Story of Love*
by Moniru Ravanipur**
Translated from the Persian
by Farzin Yazdanfar
is the sad story of love; a story which will be repeated for
as long as time's crystalline ball exists, until this
crystal ball collides with a planet or star from another
time or age and breaks. Or perhaps time will eventually
swell up with these recurring tragic stories and explode,
filling up its vast expanse. And when time's vessel runs
over with affection, is filled with an overflow of repressed
feelings and cries of loneliness, its crystalline wall will
crack... but each love story will surely survive in the
scattered shards of this crystal ball, thereby refreshing
time for awhile. Perhaps a day will come when eternity and
all created and uncreated things will become nothing but the
crystalline particles of time, containing the seed of love -
the sad story of love. What a time that will be for lovers
sleeping in the bubble of time, an age of stories whose
endings are not so very predictable.
The woman is known to many people, so telling a story or
mentioning her name will not change anything. She was the
woman who would write her life in her stories. And the man
whose existence or lack of existence is the same because
nobody knows him. How did they meet each other... that is
not important either. When a story is being formed, it will
find its way: finding a job, reading a story or publishing
it. It doesn't make any difference...
She was a simple woman. Her mind was compatible with her
tongue and her heart. Her words exactly reflected her
thoughts and her feelings. When it came to loving someone,
she did not believe in time. She was always in love, not
like those who are in love one moment and out of it the next
... Thus, when she saw the man for the first time, she said,
"You are handsome. Let's be friends... I feel very
The man, unkempt and unshaven, was sitting across the table.
With a little smile on his face, he was staring at the
woman. The way the woman was acting and behaving had
convinced the man that she was nothing but a child and he
could make a novelist of her.
The man had read the woman's stories and was pretending that
he was interested in her works. He was talking to her about
the things that he was expected to say without mentioning a
word about love. The woman had realized that she could make
the man her own if she wrote good stories.
Days passed. The man had managed to keep that little smile
on his face -- the smile that could leave everything
suspended in the air. The woman had remained the same as she
always was. She would walk in the room, turn the books and
the library upside down, put all the papers on the desk,
take them away and put them
back on the desk again...
The woman was restless in every step that she took and every
word that she uttered. One day after she had made a big
mess, she sat face to face with the man and said, "Give
me your hand and let me tell you your fortune." The man
said, "Leave it for the time when you've become a
writer." The woman said, "But I need your hand to
touch me on the head." "Why?" the man asked,
The woman answered, "I would like you to touch my head
gently with your hand."
The man laughed and said, "You're crazy." He did
not give her his hand.
I am writing this story very quickly because I am afraid
that somebody may come and sit on that chair next to the
window, stare at me and ask, "How far along are
you?" I am writing this story without letting anybody
see it. And I would not like anyone to see it before I reach
the end of it. I do not even name the locations in the story
because mentioning the names of places, cities and buildings
not only takes time, which I do not have at all, but also
resolves no issues. It is enough to know that all these
events are taking place within the crystal ball of time.
And time, for a woman like her -- a woman who was looking
for someone to love her-- was just time. She could see no
difference between seconds and years.
Everywhere she was, she would try to squeeze the essence of
time in order to reach a moment when she could see nobody
but that 'someone' as a man and herself as a woman.
Thus, she began working. She seemed to seek the help of her
own existence to give life to her words. It seemed that the
words were becoming detached from every particle of her body
and soul. She kept writing; one story after another, every
story a romantic one. And there was the man who would read
the stories and shake his head as a sign of satisfaction
with his own task.
Sometimes the woman would read the story which she had just
completed to the man. Then, she would say, "I'm tired.
Let's go for a walk."
The man would nod, smiling and the woman would realize that
the time when she could be seen with the man in public had
not yet come. The woman could
understand that there was a distance between her and the
man; she would doubt her work and would go back to reading
Time was passing and the books authored by the woman were
being published one after another. The man was spending all
of his time reading her books and every day he was paying
more and more attention to her or, to tell the truth, to the
female character of her stories. The man would go to her
room and sit by her and she would talk about everything that
she could think of. For a long time, she had made no sense
when she was talking, and everyday her speech was becoming
more and more unclear -- so unclear that the man could not
tell the difference between her and the female character of
her stories. The woman kept repeating, "Do you love
me?" And the man would always laugh and ask, "How
much of the story have you written?"
And the woman would suddenly realize what the man expected
of her; she would get hold of herself and show the callus
caused by the pen on her finger. And the
man would say, "That's hard work..." And the woman
would keep on working.
How long did it take until changes gradually appeared in the
woman's body and soul? The woman, who was always focusing
her attention on the door to see the man coming in to read
her stories, was now afraid lest someone should come and
bend over the pages filled with her stories.
Time was never important in the woman's life. If a seed, a
seed of love, was sown, nothing could uproot it, but the man
could see little by little that the woman was not showing
any interest. If he called her, she would turn her head
towards him very slowly as though lost in what she was
writing. The woman's look no longer had the same loving
radiance, the same childlike enthusiasm. On the contrary,
the female character of her story had sparkling eyes and an
amorous look and was acting with more and more childlike
And the man would read the stories everyday before and after
they were published. The more he read them, the better he
could understand the woman -- the woman who could feel her
own skin and blood in her stories.
The man would play music for the woman to encourage her to
write more and to make her go on creating a romantic
atmosphere in her stories. And in order to
compensate for the lethargic movement of her head and neck,
he would make fruit juices for her and attend to her food.
But the woman was not paying any attention to the man's
affections; she was just writing. And one day when the man
asked her, "Are you tired? Let's go for a walk,"
she replied in a weak voice with a fixed and unclear look on
her face, "I can't. I'm busy." She didn't go out
She would not pay attention to the critique of her stories
in literary journals either; the journals were competing
with each other to write about her. She would not even know
how many copies of her books were being published. She would
not react to the man's enthusiasm either -- the man who
would stand before her with a newspaper in his hand. The
woman's movements were becoming slower and slower everyday.
And one day when the man woke up, he laughed alone. He had
never laughed like this before, especially when he was by
himself. He had a strange feeling; he could remember the
woman's sense of humor, her childlike actions and behavior
and the question which she used to ask repeatedly: "Are
you in love with me?"
The man was singing by himself and being dragged towards the
woman. He finally reached a flower shop, bought a bouquet of
flowers and went to see the woman. The woman was busy
writing as usual. She seemed to be writing the last sentence
of a story. It was only her hand that was moving; her body,
like a statue made of stone, was far away from everything,
even time. Her whole body seemed to have turned to a single
hand -- a hand that was writing hastily. The man put the
flowers that he had brought her in the vase and placed the
vase before her. She did not look at it. She was gazing at
what she was writing so intensely that she did not even bat
an eyelid. She seemed to have reached the last sentence; the
man saw her putting a period at the end of the last
sentence. Her hand had remained motionless on the page. The
man slowly pulled the papers from under her hand. He read
the title of the story: 'The Sad Story of Love' and laughed.
He tapped the woman on the shoulder, looked at her face and
suddenly grew still. She was no longer 'the woman'; she had
turned to a fossil -- a fossil of words. To be sure, the man
touched her on the shoulder and , all of a sudden, she broke
down into small pieces and thousands of words were scattered
all over. And the man saw these, among thousands of words:
"You're very handsome... Let's become friends... I'm
*Moniru Ravanipur, "The Sad Story of Love" in a
collection of short stories entitled 'Sangha-ye Shaytan'(The
Devil's Stones), 1st edition, Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz, 1991,
**Moniru Ravanipur is a contemporary Iranian fiction writer.