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Chapter 3-G


7. From Romanticism to Realism

     From 1938, Nimâ began working as a co-editor of a monthly periodical called Majalle-ye Musiqi (Music Magazine) which was published by the Bureau of National Music, affiliated with Ministry of Culture. The Bureau was headed by one of Nimâ's relatives called General Minbashian. It was responsible for creating a national Iranian music and at the same time operating the first state radio broadcasting in Iran. The new regime, which first came to power by the aid of the English empire and was partially set up in order to stop the progress of Bolshevism, now had shifted towards German imperialism and tried to incorporate Aryan nationalism into its ideology. Moreover, during state intervention of the last decade and a half, a unified and a centralized power had been shaped in Iran. This centralized power, through bureaucracy, a semi-nationwide railroad, and the allocated profits from petroleum and other factories, ruled over a newly fast growing urbanized Iran; and the majority of peasants had to keep the cost of bread low for the city dwellers and were conscripted to the national army.

     It seems that Nimâ fitted in this new job, since he could both make a living and, at the same time, serve his own talent as a writer and a poet. The issue of occupation was always a problem for Nimâ, whether before this time or after it. When he was still a bachelor, he was employed by the government bureaucracy as a rank and file official, but as is indicated from his letter to his brother, Ladbun, he hated the job and soon left it.

     When Nimâ married Alieh Jahângir in 1926 at the age of 29 the obsession of occupation became a nightmare for him, and he had to suffer from dependence on a woman who was well educated, and always a job holder and a bread winner. In a letter Nimâ wrote to a friend from Rasht, dated 1928, two years after his marriage, he says,


After one month of wandering around, now I live in Rasht. My wife is the director of the Women's College for Teacher Education, the highest school in the city, and I am personally unemployed. I may be able to find a pupil and tutor in education, psychology, literature and French so that I will hear my wife's complaints about my lack of income less often. Truly, having a wife was an unbearable burden that I have accepted. In a city that I had not seen before, I have enough connections; had I still been a bachelor, I would be able to manage somehow. Alas, that the burden will always be on my back.


Alieh was a teacher and a school principal and Nimâ had to move with her first to Bârforush, later to Astara which is near the Soviet border, and finally to Tehran in 1933. After retiring as a teacher, Alieh continued to work as a clerk in the National Bank. Nimâ in all these years had sporadic jobs as a teacher, and when he retired, his pension was, according to Jalâl Ale-Ahmad, who became his neighbor in Tehran from 1950 until Nimâ's death in 1960, not enough for the cost of his addiction to opium

     In 1934, a boy named Sherâgim, the only child of Nimâ and Alieh was born. In his autobiography which he wrote in 1946, Nimâ proudly speaks of his work as a house-husband:


In my lifetime I, like others, have had my sufferings so that I am not an unskilled housewife, baby-sitter, horse breeder, and shepherd. That is why I do not have the time to edit my drafts.


Jalâl Ale-Ahmad later reports about Nimâ's difficulty in dealing with Sheragim and Nimâ's dispute with Alieh:


Sometimes, I thought if it were not for Alieh Khanom, what could Nimâ do? He, himself, had acknowledged this. Lately when they became desperate regarding their son's school situation, it occurred to Alieh Khanom to get up and take the son to Europe far from the influence of his father and let him become educated. I do not forget that the old man was terrified and one day said, ‘what if they go and abandon me?'


Further on, the same writer adds, 


...and worst of all, lately Alieh Khanom and the son both realized that the old man is not an average guy. They realized that instead of having a husband and a father, they were living with a poet.


     Besides Nimâ, there were three other editors in Music Magazine who each had a special relationship to Nimâ. First there was Abdol Hossein Nushin, a theater director and an actor who had spent his higher education in France and espoused Communist ideology. He is justly called the founder of modern theater in Iran, and Nimâ helped him with a poetic translation of Othello by Shakespeare.

     The second editor of the Music Magazine was the most well known Iranian novelist to Westerners, Sâdeq Hedâyat, who studied in France. By this time, Hedâyat had published many short stories including his masterpiece, The Blind Owl (Buf-e Kur), published in India, where he pursued his interest in pre-Islamic Persian culture with Parsees, the Zoroastrians in Gujarat, India. The relationship between Nimâ and Hedâyat was not friendly. After Hedâyat had sent some of his novels to Nimâ through their mutual friend, Bozorg ‘Alavi, a well known novelist, Nimâ mentions that what Hedâyat is doing in prose, Nimâ is doing in verse, but then he accuses Hedâyat of being drowned in his “romantic fantasy” and takes him to task for it:


In general, in your novels one encounters a strong dominance of personal sentiments and fantasies.


This is the time that Nimâ has newly “converted” to Marxist doctrine, and uses very rigid measures for judging literary works. Hedâyat, in turn, had a very old-fashioned taste for Persian poetry and looked at Nimâ's innovation with suspicion and sarcasm.  It is really interesting that Hedâyat is so modern in his taste of novels, (for example, he translated Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis to Persian), but in terms of poetry, he has no taste for modern poetry. In a piece of parody that he wrote on one of Nimâ's poems, he makes fun of him. This piece was accidently published in their Music Magazine Vol. 3, No. 3 entitled “New Styles in Persian Poetry”, under the pen name Meskin khâmeh (Poor Pen). Hedâyat in this article played with the two words sarbâz (soldier) and bazzâz (fabric dealer) and called Nimâ's book, Soldier's Family, “fabric dealer family”. Then he makes a parody of Nimâ's poem, “The Night-Mourner” (Anduhnâk-e shab), and calls it “The Happy Man of the Day” (Farahnâk-e ruz):


The shadow of everything is curved during the day

And in the room 

Out of the bitter colors that smell pungent

Many ghouls

Very tall

Approach from far away like a wave from the mountains


They scream.


In return, Nimâ wrote an allegorical tale called Fâkhteh che goft? (“What Did the Ringdove Say?”). In the beginning of the tale, we see a pair of ringdoves sitting on a tree branch. There comes a hunter with a pencil behind his ear who is called kâzeb Gomrâh-bâshi, meaning “the misguided liar”, which is the meaning of Sâdeq-e (truthful) Hedâyat (guidance) inverted. The hunter has two things in common with Hedâyat. One being a vegetarian and the other the rejection of the institution of family. The hunter will not hunt the birds, but will instead “eat their eggs, which will be our future chicks.” At the end, in order not to get killed by the hunter, the two birds sit on different branches of the tree and one of them makes a remark regarding the hunter which has a sexually insulting connotation: “Now, come and eat our eggs!” It is strange that in this piece, Nimâ has predicted the suicide of Hedâyat when the male ringdove says, “...I think that he will kill himself so that no animal will get killed.” >>> Chapter 3-H