Yousef alikhani
Translator: paymaan Jafar-Nejad

As the sky was clouding over, Gorgali, the shepherd, brought back the livestock to Melek. Everybody came and took their sheep to their own stable. Nastaraneh was angry. She was swearing at Gorgali:
-You name yourself a shepherd? Every single time one of my animals is missing.
Some people were sitting in front of the Tavoni*. Alikhan asked Gorgali:
-What’s going on again?
-I don’t know. Every time one of her ownerless animals gets lost.
Nastaraneh hit Gorgali’s shin with her stick:
-Ownerless? These ownerless animals are your responsibility.
And she told Alikhan who was looking at the sky:
- This goat of mine hasn’t come back.
Alikhan just like hadn’t heard her, said:
-You did good bring them back. It’s a heavy downpour of rain.
-Shame on me!
Nastaraneh guided her sheep towards Payeen-Mahalleh*. The air smelled like earth. She pushed away the wooden door of the stable and took them inside.
While she was leaving the neighborhood, Kablayee Atefeh asked her:
-Hey girl. Where are you going? It’s about to storm.
Nastaraneh didn’t answer. Kablayee* Easa said:
-It’ll be back by itself, wherever it is.
Mirza-ali was taking in the boxes in front of Tavoni
-It’s not smart enough to come back. If I don’t find it, wolves will take it away.
Ali-nejat asked:
-Do you want me to send someone after it?
Nastaraneh answered:
-I myself have a pair of feet.
-When there is no wisdom in the head, you suffer.
Everybody laughed and Nastaraneh hit the fence of the last house of the neighborhood with her stick and took the path that the livestock had come from. Mashdi Firouzehsaid:
-God knows his people’s behavior. She is strong, I swear to Imam-zadeh Ismael.
Nastaraneh hadn’t stepped out of the orchard, that she thought three hills away when the rain stops, a rainbow will glow.
She was hitting the fences with her stick on her way; maybe the goat had strayed while grazing around. But her mind was flying three mountains further where she would get after the rain. To Alemang-Darayo* Maintain.
It’s an old saying in Milek: “If someone passes under the rainbow, all her dreams will come true.”
It hasn’t been many years that she has been dreaming a young man whom she didn’t know, she would take their children’s hands one day and the only house in the Payeen-Mahalleh would become full of life. But there were no man in her destiny and her parents has been departed.
-What kind of life is this my dear?
- So what’s life?
-I don’t know
It was not her choice to find someone and bring him over. His father was laughing.
-What dear?
-What does she mean?
-It’s nonsense.
Who could picture someone marry Kablayee QorbanAli’s daughter? They were in the Payeen-mahalleh from the beginning. She had told her mom:
-Well! Let’s sell here and move to Bala-mahalleh.
-Are you crazy?
-who’s gonna buy here?
One night mom’s body became heavy and inflated. Her face turned to mud color and she passed away. Everybody said that spirits revealed themselves to her:
-God forbidden spirits show themselves to someone.
-Yeah, maybe they weren’t bad ones, but how much one person can tolerate?
-Yeah right, one would scare to death.
Then, Kablayee QorbanAli fell down Mulberry tree. He wanted to pick some mulberry leaves for the sheep that she was feeding to get ready for fall’s butchery. He had been found the next evening with a broken back.
Nastaraneh had said:
- He has become handicapped.
She was right. She had to feed him by her hand, take his hands and take him to the rest room. At last he died.
When Nastaraneh stopped crying, she started taking care of the home. It didn’t take a long time to get used to the silence of the payeen-mahalleh. Her only problem was her missing sheep, which eventually became a hobby to break the silence of the evening, and then to get back home, to eat something, to lock the door, and to sleep.
Alikhan says:
-This ownerless place has sent all his young men to Qazvin.
He was talking about the young men of the Milek who after going to Qazvin they didn’t want to marry the girls from Milek.
It’s been a long time that Nastaraneh hasn’t been got rid of the thick hair in her chin. She used to go to backroom or somewhere alone to pick the hair out but they had grown again very fast. Just like women with a couple of children her scarf was white. She was not comfortable with colorful scarf. She was afraid of gossips:
-She wears colored scarf, and behaves seductive to be in someone’s arms.
It was pouring. Her shoes were sinking into the mud and were sounding like Shert Shert. She folded the bottom of her pants.
-This rain is a trouble.
She faced to the sky to feel the cool rain on her face more. Her scarf was wet, sticking to her hair. Some of her hair was out the scarf drawing a fine line on her forehead.
She reached to the stone cave. She wanted to go inside and wait for the rain to stop. Girls and boys that take their own sheep to graze, when it smells like the earth they take their livestock here and take them into the cave.
She said to herself:
