Amazon Honor System

Lesson * Support * FAQ * Write for
* Editorial policy

The Godmother
"I gained knowledge enough to realize how little I know."

July 25, 2002
The Iranian

It was one of those Sundays I cherish because they come too far apart and in between, I am sure most of you know what I am talking about. No Iranian function to attend, and no rushing around doing errands.

Most importantly, I did not have to sit next to my teenage son and have constant mini heart attacks while he maneuvers the car by cutting off in front of others and passing stop signs (aftrer which he bursts into laughter because he has scared me to death). This is usually my Sunday.

I had gone out to an Iranian restaurant the night before and then had come back and put Shahram Nazeri's latest CD on. I read until I could not keep my eyes open any longer. A short while later I woke up and watered my plants without having to hear comments from my son, like "Oh God, if an Iranian found out my mom says 'ghorboonet beram' to her plants, they will think she's crazy."

I decided to have Iranian lavash -- white bread with no nutritional value, full of fat and salt -- with feta cheese (instead of spelt flakes without any fat and salt and organic soymilk made from soybeans, which is nutritious and contains no fat). I was in such a good mood that I decided to brew Iranian tea but changed my mind because I did not want to think about why it did not taste like the ones I drink at my friend's parties.

I finished reading a book that started with the life of Omar khayyam, Hassan Sabah the leader of the Hasheesheen assasins (the man of my dreams) and ended with the Mashrootiat (constitutional) movement.

Around 11:30 I got ready and went to lunch at my favorite Japanese restaurant. After that I went to a little used bookstore which I have never shared with anybody. It's my treasured secret.
This little two story shop is tucked away in a shopping center that very few people know about.

I have been lucky because the owner buys used and out of print books and he has always found rare books about Iran for me. He always says that he loves to see my brown eyes light up when I see one of these books.

Well, this was my lucky day. I found a book in English about Haji Abdu of Yazd, poems translated by Sir Richard Burton in English in 1942. It had beautiful Persian paintings and detailed information about Haji Abdu and his character, which I found quite fascinating. The poems were amazingly profound and awe inspiring. I was now in a jovial mood because I was the proud owner of this treasure.

I then went to the mall across the street and while shopping managed to drive the customers crazy because I was talking in my cellphone mouth piece really fast -- and in a language they did not understand. That is my ritual on the weekends: I can call everyone back and talk while I am shopping or driving or simply running errands.

As I said goodbye to my friend in Oregon and pulled the phone ear piece out, I heard a man a few feet away say: "That exotic language must be from the Middle East?" I snapped and said, "I am Iranian and lumping us with other nationalities in that region is an ignorant remark!"

He smiled and said, "Oh I am sorry. My name is Mike. I teach computer science at the local college and have quite a few Iranian colleagues. As a matter of fact, Dr. Bahrami always says that Iranian women are very beautiful but also very temperamental."

I was really irked by this remark and just cut him off and blurted: "Oh yes. A statement from an imbecile who blames his insecurities on the "temperament" of intelligent and independent Iranian women. I just bet this Dr. Bahrami is dating a blonde called Thelma with a GED who serves him breakfast at Denny's -- or better yet, someone name Magdelina who was rescued off a raft two years ago."

The man seemed very amused because he was laughing so hard that people were looking at him. I decided to go for the kill and said, "I bet you this, Dr. Bahrami goes through many Kleenex tissues at Iranian functions trying to wipe the drool of his chin when he encounters beautiful Iranian women."

The man was laughing uncontrollably and tried hard to say something. He finally managed to say "You are right and, I can see that a man has to be quite secure and confident to understand an Iranian woman's wit and passionate temper."

He then asked my name to which I answered, "Great". He looked puzzled.

"That is the meaning of my name in English," I said. "And that is all you need to know!"

"What do you do?"

"I am a bookworm."

He laughed again and said: "What does it take for a person to be on your good side?"

"Intelligence," I answered and then started to walk away. I turned once more and addressed him, "Tell Dr. Bahrami you met the Iranian Godmother."

I then went and paid for my stuff and left the store.

I tried to cheer myself up, realizing I had not run into anyone who would chide me for spending so much money buying things.

