By Davood N. Rahni
I was born in Dezashib-Shemiran and grew up in Evin. Many of us then, forty or so years ago, looked forward to the prospect of getting new clothing as a prelude to Norouz visiting exchanges and Eidi! Despite my objection, however, my father every year insisted that I "choose" suits a few sizes larger from then Bab-Homayoun next to Shasmolemareh-Bazaar, and typically for a mere $3, with the explanation that I would soon grow into it!
I vividly recall, still in the early tender age of primary schooling, and after I had somewhat reluctantly, but proudly worn the new outfit at sunrise on Norouz that the oversized suit must have made me resemble a sort of dwarf rushing to be an adult. And so dressed up, we set out to my grand aunt's house in Zargandeh as she was revered as the eldest in the family. Aunt Khanom was recognized by family, friends and foes as baking the best pastries, mixing the savory nuts and dried fruits, and of course, serving the heavenly Persian cuisine. The expectation in those days was, however, for children to only take one small piece at a time out of respect and only when offered with much insistence by an adult hostess.
Everything looked too delicious not to take advantage of, however! So, as the adults were intimately chattering and not noticing me, with one hand I picked one pastry at a time and stuffed it into my mouth and with the other stuffed pastries and nuts into my pants pockets. I looked carefully around, pretending I was still obedient of the social etiquette, with bulging pockets and pastry crumbs and confectionery sugars on my face. After almost half hour of stealthy double stock-ups, which must have felt more like a whole day, I quietly stood up to walk out of the room, as if to join other children in the alley to play, but in reality to consume joyously my collection. Sudden laughter of everyone in the room stopped me in my tracks, and as soon as I turned back, I realized that one of my pocket's un-sewed bottom had let its content out tracking behind me on Kerman Persian carpet. I almost choked with my mouth full of cookies causing even louder laughter and ridicule of those present. There was nothing else to do but to dash out in embarrassment as fast as I could and hide out crying.
Later that day, the adults especially my aunt, must have realized how painful the ordeal had been for me. My aunt helped restore my dignity by giving me a light brown do-tomani money bill pulled out of the holy book. Do-tomani was reserved for teens and elder cousins, and the dark blue yek-tomani was for toddlers and little children; but my aunt made an exception. Back then these notes were equivalent to a dime and a quarter: enough to pay for a limonad and small kalbas sandwich; nowadays they are meagerly worth one-thousandth, and two-thousandth of a penny, respectively! The fond memory of my late aunt (may her soul be rested) and her compassionate forgiveness still makes me cry and smile every time I wear an oversized suit purchased on clearance sale for Norouz, hoping that someday that I will grow into it, but I do check its pockets first!
Copyright © D.Rahni, Ph.D. Prior Permission Required. New York March 2008.
About the Author:
Davood N. Rahni (www.DrRahni.com) is a professor of Chemistry at Pace University, where he has also held adjunct professorships in Environmental Law, and in Dermatology at the New York Medical College. In addition to being a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in Denmark he has also served as a visiting professor in various universities, including Oxford, Rome, Florence, and Tehran. His scholarly prolific contributions, approaching 1,000 broadly speaking, have spanned across chemistry, environmental science and law, forensics, nano-engineering, neuropsychopharmacology, civic activism, history and immigration assimilations. His life-long passion, to help advance the aspirations of Iranian-Americans and other immigrants, is well recognized. Humana Press has published his latest book Bioimaging in Neurodegenerations. His forthcoming book, NATANZ TO NEW YORK: The Odyssey of an Ordinary Persian Wanderer, will soon publish.
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