Frozen butter and the Fedaii

The story of Arash Pouyan

Chapter 5

Arash's younger brother and mother all thought his father put the butter in the freezer to preserve. But Arash thought he would put it in the freezer just to piss him off for some reason. The truth was after his father's heart attack, the doctors told him he had to start eating healthier. No more butter, salt, animal fat and eggs. So he'd put the butter in the freezer to make it less tempting and harder to cut and therefore eat. His family, unfortunately, had to pay the collective price for his new healthy diet.

His dad was both a complicated yet simple man. Like most men.

Because of the frozen butter Arash dreaded breakfast every morning. Cutting through the butter was like cutting through a solid block of hardened clay. The only ray of light of breakfast would be when occasionally his dad would take Arash to work with him at the tire shop. He loved it. He loved being around his baba at work, smelling the new and old tires, being around all the beat-up cars and frugal customers bargaining for a more reasonable price.

The country was in a full-on war with Iraq (from 1980-88), which meant the economy took a big hit, especially heavy industry. The government needed to divert money and attention to the war effort abroad (but also at home against anyone that threatened the wartime regime). After Khomeini came to power and nationalized the automotive industry, both vehicle import and domestic production fell hard. Imports fell by 50 percent and production of passenger vehicles fell around 90 percent. Even though the country wasn't producing or importing that many cars anymore, Arash's shop was always busy because there was a national shortage of tires. So business, at least for him, was booming. Black, rubber gold.  His dad was apolitical. He neither hated nor liked Khomeini. Let me sell tires and take care of my family and you can do whatever, he would think to himself.

But later on after Arash's arrest his dad changed his mind about Khomeini. Going after little kids, he'd tell himself. Kids who were just reading stupid books or handing out stupid papers and going to stupid meetings. Business is one thing but family is another. Especially your children. What would Arash eat in prison? Would they give him meat or butter? Arash wouldn't miss the frozen butter, that much I know. No one ever comes out healthier and fatter from prison. Sometimes they don't come out at all. But we can't think that way. Especially not his madar, his poor maman. And his clothes? How would pesaram wash his clothes and shower? And would he get lonely? But was it better for pesaram to be lonely or to be in prison with his little friends and share the same cruel fate? Maybe it was a fitting fate but for others, criminals, for adults, not kids, not pesaram and his little friends. Probably it would've been better that only he got arrested. No baba or madar should suffer this fate. I hope they give him meat and butter.




Facundo Rompehuevos is an activist, writer, husband, father and recovering alcoholic and drug addict born and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. His work has appeared in zines and literary magazines and poetry journals, such as Rusty Truck, A Thin Slice of AnxietyThe Rising Phoenix Review, Red's Not White and Delirium. He has two books of poetry: Irreconcilable Contradictions (2017) and Grabbing the Stars from the Sky (2021), both published by Fourth Sword Publications. He is currently working on his debut novel and a collection of short stories.

You can find him on Substack at

Arash Pouyan was born in 1966 in Tehran. By the age of 12 he participated in the 1979 Iran Revolution. Later on he was arrested for his participation and support of the Fedaii. After three years as a political prisoner, he was released and left to Europe—where he continued his political activism against the Islamic Republic. Afterward, he moved to the U.S. He returned, briefly, to Iran in 2009 to participate in the Green Movement. Today, he continues to keep up to date with the popular movements not just in Iran but all over the world.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 - 06:31