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The Splendour of Iran
Iran Travel

Payvand's Iran Literature ...

Short Story: The Story of the Rabbit and the Tomato

By Zoya Pirzad [1]
Translated by: Roya Monajem
Edited by: Katherine L. Clark

Every single day, I would tell myself that ‘today, I will write a story.’ But at night, after washing the dishes I yawn and say, “Tomorrow; tomorrow I will definitely write.”

I have already washed the dishes. I have cleaned the kitchen and I have gone to sit in front of the television. I tell myself, ‘I will write the summary of the story that I have in mind on any odd piece of paper in a few sentences and I will stick the paper on the mirror hanging over the sink so that tomorrow while washing my face I would remember that I wanted to write a story.’ Tomorrow after I cook lunch, before the kids get back home from school and my husband from work, I will have time for it.

I will cook dami gojehfarangi (rice and tomato) for lunch, so that it doesn’t take long. The kids like it, but my husband – I can imagine his face. He will drop his head, eat without saying a word and gets up from the chair and leave the table. I know he doesn’t like dami gojehfarangi, but he does not make a fuss about it and doesn’t grumble. Instead, I will cook his favorite dish the day after tomorrow. The day after tomorrow I will go and buy fresh herbs and I will cook him ghormeh sabzi [2].The day after tomorrow, I have no stories to write. I will have enough time to clean and cut the herbs and grumble about the grocer having given me herbs so dirty and full of mud. Then I will fill the sink with water and put the herbs in it. I will wash them once and change the water, I will wash them for the second time and change the water, and for the third, fourth and sometimes even up to seven and eight times. I put on my glasses and turn over the herbs fussily to make sure that there is not a single particle of mud left. Then I chop them really fine.

This time I’ll be careful not to cut my finger. I always cut my finger when chopping herbs. My husband laughs: ‘After fifteen years of chopping herbs you are still clumsy.’ I know he is just joking. My mother says, ‘The herbs for cooking ghormeh should be chopped really fine.’ And she is a real and extraordinary expert in chopping herbs. She does it very fast and she never cuts her finger. Frying the herbs has its own technique. After fifteen years of practice I have finally learnt it well. It should be done on a low fire and you should keep on tossing it over and over so that while getting fried properly, it does not get burned. I should not forget to soak the red beans on the night before so that they get cooked on time. The last time that I cooked ghormeh sabzi, I forgot to soak the beans. The meat was very well cooked and even perhaps over-cooked, but the beans were quite raw still. My husband did not say anything, but when I was cleaning the table, I noticed that he had left the beans in a corner of his plate. That night my daughter complained about a stomach-ache. My husband lowered the newspaper and looked at me. He then smiled and pointed to the kitchen. Like the majority of husbands, my husband did not know that fifteen-year-old girls suffer from ‘stomach-aches’ quite often.

Tomorrow, cooking rice and tomato will not take much of my time and I will write my story. The story I would like to write is for the children. It is the story of a rabbit that falls in a hole that a hunter has dug. The hole is deep and the rabbit cannot get out. Its friends find It, but they cannot do anything to bring It out of that hole. They bring the rabbit water and food so that It would not die of hunger, and they talk to It to entertain It, so that It would not get bored. And, the rabbit stays in the hole, days after days. It has food to eat and a warm comfortable bed to sleep on, but the rabbit longs to come out of the hole. It sees a piece of the sky from the hole that is sometimes bright and blue and sometimes cloudy and gray. During the daytime, It sees the birds flying and at nights It watches the stars.

I still don’t know how to bring that small rabbit out of the hole. I will think about it tomorrow. I should jot down the story up to this point so that I will not forget it. I yawn. I should really go to bed and sleep so that I will be able to wake up fresh tomorrow. Tomorrow I should have to bring a small rabbit out of a deep hole. I am thirsty. I go to the kitchen and open the fridge to take out the bottle of water. My eyes pass over the fruit box. There are only two tomatoes in the box and two tomatoes are not enough for tomorrow’s lunch. I should buy more tomatoes tomorrow. I drink my glass of water. I feel sleepy. I put the glass in its proper place, turn off the light and leave the kitchen. I wanted to make a note of something. What was it? I tear a piece of paper from the notebook in which I keep an account of my everyday expenditure and write on it: ‘tomatoes.’ I should stick the paper to the mirror hanging over the sink so that I will not forget it by tomorrow.

1. From the collection of her short stories, ‘Like All the Evenings’, 2nd. ed, Nashr Markaz, 1370 (1991).

2. A national Iranian dish consisting of especially prepared cooked rice (polow) served with a stew prepared from cooking meat and special fried herbs.

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