Uit:The House Of The Mosque (Vertaald door Susan Massotty)
“Alef Lam Mim. There was once a house, an old house, which was known as ‘the house of the mosque’. It was a large house with thirty-five rooms. For centuries the house had been occupied by successive generations of the family who served the mosque.
Each room had been named according to its function: the Dome Room, for example, or the Opium Room, the Storytelling Room, the Carpet Room, the Sick Room, the Grandmother’s Room, the Library and the Crow’s Room.
The house lay behind the mosque and had actually been built onto it. In one corner of the courtyard was a set of stone steps leading up to a flat roof, which was connected to the mosque.
In the middle of the courtyard was a hauz, a hexagonal basin of water in which people washed their handsand face before prayers.
The house was now occupied by the families of three cousins: Aqa Jaan, the merchant who presided over the city’s bazaar, Alsaberi, the imam of the house and spiritual leader of the mosque, and Aqa Shoja, the mosque’s muezzin.
It was a Friday morning in early spring. The sun felt warm, the air was filled with the rich smell of earth, the trees were in leaf, and the plants were beginning to bud. Birds flew from branch to branch, serenading the garden. The two grandmothers were pulling out the plants that had died in the winter, while the children chased each other and hid behind the thick tree trunks.
An army of ants crawled out from under one of the ancient walls and covered the path by the old cedar tree like a moving brown carpet. Thousands of young ants, seeing the sun for the first time and feeling its warmth on their backs, surged down the path.
The house’s cats, stretched out by the hauz, looked in surprise at the teeming mass. The children stopped playing to stare at the wondrous sight. The birds fell silent and perched in the pomegranate tree, craning their necks to follow the ants’ progress.”
Kader Abdolah (Arak, 12 december 1954)