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Script: The Day I Became A Woman

Mon, 25/12/2000 - 12:00

Mohsen Makhmalbaf

First Story: Havva (Eve)
At Havva’s doorstep, 10:00 am:
Hassan, the naughty nine-year-old black boy, kicks open the door to Havva’s home.

Hassan:            (Shouting) Havva, let’s go buy some ice-cream, Havva…
No answer is heard.
On the roof of Havva’s home, 10:02 am:
Havva’s mother is picking up the laundry she had hung to dry. With each piece of cloth out of the way, one more boat appears in the heart of the sea. There is a breeze and Hassan can still be heard calling Havva.
At Havva’s doorstep, 10:05 am:
Hassan is still standing in front of the door, and Havva’s grandmother is trying to throw him out.

Grandmother:  Havva is not in. Go away.

Hassan:            Where is she?!

Grandmother:  I don’t know where she is, just go play with the other kids. Play with the boys, not the girls. Go on son, Havva is a woman now. She shouldn’t play with boys anymore.
Grandma tries to close the door on Hassan while talking, but Hassan is too stubborn and wouldn’t let him. He keeps calling Havva.
Havva’s roof, 10:10 am:
Havva’s mother enters a mosquito net, under which Havva is sleeping. From the outside of the net, one can only see a shadow of Havva’s mother, gently shaking and caressing her daughter out of sleep.

Havva’s mother: Havva? Havva, honey? Honey, dear? Wake up, it’s past ten. You should get ready to go to school. Get up, honey.
Grandma tries to close the door on Hassan while talking, but Hassan is too stubborn and wouldn’t let him. He keeps calling Havva.
Havva’s doorstep, 10:12 am:
Hassan tries to open the door while calling Havva’s name. Grandma stands behind the door, literally standing in Hassan’s way of getting in.

Hassan:            (Sticking his head in) Havva! Havva, come play!

Grandma:          Go… go!
Havva’s roof and the backyard, 10:15 am:
Havva’s mother is still in the process of waking her up.

Havva’s mother: Havva… Havva, honey… Get up, honey. Sweetie, get up… Today is an important day.

Havva:              (Still can’t be seen from the outside of the mosquito net) Why is today important?

Havva’s mother: I won’t tell you until you get up. Honey, get up and come out of the mosquito net and have your breakfast, then I’ll tell you.

Havva:              Why is today important?

Havva’s mother: (Coming out of the mosquito net) I won’t tell you till you get up and come downstairs. (and goes down the ladder)

Havva:              (Sticking her head out of the mosquito net. A black spot in the white cloth.) tell me, why is today an important day? (Hears no answer) At least tell me for whom it’s important.

Havva’s mother: (All the way down from the ladder into the yard) Today is important for you, honey…. Come on down. I want to buy you something real pretty.

Havva:              What do you want to buy me?

Havva’s mother: (Goes in the room) Come down here so I tell you.
Havva’s doorstep, 10:18 am:
Hassan and grandma are fighting. Hassan opens the door again and shouts.

Hassan:            Havva?

Grandma:          Havva’s not in. Get out!

Hassan:            Havva is inside. (Facing the backyard) Havva, come play with me.

Grandma:          Out, you saucy boy!

Hassan:            Havva? I’m outside, come soon!
The backyard, 10:19 am:
Havva’s mother comes out of the room. She puts a veil on and takes the matted basket hanging on the wall.

Havva’s mother: Come down, honey. I’m going.

Havva:              What do you want to buy?

Havva’s mother: I want to buy you something real pretty… Come down here.

Havva:              Tell me, what do you want to buy?

Havva’s mother: Grandma will tell you why today is important. I’m going, honey; It’s almost noon.
The adjacent backyard, 10:30 am:
Grandma is sitting on a rug, benefiting from the shadow of a tree, and lovingly putting bites of sandwich and sips of tea in Havva’s mouth. Havva plays around, sometimes refusing to eat.

Grandma:          Eat, sweetie. Eat, baby... That’s a good girl… One more bite, now.

Havva:              I had enough.

Grandma:          Starting today, you shouldn’t go in the street and play with the boys anymore…

Havva:              (Pushes back the sandwich) I had enough, I don’t want any more.

Grandma:          Where is your mom?

Havva:              She went out to buy me something pretty.

Grandma:          What would you like her to buy?

Havva:              A doll.

Grandma:          Dolls are for kids, you’re a grown-up now.

Havva:              I want a doll with long hair.

Grandma:          You’re a grown-up now. What you want is a chador, not a doll.

Havva:              I want a beautiful doll.

Grandma:          A doll won’t do you any good.

Havva:              I want one of those beautiful dolls that my friend has.

