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  • Date :
  • 6/16/2010

Parvin Etesami (Memoir)

The Solitary Girl


Days, weeks and months were coming and go¬ing and I was gradually growing older and older. My poems too, just like myself, were becoming longer and greater. My father had gotten me en¬rolled in the American Girl's School in Tehran. During those days, girls went to school. In fact, there was no school for the girls except... Any¬way, I was among the lucky girls. I was a daugh¬ter of E'tesam-ul-Mulk and was lucky enough to go to school. English language was also taught at this school. Madam Souler, the Principal of the School, was a nice lady. She was kind and un¬derstanding and anytime I met her, I would learn something new from her. She used to encourage me, saying: "Dear Parvin, you are very good in learning English. 1 am sure within a short time you will learn English completely!"

But I was not thinking so. I excelled other stu¬dents in English and Persian literature, though English was a bit difficult for me. Although I had a number of friends at the school, I liked to be lonely. 1 loved loneliness. It was not in my con¬trol. As if loneliness had been intermingled with my nature. As if my existence had been inter¬twined with loneliness through an invisible, thin thread. A threat without any knot to be opened. A thread I could not see!

One day, Madam Souler caught me at the school yard. In the first place, she talked a little bit about my subjects and then added: "Dear Parvin, you are very lonely and isolationist. This is what eve¬ry body says. This loneliness is not at all good for a good girl of your age. Try to mix up with the people around you!"

I replied: "Madam, I am not that much lonely." Indeed I was not that lonely. Every thing around me was alive and had a tongue. And I could make friendship with every thing. Corn-rose talked to me. Lily talked to me in a hundred languages. I was in love. I loved mountains, plains, the sky and the earth. Can one who mixes up with the trees and greeneries, and sings with the birds and butterflies and anytime dates with the blue sky, stars, moon and sun, be lonely? Neverthe¬less, my friends and Madam Souler were right. In their viewpoints, I was lonely. But I loved this loneliness. Poetry filled my entire world and I did not lack anything except the poems that were far away from me and were not reconciling with me. My greatest aspiration was to reach my uncom-posed poems.

Loneliness and solitariness were a blessing for me, for in loneliness I could realize myself better and I did not like at all to waste my time by talking and quarrelling with other girls. How could I consider my classmates my confidantes while they liked things which I did not and I wanted and was interested in things which they did not want and were not interested in. This was what had created a gap between me and other girls. A gap that could not be filled with anything except poetry. 1 was not an unkind or an unemotional girl. I liked my classmates. They liked me too. They all knew that I was very honest in my friend¬ship. It is true that I intermingled with others very rarely, but once I made friends with someone, it was very difficult and impossible for me to cut off. I loved everybody and could not even toler¬ate agony in the eyes of one who did not like me. When I came across a sick or a destitute, I used to think up to midnight of the same day and could not sleep. I always thought to myself: why some people are destitute? Why some are lucky and some unlucky? Why some are full of blessings and some need a loaf of bread? Every night while going to bed my mind would be filled with the whys for which I did not have any answer.

Marketplace and neighborhood were anoth¬er school for me; a school giving lesson of life to me. I used to learn things in the market and neighborhood that I could not learn at the Ameri¬can School. Every day, I found something new in the marketplace and neighborhood and faced diverse events. The lessons of marketplace and neighborhood were not repetitive.

One day, when I was coming back from school along with a friend, I came across an event which brought about a sea of change in me. I saw a ten-, twelve-year-old lad, sitting and sobbing, while tears were rolling down his cheeks, just like a summer torrential rain. There was such a pang and sigh in his voice that it would rend one's heart. I moved towards him, my friend called me from behind: "Leave him Parvin! What do you have to do with him?"

But I could not leave that lad alone. I could not ob¬serve the warm tears that rolled and dropped down his cold cheeks and just pass by indifferently. On his side, I saw the pieces of a broken water pot and the water splashed on the ground just near the broken pieces of the water pot. I immediately realized everything. I bent, saying: "Dear boy, a worthless water pot is nothing! Why are you weeping? Are you afraid that your father may quarrel with you?" I immediately became remorseful of my remarks, for the boy's trousers had some patches on the knee, his hands were tainted, callous and coarse and he was wearing a worn-out shirt. Everything was clear to me. He had every right to sob and shed tears just like a spring rain. He removed his tears with the torn sleeves of his shirt while saying with a chocked voice: "I don't have a father. I wish I had one and would quarrel with me. The water pot belongs to my master. What should I say, when he asks: what happened to the water pot? He will definitely beat me to death!"

