Guest post by Nooshie Motaref-, author of Tapestries of the Heart.
At first to write a novel with four narratives did not come easily. My main intention of creating, Tapestries of the Heart was to inform the Western World on historical events which had happened throughout one hundred years, and their impacts on Iranians; especially women. My ultimate purpose was to bridge the cultural gap between the West and the Middle East, an important goal in today’s fractured world.
As it is necessary for every novel to have a protagonist, I had to pondered on creating him or her. It would have been dull if I simply talked about the important historical events from one main character’s point of view. In order to bring the events to life, I decided to create four narrators around my family members — myself — Mitra, my mother — Iran, my grandmother — Shirin, and my great-grandmother — Zahra. They all lived during these historical events and had to adapt to them.
A few years before the 20th century, the norm of the society was that an extra ordinary beauty of a girl could buy her ticket to the king’s palace. Zahra, a nine-year-old girl attracted the attention of a court eunuch, who wanted to induct her into the king’s harem. Despite the girl’s tender years, most Iranian families would be thrilled to send their daughters to become concubines of the king, but young Zahra’s devoted mother refused outright. Then who could tell her story better than herself as the character of Zahra?
During the 20th century, the life of three other characters, Shirin, Iran and Mitra are unfolded before our eyes. They depict the ever-changing effects of religion and politics. As a result, Mitra could overcome all odds to leave her country behind. She flew out of an oppressive dictatorship into the free world.
I was pleased to recreate these four women through my memories. As Zahra, I shook like a willow tree behind my mother’s chador when the eunuch wanted to separate me from her. As my grandmother, Shirin, I sat at the wedding altar not wanting to get married to an old man chosen by my family members. I understood that I had no voice of my own. More importantly, as my mother, Iran, I could tasted love for the first time. But I realized that through time, my love withered like a rose with the first winter storm. At the end, as Mitra, a free woman, I could leave my country to study in the United States. However, upon my return, I realized that the country had regressed and the government was enforcing a law that required women to cover their heads. I refused to abide by this new dictate, and left Persia for good.
It was an interesting attempt to bring back these four courageous women into the one novel. It seems like as if I have transported my readers to their time and place. By portraying and narrating her story, each has constructed a realistic heartfelt picture of her life. Moreover, I feel like I had a chance to live with each one again. This perception has given me immense pleasure that I never forget.
Nooshie Motaref, has gone through many challenging life experiences unlike many women from the Middle East. She grew up in Persia, and studied in four countries — Iran, Germany, Switzerland and United States. She received her master’s and doctorate degrees in American Literature and Folklore from Florida State University. Her dissertation is a proof of Carl Jung’s theory, the “Collective Unconscious,” through Persian fairy tales and folktales.
She has taught university courses on humanities, literature and critical thinking. In addition, she is certified by the Conflict Resolution Program Act to promote peacemaking efforts worldwide.
In March of 2014, she presented one of her articles, “Women and Islam,” for a conference, Women and Education at Oxford University in Oxford, England.
She frequently gives speeches on several subjects related to her birthplace including its culture, traditions and religion. Her purpose is to familiarize Western audiences with Iranian life and ethnicity.
Please visit www.nooshiemotaref.com
This post is part of the Clink Street Summer 2016 #blogival, which is taking place all this month. Do take time to browse round some of the other posts, which cover a wide range of reading tastes.