The Days Without Mirror (Part 2)


2018-11-27


The Days Without Mirror (Part 2)

Memoirs of Manijeh Lashgari; The wife of released pilot, Hossein Lashgari

Edited by: Golestan Ja’farian

Translator: Zahra Hosseinian

Tehran, Sooreh Mehr Publications Company

‎2016 (Persian Version)‎


Chapter 1

We held Rawda khwani[1] every twentieth of month. The guesthouse had three large interconnecting rooms with large windows. On the Rawda khwani days, we drew curtains aside, and women came in and sat down tightly closed and make loud noise. Those years, women were housewife; they did not have much works and the Rawda khwani ceremonies were crowded. They talked about everything: who gave birth, whose daughter got married, who got divorced, etc. Perhaps these meetings were a sort of a way to resolve each other’s problems.

Trays of tea became filled and emptied. The girls knew their duty. ‘Come and go,’ my mother said, ‘people should know there are six girls in this house.’ Our Rawda khwani ceremony was a good place for approving and selecting a girl as daughter-in-law.

The men did not come home on the Rawda khwani days. From morning to afternoon, six preachers came and went. There was a chair in the room which was usually covered up with a white sheet. The preacher sat down on it. Those women who came from morning and stayed until noon, lunched with us. The house was always crowded and busy in those days; and there was a lot of works to be done and we got tired.

It was afternoon. The tea glasses used for ceremony had been washed and shone inside the baskets over the edge of a small pool. My mother and my father’s wife, whom we called Haj Khanum, were talking about the Rawda khawni ceremony in the living room near the door in courtyard. I massaged my back a little and then climbed up the ladder.

The walls of our courtyard were short. It was June; the jasmines had been thick and in flower, and they had climbed over the wall of our neighbor house and appeared into our courtyard. The jasmines of our flower-bed had also climbed over the wall and appeared into courtyard of our neighbor house.

I saw Parvin from the top of the ladder. She was also climbing up the ladder in their courtyard. ‘What do you say Parvin?’ I asked her, ‘you called me?’ Parvin still did not answer me, when my eyes fell on a man in military uniform who was climbing down the stairs. It was the first time I saw him. I nodded respectfully and said hello. He also nodded and said, "Hello, lady." and went.

I did not ask Parvin who he was. She did not say anything too. The Rawda khawni had just been finished and I and Parvin had a lot to talk about.

One or two nights later, my father told my mother, ‘Hossein, the son of my cousin, has come to Tehran and stayed in Mr. Saeedi's house. As if he is preparing to go to America. We should invite him one day.’

My mother asked: ‘Is he a military man?’

My father replied: ‘Yeah, he’s a pilot.’

I just realized that the tall young man, Hossein, the son of my father's cousin, whom I had seen on the staircase of Parvin’s house, our neighbor, is a pilot and one of Mr. Saeedi’s relatives.

Our large house in Tehran was in Dämpezeshki neighborhood, a south-facing big house. Entering through the door in the courtyard, you saw a three-floor building with several rooms. In the center of courtyard there was a large 12-meters pool with blue tiles. During summers, watermelon and melon and summer fruits were floated in the small pool to be cooled. The lavatory was in the right side of courtyard and the kitchen was next to it. A large fourteen or fifteen meters room was the living room of the family at where we had meal and slept in the afternoons. Next to the kitchen, there was a big flower-bed where my father had planted vine trees.

My father liked these trees and had made them a good arbor. Branches of vines had a pleasant shadow. During vintage season, the green and red clusters of grape berry were hanging from the branches and gave the courtyard an eye-catching beauty.

The bedrooms and the guesthouse were in the main building. The guesthouse had a large balcony. Some nights when the weather was fine, my father sat down at the balcony with his guests and entertained them. Sometimes, all the family dined at the balcony or on the roof surrounded with small walls; but before, we put all the stuff of having meal into trays and dragged them to the roof.

The guesthouse was furnished. A gramophone with its large box of records was set in a corner. Except my older brother, Gholäm Hossein, and my father, the children did not allow touching the gramophone records. With two large controls on the both sides, a radio was located on the niche next to the candlesticks. The room near the door - living room - was not furnished and it was decorated with cushions and folded blankets which were spread around the room. The TV set was in the same room. There was a neat old locked box in the corner of the room which contained white folded chadors and the Qur'an and Mafatih. My family was religious. My father was a devout Muslim and a reliable person among local people and shopkeepers of bazaar.

My father had two wives: Haj Khanum was my father’s first wife, a devout and caring woman from Mashhad whom we loved her like our mother. My father was a Turk from Qazvin. My father's family believed that he should get married with a girl who speaks the same tongue. My paternal aunt’s husband was a tribal chief at that time in Qazvin. My father’s uncle and my mother’s uncle were tribal chief too. These two families knew each other well. In family reunions, they suggested my father to marry my mother. My mother's family accepted, because my father was a big landowner and came from a tribal chief family. They did not consider that this man has a wife and three children. My mother was thirteen years younger than my father. ‘I’ve not seen your father until wedding night.’ she said.

Therefore, my father had officially two wives, and both of them lived peacefully like two sisters in a big house. Each was revered and had her own place. My father was an inborn leader and a powerful man and did not allow anyone spoke ill of anybody else. He ran his large family well: two wives and nine children, plus a live-in maid who helped my mother and Haj Khanum.

In our home, each having meal was like a crowded and noisy party. Everyone should help to lay out the spread and then to collect it. Everything was done with joy and love; the pleasure I felt in my life at those years was never experienced again.

 

To be continued…

 


[1]. It is the Shia Iranian Muslim ritual of the Mourning of Muharram. It is held every day of the year to commemorate the death of Hossein ibn Ali and his followers during the Battle of Karbala.



 
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