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Requiem

Kinsman of open horizons
Professor Stepan Alexian 

By Mohammad Sadri
September 16, 2003
The Iranian

Call to me,
Your voice is good
Your voice is the green essence of that strange plant
that grows in the depth of the sincerity of sorrow...
-- Sohrab Sepehri

A few months ago one of my most beloved professors died. Dr. Stepan Alexanian, professor of oral embryology, histology and pathology, was my professor at Shahid Beheshti (Melli) University's School of Dentistry in the late 80's. Besides being a phenomenal teacher of science, Dr. Alexanian taught us to be kind and honest; to demand rather than command; to be humble as well as polite. 

Our class (and numerous other cohorts) knew him, by his mild and disciplined demeanor in class. He would open every session by these words: "Well, dear children, in the name of God..." ("Khob bache-haaye aziz, beh naame-e khodaa...") We were amused by the fact that he would greet us before uttering the name of God. His lectures were extremely well organized. With those words of introduction we would loose consciousness of time and other concerns of our lives and sail through his lectures. 

Dr. Alexanian would end most lectures with these words: "Well dear children, it's time for me to take my morning tea..."  But before, during, and after his morning tea, and long after we graduated he would listen to our questions and problems and guide us.
 
Those who knew him, could not help loving him.  In this way he was like Jesus, whom he loved and emulated. The death of Dr. Alexanian made  me very sad.  For consolation I sought refuge in a poem by Sohrab Sepehri -- that my brother Ahmad Sadri translated into English in remembrance of one of his colleagues, Joseph Yea, 1970-2001. 
 
He was great
And a native of these days
And a kinsman of all open horizons.

And the undertones of water and earth, he understood these well.

His voice
Was shaped like the scattered sadness of reality.

His eyelids
Underlined the pulse of the elements.

His hands
Leafed through the clear air of generosity
And sent a swarm of kindness swimming
Our way.

He was shaped like his own solitude
And he made mirrors understand
All the lovely curves of his loneliest moments.

He was full of the freshness of repetition
Just like rain.

He opened up in the sanctuary of light
Just like a tree.

He always beckoned the boyhood of the wind.
He always fastened the string of conversation
To a latch of water…

… But it was not to be
That he continue to sit facing
The lucidity of the doves.

He went and laid down
Behind the patience of the lights

And he did not think
How lonely he left us
To bite into an apple
In the confusion of naming so many doors.

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