Part 1 (Part 2)
He is heavy; God - he is heavy. Panting and thrusting; he finally reaches his climax. The ripples pulsate all over him just as the sweat drips off his jowls, landing, one drop at a time, on my left shoulder. He lets out a sigh. Then almost instantly, he regains his composure and gives me a shy look. I reach below and snake my hand in between us until I arrive at the base of his penis. I hold on to the edge of the condom and gently ease him out. He rolls over and away from me, and drops into a slumber almost immediately. I look at the clock on the bedside table; that was a 20-minute straight screw. I get out of bed to go and clean up. I love the shower afterwards, washing off all that sweat and the nauseating rancid smell of sex. I plop on the shower cap and step into the bathtub. As hot water pounds at my body, I turn my head away from the spray and momentarily close my eyes.
With a coarse lathery loofah I scrub myself all over. I feel the delicious sting; my skin blushing to a pink hue as I catch my image in the mirrored tiles that cover the walls. Bony narrow and long feet, each sporting a web of colored toenails, are joined through a pair of shapely ankles, to lean calves which extend lazily before they reach the next set of joints – my round knees. My hips, narrow enough to be covered by large masculine hands, yet broad enough to distinguish it from that of a boy, crown my toned thighs which are devoid of any blemish. My waist cinches in the back, above two perfect dimples and a small birthmark, and in the front, ties just around the midpoint of my smooth flat belly, to a small elongated orifice – my navel. About six inches below lies my pubis; coyly covered with brown curls shaped into a small heart, underneath of which nestles my pleasure trove. My torso extends gallantly with but a thin layer of fat, giving it a supple and taut appearance. I watch the strings of water lazily drip over my breasts which promise sweet rapture where the brownish rose colored circles materialize to house, at their very epicenters - two brazen buds. The collarbones are my most favorite. With pride they lie in a wide-angled V-shape just below my neck thus assuring balance to my frame. My arms extend from there on, past slim shoulders first to a pair of dainty elbows and then to narrow wrists from where the hands emerge – two soft palms with tiny veins criss-crossing the creases and ten perfectly long fingers, each ending in clamshell nails painted maroon. One final swirl under the shower to get the last of the suds off and I step out of the tub.
Once I have dried up, I apply lavender lotion all over – in each fold and every curve. At the sink, I soap and wash my face, and with a moist cotton wool take away every trace of make-up. When that task is out of the way, I take off the shower cap and tie my hair neatly into a bun. I put on a head band to frame my face, before I set to decorate it. My flawless skin needs little help from layers of cream and powder. Somewhere in the past, a Russian or a German soldier must have had his way with a matriarch in my distant family. As a result, I stand here with fair skin, the color of honey; hazel eyes that need only a thin line along the tip of the upper lids to accentuate their brilliance; and lips that are, at the same time, ferocious and tame. I line them with a pencil the color of mulberry and fill the flesh in between with gloss. Once I am done with my make up, I place gold hoops in my ear lobes and stand back to take in the entire look. The narrow, immaculately tweezed arched eyebrows, the oblong blushed cheeks and the soft bend of my nose, together, give me a unique brand of sensuality not often seen among my people. I gather my lips together in the shape of a kiss and blow it into the mirror. I smile and there, the dimple on my lower left chin – my signature – winks at me. Self adoration is a gift I lavish on myself.
I return to the bedroom to the sound of his snoring. The phone rings. I quickly pick up.
“His time is up. Get him out in 5.”
“He is asleep.”
“Wake him up for God’s sake. Mr. Jalali is next. You don’t want him to wait, do you?”
The ring of the phone has awoken him. He rises, visits the bathroom, returns and throws on his clothes in a hurry. Not a word passes between us. I busy myself with my dress. He reaches into his wallet, pulls out a wad of bills and leaves them on the small dressing table.
“ Aghaye Yousefi, you need to pay upstairs.”
“This is for you, Khanoum.” He offers, almost apologetically.
“Moteshakeram.” I respond gratefully.
“Same time, next week, then.”
And with that he leaves the room, closing the door gently behind him.
Inside of a minute from the time of his departure, Zainab, the deaf and mute maid, arrives with a glass of tea. She changes the bed sheets, tidies up the room and hands me two prophylactics, each sealed in an aluminum lined purple pochette. I slip in the pocket of her apron one of the bills from the dressing table. She bows her head in gratitude.
