It was the first Tuesday of the month of Mehr. The school year had just begun all over Iran. We were in our 9th grade classroom discussing our new teachers and the curriculum until one of my classmates said, “Have you guys heard about our Technical Drawing (Rasm e Fanni) teacher, Mr. D.? The rumor has it that he is a child molester (Bacheh Baaz)! He likes to rub himself against the kids’ bodies!”
Almost everyone stopped for a second and tried to figure out what it all meant. In Iran, sexual perversion and child molestation were considered more like a disease or character flaw than a major crime. And the people who committed such acts were regarded more like drug addicts or socially undesirables than serious criminals. So you basically learned more than anything else to stay away from them.
As the bell for the 2 o’clock class rang everybody rushed to their seats. In our high school, when the classroom bells rang, you had to empty the hallways and rush to your classrooms. Then the teachers would come out of the principal’s office with the class register (daftar) in their hands and would go to the classrooms.
A couple of the students who were more brave, stuck their heads out of the classroom and tried to see what Mr. D. looked like. In a strange way, we were all excited to see what this guy was all about. There was a certain sick thrill about the whole thing. It was like watching somebody jumping off the bridge!
As he walked into the class, Mobser told every one to stand up; Barpaa, and then to sit down; Barjaa. The class was quiet. We were watching his every move. He wrote his name on the chalk board. He then wrote down the list of things that we had to get; drawing boards (takhteh rasm), Tee, special paper and a few other things. We carefully wrote everything down. He then stood in front of the class with his hands deep in his pockets. He started to slowly rock back and forth, on his toes and his heels. My classmate sitting next to me elbowed me gently and whispered; “Look at him, he is playing pocket billiards!”
نگاش كن داره بيليارد جيبى ميزنه
Mr. D. then told our Mobser to do the attendance. Mobser read the names in alphabetical order, one by one. As the names were read and the students replied “present”, Mr. D. checked everyone thoroughly. He fixed his eyes on the kids like a hungry lion staring at a herd of unsuspecting zebras in Serengeti!
When Mehran’s name was called, Mr. D. took his time to look him over. Mehran was a chubby kid that sat in the second row. He always had his hand up when teachers asked questions. His notebooks were always tidy and neat. He was also the only kid in the class that brought peanut butter and jelly sandwich as snack or lunch. The rest of the kids usually had Kotlet or Kaalbaas (mortadella) sandwiches. My classmate next to me whispered again. “Mehran is doomed!”
For the rest of the hour, he was at the board, drawing three dimensional pictures. We all stayed unusually quiet waiting for something to happen.
The following Tuesday, there was a buzz in the classroom. Every body had brought their drawing boards and other tools. We were all excited about learning how to use the Tee and almost forgot about Mr. D.’s reputation.
Our classroom had two long rows of benches. Four students sat on each bench, two in the middle, and the other two on the outside. There was a narrow isle in between the benches. Also, there were isles in between the benches and the walls. There was not enough room on the benches to place all four drawing boards side by side and do the work. Mr. D. told the students who were sitting in the middle of the bench to remain seated and put the boards in front of them. He then told the students who were sitting on the outside to stand up with their backs to the isles and place their boards perpendicular to the bench. This way all four boards would fit on the bench. The arrangement created congestion in the narrow isles, since the students were standing up with their backs to the isle and working on their drawing boards.
Mr. D. then sprung into action. As he was walking up and down the congested aisles to look at the students’ work or to answer questions, he would rub his body against everyone. It was like moving through a crowded bus or train pretending that you are trying to get off. It did not take us too long to figure out what he was up to. As he was walking down the isle, students started moving away, turning around or do whatever they needed to do to avoid body contact with him.
About a week or so later, I don’t know who came up with a poem for Mr. D. It was based on a very famous Persian poem that every student knows by heart.
One of the students changed a few words and came up with Mr. D.’s poem
بوى ِ كون ِ بچه ها آيد همى چيز ِ ما را تا ميان آرد همى
“The constant aroma of kids’ butts Makes me half excited”
The short poem spread through the class like wildfire and became Mr. D.’s song. For the rest of the school year, every Tuesday afternoon before Mr. D.’s class, we all sang his song and laughed until Mobser told us to be quiet. I am not sure if he ever heard us sing his song.
Humor was our way of getting back at him. At that age, we were not young enough to complain to our parents, and not old enough to confront him ourselves. So, we dealt with it the only way we knew; first to avoid any contacts with him and secondly, to ridicule him. For the rest of the year, we never asked him any questions, as not to give him an excuse to come to the back of the class. And he spent most of his time either at the board or at the first couple of rows.
The following fall, as the new school year began, I ran into my cousin Kamyar in the school yard. He had just started the 9th grade. I asked him who his teachers were, and shared my experiences with him. Then all of a sudden, I remembered Mr. D. “Who is your Rasm e Fanni teacher?” I asked. “Mr. D. Do you know anything about him?” “Be careful. He is a Bacheh Baaz!” I laughed.
Then I told him the whole story about Mr. D. and his tricks. Kamyar was quiet as he was processing all this information.
“We had a song for him. Make sure that you tell your classmates about it.” I chuckled.
بوى ِ كون ِ بچه ها آيد همى چيز ِ ما را تا ميان آرد همى
As Kamyar walked slowly towards his building, I thought to myself; “I have done my job. I have passed the torch to the next class of 9th graders.”