When it gets hot in Tehran
The first time I had sex was on a bus. It was when streets were narrower in Tehran but
summers just as hot. City buses were imported second-hand from Germany and Hungary.
Their interiors were refurbished to last a little longer, but new seats, made of metal frames
and foam cushions covered with cheap, artificial leather, were not strong enough to
tolerate vandalism. The seats could be red or blue or green, but the colour didn’t make a
huge difference in giving passengers a pleasant experience. They were so worn you could
feel the frames underneath. The covers were either jammed with so much foam, so hard
that it felt you sat on a millstone, or the cushions seemed so thin that their existence
didn’t make much difference; they were ripped and you could see the insides.
With the bus fare came a bonus, which meant a lot in August 1990, during the
post-war period of rations and low supplies. If you bought a bus ticket on a summer’s day
in Tehran you’d have already paid for a sauna session with a good chance of its turning
into a steam room. The sauna rule worked only when, and if, a small number of
passengers boarded the bus. With each passenger getting on the moving spa the humidity
level grew. On a bus filled with passengers you were guaranteed the full steam room
There was another attraction to boarding a full bus. They were traditionally a
segregated means of travel. Men occupied the front and women the back. The
demarcation was not carried out on an egalitarian principle. Almost two-thirds of the
space was designated male territory. Bars were put in place to make sure division was
practical and morality preserved. It was only natural that women invaded the men’s
section at busy times. When the bus was so full it was like a pool of sardines, all gasping
for breath, with no room for even one more fish.
To get to the park where I played football with my friends, I got on the bus at the
beginning of its route. All the windows were open, but in only a few minutes I felt sweat
drops travelling all the way from my temples to my chin, armpits to the waist. I was
standing in the open space to the back of the male territory. As the bus filled up, I had to
retreat, move all the way to the window and be carried by the crowd this way and that.
It happened only a few stops from the park. The bus was still quite full, but there
was a bit of breathing space. I was looking out the window when I felt something soft and
rounded touching my buttocks. It moved rhythmically, and with it I felt the front of my
trousers beginning to stick out. I knew what was happening counted as sinful, but I liked
it. I liked it so much I was scared to turn around and risk losing it. I’d heard stories. Navid
brought “super” magazines to the park every week and we all hid under an old weeping
willow and looked at those forbidden pictures in amazement and desire.
I adjusted the bag containing my football boots to my front, trying to conceal my
hardship. I closed my eyes and thought of those naked girls. German girls, Swedish girls,
English girls, Japanese girls. But the girl who was rubbing her bottom against mine with
so much intention was an Iranian schoolgirl. I could tell by the little bit of her uniform I
could eye from the sides that she must be in high school, a couple of years older than me.
I was scared that people might notice what we were up to if I turned, but looking
around as though I was lost I managed a 45-degree turn to the right. Now I could see that
she was taller than me. She had the navy manto and the head covering that came down to
her chest and left her round face to absorb all the sun. She didn’t look like any of the girls
in the magazines, but in my new position she managed to grab hold of my hand and press
it. Was it a warning? Was she angry with me? We were pushed by the crowd to the wall.
Now we were standing side by side, but for some reason my opened hand was between
her soft bum and the hard bus wall. I didn’t know what to do. My hand, the whole of my
arm, my complete being felt paralysed. I was afraid that if I moved my hand she’d get
upset and make a noise. I didn’t want to be caught. It would be awful, the thirteen-year-old
son of a shaheed touching a strange girl’s buttock on the bus.
She kept moving her body slowly. Her left arm was rubbing against my right
shoulder, and it was her turn to make an angle. A turn of only 30 degrees to the left meant
that she was driving me crazy with her breast. Wasn’t she wearing anything under her
uniform? Thanks to summer her nipple was caressing my arm where my short sleeve
ended. There were only two things I wanted in the world at that very moment: I wanted
the driver to brake hard and for it to be suddenly the night-time and Tehran swallowed in
darkness. Thankfully, the traffic worked for my pleasure and I got the sturdiest stop, and
yes, she was rubbing my entire front with her front for three seconds. It was enough to
force me to hide an erection that she was now aware of.
I could stay no longer. With the sports bag where it should be I ran out and up the
street. I’d already missed my stop and stayed on the bus for eight more, quite a long way.
But on that day I ran all the way to the park where there was a pond filled with weed and
gold fish and ducks, and I jumped right into it with the bag still glued to me. Two guards
thought I was trying to mess with their authority and dragged me out and “taught me a
lesson” by repeatedly pinching my ears. I didn’t mind; I had cleansed my body.