I have a history with Allman. Well, perhaps not a personal history, although a bit of that is true, but mostly a history through my grandfather, who was already quite old when he conceived my mother. His business was fur. It sounds so low key to us now, but back then, in cold Tehran, it was anything but. His house, in Shahabdolazim, which I don't remember at all, was the Carpet museum at some point. I suspect this was because of the vast basement with its columns ending in vaults, rows upon rows of them, where my grandfather stored mountains of sheep fur. He made his fortune by trading with Europe, probably places like Austria or Bulgaria, in long caravans first and then the train through Turkey, never by ship for some reason. Perhaps because he was originally from Hamadan and felt more comfortable in narrow and dangerous mountain passages. In any case, a vast sum was obtained over time and stored in German banks. When the war broke and Iran was passed under the hated thumb of the British Empire, my grandfather smuggled the entire apparatus of the German embassy in that same basement. I wonder what that was like: the surreal situation juxtaposing the piles of thick dead skin and soldiers in grey uniforms and instruments that surely would have been used for encrypting urgent messages on what was happening in the oil fields down south. This was a clash of fully committed sides, not like today, when war hides behind an LCD screen. There was Cholera, trainloads of soldiers being shuffled around in close quarters, long fingers of think-tanks making moves across the entire world, messengers, gossip and above all death.
In the grand house, domestics prepare unusually large meals. They exchange stories about the people down below. My mother, barely of age and already quite beautiful, coyly courts a dark haired boy. The scene is at the north stairs, winding down inside a small tiled structure next to the shallow pool. She is wearing a fur coat. Her hair is unbound. Her hand extends towards him. Their breaths, in the early morning cold, almost hide their eyes full of tenderness. My grandfather, taking a break from his morning stride, is resting on his carved cane on the opposite side of the pool. Two servant boys are running away from him. The tableau is frozen, unwitnessed, in words or film.