When Mrs Edrisi got up in the morning, she took out the album under the bed and stored it in a closet. The door in between Legha's and her room was open. She bent down and peeped around. Last night her daughter had kneeled on the floor and fallen asleep. Her loose arms had been stretched from side to side like a helpless bird lying on the bed.Her complexion looked like a rice pudding, with a hunchback her ginger hair looked shabby and untidy, pretty soulless. She looked at her child in pity.
She yawned and went to the window, leaned her elbow on the frame. The garden was hushed and desolate, she nagged:" How long do they sleep? Where's Yavar?"
She remembered brother Rashid and his pungent smell of ambergris. She laughed hysterically, it crossed her mind that yesterday the man had beggingly alleged that he would leave early in the morning to go to the factory.
A cold breeze spread the smell of jasmines and pansies. Footsteps heard. Brother Rasid came in a cap . The cap had cast a shade over his eyebrows. He was wearing a tight T-shirt. His naked neck corpulent. His arms and back muscles had got cramped.He stood by the garden-shed, kneeled and touched the brick-lane ; dived and swam to thirty different directions. His shoes taken off, his worn-out socks appeared. He fetched the clubs, stretched his legs, placed the clubs on his shoulders . His trousers were slipping down gradually. His narrow waist, his brown reddish countenance, little by little his swiming costume appeared. By a turning of his neck the cap fell into the garden shed. He felt short of breath and his manly smell mixed with moist and damp. He swam to the heater which splashed a little bit of lukewarm water then came to the surface. He appeared by the second storey's windows. The man struggled sustainedly. His hair sticky and lousy, like the mane of a horse. His ears trembled , his breath was blowing.
Mrs Edrisi heard a big fuss from Legha's room.Brother Rashid stopped struggling, lifted his head and waved for the lady joyfully. Mrs Edrisi lowered her head:"Sure I wasn't. An old lady like me doesn't make such a fuss; I was just watching over."
"Do you do exercise every day?"
The man settled on his left and right leg alternately, jumped like a spring wire."
"Are you pleased with that?"
"I've never done such exercise."
Rashid snapped his fingers and lifted his elbow, his arm bloated like a pomegranete.
"I'm used to lifting 50-kilo cargo.(poked the other elbow) as strong as steel. Would you like to lift a club?"
"Thanks. I can see them before my eyes."
Legha , restlessly, ran to mother's room. Closed the hatch tightly , drew the thick curtains. fell on the floor and her mouth foamed. She lifted her knees , rolled over and howled like a beast, her half profile contorted ,as if her corner lips had been lowered down so had her eyebrows, her left eyes shined and then became lifeless and still. She grabbed her mother's skirt , pulled it down widely,arms and tighs thin, loose and wrinkled , she tore up a piece of her skirt and threw it away. Mrs Edrisi covered her tigh with her hand :
"What's happened to you?"
Legha clenched her teeth , pantingly she said:
She showed her dry mouth , Mrs Edrisi turned around :"We have no milk here.Wait, Yavar would fetch some!"
He went along the room and came back then he sat next to legha and massaged her back and neck. The girl stepped back and struggled continuously. The lady opened the door , went to the fence and yelled:
"Where have you been Yavar, come on in!"
The old man ran to the corridor, moved his head ahead and blushed , the dawn light had his silver hair and his head was trembling in anger, stared at the carpet patterns :" Let's get in the house lady , it's not decent to show up!"
The old lady looked at her naked legs, cryed and scratched her cheeks, went to the room and slammed it. The plaster from the vault was seperating and fell over her head.
Legha was still rolling around, her left eye looked much bigger, moved in the socket.
Mrs Edrisi moved , slapped her , the grey ball appeared completely.
Somebody was shouting in the yard:"Can I give you a hand, Brother?"
A big bang was vibrating over the windows. Legha covered his ears , Mrs Edrisi went to the wardrobe; found a reversed skirt and put it on . The seems over the lines of stitches appeared.Somebody knocked on the door.