Let’s say it stops now or in two hours, what’s the difference. I need to reach Allemang hill at the time of Allemag.
It was two hills away. She didn’t even stop to empty the muddy water inside her shoes which sounded Shert Shert. She put the stick inside the Chador Shab at her waist. She stepped on the stone trail which was slippery and wet under the rain. Her shoes were just like soup. She took them off. She untied her Chador and retied it around her muddy shoes. She sat on the stone trail; she held the stones with hand and crept slowly. Rain needles were thrown on her face. One side of her face was numb. Needles were rushing down. She could see to the bottom of the valley. The trail was all rough. The water in the valley was red under the silver rain and Sangestan hill didn’t want to end.
Her butt became hot and stiff. She stepped on the mud below Stone trail, sighed and walked. The sound of the rain from the top of the hill was diving to the valley and doubling in the reflection. The rain was sneaking through the hawthorn leaves and branches. She took the shoes and hit them against a tree beside the trail. Water mud and sand splashed on the earth.
Shaban’s wife while was taking her family to Qazvin had told:
- Girl! City is vast! Who knows, maybe your destiny is there. Why are you working like a slave for these ownerless properties?
Her brother was in Qazvin. He had told her that he could come and take her as well, he could rent a place and she could stay around him.
Shaban’s Wife had told:
- If this is the case, stay here. Living in Milek is a thousand time better for you to come to Qazvin, and then every hour he comes over. So what? This so called sir is your master. You don’t want it.
Milekies was selling their orchards, sheep, house, stable, and their storages. Nastaraneh wanted to sell everything but his brother had told: “Do you want us to loose our roots?”
She had told:
-Shit to your heart, destiny! What the hell is this written on my forehead?
She had become a gossip topic. They were saying:
-It’s her has survived by her own.
-My dear cousin, are you naive? How many people proposed her?
-Yeah but who? You mean Mirza-Ali? You call him husband? He is as old as her dad. God enlighten his grave.
It was raining non-stop. She passed Sorkheh-kooh. She thought to herself:
-I’ve passed Sange-kooh and Sorkheh-kooh. Now it’s only left Alemang-darayo.
When it stops raining, Alemang would stretch a bow from there and show its seven colors like a wristlet to Milekies. Half of the wristlet would be in the mountain and the colorful half would come to sojourn.
She sat down. Rain’s needles were piercing her head in and out of her chin. She thought now she had made it this far, it stop raining and Ale-mang shows off, and she could pass. So what?
She sprawled under a hawthorn tree. There were still lots of hawthorn-berries on the ground. The rain shook down ripe and unripe hawthorn-berries on the ground. Hi brother had told:” My wife and children would like to have hawthorn berry very much, collect some and send us”
The umbrella of the leaves was pierced. She felt the rain needles not only on her scarf, but also on her hair and her floral dress covered her wrinkled skin. She felt shivering. She was cold. She put her hands in the warm between her belly and the chador on her waist. It had desirable warmth. She slid her hand lower and lower. It was warm.
It had happened before some night or midnight while the animals in the stable were mating she felt like sliding her hands between her belly and the chador on her waist where was warmer. It wasn’t long ago that she woke up in the middle of the night and put away the sheet over her. Twist in herself and folded her legs in her belly. Just like a baby in the uterus. The tension was not leaving her alone. She rolled the blanket and moved it between her legs. The wave spread all along her body.
Now cold and warm were shrinking her body.
It was raining less. She figured this out when she felt its strikes on her head less.
She didn’t took her cane, she ran.
Nobody knew if she got there or not, but later on it’s said that, while Rahman the son of Mashdi Tala was heading back found the sheep and met her in the middle of the day.

God knows what happened between them.
Someone says:
-May God gives him long life. He did good. May God gives bliss to his youth
-May God gives luck

There are some people who say:
-Well what he had then? At least Nastaraneh has something: a house, orchard, and a little property.
- They say after a couple of nights this boy and his mom stayed there.
-Thanks god one thousand times! May god by intercession of The Five*, confer bliss to everybody’s end.
They say:
-Since when does a girl from Milek rest in an alien’s arms?
Nastaraneh was silent. She wasn’t saying anything. Even when Gorg-ali brings her sheep, he doesn’t see her. Rahman come to the square.
Rahman Mileki hoooy. Any sheep has lost or not?
Rahman laughes and take the sheep toward the stable.

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