One hot summer day, to be precise, one Friday the thirteenth of August, at about a quarter to three in the afternoon, two people met for the first time.
Faati and Hadi loved each other. Everyone knew their love story, the way they had met, the long and hard battle Hadi had had to fight to have Faati’s hand in marriage, and their very special marriage of 25 years. The two of them were inseparable. Faati couldn’t bear children and in their religious families throughout the years there had been immense pressure for Hadi to divorce Faati or to remarry, so that he could have a child. Hadi angrily rejected all such talk and continued his devoted life with the beautiful Faati. He would always tell her not to worry about a thing, because he would always be with her and take care of her.
When Hadi suffered a massive heart attack and died suddenly at 51, Faati was devastated. Sad and lonely, every Friday morning she would take several buses to arrive at Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery to visit Hadi’s grave, each time carrying a small bag containing rosewater and flowers. She would lovingly wash the tombstone first with water and then with rosewater, put the fresh flowers she had brought from her small garden on Hadi’s grave, sit there, talk to him and cry. She would finish her weekly ritual by noon and take all those buses back to her small house on Hafez Avenue.
A whole two years had gone by, when one Thursday night Faati received unexpected guests from out of town. In the morning, she had to wait for her guests to wake up and serve their breakfast and see them off. She was feeling anxious about running late with her “date” with Hadi. Her guests took their sweet time and by the time they left it was already 11:00 o’clock. Faati took her buses and arrived at the Cemetery at around 2:30 p.m. She started her ritual of washing the grave in a rush, anxious to make up for lost time, lest Hadi would be worried about her whereabouts.
A man was silently praying at a grave in the next row. When he was finished, he came over and greeted Faati. She had never seen this man before and was irritated at his sudden appearance in the middle of her ritual. The man told her that his wife had also died a few years ago, and that every Friday afternoon he came to visit her gravesite. Once in that area of the cemetery, he said he always noticed Hadi’s grave so clean with the beautiful flowers on top. He said he had always wanted to see the devoted visitor of that grave, and this was the first time he had been able to see her. Faati was polite but short with the man, who kneeled to do a Fateheh prayer on Hadi’s grave. The man who introduced himself as Habib waited patiently a few steps away and when Faati was done with her ritual, he asked her if he could give her a ride into town. Late and exhausted, Faati accepted the ride.
A year later, Faati and Habib got married. They would go and visit the gravesites together now, knowing by now that Habib’s wife and Hadi had both died on the very same day three years ago.
This is a true story. Forgive me for the slight change in the opening sentence; it couldn’t be helped.