Ode to Aftabeh


Ode to Aftabeh
by Fathali Ghahremani

In 2006 I remembered and posted a 40-year-old poem written by an American called "Ode to a Persian thunder mug". In the introduction I wrote, "Put it on the web let’s see if anyone can claim it." And it worked. Last week the co-author wrote me this email:

Oddly enough my late mother and I wrote that poem while living in the Point Four transient apartments shortly after my father had been posted to Tehran, Iran back in 1962. I'm glad your memory is better than mine, because I'd long ago lost any copies!

Dad had his secretary type it up and mimeographed, after which it became rather widely circulated. I even found copies posted at the American Club, the Iran-American Society, and other odd places! :)

Bill Leaming

My reply to Bill:

Thanks for getting back to me.  I was working strictly off of memory and no doubt got some of the wording wrong.

It would be a great if I could get a copy of the original, but I doubt if any of the original mimeographs are lying around.

I hope you have duly informed Iranian.com to make sure the authorship is corrected.


I have no pleasant memories of the Persian thunder mug
The throne room in each household where you go to pull the plug.

It’s a square of ceramic measuring nearly three by three
With two serrated foot steps which you squat on buttock dangling free

It all slopes to rear of center where there is a forbidding drain
Right above which is a flush tank that is operated by a chain

Instead of toilet paper there is a weird kettle with a spout
Which sits under a faucet from which cold water pours out

It is usually in a corner frequently dark and out of sight
The smell from which will give the strongest an awful fright

The tragedy happened one evening on the way to my home
It was really quite fortunate since I was traveling all alone

I had a queasy feeling that was uncomfortable at best
I thought if rushed home I could put the matters to a peaceful rest

As I entered my stomach did a flip flop and tied itself in knots
I knew for certain that I contacted a case of Tehran Trots

I rushed to the bathroom with my trousers at half-mast
Where I squatted in discomfort thinking the danger past

I reckoned incorrectly cause I had barely squatted there
The jet propulsion started and it splattered everywhere

I tried to clean a bit and half rose to pull the chain
And the contents of my pockets went tumbling down the drain

I retrieved the most important not too happy as you can see
Wondering how this could happen to a poor bloke such as me

I washed-up as best I could with the faucet and the pot
Cursing shamelessly at what had suddenly become my lot

I cursed the architect designer and his twisted wicked mind
The maker of this contraption with no place for your behind

So I damned the guy who designed it as I crept up to my lair
May his hell be that toilet and may he rot forever there!



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hamsade ghadimi

ode to aftabeh

by hamsade ghadimi on

you have to say this instrument has the best name in the world: little sunshine.  and how fitting it is that you can use it where the sun never shines.

Jeesh Daram

very nostalgic

by Jeesh Daram on

1962 to 2006 and then 2010, it reminds one, of a "message in the bottle" type of incidents. So interesting.


Jahanshah Javid

American-Iranian reunion

by Jahanshah Javid on

I am glad you two found each other. I love little cultural items like this, especially involving foreigners who lived in Iran before 1979.

Bill, if you wish to share any memories or photographs from your days in Iran, I would love to feature them. They can rebuild the bonds between our peoples.