4.2 "Crosswind" by Mehdi Rabbi

Elli Dehnavi


Translator's Introduction

Mehdi Rabbi (b. 1979), a member of the new generation of Iranian writers, established his status as a short story writer with his first collection That Cozy Corner on the Left, published in 2007. The book won two national literary prizes and was shortlisted for the Houshang Gloshiri and Mehregan awards. His second collection Go Dawdle Around, Pal (2009) was also well-received by readers and critics. Mehdi, who is originally from Ahvaz, a southern city in Iran, writes about small-town lower- and middle-class everyday life, and his characters are mostly young men struggling with love, desire, tradition, and their social class. “Crosswind” is the shortest story from Rabbi’s first collection, which was translated to Italian in the summer of 2015.


by Mehdi Rabbi

The gas station is crowded. I’mburying my face in Sadiq’s leather jacket. A cold wind is blowing in our direction. A metallic black BMW stops next to us. “Fill up the tank before they do,” I tell Sadiq. “No, let her do it first,” he replies. An angel in white is standing beside us before I manage to ask him why.

Sadiq says, “No way I’ll do it before you, ma’am. You first. And if you feel cold, please get back in the car and I’ll take care of it.” He jumps down onto the motorcycle; the springs move it up and down. She has black shining eyes, very light skin, and vinaceous dyed hair middle-parted in the front and down to her waist in the back.  The tall, well-built girl with thick black eyebrows has clasped her hands together and is watching the pump display. The crosswind blows up her thin-slit Manteo andpresses it to her body. I say to myself that a flower is beautiful from every side. Although she is standing still, every part of her body is dancing like the leaves of a weeping willow. The fantasy of her warms me up. My eyelids feel heavy.

When the car moves away and the blast of air blows against my face, I steady my feet on the ground. Sadiq puts the nozzle in his motorcycle’s tank and tells me, “What’s wrong, man? Don’t knock over the motorcycle.” “God bless these chicks!” says the old gas jockey and laughs. We laugh as well.

When we are riding amongst the cars on the highway, Sadiq says “Did you see that woman?”

“Yeah, she was really hot.”

“It’s really annoying that that goddamn chick belongs to one person. Is there anything more unfair than that?”

He laughs; he laughs so hard that he bursts into coughs. I start rubbing his back.

“What do you mean? How many should have her?”

“Fifteen, or even more.”

I keep rubbing his back.

“Hamed, do you think she works?”

“What do you mean by work?”

“I don’t know, like doing chores. Like, do you think she would put her hand inside a chicken and remove its internal organs, or clean a lamb head for cooking kale paacheh? Or do you think she would clean the toilet?”

“Maybe her husband takes care of those chores.”

“No way! I bet they have servants.”

He lets out his breath with such force that he makes an audible whistling sound.

“Sadiq, how many men do you think she must have made fall in love with her?”

“Ah, come on. You’re saying nonsense again.”

‘Fifteen, a hundred and fifty, or fifteen hundred,’ I think to myself. Sadiq is right. It’s absolutely unfair!

I bury my face in his leather jacket. A cold wind is blowing in our direction. “Hamed, look over there. Another BMW!” Sadiq says.



Elli Dehnavi is a PhD Candidate in the Comparative Literature Program at the University of Alberta with both academic and creative publications. Her research interests include Middle Eastern cinema and culture, women's literature from Islamicate societies, feminist theory, masculinity studies, and body politics.


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