October 12, 2008
by Suzan Abrams
Re-written as a fable in my own words and dedicated to the brilliant world-award-winning filmmaker, Marzieh Meshkini who originally produced The Day I Became A Woman
for her graduation project except that it was to hit world cinema by storm. The screenplay also contained important contributions by Meshkini's husband, pioneer filmmaker, Marzieh Makhmalba.
Once upon a time, there lived a very old Iranian woman called Hoorah
Hoorah was so old that she was properly bent and ancient. She could have been a 100. She could have been 101. Or she could have been just 90 years old and not a day more.
The bent and very old Iranian woman whose name as Hoorah, was still sprightly. Her senses were still able. She heard and saw everything around her clearly. She spoke loudly and in authority as if she were she were in charge of everything.
For many years, Hoorah lived the hard and simple life of a poor lady. One day, good fortune struck. Hoorah inherited a windfall. The bent old lady made a quick plan to come to Kish to buy all the things that she had dreamed of sadly as a young girl. Being in the money also made Hoorah a little bossy. But she was cheerful when she could have been cantankerous. The idea of wealth put her in a good mood.
One bright and sunny day on Iran's calendar, Hoorah flew in an aeroplane on a domestic flight to the island of Kish. A kind air stewardess helped a bent Hoorah climb down the aeroplane. One, two, three and buckle my shoe. One two three and Hoorah would be free.
Outside the airport waited a little ebony-skinned boy who had been sunburnt by the island weather. He had short curly hair, thick dry lips and a happy face. He was very helpful. The little boy had many friends who looked just like him, all rallying around and ready to help. My! My! As soon as they saw the aeroplane descend, how they all rushed into the airport with their trolleys as if their lives depended on them. The little boys were ready to earn their wages in hard cash.
A few minutes later, the ebony-skinned boy wheeled Hoorah in her stylish and capable wheelchair, out of the airport. Hoorah said to the little ebony skinned boy that she wanted to go to the market to buy some things. She suddenly remembered that she had forgotten to feed her rooster as she left home and became upset.
Soon, her face would look merry again as she rows of different coloured ribbons that were tied tightly round her fingers. They looked like colourful bows. How she smiled and smiled.
The little ebony-skinned boy wheeled Hoorah up to a big shopping mall. How the old, bent woman's face lit up like a Christmas tree as she saw all the beautiful things outside the shop windows. She bought so very many things. Hoorah paid ornaments and furniture, a wedding dress and make up. How will you carry it all back to your home, asked the puzzled boy. I will manage, says a pleased Hoorah. She had bought everything that a young bride would need. The little ebony-skinned boy had wheeled her happily about the place. They had spun about, here and there and everywhere.
However, Hoorah stayed perplexed that she couldn't remember what the last ribbon was for. She would never again remember that forgotten item.
Soon, Hoorah tells her new friend of how a potential suitor had cheated her with the betrayal of marriage. She asks the little boy if she could adopt him now that she was rich. The little ebony-skinned boy says that he already has a mother.
Hoorah says again to the little boy if she could find a place to put up her feet as they aren't what they used to be. The little boy and his band of merry friends who are all pushing trolleys of many, many big boxes march in solemn procession to the beach. What a gay picture they looked, marching to the beach in a long straight line, next to a busy highway.
There they go if you can see them. A bent, ancient Hoorah leading the parade in her stylish and capable armchair, the little ebony-skinned boy as the commander-in-charge and his friends trailing after him with the trolleys and very big boxes indeed.
Soon, they all reach the beach and the little boys set up house for Hoorah. There goes the fridge, here goes the ironing board, add on the cupboards, fix a mirror, hang the saucepans.... All that is missing are the walls and ceiling. Hoorah sits on her bright red settee and ask if the ebony-skinned boy would make her a cup of tea. She also warns the other boys not to mess with her make-up kit.
The little ebony-skinned boy fetches a brand new transparent percolator from the box and begins to make tea. He is happy to be Hoorah's tiny butler. "Oh, look at that naked teapot, why did you buy me such a vulgar thing," Hoorah suddenly starts to chide him.
