She could see her shadow in the moonlight as she walked along the long pathway. A breeze was blowing, moving the leaves of the trees, and along the path, grapevines grew up the walls and around the entry of the old houses.

She saw the wooden doors with their two signs: one heavy and long, about 10 centimeters; the other light and circle shaped. The heavy one was for men to knock, and the light one for women. That way the owner of the house could easily know who was knocking, man or woman, by the sound. It was important for women to know because they had to wear hejab.

Everywhere was in a peaceful silence as she thought to herself: “This world is just like this path, everyone comes across it. Some people step fast and some slow. However, both should pass this way. It has ups and downs, dark and light. Like a real life, sorrow and happiness, loss and victory.”

As she walked, looking ahead along the path, she heard the sound of strange steps coming behind her. She worried to herself, “Who is that? Is it a male or a female? If it is a man and he tries to bother me what should I do? Should I yell? But no one is here to help me. All of them are in their houses. How  can they hear my voice?”

She moved to the other side of the path. Now she could see a tall person in a long coat. She counted the steps coming closer and faster. No sound of heels. So it must be a man.

“I don’t care,” she told herself. “This is the path everyone crosses. I am in my way and he is in his way.”

As it became darker, the steps came closer. She tried to walk faster and with longer steps, telling herself, “I can think of beautiful life, trees and nature, but this sound has me worried. If he tries to come near me I will kick him! I am a strong girl and I will beat him.”

She stepped faster and his steps became faster too. Now she could hear the sound of his keys hanging on his pants. Fast, fast and faster. But her steps were shorter. She could not defeat him. He was about six meters away. “Oh my God, what should I do now? Should I look at him again?”

Her heart beat fast. “What was it? A fear! Was it fear of a man and being harassed by him?” The steps became closer. “I want to look at him. How dare he follow me! If I am a girl it does not mean I should be silent and not say anything to him. I will hit him with my bag full of books, heavy ones too. When I hit him with it, he will die.”

She took a deep breath and was about to turn and look when she heard her name: Naazgol. It was a familiar sound. She turned and saw her brother. “Oh my God, why do you do this with me? I was dying in fear of who is following me.”

Her brother smiled and said, “I did not want to call you from a distance because you might not hear me. I thought it would be better to walk fast and catch you. How was school today?”

“I told you night school is not good for you. When you come home it will be late. You see, you are even scared of me,” he said, smiling.

“It is okay,” she said. “Everything has its own ups and downs. The people who are successful can struggle with problems.” Together they walked the rest of the way, laughing and talking along the  path to their house.

By Rahela