Book review:

“Floral Chador”

A page from oral history of Islamic revolution and war as narrated by Sediqeh Ardekani

Fereydoun Heydari Molk Mian
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan

2021-12-7


At a first glance, the beautiful and eye-catching cover of the book attracts attention in which the design and title are clearly coordinated with each other. On the ID page in the FIPA (Cataloging before Publication) information section of the book, it is mentioned that "Floral Chador" is a conversation with the sister of martyr Hojjatoleslam Mahmoud Ardekani. However, as long as we do not read the book, we do not know whether the narrator in this narration is talking only about his memories or about his martyr brother or about their shared memories! The book "Floral Chador" has two chapters and each chapter consists of ten sections.

First chapter

The titles of the sections are proof of the course of the events of the chapter: Gray fire, Childhood times, Marriage, Under the cloud of the Shah’s regime. Toward enlightenment, Grief and passion, A few steps to victory, A friend at home, Nahid and Fereshteh, The revolution and many ways.
The narration starts when the narrator (Sediqeh Ardekani) speaks about his maternal grandfather and his resistance against Reza Khan who had implemented the law of uniform and the discovery of hijab in the country: "My grandfather, Seyyed Mohammad Hosseini Sarabi, was one of the servants of Goharshad Mosque. He opposed Reza Khan's actions. With this law, the regime wanted to defrock the clergies and all those who wore traditional clothes. Uniforms were arranged for all men. My grandfather used to say, 'We do not put aside our ancestral clothes to wear a chapeau and put a harness around our necks. He meant by harness was the same bow tie.  
However, the result of the opposition was that the government seized all their property and annulled the documents of their houses and properties. The regime even falsified their IDs and changed their last name from Hosseini Sarabi to “Gomrahian” or Misguided in order to discredit them among the people!
Sediqa then refers to her mother, who had learned the Qur'an from her father and inherited his moral perfections. She was a humble woman and never spoke frivolously. She had always ablution and breastfed her children while she had ablution.

Then, the narrator talks about her childhood and exactly about her first memory which dates back to her birthday in 1955! She is the older daughter of the family with a sister younger than her and then four brothers; the children of Haj Hossein Ardekani, a faithful bazari. Sediqeh was almost five years old when her parent sent her to the old-fashioned primary school. The school was in the house of an old mullah whose wife and himself earned their living with difficulty, and far from the eyes of the parents, they forced the children to help washing the clothes and cleaning the barn through threat and bastinado. But in spite of these difficulties, she studied before the school’s mullah for about two years. When she was seven years old, she started taking seminary lessons. Concurrently, she learnt school lessons at home from her mother and only went to school for exams. When she was thirteen years old, while she was still busy with her studies and seminary, she was proposed, and got married at the discretion of his family.

Earlier, since 1950s when the Imam Khomeini uprising began, the news of the movement was exchanged in her house: “informing the news had made us like the fire under ash that could ignite at any moment. The first popular protests took place quite spontaneously and without organization; but little by little, in centers such as the mosques, they began to organize and mobilize for the rallies and activities that the revolution needed."
But over time, the anger and enthusiasm of the people increased day by day. On January 8, 1978, concurrent with the anniversary of Reza Khan’s discovery hijab, the first public demonstration led by women took place in Mashhad. Sediqeh Ardekani is one of fifty women who started the demonstration in one of the city's Husseiniyahs, and gradually their number reached about three hundred.

In the months leading up to the revolution, although the martial law was intensified, she performed the martyrdom ghusl (full ablution), picked up his three-year-old daughter, and left to take part in demonstrations and marches. One of these days, his brother Mahmoud was shot in the leg. She spent most of her time with the women of the relatives and neighbors. They participated when there was a march. The rest of the time they talked about the news and the situation of the uprising by holding home meetings. Most of the men of Sediqeh’s family were active in the events and informed them about everything, and many women also came to hear the correct news from them. In these meetings, many joined them and even forced their men to work for the revolution.
The victory of the revolution created new responsibilities for the revolutionary forces and the Islamic government. For example, after the revolution, there were still secret rooms in some beauty salons in the affluent part of the city where a male hairdresser did make-up for women and brides! To deal with such problems, some were sent anonymously to the beauty salons to report their immoral behavior. Sediqeh was one of those people who worked as a trainee in the beauty salons in the upper parts of the city to actually supervise these issues.

Second chapter

The titles of this chapter are:  War and floral chadors, Eternal soul, On bedside of planets, Reza’s broken wing dove, Burned butterflies, You do good and …, Female Jihads, Go mother … may God protect you, A poem describing the sacred defense.

With the invasion of the Ba'athist regime and the start of the war, Sediqeh, along with her sisters who were active in the events of the revolution, went to the relief headquarters in the war fronts and announced their readiness to help. At first, their job was to make bandages for the war wounded.
"In those days, the war was a common occurrence in all of our lives. It did not know men or women, young or old. People from different social and economic classes all worked together to serve the fronts. Their personal concerns and expectations had diminished. There were usually one or two men from each family in the war fronts, and their wives also worked in the headquarters behind the front."
His brother Mahmoud went to the front from the seminary. His other two brothers were also in the fronts. Mahmoud was wounded and captured during the Operation Fat’h al-Mubinn, but after a while, the news of his martyrdom was reported to her mother while sleeping.
When Sediqeh was about 28 years old entered a hospital in Mashhad as a relief worker and started working there. Her job was to help the wounded of the imposed war ... She witnessed shocking and scorching scenes that had been upsetting her for a long time.
On the other hand, when the families of the injured hospitalized in Mashhad came from other cities and had no place to stay, Sediqeh got permission from her husband and took them home.

During the wheat harvest season, at the request of the Jihad of Construction, she coordinated a number of women and they together got on the back of the truck and went to help the surrounding villages. Some women even took their small children with them.
Once, when some women were called in for relief activities behind the front lines, Sediqeh handed over her two older children to her mother, hid her baby boy under her chador, and went along with the other volunteers ...
Yes, she could not stay at home and lived with indifference ... Wherever they declared the need and the help of women were needed, Sediqeh Ardekani was ready. She put on her chador and went to serve Islam and the revolution ... she went to return like every time and held the Quran and Ahkam sessions for women in the mosque of their neighborhood, and these sessions continued...

The book’s final section

But finally, the sister's narration ended with the narration of her martyred clergy brother, who writes with full humility and reverence: “This article has been written by someone who did not know herself, did not accept her talents and values, and did not use every moment of her life; rather there were lots of moments when she spent in opposition and in short lived in loss. But the grace of God and His infinite blessings turn despair into hope and give hope to the losers ..."
Thus, the book ends with a part of the will of martyr Mahmoud Ardekani and then, five pages have been allocated to the martyr’s photo album.
“Floral Chador” has been written by Leila Eqbali and its first edition was released in 100 pages by Booy-e Shahr-e Behesht Publications (Mashhad) in 1000 copies.

 



 
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