This was the only teapot being sold in the whole of the big wide market, says the little boy sadly, He looks askance. "I feel great shame to use that teapot," nags a severe looking Hoorah. "Let us go back to the market and and buy a new teapot somewhere else." "Okay," shouts the little boy gladly and off they go.
Soon the little ebony-skinned boys' friends all rejoice because "the old lady has gone." They make up their minds to have a little party. One boy opens the fridge and in the way that it has been mysteriously filled to the brim with coke, juices, milk, vegetable and fruit, starts to raid it. He swallows a ripe yellow banana as far down his skinny gullet as it can go.
Another experiments with a lip and eye pencil. He tries to shape his eyebrows, carefully touch up his long lashes and spreads on as much lipstick on his thick lips, as he dares. He splashes perfumes on his nipples and the spray makes them look as white as snow. He experiments with deodorant under his armpits. It is a serious, elaborate affair. The cosmetics are meticulously and vigorously applied so that the little boy may appear as beautiful as a bride.
Another boy wears the wedding dress and slips on the veil. One of his friends come to wrestle with him. The boy wrestles with his friend on the bed, the long wedding dress and veil rolling round and round together with them. One little boy in an Afghan costume busily hoovers the carpet of beach-sand. He loves his chore. Another grabs the new bathtub and takes it out to sea. His friend starts to bathe him while he sits in the bathtub.
Soon the boys gather to beat on the hanging saucepans and playact a wedding march. The boy with the wedding dress dances on and the rest follow, waving colourful umbrellas high above them. To the drumbeat of the saucepans, they sashay to a festive dance.... Round and round a big wide circle they caterpillar together, the guest-of-honour being the little boy dressed in the wedding veil and gown.
After a while, one little boy alerts the rest that Hoorah has returned in her wheelchair.
Now, the little boys run helter-skelter to keep everything back in its place. Hoorah notices nothing. The little boys volunteer to help build floats so that Hoorah and all her processions can be transferred to ships sailing by in the distance. Hoorah asks the cute little boy in the Afghan costume to stay behind and make her tea. He doesn't appear to know how to make the tea although he stays willing and cheerful. "Why did I buy all these kitchen things for if you can't even make a cup of tea?" she scolds. Hoorah begins to stare at him without flinching and finally asks if she could adopt him as he is so handsome. She likes his white, pink colour, she says. He suggests that she consider his pals instead. Oh no, protests Hoorah. They are too brown whereas he is a handsome little boy, all white and pink to look at.
The white and pink boy in his Afghan costume looks sad and says no because he already has a mother and father. He is worried that Hoorah will take him away with her.
Two pretty Iranian girls park their bicycles and come to talk to Hoorah. They have just cycled in a race and tell her stories. The old lady listens amicably. The girls hint that if only they had her possessions; if Hoorah would be so kind as to give everything away, then they could get married and start a new life. Hoorah refuses apologetically and explains that the possessions are gems from a life of waiting. She cannot part with them now. She invites the girls to tea and they all sit down together on the lounge chairs.
It starts to get dark and the little boys rush back to say that the floats are ready and everything has to be transported at once or the ships will sail away, never to be seen again. The tide would soon get lower.
Hoorah readily agrees. Now I can go home to feed my rooster, she says happily.
What about our tea, wail the girls They are disappointed. They find Hoorah fascinating and had hoped to chat longer. Hoorah comforts them for such is the call of destiny, she smiles. She is eager to get home and feed her rooster.
Soon each item is tied together onto a different float. The boys complete the whole project in the wink of an eye as if by magic.
Hoorah herself sits high on her bed as it balances gingerly on one float. It is a strange surreal scene as the army of boys push Hoorah and all her possessions out to sea. There she sits as a tall and aristocratic as a grand dame in the middle of it all. As the boys push her and all her treasured possessions out to sea, she fades further and further away until soon there is nothing left but a speck on the distant horizon. An unreal freedom is left behind to beguile the minds and visions of shocked watchful observers on the coastline.Film's Website. The second still shows a grand Hoorah poised majestically while sitting on a bed tied to a float and stretching out to sea.
(Film review to follow shortly).
Pictures courtesy of Makhmalbaf