Mehri Yalfani was born in Hamadan, Iran. She graduated from Tehran University with a master degree in electrical engineering. Mehri has been living in Toronto since 1987. Her works are three collections of short stories and a novel in English and seven novels and three collections of short stories in Farsi. Many of Mehri Yalfani’s works have appeared in English and Farsi journals. Her novel, “A Palace in Paradise” is going to be published in 2019 by Inanna Publication.
Ahead of her appearance on September 12, Mehri shares an excerpt from her novel, A Palace in Paradise.
The books sitting in Nozar’s trunk were dear to Sara. She had spent money and time on them, enjoyed reading them, and had learned from them. She was proud of having them, considered them valuable assets, like she would a dear friend. They were something that she could count on, that gave her pleasure, joy, happiness, and they had filled the dreary days and nights when Nozar was in prison. They were her prestige, her dignity, an integral part of her life. She had shared them with Nozar, her friends, and even with people she didn’t know well, but who had read the same books—the very same books she was now going to throw away, disappearing them from her life.
Sara was quiet. It seemed to her that a film was playing in front of her, and everything looked unreal.
From the bottom step, she could see only a small part of the alley. Nozar closed the trunk of the car quietly and walked toward her. She stood up, her hands in her pockets, let Nozar hug her, kiss her forehead and lips, but she was remote. He cupped her face with his hands, looked at her in the eyes, and said, “Don’t worry. Many people are doing the same. Everybody is throwing away the books that might cause them problems. Farahzad’s and Varamin’s ditches, and even those of Shahre Ray and the roads out of Tehran, are all full of books people are throwing away. I won’t go far. I’ll be back soon.”
“I’d better come with you,” Sara said, releasing herself from Nozar’s arms with a sudden jerk. She looked at her dress and continued, “I’ll change in a minute, wear my black chador, and accompany you. With me, it will look less suspicious.”
“Don’t even think about it,” Nozar said firmly. Sara had already started climbing the steps toward the second floor. Nozar held her arm gently and continued, “Nothing will happen. I promise.”
Sara did not resist. She breathed deeply, as if she wanted to release a burden from her chest, and said, “You’re right. Many people have done the same. Last night Bahram and Kami took a few garbage bags of books out and threw them into Farahzad’s ditches. They said there were thousands of books in the highway ditches and in some other areas in the city. Those might have belonged to people who didn’t have a car to drive further out of the city. You see…” A lump in her throat and tears in her eyes prevented her from saying more.
“You see,” repeated Nozar confidently, but she could read the unspoken words in his eyes. He continued, “You’re right to be sorry to lose the books. I feel the same, but we have no choice except to get rid of them.”
Mehri Yalfani visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Maia Caron, Clementine Morrigan, Emily Sanford , and guest speaker Bardia Sinaee who will present, “How to Read a Poem.”