I had to get myself to Tehran's House of Artists last Monday night, despite the fact that Tehran's normally bad traffic jam was even more terrible and moved even slower due to a sudden snow fall since earlier that morning. The ceremony was to start at 7:00 pm. it was to celebrate Sadegh Hedayat's Centenary in Tehran on his birthday.
The Artists' House which was formerly an army barracks in the middle of Tehran's Iranshahr Ave., has now been turned into a lovely place with a lovely garden around it. There are wonderful art works, mainly sculptures by Iranian artists, displayed in many windows inside the building. There is an art gallery where they have very good shows, mainly paintings. There are two shops where you can buy nice books and other interesting objects and in one of them there is an internet café' with very nice and polite staff. One of the main attractions of the House is its lovely café where you may be served nice cold/warm simple meals or drinks. By the way it is one of the only places in Tehran where one can find Vegetarian food cooked and severed by a Yogi group, who seem to enjoy what they do, everyday. Should you go for the Chef's Special you will be delighted, since they will bring you a lovely tray of several different little dishes, usually seven plus a fruit drink and lovely tea and sweets afterwards. what I must mention is the fact that the café has one of the most beautiful, pleasant and cozy first floor balcony's that I have ever been to anywhere. There is a lovely garden with beautiful trees in front of it, and unless it is too hot, there is no other place in Tehran that you would want to have your tea/coffee. It is a wonderful place to meet friends and colleagues. We have done that quite a few times. It is simple, and it gives you a lovely magical feeling. It must be all those lovely old bricks!
Back to the ceremony which was attended by many well known literary figures in Tehran. The ceremony actually started at 7:30 with a short speech by Hedayat's Cousin, who heads Hedayat's office in Tehran. He informed the audience that tonight's ceremony was one of the several ones being held this week across globe in honor of the great Iranian writer. He mentioned University of Texas, University of Portland, and Paris. He further informed us that the most important events of all for this centenary will be held in Oxford, England at the end of March.
The famous Iranian living writer, Mr. Mahmoud Doulat-Abbadi, was the first guest speaker. He referred to Sadegh Hedayat as "Our Teacher" and indicated that many studies will be done about him and his works.
Mr. Doulat-Abbadi told the audience that Hedayat loved Iran and hated the decadent corrupt system that he witnessed during his life. Finally he said that Hedayat reached height of greatness in his book ' Bouff-Kour' (the Blind Owl).
Next we heard a poem that Masoud Farzad, Hedayat's friend, had written it in his honor, with his own voice (Mr. Farzad).
The next speaker was Mr. Amir Hassan Cheltan, one of our well known younger writers who has recently received very good reviews for one of his books. He started with a few lines from a letter that Hedayat had written to his father. He went on to give us a short narrative on Hedayat's life. I found the speech extremely informative, well researched, presented in a language that was easy to understand, and above all presented with a passion. Obviously a lot of work had gone into this speech as well as a lot of zeal and dedication to this great writer. Here and there he quoted lines from Hedayat's letters to friends and family which were truly moving. One of them that touched me so deeply was this:
"there is nothing else that I can do except to write, although people do not consider writing a career, they even think reading a book is a waste of time."
Hedayat was also quoted as saying that "everything is a dead end, yet there is no other that can be taken."
Then we saw an animation by Mr. Mohammad Solaimani-Nia based on Hedayat's book three drops of blood which reminded me a lot of Kafka.
Then Mr. J. Hedayat informed us about the activities which had been held in Iran during the year for Hedayat's centarney in Iran. At the end we saw a film based on Hedayat's work by a Mr. H.R. Vassaff which I thought was very good. Before the short film, Hedayat's Literary prize, which was conducted by Sokhan, was presented to the winners. However this was the least well staged part of the program, and Mr. Sepanlou, in order to break the ice, said on the microphone that Hedayat's black humor would find this mishaps rather interesting.
We all left after buying a book or a poster or other items which were offered at the special desk.
Hedayat is without any doubt one of the most important literary figures of Iran. I hope that his true place will be justly appreciated soon, and that in my view will be when Iranian students will study his books and his writing as part of their Persian literature education at schools.
Sadeq Hedayat's Corner
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