Grandma:          Take this one last bite, now.

Havva:              No, I’m stuffed. I don’t want any more.

Grandma:          Eat this one bite, honey.

Havva:              It’s the last one, then!
The door opens with Hassan’s kick again, and Hassan appears in the doorway.

Hassan:            Havva, are you home?
Havva stands up to go toward Hassan.

Grandma:          Don’t go, Havva. I won’t let you go. You’re a grown-up now, you shouldn’t go out to play with the kids.
Restrained from going out, Havva sits on the rope hanging from the tree, riding on the homemade swing.

Hassan:            Havva, let’s go buy some ice-cream.

Havva:              Granny, please let me go play with Hassan.

Grandma:          No, that’s not possible.

Havva:              Please, let me go.

Grandma:          No, honey, that’s not possible. Hassan, you go on, Havva isn’t coming.

Havva:              We want to go buy some ice-cream. Please let me go!

Grandma:          Have you done your homework?

Havva:              Yes.

Grandma:          When did you do that?

Havva:              Early morning. (Grandma sits quiet for a while, thinking, without saying anything) Granny, please let me go.

Grandma:          No, I won’t let you! You’re a grownup now. You’re a woman.

Havva:              Granny, please! Let me go!

Grandma:          You’ve grown up. You’re 9 years old now.

Hassan:            (Standing by the door) Havva, let’s go play.

Havva:              Why was it ok for me to go out and buy ice-cream with Hassan yesterday, but I can’t do it today?

Grandma:          You weren’t a woman yesterday. You weren’t a grown-up. You’re a grown-up today.

Hassan:            Havva, come if you’ve done your homework.

Grandma:          Havva has grown up now, she should spent her time with other girls, not boys. You go find yourself some boy to play with. Go on, boy.

Hassan:            I’m not leaving without Havva.

Grandma:          (Angry) I’m saying it nicely, go… You’re not going?! … Ok, I’m coming to teach you one or two things!
Grandma walks toward the door and throws Hassan out. Havva uses the chance to escape to the roof.

Hassan:            (Still shouting) Havva, I’m waiting for you outside.
The backyard and the roof, 10:40 am:
Havva uses a ladder to escape to the roof. Grandma goes after her.

Grandma:          Havva, honey, come down here. People will see you up there!

Havva:              (From the roof) Hassan, where are you? Come.

Grandma:          Havva, don’t play with boys, honey. If you’re bored, come to me. I’ll play with you, myself.

Havva:              (Facing grandma from the roof) Why could I go out and play till yesterday, but I can’t today?!

Grandma:          Honey, you were a child until yesterday, you weren’t nine, yet. You went to sleep last night, to wake up as a nine-year-old. You’re a woman now. Come down. This isn’t right!

Havva:              I slept and woke up as a woman?!

Grandma:          Yes honey, you’re a woman now. Come down here so I can tell you everything.

Havva:              (Facing the alley) Hassan, come here. I’m here.

Hassan:            (From the alley, looks on the roof) Why does your grandma throw me out of the house?

Havva:              Hassan, wait a minute. Just one minute! My mom will be back, I’ll get her permission, and we’ll go.

Hassan:            I’m standing here, be fast. I want to go buy ice-cream.

Havva:              Don’t you go eating ice-cream on your own! Wait for me.

Grandma:          (Still calling Havva from the backyard) Come down honey. Don’t play with boys. Listen to your grandmother. Come down.

The Alley and the roof, 10:43 am:
Havva’s mother enters the alley and sees Havva on the roof.

Havva’s mother: Sweetie, why are you standing up there? You’ll fall down! Step back.

Havva:              Granny says I went to sleep and when I woke up this morning, I was a woman!

Havva’s mother: She’s right, sweetie. Honey, go down before you fall… Hassan, why are you standing here?

Havva:              Granny threw me out. She won’t let Havva and I go buy ice-cream.

Havva’s mother: Follow me. I’ll ask Havva’s granny for her permission.
Hassan follows Havva’s mother home.
Havva’s home, 10:45 am:

Havva’s mother and Hassan go in. Havva goes down the ladder to the backyard.

Havva:              Mummy, see what granny is doing? She’s not letting me go play with Hassan.

Grandma:          You’re a grown-up now. You can’t play with boys.
Havva’s mother goes in the room and changes her black chador to her home chador with flower patterns and takes the veil off her face. She shows the black cloth she just bought to grandmother.

Havva’s mother: Mother, see if you like the cloth I bought for Havva’s chador.

Grandma:          Let me see, dear. (Carefully inspects the cloth) It’s very beautiful.

Havva’s mother: (Sitting beside to the room window) Havva, come here, let’s see if this cloth fits you.

