Narges Kalhor: Little Brother
by NARGES KALHOR in Nuremberg
10 Nov 2009 16:18
Narges Kalhor is the daughter of Mehdi Kalhor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's media advisor. In the following letter to the little brother she never met, she hints of the Orwellian lessons ahead.My dear brother,
I do not know what kind of man you shall become: a baton-wielder, or a fatherless freedom-fighter! But I know that whatever fate awaits, you will tread an arduous and painful path.
I remember that when I couldn't yet read or write, Father would yell at us for the smallest errors. My sisters would hold me close; Mother would helplessly apologize. Time and time again, we'd wait in a darkened room until their fighting ended. Back then, my wish was to
have a brother who would stand up to Father, whose body wouldn't tremble like mine, whose scream would not catch in his throat.
But here today, leagues away from where you are now, there are no more shouts. He is now with you and I worry for your young dreams and the absence of a sister's warm embrace at your side.
Father's strictness, no matter how severe, did not diminish our affection for him. He was a legend to us, especially when he was painting in silence. He would not utter a word as his gaze was trained on the canvas. There was such calm in his deep silence that it was
difficult for me to recall the uproar of the night before. I don't know if Father still moves his brush with wavy lines and colors over paper. And I wonder if he will speak to you about art school or narrate travel stories from his youth.
Sitting here in an asylum camp in Germany, in a small room with two Kurdish and one African girl, I ask myself: what became of my dream father? What am I to do here? And how did we get to this point?
I recall vividly the first book that Father lent me. It was a short novel called "Animal Farm." The prose was lucid and the arresting narrative told of the foment and the fall of a revolution. I was nine years old. I finished reading it in a day, but kept the book with me a few days longer. I stared at the cover, an illustration of a handful of animals. Father gave me an elaborate interpretation of the story back then, and provided concrete examples in context. I was mesmerized by the author's ingenuity and Father's explanations. I doubt that when you learn to read and write, however, that he will lend you this valuable book. But I hope you will read it at the first chance. You can even ask him if he still has his copy; I wonder how he'd respond. He may tell you, "I've never read that book." Or: "I lost it somewhere..."
These types of bizarre responses from Father were experiences that confounded me starting about three years ago. Hearing him speak like this, I felt a huge chasm yawning between us. This gulf was not created overnight, nor was it confined to the distance between the Presidential office and our small house. But that distance has led Father to imagine his daughter an enemy of himself and his ideologies.
The path I chose for myself upon entering society in my young adulthood was one that in no way could be reconciled to be in step with Father's. The types of people I began to socialize with did not turn out as he had pronounced or expected, and I could no longer accept his judgments without question.
My ideas for short films were rubbish to Father, while his suggestions for "custom productions" filled me with horror. Outwardly, I pretended to give up on filmmaking, so he'd stop asking me to participate in [state-sponsored] film festivals like Iman and Noor.
Father and I grew further apart, dear brother, as he became more livid and I more lonely, for the sake of one sole reason: my independent thought.
This is a good time to reflect on my life. I have no doubt that until you can think for yourself, and acquire an open-eyed evaluation of your surroundings, Father will always be at your side. Solitude begins the moment you observe your surroundings clearly, and remain honest to yourself about what you see. Solitude begins when you refuse to brush aside reality, or allow yourself to forget. I know there is nothing more challenging than to alter your life completely, to choose an unknown path leading to an uncertain future. I know that there is nothing more painful than having to file away forever the image of your Father in a corner of your mind. But my brother, that is the way that one must go, otherwise the path that will remain is a lifetime of silence.
Copyright © 2009 Tehran Bureau