The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines

The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Shohreh Aghdashloo Read Free Book Online

Book: The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Shohreh Aghdashloo Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shohreh Aghdashloo
and American films. Iran’s Radio City Theatre started the trend, and other theaters soon followed. Every Thursday night, hundreds of young faces turned out. Tickets were purchased during the week, and they were sold out by the actual day. You couldn’t even buy them on the black market, which shows you how popular these premieres were.
    Young people with hungry minds would socialize and spend hours discussing the movies afterward in the nearby sidewalk cafés.
    I WAS ALMOST nineteen years old when I met my first serious suitor. It was right after I graduated from high school. I was at a friend’s house and the host had told me that a gentleman named Aydin Aghdashloo was coming. Aydin had just returned from England. He was thirty-one, soft-spoken, and handsome, with white porcelain skin, light brown hair, and bluish—or maybe greenish—eyes. (I could never tell their true color.) He was half Russian and half Turkish-Iranian.
    When introduced by the host, Aydin politely sat next to me and started asking all sorts of questions regarding my school, my parents, and my life in Iran. I was fascinated by his knowledge and his command of Farsi, the rich, melodic, and ancient Persian language.
    When dinner was ready to be served, I waited for the host’s seating assignment.
    Finally, she uttered the words: “Why don’t you sit next to Aydin? It seems like you have a lot in common.”
    A FEW WEEKS later Aydin called at our home. My mother came to my room, eyes wide. She said that Aydin had asked her permission to take me to an early dinner. She was delighted to have talked with him, and I guess she was even more delighted that someone had enough class to ask a girl’s parents for their consent.
    Three days later he appeared at our door in a light brown Yves Saint Laurent cotton suit, holding two white orchids beautifully set into a small green vase. He kissed my mother’s hand and stepped inside our house. He was very European.
    The notoriously hot summer days in Tehran had arrived, and the café restaurants on Pahlavi Boulevard, such as Chattanooga and Sorrento, were my favorites. I adored Chattanooga for its huge half-moon-shaped seating area facing the boulevard, and Sorrento for its jukebox that for one toman (ten cents) played my favorite song, “If You Go Away,” sung by Shirley Bassey.
    We went to Chattanooga. I wanted to become Aydin’s friend and get him to consider marrying one of my cousins who was looking for a husband—ideally a very handsome one.
    My mind was so occupied by my parents’ wish that I become a doctor that I refused to see the possibility of getting engaged. I was also thinking that I should be in England studying acting (I had an aunt who lived there), but I was afraid of losing my family over it. I kept focused on my cousin’s case, and Aydin kept talking about the clash of romanticism, idealism, and pragmatism. Aydin believed all humans are equal and ought to be treated equally. I could not have agreed with him more.
    When I asked him why he left Europe and chose to live in Iran instead, he said his real passion was to paint and that he enjoyed working for an Iranian advertising company as a graphic designer and an illustrator.
    “I get inspired by people, nature, the atmosphere and rich colors in the fruits, carpets, and rugs of this country. My inspiration comes from the colors of the pomegranates, grapes, vegetables, the thousands of different shades of green, brown, and gold in the autumn, and of course the emerald green of the Caspian Sea. I cannot live anywhere else,” he said. “Nor will I ever.”
    OUR SECOND DATE was a week later at one of the most “in” places in Tehran. The Labyrinth was a nice, cool hangout divided by cozy booths, which formed a semilabyrinth. It was a favorite spot of young people during the hot summer days. The walls were painted blue and white, which caused them to sparkle under the hidden dim yellow lights above.
    For our second date, Aydin wore a

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