Note: This is not a book review, but an indirect thank you note to the author. Also for those who want to read the book, this post may contain some spoilers.
Never judge a book by its cover. And I did not. On a normal day, I don’t think I would have chosen this book to read. But a friend who has a similar taste recommended this book to me, with a thought that I would like it. So did I like it? No I did not. I loved this book. The minute I finished reading it, I knew that it was one of the best books I’ve read till date. The last full stop in the last line of the last page did not just finish the book. It jump-started a train of thoughts in my mind. I closed the book and rested it on the table. But did I rest and shrug it of as just another book that I’ve read? Well, those of you, who have read this book, would agree with me that it is not an easy task after reading ‘ Rooftops of Tehran’ written by Mahbod Seraji.
It’s quite common for readers to be drawn into any intriguing story and be one with the characters. I do too, but in this case with a subtle difference. This imagination guided me to a life in Iran. On the rooftop with Pasha, Ahmed, Zari and Faheemeh in Tehran, I could feel every character coming to life. I can recall walking down the alley and drinking Lahijan tea whenever the climate was hot. I know for a fact that once or twice, I even watered the rose-bush that was planted in memory of Doctor. Oh and how can I forget Mr. Kasravi breaking my ribs every time he gave me a bear hug?
I can go on and on with my memories from Tehran. But wait a minute. Wasn’t it just a book I read and not my life from Tehran? It certainly told me a little more about the Persian culture and challenged some of my beliefs about Iran and Iranians. Well, there is something more captivating than the life in Tehran that the book subtly presents to the reader. With every incident in the story, Seraji describes a particular ‘That’ that each of the main characters own. It’s quite easy to speculate what that ‘That’ is, as the story progresses. What could that be?
Every character in the book had ‘That’ and has had an opportunity to show the others what they had. ‘That’ strikes a chord with every reader’s heart, not mind. In my case, not only did it strike a chord, it even played a beautiful piece on the violin. As I traveled with Pasha, I tried to decode the meaning for ‘That’. Was it Time? Was it Love? Was it Friendship? It seemed like a different thing with every person. Ahhh… Could it be everything put together?
Towards the end of the story, Pasha and as a result I, realized what that was. In the words of Pasha, my dear friend, ‘That’ is ‘a complete package of ‘honor, friendship, love, giving it all you have, living an alert life and not pretending ignorance because it is an easier way’. Now that’s a wonderful thought. Don’t we all strive for all these aspects? Don’t we all want someone in our lives who would show ‘That’ towards us?
Now that raises an important question in my mind. Do I have ‘That’ in me? Well, I would like to say yes to it. I would like to believe that I have it in me. I would like to think that I would stand up for what I think is right and for those I love. I would like to have the faith in myself that I would not live a life of ignorance because it is easier that way. Pasha, Ahmed, Zari, Doctor, Faheemeh, Doctor, Iraj, Pasha’s father, Mr. Mehrbaan and all the other characters in this book had an opportunity to show me that they had it in them and that they were not afraid to showcase it when necessary.
And I’d like to believe that someday I would get an opportunity too to show myself, if not the world, that I have ‘That’ in me.
Final Note: Thank you Mr. Mahbod Seraji!!