In a cul-de-sac, I hear the purring of a gasoline range and the popping of boiling tomato juice bubbles on the floor of a cauldron. The tomato paste aroma saturates the air. It’s August and it’s excessive time for making pastes and jams in Tehran. My grandmother saved us busy this time of the 12 months. “Let’s put these little toes into work,” she used to say to my sister and me as she emptied buckets of Vine tomatoes into deep basins. We eliminated our socks, rubbed the showering brush on our toes, and rinsed till the final cluster of cleaning soap bubbles vanished into the drain.
She watched our brushing ceremony and inspected our toes for any specks of filth. When she was happy with the whiteness of our soles, she hoisted us into the basins. We jumped up and down and stamped the tomatoes to extract the juice. Vine tomatoes squished and screamed underneath our toes.