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Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Shireen comes to Roya’s house to study. As they are walking up to the house Shireen stops to admire their garden. She freezes when she sees the gardener’s son. When he notices her, he too stares and then quickly rushes into the shed. Roya asks what the matter is and Shireen replies that he looks like someone she knows, one of her brother’s friends. Roya thinks this is ridiculous because Ali is much older and the gardener’s son is only 15. Roya asks about the meetings at Shireen’s house. She tells her they are still going on, but as of late have been about her future, i.e. who she is to be married to. She reveals to Roya she is infatuated with her second-cousin, who has asked for her hand, but her father does not approve because he wants someone with more income and better morals. Jenab has been speaking to her father about it and he has agreed to consider. After Shireen leaves, Reza comes in the room with a t-shirt around his head mimicking the chador, and makes fun of Shireen. Roya snaps at him telling him she is her best friend. He tells her to be careful around the fanatics.

A few days later Shireen has been acting very distant. Roya asks her about her suitor, but Shireen says they should not talk of it. Shireen acts as if she wants to be left alone, so Roya begins hanging out with her old friends.

Roya is called out of class to the teacher’s lounge. Scared, she walks in the room and is surprised to find Jenab in there. He tells her not to abandon Shireen and that even though she seems cut off, to push through and try to reach her. Jenab dismisses her and Roya goes to find Shireen. She finds her reading a book in the prayer hall. She asks why she will not tell her what is wrong, and Shireen replies that Eemon, her suitor, left, but will not say why. Roya tries to comfort her, but Shireen does not want to talk any more.

The week before final exams Jenab writes a poem on the board that talk about pain. He asks what pain the writer is referring to. Shireen answers that it is the most unbearable pain, the same pain Alieh’s mother must have felt when she was told her daughter’s remains had been found. Jenab agrees, but tells her there is no such thing as ‘most unbearable’ pain, that life can always make things worse. Shireen begins to silently cry. Jenab goes on to describe more types of pain including the realization we could have done something. He says many have the “I’m comfortable, why take a chance?” mentality. With these words Shireen runs out of the classroom. Roya goes after her and finds Shireen in their window. Roya tells her she’ll never forget the day they took Alieh away, and tells Shireen about it. She says she still feels guilty thinking she could have done something. Shireen comforts her and tells her there was nothing to be done. Shireen tells Roya that her father was going to say yes to Eemon’s proposal, but then he and Ali joined the demonstrators and he said no.

At the end of school, Roya goes to find Shireen and sees her in their classroom crying. Shireen tells her Eemon has enlisted in the army and will be away for two years. The plan now is for her to wait to marry. Roya tells her she will be going to the farm soon for the summer and to promise to write. Shireen gives her the diary for safekeeping until the next year. They run into Jenab and Baba the janitor carrying boxes to Jenab’s car. They say their goodbyes. Baba comes back inside to tell them Jenab lost the case. Roya is surprised, but Shireen had already known. They want to know if he will be coming back, but Baba says he delivered the letter of resignation himself.

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