by Shazde Asdola Mirza

I was only a twenty something solider / teacher / medic in that far away and good for nothing corner of Imperial Iran. Had two class-full of kids, every day except Fridays. Most students were forced to attend, with no aptitude for learning, no curiosity and no talent – just a bunch of dumb and dirty village boys. Five or six were smart enough to act intelligent, do their homework, answer some questions – even think about high school. Then, there was Omid … so smart and so out-of-place.  

Omid was 12 years of age. He had a pale complexion and a fragile figure. He was of a relatively prosperous family, with clean clothes, note books and pens. Every school day, Omid would sit on the first bench and look at me, with attentive eyes and eager face. He was doing well in homework and tests, but mostly loved my storytelling about the great scientists and discoverers – while most of the class was napping to get ready for their long and hard afternoon toil on the barley and potato fields.  

Omid’s father was the village nurse (Ampol Zan) and a truly kind and gentle man. He was very happy that Omid had started to care more about school, and occasionally showed his satisfaction by bringing assorted offerings of plums, peaches and pomegranates. But I wasn’t as optimistic, because Omid seemed to lack some very basic survival skills, for that harsh environment.  

I’d tell the father, how Omid was always chewing his nails to the bone – how he often seemed lonely and sad – not at all playful and mischievous like a normal boy. I urged him to spend more time together, and see what bothered the kid. But the father wouldn’t tell me of any problems at home – just uttering some vague words like “god is great” and “EnshAllah”. It was only after the village learnt about my ending term of duty and the imminent departure that finally, Omid’s mother decided to have a frank talk.  

It was a cold December (Azar) afternoon, when she came to our one-room school, where I was grading the kids’ first term (Sols) exam. It was her first visit, and the mother looked weary and nervous … just like Omid. She had a pale and thin, yet charming and kind face. Her six years of schooling had been cut short by an arranged marriage … yet compared to the rest of SeDeh women; she was learned and refined.  

It was quite unusual for a mother to visit by herself, and I was a bit uneasy. “Is Omid alright?” I asked. She declared that the kid was fine – actually that he had never been better! “What do you mean?” I inquired again. The mother slowly and clearly described a very odd childhood for a young village boy. Omid was keeping mostly to himself from an early age, refused to play with other kids, and was afraid of most grown ups. She basically pictured me the child as a total nervous wreck and a recluse.  

I tried to reassure her that all will be fine in due time, and that no two kids are alike and they all go through many phases. Added that; perhaps after he goes through puberty, develops physically, matures mentally … you know … the usual teacher bullshit comments. After my little lecture, she fell silent, before mustering all her courage to say; “Omid may not have many chances or many years.” To which I protested: “Why? Why would you say something like that?”  

She fell silent for a moment and then started to weep in sadness and pain. It was getting really awkward – a village mother crying in my classroom – what would the people think? I was already in enough trouble with the authorities, and really didn’t need a pick-and-shovel mob at my doorstep. She finally told me why. Last summer, Omid had swallowed a dozen of her mother’s sleeping pills!

End of Azar was my last day – the day that I was anticipating, counting and yearning for the past 20 months. The bus had arrived, to take me back to where I belonged – far away from that filthy and backward dump. Among a dozen well-wishers, Omid came with his father to see me off. The kid simply asked; “why are you leaving us?”


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Shazde Asdola Mirza

لطف داری فرامرز جان

Shazde Asdola Mirza

Yes, village life is on the surface simpler; but really all our lives are made of the same elements and actions ... just the cover and colors are a bit different.

Like you, as a kid, I was also amazed and impressed by the function of Ampol Zan. At the time, they used re-usable glass injection tubes, which were placed in a small shiny steel container full of water, which itself was placed over a little alcohol lamp, for boiling and disinfection. It was quite an intriguing procedure to watch - how a device was prepared for a necessary intrusion in someone's body ... like some sort of mysterious ritual, before a pound a flesh could be punctured.


Wonderful Story

by Faramarz on

Thank you Shazde for a heartfelt story.  

The people of the small villages in Iran were so simple and unaware of the big world around them. It was both funny and sad. I’ve always wondered whatever happened to the villager kids that I met on family trips that showed me how to fish in the river with a little stick and a string.

Thanks for mentioning Ampool Zan. In those days, that was such an intriguing job for a man to do injections on the bare asses of women. I remember once I was at a relative’s home in one of the provinces and the elder lady of the house needed an injection. A couple of us kids ran to the Ampool Zan place and got him.  He followed us back to the house on his moped with his briefcase full of syringes and little bottles of medicine.

At the house, the old lady was on the bed with her body completely covered with clothes and sheets. Only a small part of her white ass was visible so that the Ampool Zan could administer the injection without seeing or touching anything else! As kids, we were allowed in the room as deterrence so the guy would not take advantage of the situation! But we were only interested in seeing how painful the injection was going to be and if she was going to scream! Quite a scene!

Shazde Asdola Mirza

با تشکر

Shazde Asdola Mirza

Good point Divaneh dear: sometimes the more we shield our kids from the outside reality, the more they become disconnected and lost.

Dear Maziar: appearantly, SeDeh changed its name to HomayonShahr, during the later years of Shah's reign. After revolution, they changed their name to KhomeiniShahr!

Mr. Rahmanian: thanks for your note. You are right, and they are backward for a number of reasons. However, some reform and improvement which started with Shah's land-distribution, has continued during the IRI time.

Dr. Noury jan: thanks for your kind support.


Thanks Shazde

by divaneh on

Excellent story. Perhaps things would have been different if he worked in the farms like everyone else.

maziar 58


by maziar 58 on

thanks for a good read.

At least we got 2 that visited sedeh !


G. Rahmanian

Dear Shazde:

by G. Rahmanian on

A good story. Unfortunately, from what I hear, things haven't gotten any better in the villages of Iran. Iranian villagers are as poor as ever. Very hard not to get mad.

M. Saadat Noury

A very good read

by M. Saadat Noury on