Chapter five




Legha was walked nervously back and forth. Mrs Edrisi nagged: "Enough ,... you're annoying me!"

Legha sat down and said nothing. Mrs Edrisi went to the closet and took out the music box. A Gothic church was sculpted over it , she put it on the bedside table, wound it by a golden key, a high-pitched piece covered the space.The old lady lay on the bed, under her eyes was wrinkled, moved her shoulders forward and put her hand on the chest.Vahhab got closer:" You're okay?"

She bent :" I could have been much better if you leave me alone."

Vahhab sat down, knocked on the hollow wood:" Misfortune is making us drift apart, we're fading."

Turning around the basilica , the music was over and then silence took its place . Mrs Edrisi opened her eyes: "We've been ruined bit by bit but I feel apart , how can we get united ( she put away a lock of her hair) how can I feel for it? we were from a different generation, steady and determined, but you? The dull ashes of a burnt generation. Yavar has a stronger willpower. He has seen the ups and downs , he has put up with all misfortunes."

Legha dumbfounded and upset was melting like a piece of butter. She lifted the spoon and had a little water afterwards.

Vahhab lowered his head , stared at the carpet, he was a ship with no anchor , drowned in imagination.

Mrs Edrisi frowned, she was drawing a curved line in the air :" Take the meal and leave me alone , I'd rather sleep now."

Vahhab's eyes blurred:"So early!"

The old lady placed her hands over her knees:" You think that we've been gate-crashed and shouldn't live anymore , this is the end? No, I won't die such a death, I still enjoy the smell of flowers , walking in the garden and listening to the birds ( she cocked her ears ) the owl isn't hooting tonight?!"

Vahhab clenched his fist :" Even the owl's scared and had gone away!"

The old lady nodded:" The hell with the owl , it'll be back."

Vahhab looked at her blamingly and stood up, the old lady asked: " You don't wanna have something...?"


" Is it the doomsday?"

" I guess."

He closed the door and left. Mrs Edrisi turned back to the wall. Legha was still busy with the meal as if she were filling the empty chasms of her body. As if for a second She were taking a refuge in the meal she was having instead of a hug or love, the discoloured passion wasn't dead yet. A piece of red velvet in the music box was dazzling. She closed the music box, panting while drinking some water. Mrs Edrisi said :" Go to your room!"

Carrying the plate and her mug, Legha hushed and obedient went to the tight door, she had learned how to pass the narrow corridor, she entered her own room and sat on the bed, she finished the leftovers. She took a deep breath, went to the mirror , brushed her hair . She used to be very obsessive about her hair, went to the hairdresser's two times a year to have a haircut.She used to wash her hair with a herbal extract and then walked in torrential spring showers without a head scarf. Now everything had changed , she was always in a black head scarf, kneeled in front of the holy image clinging her hands to pray.The replica looked quite peculiar, an enigmatic charcoal image, distorted lips, prominent large eyes, the eyebrows were not symmetrical, this was the image which had captured her eyes for years and years. She lay on the bed , took off her socks cautiously.She looked at the cracks on the wooden ceiling.She heard the chatters from the yard, buttoned up , pulled her stretchy sleeves to the wrist, she didn't want to sleep, she sobbed and rolled over.

An hour passed , some were climbing up the stairs, a  male voice , husky and strong said: "It's your choice!"

The other replied : "No difference, up to you!"

The first man added: "It's the first time we're sleeping on a bed!"

The second yawned:"I can't sleep on beds. Some years ago , I tried it in a bed and breakfast, the springs screeched and woke me up!" 

The first man laughed :" These beds are wooden, as if you were sailing on a ship with eiderdown pillows, we'll have fun!"

Whatever was heard was hair-raising to Legha.She cramped her body under the blanket, shivering from inside, bit her own flesh.

The door was moving involuntarily, the wooden doormat was creaking.They passed Legha's door, filthy and smelly, they laughed but clammed up, they knocked the door , Legha got up, dressed in a long robe, she went to the window , she placed her hand under her chin and stared at the sky.The clay roofs, the mulberry trees and the hatch on the other side, well-lit in azure warmed up her heart.She pondered and she saw that the holy image  was animated and alivened, it took her grip: " o' the holy image! Help us poor!"

She shut her eyes and felt the breeze blowing over her face, soothing her fingertips, she burst into tears.She drew back the curtains. The room was moonlit, her forehead on the bedside, her whole body in fever, she fell into a deep trance and slept.






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.




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