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22 article(s) translated from Persian

Between Two Worlds: An Interview with Goli Taraghi

Nahid Mozaffari spoke with Goli Taraghi on the telephone in October 2013. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation. Nahid Mozaffari:  Ms. Taraghi, you are one of the very few Iranian writers who has had the experience of exile as well as the experience of living in Iran after the revolution of 1979. You spend much of your time in Tehran, publish your work in Persian, teach, and have a large readership in Iran. At the same time, you frequently travel and spend time in...

The Poet, His Cut-Off Head in His Hand, Went Singing Songs and Ghazals: Literature in Iran

Iran’s literature is wounded, but it still has blood, and in its blood lies a secret. This literature has not borne the injuries of censorship only in the past thirty-odd years. In fact, it was censored during the reign of the two monarchs of the Pahlavi dynasty, during the rule of the Qajar dynasty when the country’s first newspapers were founded, and earlier, in the wake of every change in government or dynasty, every coup d’état, every collapse of state and...

Like a Body Turned Inside Out

It must be a strange place, or perhaps a strange situation; a cliff, ten to fifteen meters high, shaped in such a way that whoever sees it will say, “It’s so steep!” Meaning it is impossible to climb up or down without proper equipment. And this is critical to our story. (Critical?) At the bottom of the cliff there is a watering hole. And on top, Borzu Alvandi, with a streak of clotted blood stretching from under his eye to the corner of his mouth, has hunkered down...

Green Sour Orange

Announcements of all kinds, from notices of death to ads for used household goods or floral design lessons at the lowest prices, have an assigned place in our neighborhood: on the wall outside the police station at the corner of the main street and Ninth Alley, this same narrow road where my family has lived for the past twenty-seven years. Every morning, before buying their bread from the bakery that sits in the shadow of a sour-orange tree whose roots have penetrated the street gutter,...

Rahman’s Story

It is true. I found this story in an Iraqi trench that was full of empty canteens, and a year later I translated it into Persian with the help of a friend who, further to his wishes, I will not name. The trench was probably hit by one of our long-range missiles. It had collapsed and all one could see was a large crater. The southern floods had still not had a chance to turn its dirt, rocks, and thorns into sticky gray mud so that here and there pieces of rusted metal, faded plastic, or...

Forty-Eight Steps

I come home and I don’t let on that I’m late. I come home and like a good mother I prepare dinner, set the table, feed them, wash the dishes, put the children to bed, and sit on the sofa with the man who is my housemate. I look at him. He is my children’s father, with salt-and- pepper hair and a haggard face. I never got to know him, never figured out who he is. I look at his tired hands covered with cuts, at his lips that have turned dark from all the cigarettes he...

The Pink Cloud

On the cold morning of December 24, 1981, all I wanted to do was watch the cloud that had turned pink at sunrise. We were walking in formation up a hill and I was looking at the sky when suddenly a shower of bullets pierced my chest. I fell on my back, my lungs burned and filled with blood, and three minutes later, while still looking at the now orange and pink cloud, I died. I never did see the soldier who shot me from behind the boulders on the hilltop. Perhaps he was only twenty years...

from “I Will Grow, I Will Bear Fruit . . . Figs”

Poker—like a god emerging from the fog, fragment by fragment—appears in the doorway. There is a glint in his eyes, mischievous and small. A glint produced by optic nerves, innocent and pure like a newborn rain. He is barefoot and has brought two kites with him. Without a word, I stare at him. Light and agile, he springs to the middle of the living room. The Afghan Groundskeeper says, “A kite is man’s yearning to wander.” Akhenaten says, “There is...

Bastard

Look! Look at what they’re doing! It’s as if they have turned into hyenas. They circle it, they growl and claw at it, but they have no guts. They’re still afraid. They cannot believe that its wings are tied, its beak is bound, and its eyes are covered. The bird is shrieking, struggling, suffocating. I’m wondering how it will all end when I hear a knock at the door. I ignore it. I’m sure it’s a stranger. They pound on the door. Sitting on the stone...

Someone is Calling “Leili”

I open my eyes. A narrow sliver of sun is shining on the wall, forming a diagonal line that bends at the corner and breaks. It’s a pale light. I can’t tell if it’s morning or early evening. It seems I have been asleep for years and have had nightmares the entire time. I remember in a long dream I suffered pain, I moaned and spoke with people I didn’t know. A few times I dreamed of my son, he didn’t speak, he just cried. The hair on his temples had turned...

