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!