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Bahram's cousin
He asked me out for one last time

By Shahin Shahin
May 11, 2001
The Iranian

It seemed like yesterday when I decided to break up with Asghar. I told him it was over. He did not seem bothered. Maybe it was due to the fact that we had only seen each other once in the past five years. He asked me out for one last time. I thought why not? Let's throw caution to the wind.

I let him decide where to take me. So he chose Hassani's, my favourite deezee experience. Freshly slaughtered Zanjan mutton on the bone simmering in a big pot of water with onions, potatoes, chick peas and seasoning, accompanied with nan sangak, mint and raw onions, mast-o-mooseer and cheese to boot, Bulgarian I think.

We then went on to Akbar's Kababi for some koobideh ba noon. Over two jars of doogh-e gaazi with ice we talked like old times. He talked about whether he should remain in his rented room overlooking the joob or switch over to the one with the panoramic view of the central hoz and the washing lines regularly used by his landlady. I told him to go for the zir zamini room, more bohemian, closer to mother earth.

No we did not go for the paloodeh at Akbar's. That was his first deviation from our plans. Asghar suggested we should drive a bit. It was a pleasant night. His open top Vaanet Baari was inviting. With him behind the wheel and I sitting in the back facing the traffic we drove around to the raucous sound of car horns and hysterical screaming Tehrani drivers. My hair was safely inside my roosari. I wasn't paying much attention to where we were going.

The smell of gasoline caught my attention. I could taste the carbon dioxide on my lips. Hum... I coughed profusely. "Chayee?" He asked. Back to my favourite dining experience routine. At Hozkhooneh there was a live band playing Baba Karam. Ahmad kootooleh on tonbak and Gazanfar Koorogli on kamancheh. A new attraction? I recognised our tune. "Beraankaard beyaareed, mano toosh bezaareed". I could tell Asghar was about to show off his moves. Then I heard those three lovely words, "Wanna clap along?"

I extended my arms upwards and joined him in a care free clapping movement. I always loved his rhythmic hand movements. I think I first fell in love with his clapping. In those 15 years of our courtship we had only clapped together twice. I decided to stop analysing our relationship, "Go girl, enjoy the moment," I thought. We clapped to the left, clapped to the right, with him gazing tearfully towards me. The smoke from his half-finished cigarette between his lips was going straight into his eyes.

Asghar whispered into my ears, "Let's get out of here." Back to his Vaanet Baari. There was a familiar feeling in my stomach. Could it be from eating aabgoosht and kabab koobideh with piaaz and maast, washed down with gallons of doogh? The feeling was unbearable. I wanted to find the nearest bathroom and heave and heave till I felt relieved. But I was on the back of the Vaanet.

The feelings in my stomach became larger and larger, like a trapped tornado trying to find its way out. I was trembling with anticipation. I moved myself upwards slightly, raising myself enough. And it happened. The feeling was a mixture of happiness, infinite light -- and a gentle stomach spasm. I sat down again. Peace, contentment. The feeling of utter bliss overshadowed any noise.

While I was travelling where every winded woman travels alone, Asghar was driving the Vaanet Baari through the winding kooches of south Tehran. It reminded me of an old movie, "Samad beh Shahr Miravad".

We are in front of what looks like an aaloonak. I immediately noticed the broken down roof, and the half smashed front door. Where is he taking me? He seemed to have a purpose. I just follow hoping not to be done for trespassing. He opened the front door and turned around. "Can you smell it?"

"Oh my god! The smell hasn't reached here, has it?" I asked myself. He motioned me to the back garden where the whole space was filled with Gol-e Maymoon. Yes, I could smell it. I preferred jasmine though.

-- "Well..."

-- "Well."

-- "Do you like it?"

-- "Like it?"

-- "Yes. The place, isn't it grand?"

-- "Yes it is."

Then he whispered to me like he never whispered before.

-- "Will you co-sign my mortgage application?"

Months later I heard Sakeeneh co-signed for him.

Coming next week: Rajish Kapoor and Indira Hindi in "Romancing the Curry".

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Mercy is not in your vocabulary, not even on the road


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