Every day the yakhie would come with his olaagh
October 1, 1999
I remember I would stand by the door holding a dozaari waiting
to hear the sound of the yakhie from the pich-e kucheh before
darting out of the house to be the first one on the block to buy our daily
chunk of ice.
My father was transferred to Ahvaz when I was four years old. At the
time not too many would volunteer to move to the south. But he was promised
a better salary and, most important of all, a brand new house built for
Against my mothers wishes who used to call it exile rather than a transfer,
we moved to Ahvaz. But as soon as we got there we found out that our new
home in a housing complex called Chelohasht Bangele (bungalow, a term left
from the British colonial days) was still under construction and would
not be ready for another year.
We rented a house just a few blocks away from the Ahvaz train station
and started a new life in an environment that was alien to us, with no
family or friends to make the transition easier.
There was a lot to get used to. I still remember when I heard the word
hobbo hobbane for the first time and could not stop laughing. It
sounded so funny and I kept repeating it until my mother stopped me with
one of those looks that we are all familiar with!
I was more amused when I actually saw hobbo hobbane delivered
to our house a few days later. A part from the housing complexes built
for the national oil company, customs and military staff, the city of Ahvaz
did not have a piped water network and hobbo hobbane was the only
way to purify water for drinking.
Every day around nine in the morning the yakhie would come to
our neighborhood with his olaagh loaded with blocks of ice wrapped
in guni. As a four-year-old with no friends nearby, seeing the yakhie
was the highlight of my day. After I paid for our yakh with
a shiny dozaari, he would carry it inside the house. And then the
fun for my brother and I would begin.
We had to break the ice to smaller chunks, some for drinking, some for
our ice box and some for us to play with. We would hit the ice with the
ice pick and watch the little pieces fly and sparkle in the air. We would
stick our hands and tongues on the ice and rub each other's faces on it
if we got a chance!
Usually one could hear my mother's voice a few houses away screaming:
"ZELZELEH BEGIRI DOKHTAR! NAKON HEYFEH!"
Sometimes we would follow the yakhie from house to house and
count the number of drops of water on the street and we could tell who
bought how much yakh. In those days our toys were simple and our
As I was getting used to our kucheh and discovered all of its pich
o kham, our house in Chelohasht Bangele was ready and we moved just
across the railroad tracks to a new area with wide streets and new houses
which looked very much like some of the old suburban homes here in the
U.S. The mysteries of kuchehs and daluns was replaced with
rows of identical homes.
It took us a while to get used to the new environment which had its
own to offer. On our first Noruz in the new house, my father gave me a
bicycle. I was the first girl on the block to own one and I learned to
ride it on the soft sands behind our complex.
We watched our garden grow as we planted new young trees. Years later
I would steal khaarak, study for exams or read poetry with my friends
under the shades of the same trees.
We were also the first family in Chelohasht Bangele to buy a yakhchaal
barghi and many of our neighbors came by just to see the new electrical
This is how my days of darting out of the house in pursuit of yakh
ended. But I still feel the pleasant chill of my numb fingers as I
share the warmth of days past with you.