A Letter to My Mother


by Majid Naficy

It is midnight now, but I cannot sleep. I remember our visit two weeks ago in Istanbul, especially that day when you and I put two chairs on the balcony of our hotel, sat next to each other and chatted about your memories for hours: your father who always before his siestas asked you to read him Sa’di’s Golestan, so that he could correct your mistakes and you continued to read till you heard his snore; your catching typhoid during your wedding  preparation, and falling unconscious on the shoulder of the tailor, and my father who had been a medical draftee sat at your bed every night till morning, took your pulse and dripped medication into your throat and perhaps kissed your hot lips surreptitiously: your father-in-law who insisted to accompany you newly-wed couple for your protection when picnicking at the groves around Zayandeh River on Fridays and you wished you had privacy.  Our chat was not interrupted unless with the hubbub of Kurdish demonstraters who shouted from Independence Place for autonomy or the moaning of a goose in the sky separated from its flock who circled around us.

Still I think of your tall and slender body with your long white hair which did not match your age at eighty-six-year-old. I expected that the time oppression would have turned you to an impatient and bent woman. But quite the opposite, it had made you into a mother as always kind and happy and more than before, welcoming and tolerant. You no longer wanted to guide me to “the right path”, and even did not want to ask God jokingly to fulfil the prediction of a fortune teller who when I was fifteen years old had said that Majid eventually will become a clergyman. You accepted me the way I was and only wanted to be at the moment, talking and listening, sitting at the table and eating and drinking alongside your children and grandchildren or listening to their stories, poems and films, or sitting on wheelchair to visit Ayo Sophia Church  or Sultan Ahmad Mosque with them in Istanbul. One no longer could find in you the trace of a strict mother demanding her pubescent son to wake up early morning to perform his prayers, not staying late at night in the literary circle of “Jong of Isfahan”, and not reading the books of Jean-Paul Sarter and Sadegh Hedayat. I saw for the first time that your religious mask was removed and we both were sitting naked next to each other. Is this sense of tolerance and welcoming a result of the bloody experience of theocracy that our compatriots have gone through for last thirty years and you and I both has learned from it, one at homeland and the other in exile? Or this sense of tolerance was the result of this feeling that it was the last time when we could sit next to each other and none of us wanted to ruin its beauty? Or maybe it was the result of you reaching a beautiful old age, to peace, to acceptence of the world as it is and letting go of yourself in the running stream of moments?

Ah, my mother! How beautiful you were and how more beautiful you had become. What a novelty to see you without Father. We both missed Father, but his loss had given a new dimension to our visit. Had you returned to your teenaged years after living almost seventy years with Father and looked at the world with the passion of a sixteen – year-old girl again? I love you Mother as always but perhaps more than any other times I love you in your old age, like that old woman of your tale  who every Nowruz at New Year’s Eve dusted her house, washed herself and put on her new clothes waiting for Uncle Nowruz to come but fell to sleep and when awaked, only from a half-empty teacup found that Uncle Nowruz has come and left her alone for one more year.

        June 4, 2011

مادر و پدر” کتابی تازه از مجید نفیسی جداگانه به فارسی و انگلیسی

Mother and Father” A new book by Majid Naficy separately in English and Persian

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