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Holy Presence 

Holy Presence 

9 October, 2019

Emmanuel Church of England, London, United Kingdom

Three weeks left to the London presentation, I am in a phone conversation with Dr Fatemeh Takht Keshian. Our talk is about sending works that had been displayed at the UCI showing and the book which has been published by Mehri Publications. During the conversation a message of condolences suddenly appears on my phone’s screen. My eyes go rolling to black. Surroundings feel heavy. I ask Fatemeh if I can call her later. I call my friend who had messaged me. Do I understand this correctly? The message of condolence is about my mother. A loud cry leaves my throat and becomes repeated screams. I cannot control myself. I remember having this kind of experience perhaps once before, during birth of my son. But in the previous experience it was for the dearest person in my life, and now for the flight of the angel of my life. It’s hard to believe. I am driving like a mad woman and screaming. Fatemeh is calling repeatedly. Finally I answer….

She asks that I stop the car some place. She is trying to calm me down. I am indebted to her. I don’t have the strength. Tomorrow and the next day I am staggering between life and death. 

Eleven years had been passed without her and away from her. All my childhood memories up to the trip that led to the eleven-year separation come to life before my eyes. Her trembling voice, asking “When will you return love,” echoes in my ears, then a wind gust, and I am trembling. I am a drop of water in a whirlwind. Finally, I come to; the hope of seeing my son rekindles my life. I pick up the phone and call Fatemeh. The topic of the show has changed. “What are you saying?” she says, unbelievingly. I repeat my sentence. The topic of the show has changed.

The topic, is Holy Presence. I want the work to be about Holy Mary, and the show must be presented in a church. She pauses a bit then says, “Let me contact the publisher. Have considered the problem of time?” Yes, I say. Don’t worry about the art part. Please provide me with the space that I need. Then Mehri Publishers and Siesta Arts try to bring to life an art presentation that the totality of its execution and its space have changed.

The paintings take form as my tears are rolling down with Schubert’s Ave Maria. The sound of mother’s bracelets clacking and her morning singsongs intermix with the peaks and valleys of the music, and a new song takes form. Paintings are ready. I pack and a kind friend accompanies me to the airport. I am crying the whole duration of the trip from Los Angeles to London. Fatemeh is at the airport welcoming me. I am amazed at such sense of responsibility and so much love.

The next day we go together to Emmanuel Church. She has spent a great deal of effort to make the presentation at this church possible: the easels and all other necessary things, reception materials, flowers, candles. Even my mother’s picture which I had emailed her is on display in a beautiful frame.

In the afternoon of October 9, 2019, all painting sit on the easels. In the small altar near the door I light my candles. I see in my mind my mother entering with boxes of sweets. With her usual smile she says calmly, “Hope you’re not tired, my daughter.” Tears cover my face.  


With thanks to Mehri Publishers, Siesta Arts (Mr. Hadi Khojinian and Madam Dr Fatemeh Takht Keshian.   

(Translated by Khosrow Tadayon)

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