral society's culture strange. It's not my intention to say there is anything "wrong" with that, but please do recognize that you are interpreting poorly.

As a side-note: I was born and raised in the US and I did not think twice about anything in the story until reading the comments.


not sound nasty in persian...

by zib (not verified) on

I just read the Persian version. It does not sound as weird in Persian.
It kinda sounds like a satire on life more than what it sounds like(nasty) in English!
Hope I am right!


This is a joke a commedy

by zib (not verified) on

This is a joke a commedy kinda thing ...but in a very wierd way.... it can't be true... it falls under fiction!


yes, norm among some kurdish people

by mom (not verified) on

even among the so called educated ones!


is this a joke?

by IRANdokht on

Couldn't this man have a nice civilized conversation with the little girl like any grown up should deal with a child? and without hitting on her so shamelessly? Even the same conversation could be ok if it was done light-heartedly, but from the last sentence, it sounds like he was actually serious!!  

No wonder these akhounds think a girl can be married at 9!  I guess this disgusting behavior is considered normal to some.

Oh shoot nakoneh he is one of those US citizens who go to Iran to find themselves a young wife!!!   Now I feel sick...



What the hell is wrong with this guy?

by Rez (not verified) on

I have two words for this guy. HUMAN RIGHTS. She's twelve years old for God's sake and a forty- something wants to marry her? What's worse is he's pressuring her into it. I honestly see where the distorted western image of the Middle East comes from. I hope the Iranian government takes his citizenship and calls it a day, just to save themselves some embarrassment that people like this still exist.


That's CREEPY man!!!

by Blue-eyed Canadian Sheik (not verified) on

You are right Ali P. I read part of Ali Ohadi's story, but stopped because it was giving me the creeps. Why would a middle-aged man find it pleasurable to frighten a little child with such ideas? If someone did that where I live he would be run out of town, or beaten up by the child's parents or by bystanders, or would be arrested by the police and put in jail.

There is a word to describe this type of behaviour: pedophilia. No matter what you call it, it's not acceptable whether or not it is illegal in one's culture.

Creepy, man, very creepy.

Ali P.

Yeh rooz ghazveeneeyeh, yeh bacheh ro...

by Ali P. on


This reminds me of an Iranian friend, once asking me to help him translate one of our "hilareous"jokes, about 'Ghazvinis' and kids, to our American friends.

"Dude...just don't!", was my reaction .

This could be totally innocent, fiction, but,a forty something-I
presume-meeting a 12-year-old, liking her ( as a love interest!), and
finally agreeing to wait for her to finish ( I hope to God, at least
high school) to marry her?

I guess it could be viewed as a cute love story...IF IT WAS HAPPENING 1400 YEARS AGO IN SAUDI ARABIA!!!

(Unless I am missing something here, making a fool out of myself! And I do hope, this is the case)

I don't know...I know sometime girls mature faster in some
parts of Iran. As as long as you don't act upon your intentions,yet,
you are not guilty of anything. In a society with the history of old men marrying children, even fictionally refering to this phenomenon, may not be tasteful. But hey, maybe I have been in the West too long.


Eh,...good luck, I guess.



Ali P.

P.S. I bet many Persian-reading readers "get" you, than English-readers would.