A house I call Iran
And I'm going back there this week!
July 30, 2007
There is a large, old-fashioned house in my village that has visibly withstood both the harsh elements of nature and social struggles. Its presence is important to the history of the community, as it is easily one of the oldest architectural artworks which also managed to retain its original design and style to this day.
But now, of what I can see from its exterior appearance, it is in need of repainting and renovation to preserve the beauty that its architects and builders provided. Its nostalgic grandeur can be easily noticed through the firmness of its foundations, and the strength of its ancient timber pillars still supporting the heavy roof at the front portico. The once-vibrant colors of the elaborate decorations have turned into shades of grey, charcoal and beige. Even the heavy doorknocker, a gold lion's head, had darkened to allude to invaluable common metal.
As like the charity slogans we hear along the lines of If the world were a village of 100, I took this thought into my hands and simplified countries as simple houses in this village. I recently paid a visit to the old mansion I call Iran.
Residents of the houses at the other end of the village continue to spread bizarre rumors about the family who live in this 'ghost mansion', and this malign gossip is quickly spread throughout the area because none of us have seen the family who live there. Most of us outsiders don't know what life is like behind the closed doors, what the household does. Even if there are occasional sightings of some members, they do not communicate with us because we stare at them with hostile suspicion and curiosity from what we have heard.
I was surprised by the kind smiles I received from my hosts when they opened the door for me. This was hardly what I expected. They welcomed me with such warmth, kissing my cheeks and embracing me as I was lead to explore the dimly lit interior of their home. Richly decorated, it contradicted all that I saw from its exterior. Magnificent carpets of all colors and motifs, murals and frescoes on walls depicting historical scenes and daily life throughout the ages. The painted brown eyes of a turbaned man in one of these paintings stared at me firmly, as if attempting to converse with me about his time. The past was as active as the present in this mythical home.
The architects had done a splendid job, as well as its decorators. Supposedly fashionable western elements did not exist here, for the residents stood firm to their beliefs and the flavor of originality in design that they were given from their forefathers.
Fashion is a temporal thing, short as the life of a cicada in the summer that cries out without feeding itself for their two weeks of life expectancy. One trend may inflame the world for a time, but it is soon disposed of to be replaced by another. The home I saw had correctly separated itself from such finite follies. It was wiser, and categorized itself in a separate category that differentiated itself from the entire concept of contemporary chic.
Each room I explored was unique in complexion. There was a sand-stained room called Ahvaz that had absorbed so much sunlight from its windows that made me sweat due to the morbid heat while I admired the ancient Mesopotamian artifacts it displayed. Another was a rainbow room called Shiraz, which was less humid as a result of its breathtaking stained-glass windows that offered me a realization of the beauty of light and color. Here, there was also a library housing volumes of Persian poetry such as Hafez and Sa'adi, as I browsed them taking in the scents of fresh, beautiful roses of assorted colors hugging each corner. Isfahan was a vast ballroom allowing me to dance around as I mimicked the wall-paintings of 17th century dancers trapped in their glorious moment in transparent veils and flowing skirts.
I was finally led to a central courtyard that no outsider knew of, full of remarkable green vegetation and fountains which continued on to become handsome ponds and channels. What a surprise, for I assumed this house to be in shambles and dead plants! It was so fruitful of not only beauty, but of wisdom and elegance.
As a young outsider, all I can request of the loving family of numerous races, religions and political beliefs is that they will stay confident of their pleasant home. I won't object to their interests in buying new IKEA furniture or adding a tiki-bar, but I sincerely hope they retain the authenticity of what their architects left them because it would be such a shame to see their home demolished to turn into a modern Corbusier structure crammed with unfitting décor.
I know that as a Japanese-Australian, I will never get to know the hidden structural elements that only previous and current residents have learned of after living in this house. But allow me to say that I am paying another visit this week, to discover more rooms and find masterpieces I overlooked last time. I am sure that I will once again be welcomed with warm, sweet tea, just like the nature of this family. Comment
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