Soroushian, Dr. Mehrborzin
About the Author.
Esmael Faseeh is a late 20th century Iranian writer of
historical novels and short stories. He has written a number of books in
Farsi that have been very popular with the readers. Not much is known
about Mr. Faseeh’s personal life or what drove him to his literary career,
but through his writings he has demonstrated a unique sensitivity for
capturing the story of subjugated people. His mastery in bringing to life
the events in the lives of the subjects of his novels and to touch upon
subtle details that properly capture the context for the story is very
noteworthy. Mr. Faseeh’s talent in imparting background information is
also praise-worthy as he does it so skillfully without digressing from the
main topic of his story.
Other thought provoking books by Mr. Faseeh include:
‘Who destroyed the
About the Book.
The Story of Javid is set against the background of late Ghajaric, Iran.
It is the tale of a young Zartoshty boy from a village close to Yazd in
search of his missing father. The book captures a historical perspective
on the living conditions of the small surviving Zartoshty community in
Iran driven to economic destitution through the imposition of harsh and
discriminatory rules against them. It portrays the journey of an innocent
young man brought up in a small village where truthfulness is the norm of
behavior. He is suddenly thrust into a world beyond the village, filled
with duplicity, intrigue and exploitation. The interactions that ensue,
bring out the contrast of two different cultures and outlooks.
Javid’s father had been recruited and taken to the capital city of Tehran
to work as a trusted house keeper for one of the members of the ruling
Ghajar Clan. The job enabled the father to earn enough money to send back
to the village for the upkeep of his family. He came to visit his family
every other year, but too much time elapsed since the last visit. Young
Javid was uneasy that something bad had happened to his father, and was
determined to go to the capital city in search of him. Venturing beyond
his village, Javid is accompanied by his uncle. As they walk in the
direction of Tehran, they try to move closely along with the traveling
caravans. All of this is new for young Javid, who is challenged to perform
his religious rituals of renewing his Kushti in unfamiliar surroundings.
Half way through, his uncle decides to turn back, and encourages Javid to
do the same but Javid is determined to reach Tehran and find his father.
On arriving in the city of Shahr-e-Ray, he sees a motor car for the fist
time in his life. Motor cars were not to be seen in Yazd in the early
part of the 20th century.
Finally, Javid arrives in Tehran and with sheer determination and good
luck, the simple minded Javid, (who gives every person a description of
his father), manages to land at the house his father has been employed.
Although no one can tell him about his father, he ends up getting
employed. His youth, trustworthiness, simplemindedness and willingness to
work are the factors that get him involved.
Working as a house hand, and staying in the servants’ quarters, a number
of years pass by and Javid is still determined to find someone who can
tell him about his father. Amongst the many incidents that take place, an
important one is about a teenage Moslem girl from the province, who is a
maid and is raped by the landlord of the house. His wives find out about
the illicit relationship, and the ground is set for the execution of the
teenage girl on immorality charges, unless someone is willing to marry
her. Javid, who feels compelled to save the girl’s life, steps forward,
unaware he will be forced to convert to Islam, once he declares his
intentions to marry the girl.
The unfolding of events continues with many twists and turns. Finally, he
finds out that his father was killed and his body disposed of in the
capital. Sadly, he is not able to find out the culprit. Javid finds out
that his wife, who he saved from certain death, in a hidden underground
room, having an affair with the landlord. The conclusion of the story
sees the girl and older man trapped in the underground room. Javid,
feeling estranged from his heritage, and being betrayed by the same
individuals he did so much good for, walks away from the scene of fatal
entrapment, feeling vengeful. He is a changed man from the young, truthful
person he was when he first stepped into Tehran years ago.
The Story of Javid is a sad and gripping tale of lost innocence.
The Qajars who ruled Iran from 1794-1920 were a Turkic tribe. They
regarded Iran as their personal property, and moved the center of Iranian
political power from Isfahan and Shiraz to a small village at the foot the
Alborz ranges, that became known as Tehran. At the beginning of the Qajar
rule, the Zartoshties in Iran still numbered in 100,000 or more. By
mid-19th century during the rule of Nassir-ul-Dinshah, that
number had decreased to about 7000, mostly in Kerman and Yazd, due to
systematic persecution, and ongoing discrimination. But in many ways,
Nassir-ul-Dinshah’s 48 year long rule was a turning point for the
Zartoshties whose fortunes started to turn around. The arrival of Manekji
Limji Hataria from India (see Prominent Zartoshties) was an important
factor. He managed to win favors with the court and was instrumental in
getting the dreaded Jazya (head tax) rescinded. Soon after, the
Zartoshties were able to move up the economical ladder.
Due to their reputation for honesty and trustworthiness, the ruling Qajar
clan who were the first occupants of Tehran, employed Zartoshties to work
as house-keepers, as they could trust them with their wives and children.
That is how some of the first generations of Zartoshties in Tehran came to
be. In many cases, their children became very successful in real estate
and other businesses. That was the making of a prospering Zartoshty
community in the growing capital city.
Whether Javid’s story is real or not, cannot be known. However, much of
the factors in the story reflect the reality of the circumstances of those
times for Iran and its Zartoshty community.