“Have you met our new neighbors?” Bob asked his wife.
“Not yet. They just moved in a couple of days ago. After they settle in we should go and meet them.” She responded.
“Where are they from?” He asked.
“They look Middle Eastern to me. But their two girls were probably born here. They speak perfect English. They were talking to April the other day. They got along well.” She commented.
They heard a knock on the door. Bob opened. It was their new neighbor, an old man in a perfectly ironed crisp three-piece suit, “Hello. My son and his family live next door to you. I’m terribly sorry to bother you but may I borrow a pot from you just for tonight?”
“A pot?” Bob surprisingly asked.
“Yes a pot you know to cook food.” He explained.
“Well… I guess so. Kate honey would you come here for a second.” Bob called upon his wife.
She walked to the door, “Hello. You must be our new neighbor. My name is Kate and this is my husband Bob. The little girl who was playing with your kids yesterday is our daughter April.”
“They are my grand children, god bless them they are so sweet. My name is Mr. Amin.”
Bob looked over his shoulder and whispered to his wife, “He’s here to borrow a pot from us.” And chuckled.
Mr. Amin continued, “All kitchen utensils are still in boxes in the garage. My son and his wife both work and they haven’t got a chance to unpack yet. If you let me borrow your pot, I’ll be grateful to you, I’m going to cook for them tonight. Oh, only if my son finds out I’m going to their neighbor borrowing a pot! He never approves anything I do. They always say I don’t understand American culture.”
Kate and Bob exchanged a puzzled look. Bob could hardly hide his sneer, “Can you believe this guy? We don’t even know him and he’s asking for a favor.” He carped.
“Don’t make a big deal out of it. That’s fine, he can use one of our pots.” His wife whispered.
Kate went to the kitchen and came back with a pot and gave it to Mr. Amin.
After he left Bob shrieked, “What else is he going borrow next? We need to draw the line now Kate! He really needs a crash course on American Culture 101.”
Next day in the afternoon, Mr. Amin knocked on their door once again. He thanked Bob and Kate and returned the pot. Before he left, bob lifted the lid and found a little pot inside their pot and asked, “What is this? You borrowed one pot from us how come you’re returning two?”
Mr. Amin explained, “Last night your pot had a baby in our house. The pot was yours so its baby is yours too. Congratulations! Do you like the baby pot Mr. Bob?” Bob could not hide his excitement from hearing this wonderful news from their neighbor, “Oh thank you Mr. Amin. This baby pot is beautiful.”
When Mr. Amin left he said to his wife, “Did you hear this? Obviously Persian pots and pans get pregnant. I learned something new today.”
“He’s an old man and he’s just a guest. This pot isn’t probably his. You shouldn’t have accepted it.” Kate complained.
“No my dear, the pot is ours. According to Mr. Amin my Persian friend, our pot had a baby and I’m going to burp it. What a cute accent he has, where is Persia anyway?” Bob could not restrain his jubilation, “I’m beginning to like this little guy.”
For the next few days Bob told every one of his friends and coworkers the sweet story of how they were blessed with a new baby pot. Oh, the miniature size hand made brass pot looked so beautiful on their shelf. Bob loved his baby. He dusted the pot every morning with a wide smile on his face remembering their simple foreigner neighbor.
As much as they both loved the new baby, its arrival sparked intense arguments between Bob and his wife. Kate believed he should not have accepted the pot as a payback for their favor and her husband adamantly rejected her view, “I could not insult my friend Mr. Amin by rejecting the baby pot. This is his culture, and we must respect that. We should really learn from other cultures my love.” He passionately argued.
A few days later one late afternoon they heard a knock on the door and when Bob opened the door he was pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Amin again, “Hello my friend, come on in.” He practically dragged him inside and offered him a cold beer. “Oh, no alcohol for me Mr. Bob. I’m a devoted Muslim, I don’t want to burn in hell.” Mr. Amin sat down and continued, “I’m terribly sorry to bother you again but I’m in a dire need of a big pot. We have invited our family and friends and need to cook for a large crowd…”
Bob didn’t even let Mr. Amin finish his sentence, “No problem my friend. We have a brand new ten quarts pot that was never used before. You came to the right place. Don’t even bother buying such expensive pot only to use once for a special occasion like this.”
And without consulting with his wife, he left the room and returned with a brand new pot in original packaging and handed it to Mr. Amin, “Who knows, maybe this naughty chubby girl gets knocked up in your house too.” He slyly winked.
“By the way, what does Amin mean in your language?” Bob was eager to know.
“In Farsi, Amin means trust worthy.” Mr. Amin responded.
“So you are Ayraaanian.” As much as Bob was trying to be friendly Mr. Amin was annoyed by hearing the name of his country pronounced so horribly wrong in his presence, “Iran. I am Iranian and thank you for the pot.” Mr. Amin said before he left.
Days passed and they heard nothing from Mr. Amin. Bob impatiently waited another week and still was no sign of Mr. Amin or their pot. Finally Bob and Kate walked to their neighbor’s house to see what happened. Mr. Amin himself opened the door, “Is everything all right my friend? What happened to our pot?” Bob inquired.
Mr. Amin said. “The truth is that your pot became pregnant the first night we had it.” He continued.
“That’s not a bad news. We understand pot pregnancies, it’s not your fault my friend. Just give us our pot and the baby and we’ll take care of it. Is the baby large?” Bob’s face was glowing.
“I hate to be the bearer of bad news but your pot died during labor.” Mr. Amin said with a gloomy face.
Bob was shocked. “Come on Mr. Amin, pots don’t die.” He pleaded.
“Sure they do. Your first pot had an easy pregnancy and delivered a cute baby for you and this one…Oh, what can I say my friend. I think the baby came sideways. I’m so sorry Mr. Bob.”
Kate burst in laughter but the sudden death of a $130 heavy-duty Teflon pot at childbirth was painful for poor Bob. He was devastated, “What a bout the baby Mr. Amin?” He was almost crying.
“Unfortunately, It didn’t survive either. The umbilical cord was wrapped around its neck. Please accept my condolences for your grave losses.” Mr. Amin sympathized with his friend but Bob was paralyzed by the news. He couldn’t even hear him. “Would you like to come in for a cup of freshly brewed Persian tea?” Mr. Amin kindly offered.
And after these enigmatic cultural interactions, Mr. Amin and Bob forged a unique friendship and each inherited a beautiful pot to symbolize this amity, a friendship that transcended the cultural, lingual and generational differences. Mr. Amin was always invited to his parties and one night he caught up in the moment and drank a bottle of cold beer with Bob. After committing this crime however, he burped twice, quickly washed his mouth, and asked god to forgive his sin.
And a few months later, he returned to his homeland but Bob never forgot the lesson of this Persian cooking pot story or his friendship with Mr. Amin.
Based on an Old Persian anecdote