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Khatoon Khanoom
Part 3: Man keh nazadamet
Part 1 / Part 2

November 9, 2004

What brings together Me, Jaafar Jeerjeerak e Harroomm zadeh, Naneh PMM and Ashraf khanoom PMM is Noone e Sangak.

Like I said before, buying Noone was my responsibility. It was also Jaafar's job to buy the bread for his family.

Do you remember Noone e Sangak Forooshi ha?

Well, The Khamiri guy (dough guy), put the bread on the Parroo (Plow) and stuck it into the Tanoor (Stove) -- The Shaater (baker) would pull the bread out when ready, and like a Frisbee, he would throw that hot bread across from his tanoor to a table some 10-15 feet away, closer to the door and Dakhl (cashier). The bread, upon landing on the table which was already covered with sang (pebbles), would drop a lot of its sangs -- We would then flip the bread and take the rest of the pebbles off with the 5 Rialy coin, wait for 10 seconds for it to cool a little, and pick it up and pay the 5 rials to the cashier and leave. Some would sometime wait until the bread lands, take the pebbles off, walk up and pay the cashier, then pick up the bread and leave, giving it more time to cool.

But every kid knew that only the wimps (e.g. Nazok Narenji, BachChe FooFool, also Zaiifeh and sometimes Sholee) did that.
We would even sometime watch adults and had a grin when they did it.

Noone e Sangak rules were:

... Only Bacheh FooFool ha Noone ro ba dastmal or rooz-nameh boland mikardand - It was a taboo to pick up the Noone with anything but your own 6 year old hands

... You were not supposed to fold the bread ke Khameeer Nashe (soggy) Noone e Sangak, would go home unfolded. Unless you were old.

... You are required to pick at the crispy parts, or parts loaded with most Kha'shKha'sh on your way home, and enjoy eating it hot.

... There is something wrong with a Noone e Sangak that makes it home, whole, unless you have guests, but then again, the bread will be cut for the table anyway, so eat that warm tasty bread on your way home, no matter what.

... If you had Maraz Ghandi [For Diabetes], or if you wanted Konjed [with Sesame seeds], you would ask the Shaater Agha, and he would pour a fist full of Khash Khash on yours, the next time he puts the dough in, but you have to wait a little longer. (hmmm ... these words sound pretty loaded: Next time Shaater puts some KhashKhash on your dough, before he puts the dough in ... what were we talking about here, oh bread, sorry).

... For Maraz Ghandi (diabetes) he, the Shaater Agha, would put the bread in special areas of the tanoor a little longer so that it would bake slower and brown more than others - they came out amazingly crisp.

... If you want noone e Konjedi, or, Maraz Ghandi, you would pass the pebble table and walk up to Shaater agha, and tell him. You then stay there, closer to the tanoor, not behind that Sangy Table where everyone else stands, right in front of it and practically next to Shaater agha, so that you would both pay him separately for the KhashKhash or the special Maraz Ghandi, and also because when the bread is ready he would easily know and remember who asked for it, and to give it to.

... There was no distinction between Konjed[Sesame seeds], KhashKhash [poppy seeds] or Dooneh Siah [some flavorful herbal black seeds that looked like Sesame seeds but were black] -- If you asked for Konjed, or KhashKhash, he would put what ever the only one type of see he had available -- In Tehran, it was always sesame seeds.

I was once eating Shokolat e minoo [Minoo Chocolate] which I had just bought for 1 rial. Shaater Agha, as he was passing me, grabbed that chocolate out of my hand and it went directly to his mouth and said: Dast e Shoma Dard Nakoneh [Thank you!] -- He gave me the best bread we ever had that day. After that, I used to buy all the 3-4 bakery men Shokolat e Minoo, probably once a month, for the best bread anyone can get in Tehran -- My Shohar Khaleh [mom's sister's husbad - uncle!] used to compare my bread with my Pesar Khale [my cousin - his son] and always said: Eeen Noon ha ye Bahram Kheili Aalee ye -- Mansooree Hamee she' noonash Khamireh !! [Bahram's bread are the best -- Mansooree's (my cousin) breads are soggy].

Well, that particular day, Jaafar was buying KhashKhashi, and Ashraf khanoom, standing next to him near the tanoor, was buying her regular Noone e Maraz Ghandi. That day also, I was waiting for my turn and I was buying the plain old sangak - I was standing behind the Sangy Table. It was one of those painful days I could not avoid staring at Ashraf khanoom.

Jaffar, being his usual GoH-Self, would pick a pebble/stone from the floor, and would throw it at me and other boys who were standing behind the sangy table. With every stone he threw, we had to dodge because that little stone would hit others on the table and there was a pebble splash. I guess although we knew it was not going to hurt any of us, we were all adamant to avoid being hit by him. It was a matter of dignity and not giving him the satisfaction that he got us.

He would throw, we would dodge, and again and again and none of us would dare to throw a stone back at the sacred Shaater Agha's area.

Anyway, this went on for a while -- Once my blood started boiling, I carefully picked up the best stone I could find on that table, aimed, and threw with all my power. I think in some ways I felt like Arash e' KamanGeer. I was defining territory - I put all of 6 year old self in that little stone and threw.