I felt broken. I bent more and started weep¬ing with the poor kid. He was sobbing and I was weeping slowly and by heart. My friend pulled me by shoulder saying: "Get up and let's go. It does not look good. Are you mad? What are you doing?"

And I had really gone mad. For a moment, I considered the kid my own brother and myself an orphan girl. I wept. What else could I do ex¬cept weeping? If the lad was the only orphan boy of the city and the water pot the only water pot breaking and pouring its water in the city, I could help, but the city was full of broken water pots and tears of kids just like him.

That night, I was obsessed with the agony and suffering waving in the innocent, tearful eyes of the lad. I could not even for a moment clear my mind of his thin face. I thought and thought until an inner feeling separated me from my bed. I expelled sleep from my eyes and spoke from my heart in the form of a poem. The tears of the lad were shedding from my eyes and my heart along with my poem and the night had put its sad weight on my shoulders.

A child broke a vase and cried, How to go home deep he signed.

To my master what should I tell, It was his vase not mine that fell.

What to do if he urges paying for, Better cease to be than face his abhor.

Nothing to say if he sees my shame For master's gripe and for his blame.

Much have I seen but not've sought Blood 4n flesh, not iron, is my heart

When needed children cry and cry No chance, my tears have gang dry

I knew that he was suffering from orphanage -a bad pain. I was thanking God a thousand times every day for having a kind father. He was a scholar, writer and poet. He was a journalist and a researcher as well. His heart was full of knowl¬edge and kindness. He had great friends, just like Bahar [meaning spring] who was the spring of Iranian poetry in our era. Bahar always asked my father to get my poems published, but my father did not agree. Finally, on the insistence of Ba¬har and other friends, my father got some of my poems published in the magazine. I will never forget that day. I was sitting on the brim of our house's orchard, reading Hafiz's poems when my father arrived. He was very happy. As if his eyes too were smiling out of happiness. As if my fa¬ther was happier than me for the publication of my poems. He came forward, planted a kiss on my forehead. He pulled a magazine out of his bagand gave it to me. It was the Bahar Magazine. He said: "Get it, find your own poems in the Bahar Magazine!"

It seems that the magazine had just rolled out of the press. It was still fresh and had a pleasant smell. A smell I liked and was acquainted with. When I was younger, I had smelled this odor in my father's room, which was full of books and magazines. For sometimes, I was thinking that the smell was that of my father not of the books.

That day, when I read my poem in the magazine, I became very happy and I developed a strange feeling. I felt that the poem was alien to me and as if it was the verses of another poet under¬signed by me. That day and night, from morning to evening, I opened the magazine a number of times and read my verses. Reading of that poem gave me a joy that my unpublished verses did not.

The day, my first poem was published and it was the sweetest day of my life. I felt that I was walking on the clouds, everything was beautiful and all the creatures of the universe were happy. Everything and everybody, even the clouds mov¬ing hastily in the sky, were happy. As if they were moving towards the Albourz Mountains rapidly to give the news of the publication of my poem to the mountains, valleys, trees, and springs. Even the orphan with a broken water pot was wearing a smile on his lips that day, congratulating me with his tearful eyes. But this time his tears were those of happiness. My soul that day was just like a free and liberated bird. That day, I thought that I had fulfilled all my aspirations. I was flying in the firmament of Iranian literature and poetry just like a free bird. But after sometimes, I felt that I no more had the feeling and excitement I had when I saw my poem published in the magazine for the first time. It was then when I realized that the publication of my poems had not been my greatest aspiration. Thus a new aspiration started rooting in my heart. My greatest aspiration was the arrival of a day when my divan (anthology) of poems would be published and I become known as the most renowned poetess of Persian language among the people of my motherland. But I envis¬aged those days to be very far-reaching. Far and inaccessible, enveloped in a shroud of fog.

Since my poems had been published in the Ba-har Magazine, I used to read the magazine more and more and used to take more lessons from it. It was a very good teacher for me. Next to my father, it was the only one that taught me many things. But words fail to express what my fa¬ther was. The magazine was very nice. Nice and great.

Source: Mahjubah Magazine

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