It is winter in Teheran. Lateef is 17. He
works in a building construction managed by MEMAR, the site foreman.
Lateef's job is to serve tea and prepare food for the workers
with whom he is always quarrelling. The workers come from all
parts of Iran. Some workers are Afghans refugees from war torn
Afghanistan. They have no identity card and are employed illegally
as cheap labor. When the labour inspectors show up, the Afghan
workers must hide.
As the story starts, an Afghan worker, NAJAF, falls from the
building and breaks his leg. He is taken to the hospital. The
next day, SOLTAN, another Afghan worker, brings in RAHMAT, Najaf's
son, who is around 14 to replace his father. Memar soon realizes
that Rahmat is not fit for this hard work and decides to switch
the jobs between Rahmat and Lateef. Lateef is furious, threatens
Rahmat, tries to sabotage his work and spies on him. One day,
by looking through the door where Rahmat works, he is totally
shocked to discover that Rahmat is a girl. As he is watching
her combing her hair, he finds himself in a strange state and
surrounded by unusual sounds.
From there on his attitude changes completely, he becomes protective,
helpful and gradually desperately in love with Rahmat. While
Rahmat does not express herself verbally at all, with time she
seems to respond to this love. During a surprise visit of the
labour inspectors, they find themselves face to face with Rahmat.
She panics and runs away as they chase her through the city streets.
Lateef runs after them, struggles with the inspectors while Rahmat
flees. Lateef is beaten up and taken to the police station. Now
Memar has to pay a fine, comply with the law and lay off all
Lateef can't bear Rahmat's absence and decides to locate Soltan
to get some news of her. He goes to the village where the Afghans
live, walks around, meets an enigmatic cobbler and ends up in
the courtyard of a shrine near a graveyard where Afghan families
are gathered for a local milk ceremony. He inquires about Soltan
but gets no clues. Among the Afghans in the courtyard, stands
Rahmat with girl clothes. She notices Lateef, stares at him for
a while before leaving the ceremony. Lateef is not aware of her
presence. The next day on the road he finds Soltan and learns
that Rahmat works in the village near the river. Lateef rushes
there to find Rahmat in a pitiful state, working with other women
at carrying heavy stones from the river. He is distressed and
wants to find a way to help her out of that ordeal.
He gets all his accumulated wages from Memar and hands them to
Soltan asking him to pass them on to Najaf. They agree to meet
the next day at the shrine after Najaf has given the money to
Najaf. The next day at the shrine, instead of Soltan, it is Najaf
who shows up to inform Lateef that Soltan has gone to Afghanistan.
He tells Lateef that Soltan came to him and offered him some
money he had borrowed from someone. He also tells Lateef that
he has refused the money and has advised Soltan to keep it for
himself and use it to leave immediately to Afghanistan where
he had a life and death issue in the family. Lateef is shocked
He gets even more worried the next day when he overhears a conversation
in Najaf's house that Najaf is himself now faced with family
problems in Afghanistan as his brother has just been killed in
the war. He also hears that Rahmat's real name is BARAN. Lateef
goes back to the river to find Baran, exhausted, now carrying
logs of woods out of the river in an atmosphere reminder of a
war field. Powerless in front of the hardship she is going through,
he returns to the construction site in a state of depression.
The next morning, Najaf on his crutches is in the construction
site to meet Memar. Lateef overhears Najaf begging Memar without
success to lend him some money.
Lateef takes a desperate measure to get money. He goes and sells
the only valuable things he still has, his identity card. When
he brings the money to Najaf, it is to learn that thanks to this
money, Najaf and his family are returning to Afghanistan. Lateef
is overwhelmed by this news and finds refuge in the shrine. There,
in a state of anguish and despair, he hears coming from all around
him the same sounds he heard when he saw Baran the first time.
He surrenders to his fate.
The next day in a dreamlike atmosphere, while helping Najaf to
load the truck with the house effects, Lateef, now with a serene
look, is finally face to face with Baran. Through eyes contacts
and physical proximity they exchange their love. As Baran covers
herself and walks to the truck, her shoe gets stuck in the mud.
Lateef gets on his knees, takes the shoe out of the mud and hands
it to Baran so she can wear it and leave. The truck takes Baran
away. Left alone, in the empty place, Lateef stares at the footstep
in the mud left by Baran's shoe and smiles while the rain covers