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Narges Kalhor: Little Brother

by NARGES KALHOR in Nuremberg

10 Nov 2009 16:1831 Comments

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.

nargeskalhor.jpgMy 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

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There were times when we had issues with our Iranian father. But we never rushed into the arms of strangers. Nor did we sensationalize to a general public.


Pirouz / November 10, 2009 5:58 PM

very nice and with a lot of feeling

Anonymous / November 10, 2009 7:59 PM

Dear Narges,

I admire your courage and can not imagine how hard it is for you being separated from your family and experiencing a whole new life on your own.
But , I know you still love your father although you are miles apart in outlooks. Parents do help the children grow wings and sometimes at certain ages they start cutting off those wings doubting that their children could fly safely or fearing that their children will fly to a whole new destination they can not dream of .
One day he will be proud of you even if that day is not so close .
He will be happy that you had the courage to select your path of life .
I wish you Luck and all the best.

aisan / November 10, 2009 8:51 PM


ehsan / November 10, 2009 10:07 PM

Good luck with everything! You will need it! *hugs* from other random Iranian.

D.M / November 10, 2009 10:22 PM

What a beautiful and meaningful passage. You are such a brave and strong woman. I too think your father will be very proud of you some day. I hope it's soon.

Anonymous / November 10, 2009 11:09 PM

I can't say any words but to admire your courage and affection for your families.

Saloome / November 10, 2009 11:21 PM

We hope along with you that your brother and other regime children will choose the path you took.

kamran / November 10, 2009 11:50 PM

Words can not be expression for our feelings and never will forget sisterly embrace warm and open day will be repeated
Perhaps tomorrow and embrace safe paternal siblings who love to look to the father's eyes.
Good Luck

no name / November 11, 2009 1:31 AM

What Pirouz said.
Although Pirouz, I'm at least glad she's respectful in her tone.

Pedestrian / November 11, 2009 3:03 AM

از این گریوه به دور در آن کرانه ببین
بهار آمده از سیم خاردار گذشته

You are so brave,
Good luck,be there.We need women like you

Anonymous / November 11, 2009 8:04 AM

Pirouz & Pedestrian:


Amir / November 11, 2009 8:53 AM

Pirooz, you are such a coward and she is such a brave. No wonder she puts you in shame.

behnam / November 11, 2009 9:10 AM

Is loyalty to a murderous gang to trump family feelings in the new Iran? Fear is the new rule. Fear of offending family. People should be afraid to mourn their sons & daughters unjust deaths.My family should be honoured, safe and free but so should the families of others.There is no shame in thinking differently from any member of my family especially in matters of life & death.It is imperative not to follow when the road leads to death,dishonour and unislamic tyranny. This road has been travelled in many times and many places before.

pirooz / November 11, 2009 11:17 AM

who exactly is pirouz and pedestrian? rushing into the arms of strangers???? or stay in iran and risk rape, beating and torture at the hands of the islamic republic authorities/thugs/terrorists

Agha Irani / November 11, 2009 1:11 PM

Dear Pirouz and Pedestrian
Beyond being an Iranian daughter, Narges is looking for herself, as an independant women. What she's talking about is quite universal and i guess every daughter/woman deals with this kind of issues in her life.
I don't really get what SHAME has to in this context. And i wish Iranian women could be intellectually more emancipated and could stop judging others according to moral values.
My dears, you definitely have to find your own way and respect others.For you definitely represent what Narges, I, and others are fighting against.

leyli daryoush / November 11, 2009 4:38 PM

Dear Narges Kalhor, I am a journalist/author located in Berlin. I would like to get in contact with you. If you are interested, you can send me a message to: hi.jacker@web.de

Reza / November 11, 2009 4:47 PM

Agha Irani, I suggest you go back and read the comments on this thread - there's a big group doing the "judging" and they are smothering her with praise for ... what? fleeing her home? speaking about her family? It's her choice to do all those things, but what's all the adoration about?

I went to school with girls who I'm CERTAIN had a situation similar to Kalhor's. Girls whose fathers were stringent Ahmadinejads and some were even violent, some weren't - but these girls lived everyday in dread. Some of those girls have left home since, some are still in Iran. NONE have made headlines talking about their family or sensationalized their plight. If she chooses to do so, that's her choice - but what admiration (or lack of) is there in it?

A girl who has fled home and is making headlines doing so. WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE HER?!