Havva:              (Leaning on the ladder thinking of Hassan) Mummy, can I go play with Hassan?

Havva’s mother: Sweetie, come here and let me measure your size for the chador.

Havva:              Please mom, can I?
Hassan is standing in a corner of the backyard, where grandma can’t see him. With hands, he gestures to Havva to follow him outside.

Havva’s mother: Honey, come here and let me measure the size of the cloth.

Havva:              Mummy, please, please let me go play with Hassan. He won’t wait for me any longer.
Havva’s mother measures the size of the chador on her. Hassan gestures to Havva to follow him to the alley. Grandma sees Hassan.

Grandma:          (Kinder this time) Hassan, my dear boy, you’re like my own grandson. Boys play with boys, and girl with girls. Go on dear. Go outside. Havva is a grown-up now, she’s 9 years old. (Facing Havva’s mother) Give me the chador, I’ll cut it myself. You might not do it right.

Havva’s mother: (Hands the chador over to grandma) Havva, sweetie, I forgot to bring the needle. Go get it for me.
Havva goes to the room to bring the needle.
Grandma cuts the cloth.

Hassan:            (Running out of patience) Havva, if you’re not coming, I’d better go. The ice-creams will be over soon.
Havva steps out of the room and sits beside that same window. Hassan uses his hands to gesture to her to run away, but Havva just looks at him with regret.

Hassan:            I’m running late. Havva, let’s go.

Havva’s mother: Honey, did you get the needle?

Havva:              (Angry at her mother) I looked, it wasn’t in the closet.

Havva’s mother: Then come here so I can measure your size for this cloth.
Acting sulky, Havva turns her back to her mother.

Hassan:            Havva, I’ll wait for you outside. I’ll go buy ice-cream by myself if you don’t come fast. (And leaves the house)

Havva’s mother: Honey, come here and let me measure your size for this cloth.

Havva:              I’m not coming!

Havva’s mother goes toward her and tries to measure the cloth on her, but Havva pushes her back and doesn’t let her.

Havva’s mother: Sweetie, come see how beautiful the cloth I bought for you, is.

Havva:              I don’t want to. I want to go with Hassan.

Grandma:          Honey, it’s noon. No one goes out at noon.

Havva’s mother: (Feeling sorry for Havva seeing her sad and sulky.) Granny, let her go for today, she won’t go out starting tomorrow.

Grandma:          No, dear. Today’s her birthday, she can’t go out anymore. You gave birth to her nine years ago on the same day.

Havva’s mother: I remember, granny. Havva was born on 1:00 pm, it’s not noon yet. So let her go out to play until 1:00 pm when she has to go to school.

Grandma:          No, dear. Havva was born at the time of the noon prayer. I remember it was exactly noon when someone said “congratulations, you now have a grandchild”. I asked if it was a boy or a girl and they said it was a girl.

Havva’s mother: Granny, I’m the one who gave birth to her. Now, you’re telling me when she was born?

Grandma:          You had a lot of pain and all you could think about was how much pain you  had. You couldn’t tell night from day.

Havva:              Granny, since I was born at noon, let me go play with Hassan till noon. At noon, when I’m 9 years old, I’ll come back.

Grandma:          It’s noon now.

Havva:              It’s not noon, it’s still morning. Please, granny, would you let me go play with Hassan for one more time?

Grandma:          Go get the clock so I can see what time it is.


Havva runs to the room in joy and brings the clock back, showing the time to her grandmother.


Havva:              See, granny? It’s 11:00 am. There is one hour before it’s noon. Can I go? Hassan will think I don’t want to play with him, if I don’t go.

Grandma:          Honey, will you promise to be back home by noon?

Havva:              Yes, I promise.

Grandma:          How will you know it’s noon?

Havva:              (Havva panics, trying to come up with an answer) Well… I’ll take my watch. Now let me go, I’m running late.

Grandma:          Will you make sure you’re back by 12 o’clock? God won’t forgive, if you’re late.

Havva:              Granny, one minute has already gone by, of the one hour I have. Let me go, now!

Grandma:          I want to teach you how to know when it’s noon.

Havva:              Well, I’m taking my watch. My one hour is almost over, now let me go!
Adjacent backyard, 11:30 am:

Holding her grandmother’s hand, Havva walks with her to the adjacent backyard. Grandma breaks a thin dry branch from a tree and stands it on the ground. Havva is in panic for the minutes she is losing, but has no choice and follows her grandmother wherever she goes.

Grandma:          Look, honey. This stick makes a shadow on the ground. As long as it makes a shadow, it’s still morning, when it no longer makes a shadow, it’s noon. Did you understand?

Havva:              Yes.