I decided to have a hot tea and pretzel. The lady behind the counter told me it would take 10 minutes since I wanted it without oil and salt. I decided to walk around and come back. As I turned I noticed a coin show. Well, the last time I had bought coins was while attending college in Iran and I vividly remembered how exited I was to have found coins from the Ghajar Dynasty. I had also bought some silver coins in 1983 on my trip to Isfahan.

I decided to check the dealers out. For some strange reason I was pulled toward the last booth on the row . As I approached to look at the display boxes I heard the dealer -- a man I could not place his national origin -- smiled and said, "Oh it must be my lucky day because a beautiful Persian has come to visit me."

I just gave him one of those "yeah yeah" looks and to change the subject, I asked if he had any Iranian coins. He pulled out a few coins and started telling me about the various periods, knowing damn well that I really did not know my coins. For the first time I felt ashamed of myself for not knowing anything about such an important part of my heritage.

I was actually mad because I am such a history buff and I am forever reading about Iran's glorious (and sometimes not so glorious) past. I could not believe I was so ignorant about coins. I bluntly asked "how do I know these are authentic?"

Before he could answer, I heard a clear voice saying "Let me take a look?" I turned and there stood a tall American man in his fifties who seemed to be a scholar. He took out a little magnifier and picked up the three coins I was interested in.

With an air of confidence he said, "The large coin is from the Sassanian era. The picture indicates Shapour II and the back has the symbols of the Iranian religion of the time. There is the fire which was sacred to Zoroastrians."

I became so overwhelmed with embarrassment that I could not lift my head and look at him. I could barley hear what he was saying because I kept cursing myself for being so ignorant about my history.

Now, normally when I come across educated Americans, I introduce myself and give them my business card. I always ask for their email address so I can included them on my list of people who receive information regarding the upcoming events in the community. This was not one of those situations.

I asked the dealer about the price. He said he would like to go out to dinner with me and offered the coins at cost. Really annoyed, I answered, "Listen, I do not have time even for Iranian men. So going out with a non-Iranian is an absolute NO! You are a smart businessman and you are giving it to me at cost because you know you will be getting a lot of business through me. I will recommend you to my friends, and you know that."

He smiled and said, "Nobody can fool you."

I paid him and took his business card and jokingly said, "If these are fake you will not live to regret lying to me!"

"They are real," He said.

I went home and got on the Internet and searched for the coins. I was so happy to see not only my coins but also other coins from the two different dynasties. The adrenalin rush was more than seeing a tall, good looking Iranian man with beautiful eyes who does stare but simply looks as at me with longing.

I had a piece of history and my Iranian heritage in my possession. My glorious ancestors were so advanced in commerce. It was an exhilarating moment. I started reading about the coins and I was thrilled to see the man had charged me a quarter of their actual worth.

I remembered the profound statement my father often tells me when I talk to him on the phone. He says, "Beautiful lady, keep an open mind and an open heart because you never know what a situation, no matter how insignificant, can teach you or how it may inspire you to gain more knowledge."

How true! I am going to tell him that he is always right. He loves to hear me admit someone has better answers than I do, because it does not happen that often.

This insignificant encounter had opened my eyes. It taught me about other aspects of my heritage and made me admit how little I know.

I had always had a thirst for knowledge about history in general and specially about Iran's glorious past. I have spent a fortune cultivating a collection of books written by foreigners who visited Iran. I had been an avid reader since the age of eight and had as many books I could get my hands on about Persian history.

I used to visit local museums in my college years in Iran -- when most of my friends were only interested in going to clubs and having fun. Make no mistake, I liked having fun too, but learning something new about Iran's past always filled my heart with joy.

This day was full of valuable lessons I could have never read about in any books. I realized that men are basically the same regardless of their nationalities. They make assumptions based on physical appearance and can not feel the pain or joy of the soul inside that woman.

I always quote the Persian poem "taa bedaanjaa raseed daaneshe man keh bedaanam hamee keh nadaanam" which means "I gained knowledge enough to realize how little I know." I also learned that I should never assume a person from another culture does not know anything about mine. I admitted that this was an ignorant assumption.

Comment for The Iranian letters section
Comment for Azam Nemati

By Azamin Nemati

Nemati's features






* Recent

* Covers

* Writers

* All sections

Book of the day

Borjhaye Khamooshi
Dr.Javad Mojabi

Copyright © All Rights Reserved. Legal Terms for more information contact:
Web design by Bcubed
Internet server Global Publishing Group