I watched that piece of rock flying towards Jaffar jeerjeerak, going, going, going, OH MY GAWD it is going too high and went right over Jaafar's head, and hit the boney forehead of Ashraf khanoom standing to his right and behind him, watching us. It made a sound that I heard even from across the NooneVaii -- A sound I will never forget. Clunk! It sounded something like hitting a solid rock with the back of your hand. I was Macaulay Culkin all over again.

My life was over -- Ashraf khanoom was going to kill me and drain my oil! I could not breathe -- I don't think my eyes could get any bigger. I hit Ashraf khanoom, The neighborhood Kalantar, she is going to kill me and hang me in front of our house to teach a lesson to all other kids (Dars e' Adab) when the most amazing thing happened: I saw Ashraf's right arm went up all the way over her head and with all her power, dropped that hand slapping Jaafar Jeerjeerak in the back of his head (Pass e' gardanee). Jaafar hit the floor like the GOH that he was. As he was falling down to the ground, he moaned "man nakardam" and once he was on the ground, his legs and arms went up like a dead bug, in protection, fearing she was going to beat him some more, crying "Chera mizani, man ke nakardam, Oona sang o be toe zadan".

She said: "Agar bara ye toe Haroom Zadeh Nabood, oon ha in sang ro beh man nemizadan farghe Saram ro Beshkanan -- BachCheh Goh! Maghzam ro zadan be khatere toe tarakoondan".

I am not sure if she was revenging years of suffering being Jaafar Jeerjeerak's neighbor, or she knew Jaafar too well, or, she was that fair angel that I felt she was at that moment, that day. She decided instead of punishing us, punishing me va Roghan e Man o' Bekeshe, she had to punish the root of the problem, standing right next to her ... which was exactly what she did -- The rest of us, to Ashraf khanoom that day, were periphery.

With Jaafar on the ground moaning, and Ashraf khanoom rubbing her forehead in pain, I could not decide if I should run for my life, or laugh my head off in joy. I decided not to take any chances (Rooze Shak Dar Nagiram) and decided to come back for bread later, perhaps never -- I can always tell my parents "Sholoogh Bood".

I stepped outside, and crossed the little street, waiting for her to get her bread and leave. After what seemed like a lifetime, even longer than it took for Jaafar to return my bike, she finally came out. I could already see the spot on her forehead, noticeable on her boney face from across the street. She had her RooSarry on, with her Chador tied around her neck and a Noone Sangak in one hand and some grocery bags she had in the other. I knew I could out run her, unless she dropped her bread and baga, but I didn't think she would -- I wasn't sure. She gave me a look, the "Chap Type" and I looked down, in both shame, and because I did not want her to see me still laughing. We both knew what had happened. She didn't say anything. After she left, I followed her to the intersection, making sure she was not going to come back for a surprise visit to catch me at NooneVaii where I could not escape. These PMMs can sometime get pretty tricky you know.

I waited for a few minutes, Still Shaking, in fear and joy, and numb from a rush of adrenaline, endorphin, and anxiety all at the same time. Extremely carefully and worried, I went back inside to get my bread (I did lose my place though -- the adults at the NooneVaii never believed kids who said I was here before!). Jaafar was leaving. He looked grey particularly because all the other kids were tripping him (Poshte Paa) or mimicking him "mann Nakardam". That kid was drained that day!
I got my bread, paid, and ran home, taking the longest detour possible to avoid passing by Ashraf khanoom's house.

Naneh was helping my mom that day and when I got, my mom took one look at me and asked what had happened, as if she already knew -- I do the same with my kids because it is so easy to read those wonderful youthful faces. Anyway, I told them about what had happened, they laughed, I laughed. My mom said I should go to her house and apologize to her -- ye right!!! I never dared. I never did.

A few days later, I unexpectedly saw Naneh in our neighborhood again, before her usual weekly visits, coming out of Ashraf khanoom's house -- She had been crying. She moved in together with Ashraf khanoom the following week!!!

My mom told us later on that Ashraf and Khatoon were "Havoo" - Ashraf khanoom could not have babies and her husband married Khatoon, who gave birth to Youssef and proudly became Naneh Youssef -- In other words she happily lost her own identity to become known only as the mother of Youssef! Naneh and Ashraf had not spoken since the husband had died and I guess, Jaafar jeerjeerak, the bastard, and a pebble or a Sangak story, brought them together.

They both died in their mid eighties of natural causes a few years ago, a few months apart, in that same house they had rented back then -- The landlord (Sahab Khooneh) whom no one ever knew who he was left them the house after he died or after he left Iran or something -- My mom stayed connected with them and helped them out as much as possible after we moved.

Naneh would not accept money from my mom unless she had worked for it and earned it the old fashioned way. So, my dad would go back to Amirieh, pick her up, take her to my mom. She would stay for a few hours and help my mom rinse a few dishes, for which my mom would pay her or give her other stuff, after which my dad would drive her back.

Youssef apparently heech GoHy nashod, and no one knows whatever happened to him.

Jaafar died because of a hand grenade that hit him during the revolution. The bomb never went off, but it hit his left eye, which he lost. A few years later he was crossing the street and I think he did not see the car/s coming ...

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