I return to the bathroom. I pinch the hem of my short slinky black dress and secure it in the elastic band of my garter belt. I reach for the tube of special jelly, unscrew the cap and place a generous dollop at the tip of my index finger. Three or so inches above where my sheer stockings end in a lacy pattern, I reach in between my legs and rub the salve in the folds of my vagina. I insert a second dollop inside, contract my pelvic muscle to safely secure the deposit. And I gently release. The cream is cool and soothing; I relish the sensation. Afterwards I straighten my dress and reach for the wig which has been patiently waiting for me in the vanity case. I comb it with care and position it on my head, making sure to hide every brown lock of hair inside its lining. I shake my head this way and that to create a natural look for the golden mane. Mr. Jalali likes blonds.
* * *
What a life, eh? A high class prostitute with a waiting list. That would be me. Along the road to the pinnacle of this fine occupation, I have learnt a truth or two in this city which boasts a population in excess of ten million. You are probably wondering why a beautiful creature should waste her life in this trade. Why am I not occupied with a respectable job – leading a respectable life? How is it that I am not married to an honorable gentleman who would take care of me, keep danger at bay, and give me children so that I earn value in the eyes of my sisters, mothers and neighbors? How is it that in a city where women are wrapped from head to toe in drab colored kaftans, I operate freely – one minute a blond in a sexy black number, next a brunette in fuchsia and yet another a red-head in forest green; entertaining men; seeing to their unquenchable thirst?
Here is the answer. Define respectable! Define honor! Define value! Define it in the city of Tehran.
When I was a kid, I loved to read. Soon I discovered that there were many who would rather I didn’t. This started when in my early teens my mother would send me out on errands. Standing in line at the bakery or the green grocer’s, the men bore holes in me with their eyes; eyes that shamelessly betrayed their hunger for my flesh. No amount of hejab was enough for them to be dissuaded from their desire to capture, own and use, if not in reality but at least in fantasy. Prohibition had put a hefty price on me. I was a piece of meat – the more wrapped up, the higher the promise of delight. Being beautiful was my crime. It became my cross; and later - my salvation.
I was married off well before I saw my 18th birthday, to an old merchant who had eyed me in the alley where I lived. Despite having a wife and a brood, he was relentless in my pursuit. The marriage was short lived. By a stroke of luck he was hit by a bus and died instantly, leaving behind a small inheritance for his first family and none for me. I was glad for the loss of my husband but not the disappearance of the provisions – paltry though they were. In time, I set off to make a life for myself. I managed to get a placement at one of the public universities to study, of all things, Literature. I had high hopes of one day becoming a teacher, a journalist or maybe even a writer. The professor of Poetry took a liking to me. This foreign-educated learned man surely must have had grand ambitions to have left his life of luxury behind and return to the homeland in order to touch and mold the minds of the country’s youth. He spoke of Chaucer and Blake, Frost and Eliot – as if they were blood relatives. The words warmed my soul and I was convinced then that he recognized in me the potential I sensed within myself - that I was made for great things.
But I was wrong for he had other plans. He succeeded in executing his and I failed at mine. Before I knew it, I had become his concubine – one of his concubines, probably. He feasted on my body and then read me poetry. Eventually my penny dropped; in that he was getting a lot more out of the union than was I. And I, for a lack of better term, if you would pardon the pun, found, much to my chagrin, that I had ended up with the short end of the stick. I bailed out of the Wednesday afternoon poetry class. Instead, I signed up with an older lady professor who taught Persian literature. She was dull and drab and mostly angry, but at least she did not want to paw me. I prayed and poured water of ablution on my soul. And I drowned myself in my studies. But despite my hard work, I earned failing grades at the end of the year. I went to see the Dean to plead my case. A decision had been made. I was deemed ill-suited for the study of Literature at that prominent establishment. They said my dress was not Islamic enough despite the potato sacks of grey, brown and black with which I covered myself, and the muzzle I kept over the bottom half of my face. There was no proof for this callous act. My only clue was that bastard of a professor who was deprived of his Wednesday afternoon free fucks.
I didn’t have rich parents. In fact, by the time I found myself widowed, thrown out of school and bereft, they had long been gone. My sister and brother-in-law were the people I lived with in a room of an old house located in the neighborhood of Khani-Abad. They had a sick child I took care of. They both worked; she in a factory making widgets; he in the hospital as an orderly. Times were tough and three mouths to feed was a stretch for the meager income they brought in.