Grandma:          Here, put your scarf on and go. May God be with you.
Havva runs to the alley with the stick in her hand and the scarf on her head.
The Beach, 11:10 am:
Havva shows up and asks around to find Hassan, but Hassan is nowhere to be found. She runs into kids who are fishers.

Havva:              Guys, have you seen Hassan?

Fisher boy:       Which Hassan?

Havva:              The one whose father and mother are dead.

Fisher boy:       His sister came and took him with her.
Hassan’s home, 11:12 am:
Hassan’s sister who is wearing a veil, comes out of her home, closing the door behind her. Havva says hi to her.

Havva:              Hi.

Hassan’s sister: Hello.

Havva:              Tell Hassan to come out.

Hassan’s sister: He’s not coming out, he has homework to do.

Havva:              Please tell him to come.

Hassan’s sister: Why do you expect me to let him come play with you while your granny throws him out whenever he comes to your house? Go on, Hassan isn’t coming. (Turning to face their house) Hassan, don’t you go anywhere before you’re done with your homework.
Hassan’s sister leaves and when she’s far enough, Havva knocks at the door. Hassan is standing behind a window facing the sea and pushes his head on the bars behind the window in an effort to see Havva.

Hassan:            Havva, I’m here. By the window… come here.

Havva:              (Walks toward the window) Hassan, when are you coming out to play?

Hassan:            I’ll just do my homework and come.

Havva:              It will be too late by the time you do your homework. Can’t you not do them?

Hassan:            No, my sister would beat me.

Havva:              How many assignments do you have?

Hassan:            Four.

Havva:              (Shows Hassan the stick) Do you see this stick? I have to go home as soon as its shadow runs out. Can’t you forget about your homework? (Stands the stick on the ground and shows Hassan the shadow.) Look, Hassan. It had a bigger shadow at first, it’s smaller now. As soon as the shadow runs out, I have to go home. (Going toward the window again) Can’t you forget about your homework?

Hassan:            My sister would beat me.

Havva:              Go get your notebook, I’ll teach you a cool trick. Bring your eraser, too. (Hassan brings his notebook and shows it to Havva.) Do you see these lines your teacher has drawn on your homework? Erase them. Tell your sister you did this homework today.

Hassan:            Out teacher would know.

Havva:              She won’t. Erase the lines and say you did this homework today.

Hassan:            Go. I’ll erase them and come. My sister is back, go on.

Havva:              I’ll wait for you right here.

Hassan:            Get out of here, my sister is back.

Havva:              Where should I go?

Hassan:            Go to the beach, I’ll come there.

Havva:              Be fast.

Hassan:            Alright, I’ll be fast.
Havva leaves.
The beach, 11:20 am:
Havva gets to the beach. There is an old man fishing. Two dark-skinned young boys tie 2 empty oil barrels to make a small boat. Havva walks toward the beach. She sits down near the water, waiting for Hassan, and pushes her stick into the sand, measuring its shadow by the span of her hand. The two boys who are making the boat talk to each other.

Older boy:        Make it tight so it doesn’t open in the sea.

Younger boy:    It won’t open, but we still need paddles. We should have started by finding a paddle, now that we haven’t, we need to make a sail. See, there is wind.

Older boy:        Where can we find a sail from?

Younger boy:    We can go to the shore on that side, if we have a sail. Tie the rope real tight, so it doesn’t untie.

Older boy:        Pick this up, let’s put it over there.
The two boys put the sticks they have tied together on the barrels. They gradually become curious about Havva, as Havva does about them.

Younger boy:    (To Havva) What’s that?

Havva:              (Still measuring the shadow of the stick with her span) What?

Younger boy:    That?

Havva:              This?

Younger boy:    Yes.

Havva:              It’s a stick of wood.

Younger boy:    What’s that?

Havva:              What?

Younger boy:    What you’re measuring.

Havva:              This?

Younger boy:    Yes.

Havva:              The stick’s shadow.

Younger boy:    Of what use is a stick’s shadow?

Havva:              I have to go back home as soon the shadow runs out… It used to be a bigger shadow, but it’s pretty small now.

Younger boy:    What happens when the shadow runs out?

Havva:              When the shadow is gone, I am a woman. Because I was born at noon. At noon, this stick won’t have a shadow, I’ll be 9 years old and can’t play with boys anymore.

Younger boy:    (Softly to the older boy) Is this much cloth enough for the sail? (Showing Havva’s scarf moving to the wind)

Older boy:        It’s not bad.

Younger boy:    Wait here, I’ll be a second. (Goes to Havva and touches her stick.)

Havva:              Don’t touch my stick, you would mess up the shadow.

Younger boy:    Do you want to ride a boat?

Havva:              No.

Younger boy:    It’s real fun.

