Mr. S was a well-built big man in his late fifties who lived with his wife on the first floor. Unlike other men his age who used to sleep late and rest for long hours, Mr. S was known to be waking up early in the morning, jogging and playing volleyball with the youngsters in the neighborhood. He had a shop a few blocks away from his apartment where he worked till midnight. His children were all married and lived their separate lives in Esfahan and Tehran. Every once in a while his children would come to look in on their parents and stay for a few days in Shiraz, bringing their kids along.
Ensy always felt a kind of warmth emanating from Mr. S when she saw him. He always gave her a big smile, pinching her cheeks and saying nice things to her. Once or twice when the little girl happened to be climbing the stairs he materialized out of nowhere, offering her a candy and softly caressed her hair. He always called her by names like rabbit or mouse and other pet names. Sometimes when Ensy and Jomee were walking in the alley, they saw the boisterous Mr. S playing balls with some young guys. Ensy could not take her eyes off this vivacious middle-aged man who unlike her dad, was always in command, ordering and shouting everyone what to do next. When he saw them he would run forward pinching and kissing on Ensy's cheek before rushing back to his post in the court. While Dad was always too busy with his business and numerous love-affairs to pay his daughter any attention, Mr. S would always brighten up whenever he saw Ensy. He would usually titillate her palms and armpits to make her laugh. Once or twice he picked her up and gave her a crush, planting warm and wet kisses on her neck while Jomee watched amusedly.
It was one of those sweltering summer afternoons in Shiraz. Jomee was taking a nap in the living room and the bored girl decided to go out to the yard and find a kid to play with. She had barely reached the first floor when the door to Mr. S's apartment opened and he stood in the doorway, wearing a sleeveless white underwear and a pair of boxer shorts. Upon seeing Ensy, he smiled and came forward to caress her cheeks with the back of his furry fingers. Unlike Dad his chest and legs were covered with thick black hair too. He bent down and blew the bang off her face to look into her eyes.
“What are you doing here? Don't you ever sleep in the afternoon?” he whispered kindly. Ensy shook her head.
“Do you want to play with me?” reaching out for her hand, he almost begged. She nodded and took his hand. Soon she followed the big man into the apartment and the door closed behind them.
Ensy felt sick for the first few days after that encounter with Mr. S in his place. She did not have a clear picture of what had happened. One moment he was showing her some photos and the next moment his hands were pawing and clawing at her flesh. He was kissing her on her neck and shoulder moving toward her face and at the same time his hands were busy finding its way under her skirt and into her panties. He was kissing her skin here and there and he was touching her there. She wanted to break free and get out of his grasp. Although her ordeal could not have lasted for more than half an hour, for Ensy it took a lifetime to get out of that sweaty embrace. She was disgusted by the way his hairy hand touched her private parts and his red wet lips raped her mouth.
She was feverish for a few days after the incident and had problem eating and sleeping. Ensy could not tell any of these to Jomee who worriedly sat by the side of her bed all night long, praying for her improvement. After a few days she apparently felt better, when the fever and dizziness were gone, but a feeling of insecurity quickly took its place. A kind of feeling that never leaves a molested child alone mixed with the sense of guilt. Although nothing more than just half an hour of kissing and pawing had happened but Ensy felt she had committed a great sin. She did not want to admit to it but in the back of her mind she thought maybe she liked it. She had enjoyed the disgusting embrace of the sweaty man down there and that was what tortured her. Ensy never left the apartment by herself from then on. She never left Jomee's side and would not under any circumstances go out of his eyesight whatsoever. She had learned a big lesson. Men should not be trusted.
Years passed and everything in the family had undergone great changes. Dad was rarely home, always away with the women who were always at his beck and call. He did not even try to conceal the fact that he spent the night with a whore and told about his numerous affairs to his friends on the phone while the rest of the family were listening his loud voice in their rooms. Ensy felt so sorry for him. Dad was just trying to find solace in the arms of female strangers and bottles of bootleg alcohol. When Dad did not shack up with some woman in an unknown place he was either asleep or drunk. He had sold his shop and now lent its money to people and the whole family lived on the interest he recieved from the poor borrowers. In less than ten years the handsome, successful businessman who happily lived with his family in a palace turned into an alcoholic loan-shark who cared for nothing but the services he could by from prostitutes.
Jomee who suffered from various illnesses got worse and his condition deteriorated over a period of four or five years. He was still doing all the chores for the family around the house and played the part of a mother as well as a father for Ensy and Salar. He had to have several pills and capsules a day and rest long hours before the TV in the living room. Once he had collapsed before the eyes of Ensy on the ground but refused to visit a new doctor. He had different complications of heart and lung problems and yet had to take care of the two children one way or another.
Salar had grown to be a very handsome young man on the verge of getting his diploma. He remained the same remote and far-fetched brother that he used to be for Ensy, on whose shoulder she could neither rely nor cry. Following her father's footsteps, Salar had a large number of admirers too, with whom he had long chats on the phone with an ever-present wicked smile.
They heard tidbits of news about Mom from here and there. They knew she had a few kids by her second marriage and she was never allowed to contact Ensy and Salar. The last image of her mother for Ensy was that of a tearful woman standing in the threshold of the house with a small suitcase in her hand.
And Ensy… The ugly, dark skinned girl grew up to become a very pretty teenager. Her long soft black hair framed her lovely round face that in turn surrounded her onyx eyes and a pair of luscious ruby lips. The ugly duckling had turned out to be a lovely swan who could catch the eyes of beholders right away. She had a kind of untamed beauty that made young men gasp with widened eyes whenever she passed by. Jeans and casual clothes under the essential long and loose dresses could not hide her magnificent legs and slender hip. She noticed the impact of her wild beauty on people and ordinary passers-by, yet there remained one thing unchanged deep in Ensy's mind and conduct, her distrust of men. She could never forget her childhood abuse by their former neighbor Mr. S, although he had moved with his wife to another house in the city a few years ago. The tell-tale feeling of guilt had not left her alone either. Sometimes in the middle of the night she dreamed she was being touched by a familiar pair of hands and she did not want those hands to stop. And when she woke up in the morning she would feel sick and guilty all over again.
Then one day, when Ensy got home from school, she saw a heavily made up blonde woman sitting on the sofa in the living room, talking to Dad. Dad held up his face to look into Ensy's eyes. “Ensy, this is Shirin. She has come to stay with us and I hope she could be like a good mother to you.” . Dad had chosen to marry one of his whores and had brought her home to live with his two children
Part 1 — — — —