Escape

She had still not taken off her right shoe when she saw it on the doormat. A long white thread. She ran the tip of her shoe over it a few times. The thread twisted and coiled like a scrawny worm and again stuck to the mat. She tried again. This time, like a boa that has devoured an elephant, it arched and hid among the bristles. She bent down to pick it up, but instead she picked up her shoes and put them on the shoe rack. Her body felt clammy. All the office memos could stick to her...

Lamb

Ghulam Ali traded in grains and spices. He carried produce of the very best quality. Not everyone could afford it. Unlike other merchants in Golpayegan who traded on barter, or offered credit, Ghulam Ali never kept a credit ledger in his shop. He bought with cash and sold likewise. He never compromised on that principle. And perhaps that was the reason for his reputation for miserliness. Every morning, before he left the house for work, he would call out to his wife, “Kokab, do...

The Mirror

You ring the bell once again. This time the door opens a crack. In the glare of a lightbulb hanging in front of the door, wide eyes stare out from behind a pair of lenses set in brown frames. The large pupils, like marbles that children play with, twirl behind the lenses and glare at you. Their gaze passes over your head. You turn and look behind you. The corridor is dark and empty. When you turn back, you see she has unhooked the door chain and is standing in the doorway. She is...

Connection

The black of my irises, those simple, reclusive Sufis of mine swooned in the song-spell of his eyes. I sensed him billow all around me, radiating towards infinity to the other side of life like fire’s red pyramid, like a cloud in spasm of rain, like a sky embraced by warm seasons’ breath. I sensed that in the breeze  of his hands’ movements the substance of my being was disintegrating. I sensed his heart peal inside mine like the bell of a...

From “23”

The airplane has landed. White smoke-loaded smile: what a cargo of sorrow. A silent rain surrounds the airport. A tattered wet wind chases black pigeons. White smoke-loaded smile: what a cargo of sorrow. Bodies came back on ice. Corroded hopes falling off piece by piece. Handless shadows, directionless clocks. Fathers who against the storm bow their heads to inner ground turn to ashes. Mothers who know not to what punishment they were born. The airplane...

Sunshine in the Closet

They’ve come! Glasses                flee down the hatch Girls                into the tiny flowers of their scarves The rest                let the half-eaten apple go free                          out the window, lost           ...

Illuminations

A cloudless sky, no breath of wind, I sit beside the courtyard pool. The slow stirrings of the goldfish, the radiance and I, the earth and water--- Life clusters in a fresh washed bunch. My mother is cleaning sweet basil leaves. Bread and white cheese, a cloudless sky, the moist satin of petunia blossoms. Salvation is near, tucked between the leaves of the...

Water

Let's not muddy the water. Imagine that close by a dove is drinking from it, or in a distant grove a finch is washing its wings in it, or in some village it fills a storage jar. Let's not muddy the water. Perhaps this flowing stream runs by the foot of a poplar tree and eases some heart's grief. A dervish, perhaps, has moistened his crust in...

Address

"Where is the friend's house?" asked the horseman just at dawn. The Heavens paused. A wayfarer took the bright branch from his lips, conferred it on the darkness of the sands, pointed with his finger to a poplar tree and said, "Just before that tree there is a garden path greener than God's dreams. In it there is love as wide as the blue wings of true friendship. You go on to the end of the path that takes up...

Encounter

I have a feeling that it is a mistake to go to the party at Mr. M.'s, especially under the circumstances. Things have tightened up once more. Again scarves have to be pulled down all the way to the eyebrows and legs covered in thick, black stockings. Again the loose-fitting, ankle-length smocks have to be worn. They are once again slashing women's bare legs with razors and shaving the heads of young boys or publicly flogging them in city squares. And yet no one is really scared or...

Love’s Turn

TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: Nawbat-i asheqi (Love's Turn), a 1990 film by Makhmalbaf, provoked an intense public debate about movie morality, specifically women's control of their own sexuality. Screened at the ninth annual Fajr Film Festival in Tehran, Love's Turn drew a shocked response from many conservative members of the audience who had been among Makhmalbaf's staunchest supporters. Love's Turn was attacked for its presentation of a female character who pursues an...

Our Story

"Is this the region, this the soil, the clime," Said then the lost Archangel, this the seat That we must change for Heaven? this mournful gloom For the celestial light? Be it so, since He Who now is sovran can dispose and bid What shall be right: farther from Him is best -John Milton, Paradise Lost It seems it was only yesterday, when the ALMIGHTY, unexpectedly, with a celestial kick in the butt, booted the Devil out of the gates of Heaven. The truth is, Eve and I were...
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