Havva:              No, I don’t want to. I’m waiting for Hassan.

Younger boy:    You’re not coming? We’re going to the other side of the water.

Havva:              No, I’m not coming. I’m waiting for Hassan.

Younger boy:    I have something real pretty that I have hid. Come and I’ll show it to you.

Havva:              No. I have to go back home as soon as my stick’s shadow runs out.

Younger boy:    Let’s go ride the boat to the sea together. I’ll save you if the rope unties. Are you coming?
Havva gives up. He takes her hand and walks her to the sea. He takes a toy fish out of his pocket and throws it into the sea.


Younger boy:    Do you want that fish? See how pretty it is? See her beautiful tail? Do you want it?

Havva:              (Tempted) Yes, I do. Would you give it to me?

Younger boy:    Give me your scarf, and I’ll give you the fish.
Havva gives her scarf to the boy, takes the fish from him and throws it into the sea. The fish turns and twists and the waves and comes right back. Havva remembers the stick and the shadow. She runs back to where the stick is… The shadow is much smaller now.

Havva:              (To the two boys making the boat) Hey, boy? I put your fish right here. I’ll go after Hassan, watch after my stick till I come back.
The boys have pulled up the sail.
Hassan’s home, 11:40 am:
Havva reaches Hassan’s home and stands at the window.

Havva:              Hassan? Why aren’t you coming? There’s just this much left of the shadow. I have to go back home when the shadow runs out. Why don’t you come? (No answer is heard from Hassan) Ok Hassan, I’m not talking to you anymore. I’m here to say goodbye to you, but you don’t come out. Come on, the stick’s shadow is almost gone, there is just a little bit left of it. If you’re not coming, at least say so, so I can go play with someone else.

Hassan:            (Shows up behind the window. Offers some money to Havva) Take this money, buy ice-cream, and bring it back here.
The beach, 11:50 am:
The two dark-skinned boys push the boat they’ve made into the sea. They then get on the boat and let the breeze take the boat away. A moment later, Havva shows up and checks on the shadow of the stick. The shadow is very small now. Havva looks at the sea, the two boys and their boat move away from the shore. She takes the toy fish and runs toward the sea.

Havva:              Hey, guys? You forgot your fish! I’ll throw it into the sea, so it can swim to you.
Havva throws the fish in the water. The waves move the fish back and forth. Havva waves goodbye and the two boys on the boat wave back. The boat moves far from the shore. Havva picks up the stick and runs back the same way she came.
Hassan’s home, 11:55 am:
Havva runs to the window in panic.

Havva:              Hassan? Hassan? Hurry, I’m late!

Hassan:            (Comes to the window) Did you get the ice-cream?

Havva:              They had no ice-cream left. I bough some sour tamarind pulp and a lollipop. Come on, let’s eat it.

Hassan:            Give me some. (And tries to stick his head out of the window, but can’t. Havva stretches her arm and puts some tamarind in Hassan’s mouth.) Wow, that was sour!

Havva:              Let’s eat them, say goodbye, and go. (And puts some tamarind pulp in her own mouth.)

Hassan:            (His mouth watering because of the sour tamarind) This is too sour, give me the lollipop.

Havva:              (At times putting tamarind in Hassan’s mouth, and sometimes putting lollipop in his mouth long enough for him to take one lick) Here is sour… here is sweet.
Mixing the two sweet and sour tastes, their mouths are watering and they don’t notice the time passing by. Hassan takes turn taking away the lollipop and the tamarind from Havva. Suddenly, Havva sees her mother walking towards them from a distance. Startled, she runs to the stick to check on its shadow. There is no shadow left. It’s noon, and one can even hear the call to the noon prayer. Havva is now a woman. She goes back to Hassan. Havva’s mother is only a few steps away. Havva and Hassan try to eat the tamarind and lick the lollipop to the end as fast as they can, in the few steps they have left before she gets there. Havva’s mother enters the shot. She puts the chador she just sewed for Havva, on Havva’s head, takes her arm, and drags her away. Hassan is still tasting the sour and the sweet in his mouth. While still moving his cheeks from the tastes, he watches Havva and her mother walk away. Havva’s mother is taking her to school while holding her hand.
The beach, noon:
The toy fish wiggles between the algae in the wavy sea. The two boys’ sailboat is grasped by the wind. It’s hot and humid. It is noon, to an extent that you’d think you wouldn’t find a shadow anywhere.
Spring 1999
Second Story: Ahoo (deer)
Shrubbery, daytime:

