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The Girl in the Hijab

Ratings:
37 pages32 minutes

Summary

When Aram Boghosian rushes to the aid of Darya Hatemi, whom two drunken rowdies are hassling because she's wearing a hijab, he loses a tooth in the scuffle. Darya rewards him by joining him for lunch twice a week. He quickly falls in love with her. Although she enjoys his company and has feelings of affection for him, she refuses to say that she loves him.
In frustration, he asks to see her more often but she turns down his request. When he persists, she tells him that she doesn't want to see him anymore and that she's going to marry Pasha Khan, a wealthy Iranian businessman. The latter, in a jealous rage, has two of his henchmen kidnap Aram and bring him to his suite in a swank Boston hotel. While he is relaxing in a bathtub, he warns Aram to stay away from her or else.
Because Aram considers Pasha to be evil, crude, and old enough to be her father, he refuses to believe that a woman of Darya's beauty and intellect would willingly marry him. Convinced that he's a Svengali, Aram becomes hell-bent on finding out what his hold over her is.
When a young man shows up at Aram's front door and asks him to stop seeing Darya, Aram assumes it's another one of Pasha Khan's henchmen. He turns out, however, to be Darya's brother, Naser. In a more gentle way, for the sake of the family, he asks Aram not to pursue his sister.
The next day an FBI agent shows up at Aram's place of work and questions him about his relationship with Pasha Khan. When he starts asking questions about Darya, Aram gets upset and walks out.
Although, because of Darya, he's been beaten, kidnapped, threatened, and questioned by the FBI, so great is his love for her that he'd endure those indignities again for her sake. "Something's rotten in the state of Denmark," he murmurs, "and I intend to find out what's causing the stench."
One afternoon at lunch, he glances at the headlines of a newspaper and, to his shock, learns that the FBI has found copies of top-secret American weapon designs on Pasha Khan and charged him with spying for Iran. "Good riddance to bad rubbish," he mutters and hurries over to the Hatemi residence. After a tense meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Hatemi, during which Darya runs up to her room, tears streaming down her cheeks, Mrs. Hatemi breaks down and tells him why Darya agreed to marry Pasha Khan.
In Iran, after the overthrow of the Shah, one of Mr. Hatemi's business competitors went to the secret police and told them he was spying for the United States. As a result, he was arrested and put into prison. Not long afterwards, Darya went to her school principal and, on behalf of her classmates, complained that their math teacher was teaching religion, not mathematics. Accused of blasphemy against the Supreme Leader and undermining the revolution, she, too, was arrested and thrown into prison. Pasha Khan, who had supported the Ayatollah Khomeini financially while he was in exile in France and had great influence with him, offered to intercede with the authorities on behalf of the Hatemis. Mrs. Hatemi remains convinced that had Pasha Khan not pleaded their case, both Mr. Hatemi and Darya would've been killed. No good deed, as they say, goes unpunished. Pasha Khan, true to his form, exacted his pound of flesh--namely demanding Darya's hand in marriage.

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