Aida’s Dreams

By Atefa Qorbani

Ten rain-struck trees, dark brown without a hint of green, frozen just like my fingers under the rain, with the difference that my fingers become redder and redder under the rain, and the trunks and branches of the trees are darker and darker brown. I look carefully at the field and the trees on the other side of the road and I lift my foot slowly, aiming for a place in the alley where less water had reached, but my foot slips and my clothes are covered in mud. And even now that I am sheltered under the faded green of Aida’s house, the mud has not dried enough to shake it from me. I don’t care, I prefer to keep my eyes on the trees and the fields and my ears on the happy music that comes from Aida’s house. The sound of regular and coordinated dripping of women who drip, hoot and dance to a circular song. I remember the day when I held Aida’s hand and brought her down the stairs of her house, the house in our alley, this relatively small and narrow path that was lined on both sides by sheer-walled houses of varied heights pressing against the gap. The houses were always full of dirty and torn nylon sheets, and sometimes scraps of useless fabric. We sang songs in unison, held each other’s hands and jumped up and down in a circle, and the dirt rose up from under our feet and covered our shoes, legs, and pant legs. We laughed and the sound of our laughter was beyond the clouds. It went beyond the blue sky. I bring my hands near my mouth and cup them to warm them up. The rain has stopped, but the sound of music is still playing, Qatagahni, saz dohol, in a circle mixed with the sound of women clapping and stomping their feet. A small herd of wet dogs runs past me, followed by some children with stones in their hands. The empty field at the end of the farm, where the rain stops, is filled as usual with men who want to throw small iron balls with precise aim into the hole, and a little further, a translation of smaller children who want to throw small glass balls into a smaller hole. With every arrow that hits the target, their eyes laugh and sparkle, just like Aida’s honey eyes laughed and sparkled the first time I gave her my kite to fly in the air, and she did it in the best way. I remembered the laughing of her eyes on the day when I stared at her under the big mulberry tree when she was doing math exercises with me, and I wanted to say in my heart, but I said it out loud — how kind you are, how accepting! —my cheeks reddened from embarrassment and she giggled. She laughed and the sound of her laughter greened the field and the ten rain-struck trees. After the girls’ schools were all closed, I didn’t hear her giggling anymore, and I didn’t see her in the alley for a long time. When I saw her I held her hand tightly and took her to the end of the alley, which was deserted, looked her in the eye and told her how much I missed her. The sadness in her eyes squeezed my heart. She let go of my hand and said she wants to get married. Her words were annoying. The sound of music spreads in the street with the wind, the wind brings the wandering clouds closer together, the rain resumes, the sound of music and the women’s singing get closer, everyone singing in unison. A group of men come out of the house and dance in the street, women and children also come out, clapping and laughing. Aida comes out in white shoes, a blue chador, and a green shawl covering her head. Aida goes hand in hand with her husband. Her chador is too long for her height and at the first step she covers the hem in mud, the rain falls harder and the crowd disperses quickly. I watch. I’m going under the rain, my tears rolling down my cheeks with raindrops, and my fingers are getting redder and redder under the rain.

7 March, 2023