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The memoirs of the Alley

Simin Dāneshvar (Persian: سیمین دانشور)‎, (28 April 1921 – 8 March 2012) was an Iranian academic, novelist, fiction writer and translator. She was largely regarded as the first major Iranian woman novelist. Her books dealt with the lives of ordinary Iranians, especially those of women, and through the lens of recent political and social events in Iran at the time. in 1948, her collection of Persian short stories was the first by an Iranian woman to be published. Below is a passage from the book of Memoirs of the Alley.

Memoirs of the Alley:
The Wedding Night of my Havoo[1]

She wiped her eyes, cleaned her nose with the corner of her prayer chador, and repeated: “I wore black on their wedding night. Black from head to toe. I took the hookah and stepped into the party. Ma’am, my hands were shaking so much that I was about to drop the hookah on the carpet. My knees were about to buckle so much that I was afraid I’d collapse right there. The damned havoo, the lucky bride, got up and took the hookah from me. I tumbled next to the khanoum bozorg2. The shameless witch put her arm around my neck and kissed me to flatter me. I was exploding with rage, but I didn’t dare say anything. The next day, she became the lady of the house, and I became the kitchen maid. And with her flattering chit-chat, she soon drove me out of the house…..

Now, ma’am, the more I think about it, the more I realize that that life with the havoo was a thousand times more honorable than living in this desolate land. May God never take away any child’s father. I almost lost my dear daughter. She contracted tuberculosis. Fever doesn’t leave her body. [And] my son, as you saw, how can I control him? He keeps telling me that it was my fault, that his father threw us out because I was lame. All his classmates here are from working-class families—sons of gardeners, garbagemen, or menial workers. He learns from them. He was so close to being convinced to play hooky by your butler, too, who took him to buy ice cream sandwiches, rented a bike, and gave him a ride on the back. It was divine intervention that Mashdi Safar, the garbageman, saw them. … Mashdi Safar is a God-fearing man. He absolutely said nothing, just tricked my son by telling him that his dad had come home. I was sitting at home when I saw my son rush in, with Mashdi Safar behind him. “So, where’s my dad?” Mashdi Safar winked at me. I said your dad came, and when he saw you were not here, he left.” Dear ma’am, enough talking, I’ve said too much already. Now, ma’am, if you do this for me, it’s as if you’ve gone [to pilgrimage] at the Great Mecca.

  1. The new wife of the polygamous husband
  2. A common name for the eldest woman of the family

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