Pedestrian / November 11, 2009 5:33 PM

I can imagine living with such a father in such a situation is tremendously difficult but seeking asylum is not the right way to prove your alternative belief. Also, I sense that the sentimentalism is perhaps addressed to the asylum court rather than the suffering nation of Iran.

didaar / November 11, 2009 7:01 PM

So you prefer islamic tyranny rather than unislamic one. I read you at first glance. Keep your preaching for yourself.
This is not about formulating a human condition within a political view. It's not about political view at all. It's about human condition. Period. If it unsettles you, revise your political view, not her.
Actually this is all she is talking about. And that is what puts you in shame.

Behnam / November 11, 2009 7:08 PM

Narges khanoom,

Welcome to Germany! Khosh amadin!

I admire your courage to leave your family and friends. I can only imagine to some degree how hard and painful it must feel.

Therefore, I wish that your asylum case will be processed in a fast manner so that you can take up whatever your heart longs to do.
My best wishes and my thoughts are with you.

Let me know if I can do something for you.


Hariyanni / November 12, 2009 12:03 AM

@ Pedestrian:

"girls who had a situation similar to Kalhor's ... none have sensationalized their plight ... what admiration is there in it?"

First of all, how many of those girls made a film about torture and screened it at an intl human rights festival?

Secondly, their failure to come forward with their story does not detract from the fact that Narges' choice to do is a laudable act of courage.

To leave a life behind and set out in solitude is indeed brave - especially in the political context of her father's sensitive post. That also sets her apart from the girls you mention.

It sounds like you are bashing her out of spite, or just for the sake of being the eternal naysayer - without any substance to back up your criticism.

Yasmin / November 12, 2009 10:15 PM


Have you seen the film? Care to tell me about it? Is it as good as Hana Makhmalbaf's "Green Days" which my 2 year old cousin co-produced? It might indeed be a good film, I haven't seen it and will not judge until I do so - but neither have most of the people on this forum. So the fact that she made a film or not is irrelevant unless she's done a good job.

It's not a "failure" to not come forward with personal accounts of family trouble. Many people CHOOSE not to seek publicity for their family problems. This time around, because the "family" is Ahmadinejad or connected to him, suddenly everyone's excited.

Enjoy the party.

Pedestrian / November 13, 2009 12:30 AM

narges'e aziz
i just wonder what can make a film maker site in her roome and do nothing?
standup girl
do what you can do best. help will come.just dont stand still. you have a lotof suport.belive me.

zandy / November 13, 2009 10:55 PM

Don't you think, what is shameful is what has happened in Iran not ideas posted on the Internet?A regime built on lies and murder. I wonder how many Iranians would head for the exit if they were able to. Some tried and were unable. Nabbed at the border. The Soviet Union was one big prison camp. They needed barb wire and walls to keep there own people in.Trying to flee the country was punishable by death. Of course, millions(the minority) were happy with the situation. The Soviet Union was an unIslamic tyranny.In Iran ,politics and the human condition are intertwined. Some people sit in prison right now because of their politics.I had always heard people claim Islam and tyranny are mutually exclusive.I don't know I am not a Muslim. I rely on Muslims to tell me.

pirooz / November 15, 2009 12:32 PM

God bless you and all you do. I'm proud of you. You are a woman of real substance.

You are arrogant, immature, and obviously have no substance.

Saghi / November 15, 2009 8:20 PM

Dear Narges: Iranian women have been subject to absolute rule of men for thousands of years. They now wants to free themselves from the yoke of despotic men and you are one of them . I am very proud of you. Keep and flourish your free spirit

Rahim asgard / November 15, 2009 11:13 PM

درود بر تو ای نرگس عزیز، حق پشت و پناهت باد. عزيزم شجاعت را باید از تو و جوانهای امروز ایران بیاموزیم، دعای خیر ما برای تو و پیروزی جنبش سبز خواهد بود

سيما / November 17, 2009 4:33 AM

خيلي زيبا و غمگين بود چرا پدر نرگس اينگونه رفتار نمود ؟مگر مي توان سياست را جايگزين فرزند نمود ؟آن هم فرزندي به اين با احساسي و هنرمندي .متاسفم

mitra / November 18, 2009 5:25 PM

What your father (and possibly yourself)doesnt realize is that he took you one step in the right direction and that is the freedom to think for yourself and a passion to express yourself. One step at a time liberty will be won for the oppressed in Iran.
you are but one step, and each step albeit small, must be taken to complete the journey and meet the goal!.

Jay / November 27, 2009 9:17 PM

To Pedestrian:

You tell me to read the thread! Where in my post have I judged her????
Are you Pirouz in disguise - another IRI propagandist who tries to negate anything that doesn't fit with your (warped) world view?
Your days in power are numbered

Agha Irani / December 18, 2009 1:52 AM