Gohar and her moon
She was prepared for big things and deep things, like tragedy
November 12, 2001
She rode the bus to Shiraz every week to see him... I wish you wouldn't
say these things, she said... He had been imprisoned by the Shah for anti-government
activities. She was very much in love with him. They had met at Tehran University...
How do you know, she said. You don't know, and you have no right to say
anything... in the Art Department.
In three months after I am buried you'll have somebody else, and I will
be forgotten, he said. And that's your love!
He was a dissatisfied sculptor. There was a battle between them. She
was an artist and certainly never saw herself living through a lifetime
with him without romance, flowers, books, a high rosewood piano.
No one wanted her to marry him. Matters were becoming desperate. He didn't
have any money. He was feverish; he seemed unnatural and intense. Nasturtiums
ringed the garden and she saw tragedy, sorrow and sacrifice ahead.
Sometimes he was exaggeratedly happy, usually he was flat and bitter.
Her heart beat furiously when she saw him. She could not leave him. He wanted
to come home and there was a haggard look in his eyes. But it would be two
years before he would go home.
In Tehran it was a beautiful winter day and the ice melted slowly in
the sunshine of a soft blue sky. They decided to go to America. She had
some money from the sale of her father's house and they could use the money
to buy an apartment in Washington, D.C. She was prepared for big things
and deep things, like tragedy.
They might as well have gone to hell. A ghastly sickly feeling of dissolution
in the unknown land overflowed into an unconscious flare with struggle like
madness. She lit a cigarette and drank her tea. Someone had brought them
a pot of pink and white azaleas and she painted them. She started painting
herself. She stood before the mirror pinning on her hat, posing for her
portrait with Monet -- Persian splendor and Turkish delight.
Her beauty, that of a shy, wild Bakhtiari, seemed nothing to her. Even
her soul like the moon was misty showing lost dreams in her deep black eyes
which she lined in black kohl. A fallen flower in the summer grasses. She
felt different from other people. She was a Bakhtiari Princess, Bibi Gohar,
named after her grandmother, the daughter of Il Khan Bakhtiari.
As soon as the plum blossoms were out, her husband got a job as an assistant
in a frame shop. They climbed the hill slowly as white clouds drifted away.
It was a new, glamorous world where they were at the bottom with the morning
Her treatment was decided by a three-way phone call between her sister
in Albuquerque who thought everyone in the family was bi-polar and her brother
in West Virginia who had diagnosed her as schizophrenic. They were both
They decided to give her two shots and then weekly drugs to control her
fears of cardboard square pack of cards of lace, little boxes of pins, raveled
cotton and spring rain. Her throat and arms were covered and she wore a
scarf covering her hair in the Moslem tradition. She was a Japanese Zen
The black crow that I always despised
And yet, against the snowy dawn . . .
After two sons were born, her marriage began to unravel, revealing nothing.
There was never a chance of her ever being given a choice. After tea, she
started brooding, twisting her wedding ring all the time.
Even if the cherry blossoms bloom
Ours is a world of suffering
She worked in the meat section of the grocery store wearing a white coat
splattered with blood. She stood in the glassed-in room with the stainless
steel cutter slicing and wrapping meat wincing till nothing remained.
The thought of her mother nowhere to be found and her father, Dr. Bakhtiar
in his office, scared and shocked her. Her childhood in Abadan, a land without
time, was spent in the oil company pool. Blown by wind and sun. Her mother
was in Tehran buying and selling property leaving her father and servants
to manage eventually ten children who became crows with dark startled eyes.
There was a silence in childhood that lasted forever. Never to be a butterfly...
I shall come home when I want, said her mother and went to bed leaving
the door unlocked. The house was dark and remained tangled. Just a shell.
A dog barked furiously. Come, he said, let me help you. No, go away. I will
do it in my own way...
She had come from Iran after 10 years with a tourist visa and her husband
had already sold the apartment and kept the money. Resentful of losing her
children and all love and security, she disappeared into smoke and tea then
economy sized cokes. Drifting away into her own darkness she became isolated.
She had no money and could not work. Her sons were grown and her husband
owned two frame shops: Picasso's Gallery in Bethesda, Maryland. Her life
was a heap of coal and it fell over her. She drew back quickly with a cry
but it was too late.
She was being dragged away. If she had had a green card, she would have
been institutionalized. A piece of apple-blossom hung low on a swinging
bough. A fine mess of a marriage. Have you got warm under things on? No.
They are cotton. Everyone said they wouldn't mind giving the money if they
She never got beyond the second page. She could understand nothing but
love-making and saying she was Picasso. She was at the center of conflict
and despair. Two wrongs don't make a right.
She wore a large cream hat covered with roses, mostly white. She was
going back to Tehran to find a sweet place with care and her family would
send her $300 a month for the only thing she asked for: cigarettes and tea.
Smoking cut tobacco leaves wrapped in thin white paper.
The envelop was sealed. Beyond the trees I could see her, All in shadow,
my sister, Gohar and the moon disappeared under a cloud.