I just heard my mum is in hospital. I feel helpless because I hate hospitals. The thought of nurses doctors and that whole medical world makes me shiver. I am ok with the spiritual and the intangeable, but the real and tangeable painful world of hospitals makes me faint. I don’t mind the new born section in a hospital. I feel life there. Anywhere else I feel the decay and pain and I start of feel the same. Usually I faint. I break down.
But the feeling that your mother is perhaps going to the other side is not new. My dad was sick of his body and when he told me good-bye, I said I will be in touch. He did not know until he passed to the immaterial world.
As children we were brought up distantly. I always heard him and mum at the end of a phone line. Now I feel his spirit. In his final hours he was fed up of his body, almost as if it was an old car. He needed a new suit. This one had done its duty. He had built the oil industry of Iran with it, and my mum by his side.
They say that behind a great man there is an even greater woman. Assefeh Bader Mostofi was just that then. She, like many of the leaders of Iran’s wives, took care of the cultural entourage. Our house was one of the first gateways to a modern Iranian household. Our ancient home had become the new King’s Palace and was called Saadabad Palace.
Mum decided to design and built a new house at number 72 Saadabad Road next to the palace. It was the talk of the town; with lovely pillars that went into the swimming pool; beautiful engravings; stained glass windows reflecting the sunshine through a staircase, that mimicked the Shah Abbas Hotel in Isfahan.
Assefeh Bader Mostofi loved art. She painted and studied art at University of Geneva once the Second World War had ended. Dad met her in early fifties when she was in her late twenties, and soon after she had her first son Abdullah or Abdi as we call my older brother. In almost clockwork precision every three years and nine months I was born in January 1957 followed by my sister.
Being a wife of a Petroleum Geologist is not easy. He was an Aries with a Uranus conjunct Venus conjunct Ascendant born on a Full Moon is 1918. He was a raging bull charging head on at anything. He won all the awards and managed to find the world’s largest oil well. She had Venus in Aquarius and loved him for it. Match made in the heavens.
She kept the world sane – somehow as he would leave his blazing trail behind – wherever he went, whatever he did. She was polished, descended from a Royal pedigree that was second to none in the world. Her family tree is as old as ancient Iran and is in the British Museum. She was the innocent Princess watching over her Gladiator marching into war everyday.
For many years after 1979 she took care of this raging Bull and helped him settle down to the quiet life of retirement. It was tough on her. On my return from Princeton University she said that she was losing her will to live. He and the events in Iran were a serious drain. I said to her “mum what did you do when you were on your own?” she said, “I painted”. We were in our flat in Mallocra and we rushed down to Palma and we bought her a fantastic oil painting set. She had found a new life – ironically it was her old life.
She would paint beautiful roses and waves. The waves (ah its hard writting this when you are crying, yes we men do have feelings, especially we Full Moon Capricorns), would show ancient battleships at war. The roses were her family all bunched up next to each other. We never were together but the roses showed the world as she wanted it to be. This is how she coped. Two worlds were in her all the time. She also painted the familiar fruits on the table scene.
And these three themes she repeated, over and over again. People loved them. Even my dad began to like them. He was not an artist, but had the most amazing handwritting and diction in English, French and Persian. He was a master calligrapher, and gave thousands of speeches to Kings, Prime Ministers and Boards of Directors, without any notes. But for some unknown reason, in exile he could not express himself, but she could. She was stronger than him.
She held the rudder, steered us through the troublesome waves, and cheered us with her paintings of roses. This calm simple Persian Princess, may not have been the typical all knowledeable swarve intellectual like the others in the family, but had her foot firmly in the ground then, where and when it counted most.