A man shouts:   “Ahoo… Ahoo…”
A herd of deer run in the shrubbery. The man gallops his horse in the shrubbery and shouts “Ahoo” in all directions. Ahoo is not there.
The rocky shore, continued:
On horseback, the man reaches the rocky shore where waves break on the rocks. He calls again to Ahoo, Ahoo is not there. He gallops his horse in another direction.
Shrubbery, cycling track, daytime:
The rider sees a cloud of dust far away. He gallops toward the dust. From the dust, a group of women in manteaux and chadors are seen, pedaling on bicycles. In search of the Ahoo he’s been calling for, the man looks at every one of the women, but Ahoo is not there. Exhausted women pull aside in different parts of the track, and lie on the ground. The man takes a quick look at every single one of them, but Ahoo is not there.
He gallops to another group of female cyclists, pedaling faster than the first. He yells “Ahoo”! They turn back one by one, in a way that one can’t tell which one Ahoo is. Finally, the real Ahoo turns her head from the heart of the crowd.

The man:          Didn’t I tell you I’d divorce you, if I ever see you riding a bike again? Get off the bike and go back right away!
Ahoo pedals without paying the smallest attention to the man. Seeing her indifference, the man leaves in rage. Ahoo turns her head to the sound of the man galloping his horse. The horse leaves a cloud of dust in the air.  Ahoo awakes to the sound of a bike’s bell. A skinny dark woman passes by her and the music of her Walkman fills changes the atmosphere for a moment. Ahoo stands and pedals, but it’s as if something is stopping her from going forward. She sits back on the seat and pedals in despair. The other women pass her one by one, until there is no one left behind her. It looks like she is ready to stop the bike and get off of it when she hears something. She turns back. She sees two horsemen approaching from far away. One is the same man, and the other is Mullah Osman.

The man:          I brought Mullah Osman with me so I can divorce you right here. Either stop being so stubborn and get off the bike, or Mullah Osman will read your divorce right now.
It’s as if the threat gives Ahoo new life; she pedals faster, making up for the distance she’s fallen behind.

Mullah Osman: Ms. Ahoo, don’t be so stubborn. I married the two of you, I don’t want to divorce you. Get off the bike.

Ahoo:                Read our divorce, it’s what I want.
Mullah Osman takes his leather covered book out of his bag and starts writing. He falls behind Ahoo and the man. The man goes toward the Mullah and after the divorce is read, he rides back to his wife and shouts:

The man:          It’s over. You can pedal all you want, now!
The man rides away and hides from sight in the dust Mullah Osman has made. Having lost the rage that caused her to pedal so fast and pass all the other women, she loses her spirit when the man goes. Despair leaves her legs lax and the women in the background gain on her, passing her one after the other. Hearing a horse, she once again comes to, turning her head and seeing Mullah Osman riding next to her.

Mullah Osman: Ms. Ahoo, it’s not too late to change your mind if you regret what you’ve done.
Ahoo stands once again, pedaling away from Mullah Osman. Consequently, she puts her competition behind her once again, reaching the first two or three cyclists. It’s a tight match now. The bikes touch one another and the rivals hear each other breathing. Ahoo reaches her last rival, the girl with the Walkman on who pedals nonstop. Ahoo makes an effort to pass her, but she can’t.
She stands on the pedals, bends forward, and puts all she has in her legs to pedal past the girl with the Walkman. It now seems that she needs to pedal to escape from all thoughts. She pedals. She once again hears a neigh. She turns her head to see a yet bigger could of dust following her. To escape the could of dust after her, she pedals as fast as she can but a minute later the dust surrounds her. She looks in all directions. She sees a member of her family galloping his horse. There are half-naked men with irregular beards, each of them trying to persuade and sweet-talk Ahoo back to the warm arms of the family in their own way. But they have no effect but to add to how fast Ahoo pedals. They are her father and uncles.

Ahoo’s father: Ahoo, honey, you didn’t even say hi!

Ahoo:                Hello father.

Ahoo’s father: Your husband loves you. Get off the bike, honey.

Paternal uncle:   Ahoo, honey, have you forgot what your husband went through for 7 years, before marrying you? Get off the bike, honey.

Maternal uncle: You didn’t listen to your father, or to your uncle. At least listen to me and get off that bike.

Ahoo’s father: Forget you have a father if you don’t get off that bike. Men have pride. You disregarded your husband’s pride.

Paternal uncle:   We’re a family of honor, honey. The whole tribe will be talking about our family tomorrow. Shut their mouths and get off that bike.

