Academic journal article Chicago Review

The Acquaintance

Academic journal article Chicago Review

The Acquaintance

Article excerpt

"Why are you throwing up?"

When the conductor heard this, he stared at Mr. Ranjbar dumb-founded. Mr. Ranjbar, embarrassed and confused, took the ticket from him and moved away hastily. It was hot and stuffy inside the bus. Mr. Ranjbar's eyes had been fixed on the face of a woman who was slumped in the back of the bus, with her mouth open just like a crow suffering from heatstroke and thirst. The odor of half-digested food pervaded his mouth and throat as if he had just thrown up. His wife's figure appeared in his mind. He saw her holding her belly and throwing up in a bucket. Her shoulders were trembling and her face was swollen. Her eyelids were puffy. Her mouth had the odor of melted opium. Mr. Ranjbar looked out of the window at the trees, the stores, and the people coming and going. Everything was alien to him.

The bus reached the square and Mr. Ranjbar got off. In the window of a shop, he saw a fat face. It was the familiar face of his old friend, Mr. Ashna. Mr. Ashna's face was still childlike, but he had gained weight. He had neatly combed and parted his hair, which was not as thick as it used to be. They hugged each other and started walking.

Mr. Ranjbar had unintentionally remained in his friend's arms for a few minutes. Ashna's fat face had the smell of a deodorant soap. Ashna, who was happy seeing his old friend again, was laughing and talking loudly. He was insisting that they should spend the afternoon together. Mr. Ranjbar was being dragged by his friend; he was following him involuntarily. Ashna went and bought some mast-u-masir(1) from a big store.

"This is the best mast-u-masir! People even come from Shimiran to buy it from this store. I guess we are lucky. Aren't we?" said Ashna.

He laughed.

He went to another store to buy batteries for his radio.

"I turn on the radio at night. It's a habit. There is this woman who sings Arabic songs. I love it," he continued.

He burst into a guffaw.

"My wife, Nuzhat, says |Shame on you!' But I hold the radio close to my ears and listen. "

He bought slippers for his wife. He cracked a couple of jokes with the salesman and burst into laughter. As they were leaving the store, Ashna told Mr. Ranjbar:

"This is the third pair of slippers I have bought. My sisters-in-law took the first and the second pairs. They liked my taste. They liked the design of the slippers with this red flower on them ... "

He didn't finish what he was going to say. He bought a woman's magazine, toothpaste, and a toothbrush for his wife.

|Commercial toothpastes are no good. They damage one's teeth. This is a medicinal toothpaste which is good for sensitive gums. Look at the toothbrush! There is this pointed rubber on it which is used as a toothpick. It kills all the germs."

Ashna stopped to pick up the pictures that he had taken at the picnic last Friday(2). Looking at the pictures, he was excited and loudly explained what was in each one.

"This is my sister-in-law. She's a college graduate. All the bachelors are asking for her hand. This is Mr. Shahvar. He is very influential in the Ministry of Finance. We have just met. Look at him ... "

Ashna burst into laughter again. As he laughed, his eyes became smaller and smaller.

"Look at this guy! He works at the oil company. He is very successful. Look at him! When I took his picture, he was holding a hose in his hand and squirting everybody. He has a good sense of humor. We call him |Timsar'(3). This is his garden. Look at him! He is too fat ..."

They left the photo shop. Ashna decided to leave the rest of the things that he had not finished for tomorrow. Two hours later, Mr. Ranjbar was in Ashna's house. He was sitting in a room looking around and Ashna was going in and out of the room talking continuously.

"I bought this in Europe two years ago. There is also a Kashan rug with Lachchak-Turanj design(4) spread downstairs. …

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