She Wore the Ring

Azadi Tower, Tehran, Iran © Avesta Naseri Google Maps

She wore the ring because it was easier. The story was always on hand as well: Her husband traveled. She had to work.

Of course, the ring didn’t work when she visited her family—which was why she kept those visits short, before When are you getting married turned to I’ve arranged for you to meet the most wonderful man.

They were never wonderful.

They looked at her suspiciously when she spoke of her career and were quick to reassure her that ‘she wouldn’t have to work’ were she to marry them.

Tehran was lovely, it was true. The museum, the arts. The jewel box of city lights strewn across the valley of night and the white-shouldered mountains in winter. Maybe there was such a place elsewhere—perhaps Europe or America. And maybe soon—before the men in parliament tried to force another law forbidding her to travel.

148 words

This has been another edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt or to submit your own, click here.

This week, I was inspired by this fascinating article in the Los Angeles Times which is well worth your time if you’re interested: More women in Iran are forgoing marriage. One reason? The men aren’t good enough

Apologies for those who took the time to read/comment/participate in Pegman last week. I was at a writer’s workshop and apologize for being so slow to read and respond. I am back!


  1. Iran inspires so many interesting stories from the personal to the global. I cast a slightly wider net in my tale.

    1. I see that you did! There are stories large and small in anything, from the personal struggles that are more universal than we realize, to the universal geopolitical dramas we seem helpless to repeat.

  2. I remember reading a story about the secret life of women during the Shah’s reign and after, when there was a return to brutalist fundamentalism. It shone light on a world I never knew existed. You capture some of that feeling here. Really excellent.

    1. Thanks for your very kind words. I’d be interested in reading that story, if you happen to recall where you read it.

  3. You do a wonderful job illustrating a serious societal issue at the most personal of levels, how an individual woman feels forced to lie and hide in order to live her life fully, as an independent person. If her family is like most, though, she won’t be able to put them off indefinitely; time for plan B, before that choice is taken away.

    1. I love the way you put that, Joy. Thanks for your kind words.

  4. I like that she travels and wants her freedom, that she values this. I think she could meet a good man if she wanted, but perhaps not in her homeland. As you note at the end, it might be best to travel and to leave, before she can no longer leave or escape.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Mandibelle! It’s disheartening to think that as recently as 2013 the Iranian parliament tried to pass legislation which prohibited women (of any age) from traveling without their father’s consent. A sober reminder that people must be vigilant to preserve their rights.

      1. Yes I agree. It makes you wonder if many women are fleeing the situation and control of men in their country for life as immigrants in other countries or as refugees b/c that life is a vast improvement from their lives in Iran or Iraq.

  5. Men aren’t good enough in Iran. What a great premise for a story, a compassionate view, without any bitterness. What a great take on the prompt, Karen. The family get togethers sound so civilised but how quickly that can get brutal, ugly. Your protagonist sounds as though she is a survivor. Good luck to her, to you.

    1. I think the title of the news article is misleading, but the point was that there are more educated women who want to contribute to society than there are men in Iran open to seeing contributions beyond just being a wife and mother. I hope it didn’t seem like her family was brutal–only that they had traditional expectations of her life that she was not willing to fulfill. Thanks for your well-wishes and taking the time to read and comment!

      1. Any expectations – traditional or not – run the risk of hurt. Perhaps not always brutality. I should read said article. I’ll add to my burgeoning to read list.

  6. I really like that story, Karen. You pace it beautifully, revealing your heroine’s quandary little by little. You’ve written some delightful description, too. Smashing title, giving a great lead-in to your opening paragraph! And you develop your heroine’s character with subtlety and complexity.

    1. Awww Penny–sincere thanks for your most kind words. I’m glad you liked it!

  7. So skilful Karen, the way you reveal the personal and the political so adeptly. Excellent story.

    1. So glad you liked it! Thanks for your kind words, Francine.

  8. That attitude of ‘you don’t have to work once you’re married’ just reminds me of the UK back in the 1950s – it’s exactly what most women did. Have a nice little secretary job until the right man comes along, then it’s home and kids and dinner on the table at six every night.
    It’s sad that things don’t seem to be improving for many women across the globe and in some places getting worse.
    I admire your character’s strength and determination to be her own woman, even if that means a little deception. Lovely write Karen

    1. Thanks Lynn! Yes, sometimes I wonder exactly which direction we are moving.

  9. And here we are with a Congress and President who are all but pushing to get Roe v. Wade overturned and bring back the dark ages!

    1. Sigh…I know. Sometimes I worry The Handmaid’s Tale is tomorrow’s news. Thanks for reading, Scott.

      1. Hadn’t quite thought of it that way, but would have.

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