“Khameini is dead,” my sister-in-law tells me. “They’ll announce his death during Ashura.”
“He’s just fine. I saw him on television.”
“They are showing old footage and writing “live” on it. But he is dead.”
“That’s just a rumor from abroad,” I add. “They say he’s sick. They say he’s dead. Is he even sick?”
“Yes,” one woman says.
“No,” another says.
One of our friends thinks he looks sickly; another that he looks healthy. There is nothing so subjective as the leader’s health.
“Tomatoes are 3,000 a kilo,” Keivan’s cousin says.
“The most I have paid is 1,700.”
“That’s what I paid last night,” I say.
“No one should buy them. They should be left to rot. Tomatoes are too expensive.”
“They are terrible now anyway. The taste is bad, and they are rotten.”
“Ahmadinejad says If tomatoes are expensive then come to my neighborhood to buy them.”
“Yeah, and spend two hours getting there and 6,000 tuman on the cab.”
“Why is everything suddenly so expensive?”
“There are American warships in the Persian Gulf,” I say.
“Eh,” says my sister-in-law who lives close to the Gulf. Her face screws up and she starts to panic.
“Nothing will happen,” I say. I don’t know what else to say. She has already lived through her share of bombing.
“You don’t know, Esther, when Iraq was bombing Tehran it was terrible. The house next to us was hit; our neighbor’s car… Every day we thought that we would be next. It’s so horrible. I cannot take it again,” my other sister-in-law says. “Remember when we were taking care of Nooshin’s dog and how scared he was? He just hid under the couch.”
“That wasn’t during the war,” her husband says.
“It must have been Chahr Shambeh Souri,” I say (Last Tuesday night of the year: lots of bonfires and fireworks…)
She laughs. “You’re right. It was Chahr Shambeh Souri.”