Maternal uncle: Let’s go back. She has turned her back on God, and no longer hears.
The dust moves away from Ahoo and disappears far into the desert. Ahoo is tired after pedaling so hard to run away from her relatives. It’s as though her fatigue manifests itself in the women who lie next to their bikes and on the ground, all over the place. One of the women on the ground asks her for some water, and a flock of birds pass over her heads, screaming. Waves slam against the rocky shore beside the track. Everything is fit for delusions… And Ahoo is no longer the same person. She is a woman wet of sweat from the warmth of her struggle and incapable of pedaling from the cold of despair. Minutes later, there are no rivals left to pass. It looks like she could fall to the ground from fatigue and despair if she doesn’t stop and get off. But the neigh of the horses comes to her help once again. She turns her head and sees a yet larger cloud coming to encircle her. Their tumult dominates the roar of the waves slamming into the shore. Ahoo takes a good look, she sees her grandfather among the elders of the tribe. Each look so skinny meager bodies and dim eyes gives the impression that each have run away from their grave to come here. What could they have to offer Ahoo but advice?

Grandfather:   We owe everything we have to our dead fathers. But you, my girl, are making our ancestors tremble in their graves. Get off that bike.

Other old man: I will count to 7, damn the devil and come back. One…

Other old man: Damn the devil, two…

Other old man: The tribe’s honor is at stake. What will other tribes have to say about us? Get off the bike, my girl. Get off. Three…

Other old man: I hoped to die with dignity. What can I tell the dead when I see them? What have we done with their inheritance? Four…

Other old man: Your grandmothers will feel the shame in their graves. Get off. For the sake of your grandmother, get off! Five… Six…

Other old man: It’s your own decision. You can get off the bike, or you can wait for your brothers to come and force you off…

