The beginning of Mehr
Taking a break from motherhood to read letters
November 9, 2004
Today, September 22, begins the month Mehr, the month
of kindness, and so to seek solace like all Fridays, I head for
the Shemshak slopes.
And every year as I grow, I realize the nobility
of donkeys, adorned with multi-colored beads, eye lashes long and
shy, their ankles
trembling under the weight of butane capsules, bricks, or like
today, green apples that fall in autumn.
My companions are Shadi the tailor, who makes the
best skirts in Tehran, and Nader, her son. These days I am Uncle
Kambiz to many.
The laundry man thinks Nader is my son, and frankly, us perennial
bachelors do not deny a son when one drops from the sky.
The other who was supposed to fall from the Hollywood
skies was Ahura, the Mazda, along with his six women. Despondent
even pacing the corridors of Mehrabad Airport and Tehran
University, hoping to greet the savior.
But, no show. Ahura says, it is not quite time
yet. Up on the twentieth floor of Tehran Towers,
the wrinkled dame
d' honeure of
the Empress, silences BBC, and tunes into Tel Aviv for
The sky overlooking these peaks is liquid cool and
fades into gray toward Tehran. My old Rabbit coasts into Ahar Square
where light shows and neon celebrate Mehdi, the vanished
A television anchor woman asks a female sobbing
under a veil, if Mehdi would be welcome today.
Yes, yes. Mister Mehdi, please show yourself in
whatever form, whoever you are.
The poplars stand proud along the mule path. There
is wisdom amongst that tribe; how they bend with
the fuss to pass,
and stand erect again, forever reaching for the light.
We approach the mad woman with the mango yellow sweater. Nader
is afraid of her eyes -- one looks East, and the other, sometimes
South. I say salam to her on each trek; she cannot speak, just
a guttural moan, that of a child in a well. Then, she smiles and
all is well as we fade into the boulevard of fallen fruit.
If you want to be a woman or a man of the Persian mountains,
you must exercise mountaineering etiquette. Wish the Afghan mule
Ya Ali so that the prophet will safely deport them back to a
homeland many have never seen. Say Khasteh Nabasheed to the bent
of the Shah so they may never tire of their tales -- Coronation
Day, gliding on their Harleys, escorting the eight princesses.
there is Ali Agha, the Olympic weight lifter who has lived
in Venice and D.C. If you visit his sandwich shop, you will see
of him flexing his muscles at Capitol Hill. Ali is the one
who broils Romanian sausages made of Islamic chicken. Today he
on his way down as we climb past him and wish him joy on the
vanished saint's birthday. O.K, he responds as he unlocks his brand
new Pride (Ford Fiesta bought out by the Koreans, later bought
out by the clergy's men). The champion's wife has smeared
the blood of a young lamb on the license plates to bless the
We pass a hut with an aged walnut tree mushrooming above it.
Through its branches I seek the sun, and my eyes fall upon a white
on a tin roof. Beneath her, a finch with no roof chides the placid
peacekeeper. Way above those two, a black crow burps into oblivion,
his fat belly bending the poplar tip.
.........Still, the poplar stands
....................................Forever, seeking the sun.