My hero in the dark

My father took me every Thursday night to the only movie theater of the town


My hero in the dark
by Azarin Sadegh

There is a story behind each myth. Myths are supposed to be about the dead people, but our family’s favorite myth was about me. The way the family tells the story, I wrote my first word at age three, and the word was “Cinema.”


We lived in a small town in Mazandaran and my father was respected and well known. He was a busy man and I, as a little girl, craved to spend more time with him.

My father took me every Thursday night to the only movie theater of the town. Our family had its own special reserved seats. Row nine, seats 10 to 14.
Every time we drove down the main street, I looked for that place. The brown brick building with an orange fluorescent sign at its side. I would stare at the letters forming the word “Cinema.” I could find it from afar, could recognize its shape, and I envied anyone standing in the black line waiting to buy a ticket. I would gaze at the colorful posters of actors and picture their adventures in my daydreams.

It was the place of the only holy ritual I knew.

I used to sit on my father’s lap – even if the seats beside him was empty -- and watch his face instead of the huge bright screen. I could raise my hand to touch it, or I could whisper in his ear. It was the place where he couldn’t get mad at me for being who I was. It was the place I cried in silence, watching my father weeping every time the hero of the movie died -- and I smiled every time my father laughed the way he never laughed at home.

I loved to go to Cinema. I loved its darkness, its thick, heavy air, its deafening noise and its chunky silence. I adored its anonymity, its opacity and dullness, its light and its shadows, the smell of its grassy cookies and rotten food, its smoky mood, its wet velvet seats, its careless crowd who resembled everyone I knew, but they could cry or laugh at the same time as my father. This was the same petty crowd my father -- while sitting so close to them -- usually ignored. It was the only place I forgot my loneliness and he forgot his. The only place I was truly with him – pretending to be his only daughter-- even if he acted as if I didn’t exist.

I remember I was four, or three as the legend says.

The day I became too old to sit on his lap, and I became so tall others couldn’t ignore me, my father stopped taking me with him. I sat on the edge of our front doorstep and watched him leaving, going farther and farther, becoming almost a mirage or a phantom. I sat there alone, buried in futility, robbed of my private holiness.


“Father, I’m thirsty,” I said. It was almost the end of the movie.

My father wiped his face with the white handkerchief my mother had sewn for him. He stroked my hair, his eyes fixated on the big screen.“Don’t cry,” he said. “It’s just a movie.”

I leaned against his warm chest and pretended to wipe my face with my sleeve. I smelled the familiar scent of his jacket and drank the happiness like a stream.


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Thank you.

by Feshangi on

Thank you Azarin. That was very satisfying to read. I could smell, hear, and taste everything there in that cinema. This piece reminds why I always wanted to have a daughter I never had.

Azarin Sadegh

Dear Tahereh,

by Azarin Sadegh on

It is so true that we all share so many hopes and so much sorrow.

I suggest that you read this splendid speech by Orhan Pamuk. He talks about his relationship with his father and of course about writing:


The whole speech is so moving and just breathtaking, but I love especially this part:

"...A writer talks of things that everyone knows but does not know they know. To explore this knowledge, and to watch it grow, is a pleasurable thing; the reader is visiting a world at once familiar and miraculous. When a writer shuts himself up in a room for years on end to hone his craft – to create a world – if he uses his secret wounds as his starting point, he is, whether he knows it or not, putting a great faith in humanity. My confidence comes from the belief that all human beings resemble each other, that others carry wounds like mine – that they will therefore understand. All true literature rises from this childish, hopeful certainty that all people resemble each other. When a writer shuts himself up in a room for years on end, with this gesture he suggests a single humanity, a world without a centre. ... "

 isn't it just amazing?


PS: BTW, nice choice for your user name. Tahereh was one of the bravest Iranian woman of our history. If Iran had more women like her, we wouldn't be living here today and the Iranian women living in Iran didn't have to go through their daily misery under islamists. 


