To Professor Minoo Varzegar
(On My Shock at the Sad News of Dr Fatemi’s Decease)
Dressed in mourning in a photo I came across at daybreak,
You broke the rueful, bitter news and struck me with shock and ache.
Would that I were dead and knew not of this loss of a great sage
Who was far greater than his peers, kept up to his ripe old age
Calm and smiling, pleased with the world, strong in body and in mind,
Sympathetic, benevolent, pure-hearted, merciful, kind.
The son of a brave lioness (a Zeinab of her own time),
Had surely to keep reticent about the inhuman crime
Of the Shah’s rogues and ruffians who blinded one of his eyes
And stabbed his mother who shielded her brother from savage guys.
In dark days of royal era, when your colleagues passed him by
Hardly with a briefest greeting lest they be seen by a spy
I noticed who he truly was and how lowly they were all:
Basest creatures of short stature fearful of their meanest fall!
By the stairways he spoke to me as a father, scholar, friend,
Athlete, author, and a statesman and his time he would thus spend
Till your classes ended at last and as an innocent boy
He concluded what he had said, left me, and neared you in joy.
When he used to shake hands with me, how he raised me from the ground
A foot and a half, oh my God! How athletic, robust, sound!
The first book in Greco-Roman mythology in Iran
Was his which both in my studies and my life I came upon.
He, and you, dearest professor, did not spend a single dime
Of what you received for teaching, unlike beggars of the time —
Gave all away to the needy as once some waiters told me.
You had not taken your degrees to make money, I could see.
I well know how he has once stopped his car in a busy street
To reach and save an old woman, one disabled in the feet.
Finding out that her eyesight is also impaired, he takes her
To doctors, has her eyes treated, and chooses then to transfer
The old woman to the country. Such a hero to the core
Deserves the immortality of all the heroes of yore.
We mortals or rank and file foam just for a very short while,
Like waves, and then into boundless and fathomless seas we pile.*
We die with the fire we kindle in a lover’s inflamed breast;
He is an ever-shining sun that neither sets nor knows west!
* See Matthew Arnold's "Rugby Chapel", lines 58-72.
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Copyright © A. Hemmati | Year Posted 2020
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