The old lady yelled:"Is that you Yavar? Come on in !"
The old man entered the room. Quite stealthily peeped in . Legha with a gesture of begging with her hand moaned. She murmured some unclear words.The old man knocked on the door, pulled his hair and hurled it."Good heavens! What happened to her?" Mrs Edrisi said:"Quick! Rush over, fetch me some milk!"
Yavar left to fetch some milk.
Yavar left and came back some minutes later with a pot of milk and cups.
Mrs Edrisi turned around, wanted to pour some milk into the cup, her hand was shaking. She looked at Yavar:"I can't!"
Yavar asked:"What happened then?"
Mrs Edrisi frowned:"It doesn't make sense...but Brother Rashid was performing a kinda traditional sport here:"Discourteous and ill-mannered guy! I'll teach him a lesson."
Yavar sat next to Legha, poured a drop of milk through the hollow space between her teeth.over her dry lips, the drops were sliding down, falling over her neck and breast.Her left eye was turning in the socket.Yavar hesitated and pushed it forward. Legha placed the spout into her lips and sucked it voraciously. The old man lifted the bottom of the pot symmetrically. The milk was over but Legha didn't stop.
She placed her cheek over the cold china pot and burst into tears.She was sobbing and in broken sobs she said:"Oh yavar, if you would learn out what they had done to me!"
The old man clenched his fist,Knocked on his breast, spit on the floor:" The man doesn't know manners when a lady is present!"
Mrs Edrisi sat down on the armchair, breathed a sigh of relief."Don't spit indoor!"
Quite blamingly Yavar gazed at the lady:" Good...! Cool...! (While casting a glance on the milk cup...) as if she weren't your daughter! Why don't you feel pity on this withering flower all scattered in petals (Time had lost its order in Yavar's mind) . Why don't you feel a sense of sympathy with the poor child ? As if her nanny's spirit had entered her body after breast-feeding. Legha had taken after her in her acid tongue , bad temper and being picky. They had recognised that Legha was brittle and infirm. They covered her with a blanket. Legha closed her eyes. The tea pot slid down around her shabby hair.
Yavar whispered:"Thank God , she has fallen asleep , tell me the story."
Mrs Edrisi buckled her fingers, yawned , leaned on the cushion:" Poor man! He was doing exercise; what is it that nobody goes to work?"
Yavar didn't get it, moved her head forward: "What type of sports?"
"I don't know exactly, masculine with clubs, swimming, funny acts!"
"Where? On this floor?"
The old lady stepped back:" Just what we needed!"
"Did he come upstairs?"
"Why should he come upstairs? People often do exercise outdoors."
Yavar pointed to Legha:" What happened then?"
"He was showing up, his masculine arms and body. His smell spread."
The old man leaned on the chair, breathed a sigh of relief :" Is that all?(looked into the sky and recalled something) Today's off! They have celebrated the day."
"How often do they celebrate?"
"Occasionally. Was he naked while doing exercise?"
Yavar sighed:"It was really disgraceful the way he did exercise. He should have got out of his room steadily."
Mrs Edrisi smiled :" Go and teach him ! What's up with Vahhab?"
Yavar shook his head:"Saucy and uncivilised."
"Who? Legha, Vahhab or Rashid?"
Quite blamingly Yavar replied :"Rashid."
Mrs Edrisi sat beside the armchair :"Who said he is not! Haven't you seen my deck of cards?"
"The band of brothers have taken it and given them to the children."
" Freak ! ( bit her fingertips) it doesn't matter."
"The better ! No fortune's left to be foretold."
She opened the window. Rashid was standing by the pool. He was washing up. His neck , shoulders and fair hair were all wet. It was cold and he chuckled involuntarily. His white and firm teeth and fair hair were shining.
Mrs Edrisi shouted:
"Power to your elbow, Brother?"
Legha moaned in sleep.
The House of Edrisis is a prominent post-revolutionary novel in Iran by Ghazaleh Alizadeh , a noted novelist, translated from original Persian to English by Rosa Jamali.