To the Phoenixes of My Country (1)
By FARZAD KAMANGAR
Hello, my precious, today is Women’s Day, the day that I always long for.
On this day, instead of your kind hands, my thoughts are decorated with a narcissus flower more chaotic than your tresses.
It has been two years since I have seen the colour of violet and felt jasmine. For two years I have been restless for a few tears of joy. You know better than me that I count the hours all year long, waiting for [Women’s Day] to come.
I wonder, which present suits you better– the songs “Kiss Me One Last Time” (2), “Pacha Garden” (3), or maybe a candle to light up our memories…
But, my dearest, you can’t hear me sing and I can’t light a candle, because the lord of these walls has bound the candles in chains. I am not a poet to sing like the “old lover who breathes love into the wind to tickle your skin” or to write you a poem with a melody suitable for your agony. I am not a poet to rhyme according to the innocence of your eyes.
You can’t read in our native language. If you could, I would take you to the moon feast every night like “the screams of Hemin. (4) ” I write to you in *Forough’s dialect so you don’t tell me, “Nobody cares about flowers anymore” or, “I’m depressed.” I will write until I too have faith in a fifth season.
My precious, I was born in a country with women who– like all the women in the world– are not half of the rest, but each is half of the heavens. I cried my first tears in this country along with women who taught defiance and resistance to the fire among the dancing flames.
The first childish smile blossomed on my lips when the old oaks envied the mystery of the persistence and strength of the women of my land. I set my first steps on the same path that, before me, the morning dew on the buttercups shone even in the strong steps of women [who endured] the most difficult and rebellious mountaintops of life and history. These are the same women today who whisper songs of love and resistance into the ears of walls. In my land, the lullabies of children are the same as those that the people were murmuring for the Astartes and Ishtars, humanity’s first deities.
How can your day (Women’s Day) not be my Norouz (Persian New Year) celebration? Just like you, many others are awaiting the return of their dearest ones. [They will wait for however long it takes]– even during the first winter snow when a handful of wheat allows loneliness to be shared with the sparrows, or until the house is swept to prepare for the swallows, or [even] until God is the host at the Iftar table. **
On such a day, wait for me and wear a dress the colour and [beauty] of the sky- that has the elegance of Osman’s Syachmaneh(5) and a stem of Barzaran(6). Also, wear a necklace made of cloves, because cloves remind me of the scent of women, the scent of my country, the scent of immortality– and, in one word, the scent of you.
Until then, I leave you in the hands of the creator of the dew and rain. (7)
Footnotes by Farzad Kamangar, translated by Siavosh Jalili
1) The title of the letter refers to the high number of women who set themselves on fire in my city. It is an insufferable pain that has been on my mind since childhood.
2) Kiss Me One Last Time: a classical resistance song by Mohammad Naraqi. It is rumoured that the song was written by a partisan the night before he was executed. The song is addressing his daughter.
3) “Baghche pasha” or Pasha Garden is a masterpiece by Goran, the Kurdish poet. The poem has been eternalized by the velvet voice of Omar Dezhayi. The poem tells the story of a girl who asks her lover for a yellow and red flower. The lover has no choice but to enter the King’s garden to find the flowers. He returns with a red flower turned red from the blood of the young man who was shot while trying to find the flower.
4) It refers to a beautiful poem by mastreo Qobad Jalalizadeh, the imaginative poet of Soleymanieh (the city in Iraqi Kurdistan)
5) Syachmaneh: It is a beautiful genre of Kurdish songs which usually describes nature or the lover. Osman Hoormai is the absolute master of these songs.
6) Barzaran: It is a fragrant and rare flower indigenous to the mountains of Shahoo (in Iran Kurdistan where Farzad Kamangar was born and taught school children for many years)
7) The letter is addressed to an imaginary lover
* Refers to Forough Farokhzad, the renowned and popular Iranian poetess of the 1950’s and 1960’s (1934-1967). The content and the style of her poems continue to draw fans today.
**An iftar table is the table set in the evenings after a day of fasting for Ramadan (the holy month when Muslims fast every day from dawn to dusk)
Translation: Goli Dasht | Editing by: Siavosh Jalili | Persian2English.com