I befriended the old lady who lived in a room across the yard. She agreed to take care of the child so that I could go and find a job. I thought it would be easy. But it soon became apparent that being a young, single, beautiful, poor woman was a threat to employers everywhere. I did not have the family connections to get a job in a government office or a bank. I was unable to convince a shopkeeper that I could sell, keep the inventory from growing legs and not run away with a customer or the contents of the till. Hairdressers and Sewing shops turned me down for lack of experience as did hospitals and schools. The ones who asked to see my birth certificate were not only softened by the truth of my widowhood but became suspicious as a result. Eventually I convinced myself to become a maid; perhaps a live-in at one of the houses uptown perched by the snow-capped mountains. Surely somebody would want a nanny for their kids, or help for an elderly parent; maybe a cook, or a simple sweeper of dirt and grime. I soon discovered that those doors were equally closed to the likes of me. My appearance alone made me a deadly threat to the respectable tea-sipping ladies of Shemiranat. They wanted help – but she had to be ugly, maimed or old; a combination of all three being the most desirable. Rejection threw me back on the streets that carried names of hope, faith and charity.
My first trick was a middle-aged man in a new sedan. He stopped before me at the bus stop. I had all but given up on the search of the day. Pounding the pavements on an empty stomach and a parched mouth had become my daily bread. When he offered a ride I accepted, too tired to analyze the intent. He asked if I would join him for a meal. That single word – meal - made me dizzy well before I was placed in front of platters of rice, meat, bread and every condiment imaginable. He talked incessantly as I wolfed down whatever appeared on the table. Big spoonfuls of rice, drenched in butter found their way into my mouth; one after another, as I chewed and swallowed hurriedly not wanting to lose out on a chance of a lifetime. I devoured the meat. The onions and herbs with yogurt, I wrapped in hot flat bread, and in a hurry practically pushed them down my throat. He barely touched his plate but I didn’t care. All the more for me. I just nodded to his gibberish. Who cared what had happened to him – a lonely soul in the city among millions, with a bedridden wife, two unmarried daughters and a son in Turkey. I was hungry. I – me. I was not about to waste my energy in sympathy towards this man – a man who had the freedom to walk around without so much as a single strand of cotton on his head, let alone a ridiculous black habit. A man whose only grief in life appeared to be that he had nobody to talk to. If I were to have given him any thought, which I wasn’t going to, I’d have considered him spoilt and selfish; an infantile - having been blessed with so much and still asking for more.
Once the plates were polished, I wiped my mouth on the sleeve of my black garb and let out a satisfied sigh. I took my first good look at this man and noted the sad eyes and saggy skin. He ordered dessert. Steaming tall glasses of hot tea arrived with a platter of baklava, dates and raisins. I placed five sugar cubes in my glass and proceeded to stir it noisily with the long end of a fork. The aroma of the tea and the sight of the sweets made my knees quiver. I wanted to eat them all and I almost did, alternating a gulp of tea with a date; then a generous piece of baklava, a fistful of raisins and back again to the tea. I asked if I could take the rest with me. He nodded in assent and ordered more food. The waiter arrived with a stack of Styrofoam boxes filled to the brim. I asked if they had any soup that I could take for my sick nephew and promptly a container arrived. Once outside the restaurant, he stopped and bought me a colorful scarf from a street vendor. It was a beautiful sky blue, the background to a bevy of doves. I folded the scarf into a triangle and wrapped it around my shoulders, tying it in the front in an elaborate knot. He told me I looked pretty and I smiled shyly as I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window and winked with happiness.
Afterwards, we went to a house in the eastern part of the city. Without introduction he approached me muttering under his breath that this was his first time. I did not resist. Out of respect for I know not what; I kept my head dress on, my eyes wide open and my mouth shut tight. I barely undressed. He just took off my pants and underwear, lifted my shirt up to my neck to feel my breasts and quickly suckle. He then reached in between my legs and entered me gently without so much as a peep. All I could think of was that night’s dinner at home – a whole chicken; a big bowl of soup.
Later, the man drove me to the same bus stop where he had first found me. Without a word, he reached over to the back seat, placed in my open palm some cash and closed my hand over it with a soft squeeze. I grabbed the plastic bag of food and got out. He drove off without me so much as throwing him a glance.
On the ride home, at the back of the bus, squashed in between chattering chador-clad women of the poorer walks of life, my soul momentarily sunk in shame as I swallowed the lump in my throat. I wondered if anyone could tell just by looking at me. In a city where everyone wears a mask, I was safe with my head covered in black, a muzzle and no name. Once the initial jolt of guilt subsided, what I felt was mild contentment, the background to which could be nothing but my happily filled stomach. I counted the money he had given me and was astounded for it was more than my sister earned in a week; maybe even more than what my brother-in-law was paid for a day’s work. And all it took me was an hour of my time – not even that. I wish I had gotten the fellow’s phone number so I could provide him my services again. He was gone, but I soon found out there were many others >>> Part 2
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Glossary of Persian Terms
Chador A full-length semicircle of fabric which is thrown over the head and held closed in front. It has is held shut by the hands or by the help of an elastic band secured under the chin.
Hejab Head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women.
Moteshakeram Formal term for “Thank you”
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