I felt conflicted and torn and drawn to him. In any other situation I would have enjoyed him with zeal and tenderness. It had nothing to do with morality police or culture or religion. He was in a critical stage of maturity and I felt tugged back by yarns of restraint from my own past. I had never slept with a virgin but non-virgins had slept with me and I couldn’t take such a memory from him or leave such a powerful imprint behind. His first sex deserved a framework of understanding and love.
I reached inside the folds of his trousers and he let out a little cry of ‘Joonam’. He seized my wrist as I closed my fingers around him and clutched my shoulder with his other hand. I pressed my cheek to his and felt his damp forehead against my face. His nails dug into my collar and his breath came in quick gasps. I bit down on my lip to stifle a little yelp of pain as he let go of himself. At last he laid his head on my shoulder and as his breathing slowed he pulled me against his chest, wrapping his arms tightly around me.
We straightened out our clothes, I fixed my scarf and we emerged into the dim light of the passageway; again into the ancient streets of Yazd.
When we arrived at Vahid’s house his mother greeted us at the door with kisses and I was surprised to see that she wasn’t wearing her scarf. She looked considerably younger and was actually rather pretty. She wore dangly silver earrings and her eyes were lightly ringed with kohl. I had never seen her without her scarf before, she’d even worn it to sleep during our afternoon naps.
“Mom was so worried about you,” Vahid said after their brief exchange of Farsi. “I told her about the police and she thought you must have been really scared.” I gave her a reassuring hug and shook my head. She smiled and ushered us into the living room where the sofreh was already set out with plates and cutlery.
Vahid took the place next to me on the floor and we all watched the news on TV as we ate. Vahid’s parents wasted little time for ceremony. Conversation was kept to a minimum and meals were not long, drawn out affairs. Compared to the long hours of braising and steaming and the elaborate garnishing and decoration that went into preparing Persian food, the act of sitting and eating was brief and perfunctory.
As his parents ate with their eyes glued to the screen, Vahid and I behaved with a new attentiveness that was strange and invasive. As my plate became empty he refilled it with rice. I tugged out the best pieces of chicken for him. We topped up each other’s glasses with water infused with rosehip and basil seeds and shared handfuls of chives and mint. It wasn’t flirtatious or suggestive, it was familiar and tender. We would share many meals like this in his parents’ house, tending to each other like an old married couple. During all these shared meals, these intimacies that passed between us went unnoticed by Vahid’s parents. They simply ate and watched their television in self-absorbed silence.