Rooftops of Tehran

October 15, 2012
Author: Mehbod Seraji
Publisher: NAL Trade
Year: 2009
ISBN: 978-0451226815
Rating: ★★★★☆
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Mehbod Seraji has poetized the story by portraying the turmoil stage in the heart of Iran’s capital Tehran in 1970s. It is the rooftop of a seventeen year old boy- Pasha Shahed’ (the narrator) house, the tallest in the neighbourhood of Tehran where he spends blistering summer in pursuit of a rational argument, dwelling questions heavy enough to chase a debate with his closest friend- Ahmed, who knows the inside out of narrator’ interests arising out of the literary books he’s inclined toward and western cinematic work. And also with his mentor, known by the name of Doctor because of his liberal streak and call for his nation’s future where political crisis takes birth in the blood of citizens. And his secret love-Zari, rooftop is the place where he secretly admires his love; it is a forbidden love until the time is unknown to us. Eventually the budded feelings does craft a story which certainly cannot be buried untold.

The tale revolves around the neighbourhood of Tehran, which is not only restricted to a particular pavement, but it involves a commonly outrage suffering, victimising condition of citizens of nation in the hypocrisy of democracy and religion. Narrator’s young age is embedded with questions, his prodigy encircled with the findings of new upbringing of their culture, teachings, education vs. religious beliefs and an ongoing conflict between the inquests of one’s identity.

It is Pasha’s friendship, family, love, relationships and beliefs in the city of Tehran that are the central idea of exploration here. At the age of seventeen, he’s experiencing the urge of finding life along with his friend- Ahmed. They laugh, they talk, they question each other about future and of course the budding love from each end is another topic of discussion.

The narrator is highly influenced by number of literary books; his ideologies are constructed by his curiosity toward learning and outgoing thinking outside the walls of their nation’s suffrage issues and proposals. Irony lies in the fact that the city’s forceful powers have banned on the books which are honest about political colours, history making the building block of nation. To name a few historians and scholars: Emile Zola, Maxim Gorky, Noam Chomsky and Bernard Shaw which interests the narrator, portraying the picture of Marxian concept, its linkages and thinking embedded in the society in a most subtle sense and many more ideologies wrapped around the socio-political ideas.

Predominant piece of the story situates around the narrator’s mentor- Doctor, as Ahmed says, “They don’t call him doctor for nothing”. And Doctor’s fiancé- Zari, narrator’s secret, forbidden and only love. Doctor is respected by everyone because of his knowledge and unconventional beliefs for his nation. Pasha is bewildered by Doctor’s liberal philosophies and his admiration of thinkers and books; he’s one of those who highly rejects the belief system of Mullahs and Shahs.

The most hysterical form of reality strikes when bloodthirsty enough, an unexpected, an unfortunate incident takes away the hope of ideologies from Doctor, inflicting barbarous step by SAVAK (force authority of Shah’s of Tehran). He is victimized by their actions, leaving narrator and his love in jolt of disbelief, an earthquake shattering the ray of hope they had in his words.

In this course of action, consequences aren’t far enough of another turmoil, when Zari and Narrator spin a yarn of their feelings, beliefs, emotions, loss, secret admiration sometimes filled with guilt and even happiness together. And this is the time when the rooftop of Pasha’s house give them the space, moment, reason, warmth, sense and local colour to share and rejoice the time they have in hand. Until the fate which is not far enough for god forbidden-horrific choice that Zari opts.

This piece of recital certainly embarks an awe of time. Entrapping Persian culture, beholding the fascination of all the readers. It is comical, agitating; story is a search of relationships, friendship and love in an uncertain phase of time. It has crafted the composition in the most politically driven in one aspect and delicate- sentimental on the other shade of the story.

Rooftops of Tehran is Mehbod Seraji’s, the author’s debut work. He was born in Iran and it’s been about thirty two years to him living In United States.

Charu Sharma

Writer at IndiaBookStore
Books and writing take me to my Neverland. I want to drown into the creations of music-art-literature. I prefer the company of Books than people- That's cynical me!

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One Comment

  • Pratik Haldankar October 17, 2012 at 5:58 AM

    A bittersweet tale of love in a volatile and violent environment. The story is so beautifully constructed, it has sort of a pull sensation that just doesn’t let you scoot..

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