What Is Wrong with Reading Lolita in Tehran
We have come a long way together. I have led you from the summer nights of my childhood in Shiraz to the high school where you met my friends Zohreh and Minoo. On my way to graduate school in London, I have introduced you to the Eternal Forough, who voiced our earthly rebellion, and to my uncle the painter. You have seen the ancient silver spoon that gave me the courage to voice my discontent and caught a glimpse of the old man who had memorized an entire collection of poems. I have also shared with you many of the gifts that my family gave me, including the understanding that the sacred is immeasurable, that it has as many faces as I can uncover for myself.
In these stories, you have heard laughter and sensed generosity and love. As I went through painful experiences such as my divorce, the presence of friends, relatives, and sometimes total strangers healed me and brought color and happiness back to my life. In fact, I am touched once more by the warmth emanating from each little anecdote as I recount it to you after all these years.
I am not always sure why I must share a specific story except that I believe something in it will resonate with you. And that bit floats to the surface only after the story is told. The delight I took in the find-the-original painting game that my uncle played with us is one example. Discovering which card was the original and which the painted copy was not what really mattered in that game at all. What mattered was the joy of playing and our appreciation for his artful and dignified living.
The stories are my personal gift to you (and in some ways to me). Telling them in English, and celebrating the joyful memories they contain with you, transforms these anecdotes. You could say I remake them into little two-way bridges that keep my Iranian and American selves connected. In their new linguistic habitat, these memories will mingle and live side by side with other stories from my life for ever. And who will deny that bridge building is the thing to do in this age of transnationalism fractured by fear of