Other old man: Seven…
The horsemen turn back and disappear faster than they had appeared. Ahoo looks around and finds out that she has passed all her rivals except the girl with the Walkman, in her effort to escape the old men. Something within her tells her to pedal these last moments of the race and get it over with. But they just won’t let it happen… She hits on the brake and stops her bike. The girl with the Walkman makes her pass from the middle of the two horsemen blocking Ahoo’s way. From far away, looking back from the eyes of the girl with the Walkman, it seems that the horsemen have blocked Ahoo’s way, leaving her no way out. But is it really so? One can’t really know from the last shot.
Winter 2000
Third Story: “Houra” (nymph)
Airport, daytime:
A plane lands. Teenage dark-skinned porters holding their carts, wait to rush towards passengers stepping out of the plane. Among them, a weary old woman called Houra comes down the stairs. A flight attendant holds her arm, helping her down. Shanbeh, one of the teenage porters, spots Houra and goes toward her.
On the streets, daytime:
Houra sits on Shanbeh’s cart, wearing a ring of thread on each finger. Each thread acts as a reminder to buy something. Houra asks Shanbeh to take her to the bazaar, so she can buy herself the furniture she needs. Shanbeh asks her what she wants to buy. After consulting the threads on her hand, the old woman says, “A refrigerator”. Shanbeh turns the cart around and says, “Then, we should go in the other direction.”. Houra adds that she needs a washing machine as well. Shanbeh changes direction one more time and explains that they need to go to different places for each item she intends to buy. He asks to know what else Houra wants to buy, and after a thorough examination of the threads on her finger, Houra replies “A bed, a dressing table, …”, but then tells Shanbeh how she’d prefer to have a cup of tea first. She takes out a teapot from her things, hands it over to Shanbeh telling him what a good time they’d have were he to light a fire so they could have some tea. Shanbeh makes a small pile of wood, fills the teapot with water, and puts on the fire he makes. He asks the old woman who all that furniture is for, and she tells him that it’s for herself. Shanbeh asks her why she wants all that stuff at this stage in her life, while she might not have long left. Houra recounts how she always wished to buy them buy never had the money, and in answer to Shanbeh’s question of “Where she got it from” tells him of the inheritance she received. She then remembers she has forgot to leave food and water for her rooster at home and that the rooster could well die were she not to hurry back home. She suggests leaving the tea to later and going after the furniture before it’s late.
Bazaars, continued:
Houra looks around in the bazaars while on Shanbeh’s cart. The camera follows Houra, Shanbeh and his cart, while filming from Houra’s view how she gazes at the female mannequins in the store windows, and then passes by. Women wearing black veils pass by where the mannequins are standing. Houra takes travel checks out of her socks (or the corner of her kerchief).
[This shot and the next one are edited to be shown several times, parallel to one another]
On the streets, continued:
Houra goes from one street to the other on Shanbeh’s cart. A few teenage porters follow them, bringing her furniture on their carts.
[This shot and the last one are edited to be shown several times, parallel to one another]
The beach, continued:
Houra asks the boys to take everything out of the boxes and to set them up as one would in one’s home, so she can tell if there is anything missing, and notice any possible defects. She then asks Shanbeh to take out the tea pot she just bought and to make tea in it. Shanbeh starts making tea in the glass teapot while the other boys take the merchandise out of the boxes. They arrange the furniture on the beach as if they were doing so in a home, making a scene of a house with no walls, with the sea acting as its big swimming pool in the back yard. Houra looks at the boiling tea in the glass teapot with amazement, she is upset with how bare and unabashed the teapot is, and asks Shanbeh to take her back to the bazaar to get another teapot. Houra and Shanbeh go…
The beach, continued:
Being left alone, the teenagers transform into entirely different beings. One tries turning the stereo on; upon failure, he takes a wooden stick and starts his own music by beating on the tins left around the beach. Another one succeeds in turning on the stereo and others join him in dance. One takes off the guys’ tee-shirts, throwing them into the washing machine to be cleaned. One puts on the bride’s dress while another puts on makeup in front of the mirror. One of them starts to wrestle with the bride. The boy who did the laundry, squeezes the water out of the tee-shirts and hangs them on the rope of a boat parked in the sea. One teenager catches two fishes, which he throws into the glass teapot and the teakettle while another boy turns the vacuum cleaner on, and sweeps in the sand.
On the streets, continued:
Houra is on Shanbeh’s cart. They have not found any suitable teapots. Houra says she prefers to use her old teapot, as it reminds her of a man she was once in love with. They loved each other, but couldn’t be together. Shanbeh asks why they couldn’t be together and Houra explains how that man was a servant in the same house where she worked as a maid, and how the owner of the house fired the man as soon as he found out that they cared for each other. Had he not done that, they would have married and had a black son as the man was a southerner. Houra now wanted a son of her own, so she asks Shanbeh if he would be her son now that she is rich. Shanbeh turns her down, explaining that he already has a mother and that one mother is all he needs.
The beach, continued:
Houra, Shanbeh and his cart reach the beach. The teenagers try to conceal their wrongdoings from Houra. A few of them who had placed the bathtub in the sea and were taking bath in it, slowly return the sub to the shore. The old woman tells Shanbeh of her two problems. One is that she is already late and fears her rooster would starve to death; the second is one thread remaining on her hand while as hard as she thinks, she has no idea what else she planned to buy. Shanbeh walks away to get a few small boats in order to take the cargo to a bigger boat standing in the sea. Houra asks one of the boys to turn the stove on, she wants to use her new teakettle to make some tea; she has a headache and really needs the tea. She then asks an afghan boy if he wants to be her son and go to Tehran with her. The boy does not accept and Houra goes on to recount the days when she was a maid in a house where an Afghan dug wells, how they were in love but the lady of the house had fired the Afghan upon finding out of their feelings for each other. Otherwise, she said, she would have now had an Afghan boy just like him.
At this time, two girls wearing black manteaux (or chadors) show up on bicycles. They are intrigued by the furniture lying on the beach and ride into the water; they put their feet down in the water to cool off, lean on their bikes, and ask the old woman if all that furniture is for her son or her grandson’s wedding. She answers by telling them that it is not so and that she actually bought everything for her own self. The girls ask what good the furniture would do the old woman now, and wish it was their own so they could marry someone. The old woman tells them that it is not her problem that they don’t have things like that as no one ever cared when she didn’t have anything. She then invites them to sit down and drink some tea. She asks the girls where they come from. They reply: “We were in a cycling competition when something funny happened. Some girl was winning the race when her brothers showed up, took her bike and went away with it.”. The old woman asks what happened next, and whether they won the race once that girl was gone. One of the girls says: “No, she took a bike from some other girl who was too tired to continue the race, pedaled hard, and won the race.”. The other girl says: “No, someone else won the race. That girl was taken away by her brothers.”. Houra says she does not care who won the race and that there is only one thing she knows not about. She still has a thread on one hand and has thus forgot to buy something, she will surely remember as soon as she’s home, that’s how it’s always been!
At this time, Shanbeh and tens of other boys with small sailboats come. Each is pulling one sailboat behind him. Every boat is formed of oil barrels and black cloth acting as its sail. The teenagers put the furniture on the sailboats and swim along with them, as if pulling them forward. The sea is filled with small sailboats and on each a piece of furniture stands out. The teenagers help the old woman on a bigger sailboat that resembles a king’s litter, and Shanbeh swims her toward the heart of the sea.
[Holding her mother’s hand while wearing a chador, Hava walks by the sea; intrigued, she stops and gazes into the sea.]
As the boats move farther from the shore, the two girls leaning on their bikes are still talking to the old woman. They ask her if what she forgot to buy was a fryer or a air conditioner or a necklace or… But the answer to every single question is “no” and once she’s far away from the shore, she says to herself: “there is nothing worse for someone than to forget that very important thing he wanted.”
Mohsen Makhmalbaf