Dear Azarin,thanks for the kind words.

by Tahirih (not verified) on

It meant a lot that you replied to me.We all do not realize how much we share and have in common.Humans try to find the differences in eachother,meanwhile we are all "leaves of one tree".
It is very hard for me to write about those painfull memories,but I do it because when we see that we all share the same kind of love and pain it brings us closer as the members of human family,and in specific as Iranians.

I am hoping that when someone with opposite opinion reads my tender story about my father,he or she remembers his love relation with his father, and can see me as a human being with all the emotions that he has,then may be he re-evaluate his anger or hate towards me.
Azarin Jan,please write more and lets show all, that we sometimes hurt too.

With best regards for you,

Azarin Sadegh

Dear N.zanin, please don't read it...

by Azarin Sadegh on

I'm so sorry for your pain and I understand why you shouldn't read my essay. I know how depressing my writing can get. No matter what and no matter how hard I try, still I end up writing something so dark and so gloomy, even if it is about the best times of my life :)

One day, -- a long time ago -- I heard somebody else's memory and I cried for hours...and then for the next 18 years, her memory became my nightmare! So please my don't read it...and take care, Azarin


Sounds like a nice peice but

by n.zanincanadai1 (not verified) on

Sounds like a nice peice but I am still so torn over my father not being here that I cna't bear to hear other people's memories. Good Luck

Azarin Sadegh

Dear Tahirih,

by Azarin Sadegh on

Thank you for sharing with us this moving moment of your life.

I know so well how hard is to reveal these moments, but since, unfortunately, there are so many Iranians sharing this same life story, I think it's very important for our generation (for the sake of the generations to come) to write about them. Through our writing, these moments would never lose their intensity and passion, almost eternal. As if our fathers didn’t die.

Still today (that I am a parent myself), I rather think that my father died in peace since he had already accomplished his most precious wish: To give to his three daughters the opportunity of living the life they wanted.

Take care,



You took me to the land of dreams...

by Tahirih (not verified) on

It is amazing that how much we all have in common.I have had the same experience with my father,he used to take me to movies too, it was usually a comedy or western .We also had lots of outings together,there is something about fathers and their little girl.I also miss the smell of his shirt.
Last thing that I remember about him was his face the day I was escaping Iran.When the car started to leave my parents house,I looked back one more time, And to this day I am haunted by it.
The pain in his face sending his only daughter away for ever.
He was a proud man ,he did not cry,and I guess when the car left he thought I can not see his tears , so he was crying and looking at the car.When I turned our eyes locked in the eternal pain.
He passed on without me being able to say goodby or kissing the ground that holds his body.This is my pain , and lonliness that I will carry for ever,until I meet him.



Very nice!

by jamshid on

I enjoyed reading your piece. Very warm and nicely put together.

I wonder if that movie theater is still standing?

Azadeh Azad

Cinema & Loneliness

by Azadeh Azad on

"It was the only place I forgot my loneliness and he forgot his."

Ah! This existential loneliness that sets in so early in life, as soon as we become aware that we are.

Thanks for sharing this intimate corner of your soul.





by Abarmard on

Life is bitter sweet. Sweet with memories of timeless sad or happy experiences. I loved this writing, wish you write more.

Thanks Azarin


Nazy Kaviani

Our parents and our children

by Nazy Kaviani on

Azarin Jan:

This was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this very special bit of your identity and your past with us. When we become parents ourselves, we develop new appreciation for our parents, and everything about our relationship with them and our memories of them finds a new dimension--knowing the unconditional love we feel for our children, we start seeing the same attribute in how our parents treated and raised us, even though when we were children it didn't always seem that way! Thanks again doostam.

Darius Kadivar

From a Movie Buff to another ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

Beautiful Article Azarin Jan

Hope you enjoy this Persian Notorious tribute too :


Ali P.


by Ali P. on