Book review: "Moon & Parvin"

Memoirs of Martyr Jalal Zulqadrs Wife

Fereydoun Heydari Molkmian
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


The book's front cover is decorated with a design of the moon and flowers on a green background, and on the back cover, a selected sentence from the text of these memories indicates the idea of martyrdom-seeking, "Hujjatollah took his bag in the evening and said goodbye and left amidst greetings and blessings, the smell of pecan and kissing the holy Quran. When his wife and mother insisted him to stay longer, he said that he wanted to buy sweets and celebrate his new-born child with the combatants. Everyone knew that the sweets and celebration are an excuse and he is reaching out himself for the continuation of the Operation Badr".

After the dedication preface and the book list, first the short text "A Word with Reader" by the Office of Resistance Studies and Literature of Qazvin's Art Center, and then the "Preface" by the author have been included.

In continuation, the text of the memoirs of Mrs. Khadijeh Parpinchi - the wife of Martyr Jalal Zulqader - begins, which briefly talks about the days of love in twenty chapters - with titles and no numbers - in the narrator's position which undoubtedly was formed in the shade of the self-sacrifice of women like her and their companionship with God's men in resistance and persistence to preserve Islam and the country's integrity at that time.

The last ten pages are devoted to pictures, which include some black and white photos with good and acceptable quality and some examples of the handwriting of martyr Jalal Zulqadr.

In her short preface, the author tells about how these memories were formed and completed in the form of storytelling. First, she mentions Mrs. Mahnaz Heidari, who took charge of conducting the interview and listened to the words of Mrs. Khadija Parpinchi, the wife of the martyr. After interviewing and writing it down, it was the turn to write it. But while reading the text of the interview, the author decided to have a face-to-face conversation with Mrs. Parpinchi. Thus, after conducting additional interviews, she wrote the main text, although the passage of time had erased many memories and details from the narrator's mind; lack of enough information made the work difficult for the author. For the continuity of the work and the uniformity of the text, as long as it does not harm the memories, she inevitably added elements of the story with the consent of the narrator. In the end, a text was obtained in the form of a fictional biography, of course, while maintaining the trustworthiness of the story.

The book "Moon &Parvin" begins with obvious frankness and sincerity as follows: "They would not leave me alone. Even though my elder sister, Ashraf al-Sadat, was well-known for her cheerfulness and temperament, but my cheerfulness and eloquence were always seen by everybody and caused me trouble..."

All of her elder sisters had been married except Ashraf al-Sadat, so in her opinion, it was not necessary for this unmarried sister to be thinking about marriage. But the hand of destiny had badly surprised her; before leaving for the mission in Meimak in the southern front, Jalal Zulqader whose colleague was in Alborz Industrial City's IRGC in Qazvin, wrote a letter for him and had proposed to her in it. He had given the letter to two of the IRGC sisters to deliver it to her.

Khadijah was a humble girl. Every morning, she went to Alborz Industrial City by a minibus from Vali-e Asr Square and after the end of the office hours, she returned home with the other sisters by an IRGC car. Most of the times, one of IRGC brothers would sit next to the driver for greater security, and accompany them to Qazvin. It was during these visits and inspections from the Haft Dastgah complex that she met Jalal. He was in charge of the Cultural Unit of the Alborz Industrial City's IRGC, and the sisters' unit in the Haft Dastgah Complex was also managed under his supervision.

When Khadijeh shared the issue with her mother, she neither disagreed nor agreed. She just looked at his daughter's red and white face and said:

-Let's see where your fate is, my daughter!

And she left her stunned and wandered... Her legs trembled and a slight tremor took over her whole body. The first drop of tears slowly fell from her eyes and gradually turned into a torrential rain that was not going to stop. She had lost herself. She said to herself:

- I wish the mother had said, "First, Ashraf should marry", instead of saying, " Let's see where your fate is."

In his letter, Jalal Zulqadr had asked Khadijeh to write the answer to his proposal and send it to the front. But a week later, when she was standing in the corridor of the Industrial City, she met him again. As always, his blond beard had been combed and he had worn neat clothes. Both of them were staring at each other confusedly simultaneously. But Khadijeh was not able to say hello. So. She stood stunned for a few moments and did not move. As if her embarrassment and then anxiety spread to her. She hesitated to come forward or turn back and leave the building. She constantly shifted one foot to the other.

Khadijeh's confusion made her unable to make a decision. As if she saw a ghost, she took a few steps back and unconsciously started running. She reached home in the evening, and as she was turning her chador between her fingers to fold it, her mother entered the room and said that Mr. Jalal's mother and sister had come to propose.

- Mom, I haven't answered his letter yet. Just today, when I saw him in the hall, I didn't even say hello... I got deeply embarrassed!

- Don't complain, Mom!

The next day, the mother and uncle Reza decided to make an inquiry. They went to meet the IRGC Commander of Alborz Industrial City. He really outdid himself and had said, “If I put all the IRGC guys on one end of the scale and brother Zulqadr on the other end, this young man will be equal to everyone”.

When they returned home, at night, the mother told her that Haj Khanum would call tomorrow for an official proposal!

Khadijeh said: But Ashraf...

The mother answered by pretending to be cool, “Your sister is not willing to wait for her to marry! She will finally marry.”

Therefore, it was decided that Jalal and his family would come to their home three days later and, as was their custom, hold the marriage meeting.

Till here, the first three chapters of the book (Friendly Advice, Letter of recommendation, Listen to Proposal) are devoted to the narrator's memories before and after meeting Jalal and finally his proposal to her. Then they were supposed to talk to each other for the first time in front of their families.

The narrator still remembers the details of this scene well in her memory:

"Fake silence had reigned over the room, half-glances and sneak peeks and ears were directed towards us. Jalal spoke recklessly. He asked about my age and my opinion about the criteria of happiness. I gave short answers in a low voice. He had bent his head towards me to understand what I am saying. Little by little, he became aware of the atmosphere in the room and summarized his words and said:

- Sorry, I talked a lot. Apparently you have nothing to say!

Upon Jalal's suggestion, we decided to put our lives on paper and not miss anything. In this way, we knew each other much better especially since we both enjoyed writing.

The next five chapters are actually based on a long letter written by Khadijeh for Jalal, in which she talks about (simple village life, childhood homework, teenage fever) and her narration went on to (the restless alleys of Qazvin and the situation of the revolution). In this way, the author goes back to the past with this trick and talks about Khadijeh's childhood and adolescence until her engagement with Jalal in her own words.

It was not even three days after their engagement when a suitor came for his sister Ashraf. Morteza Javadimanesh was a young IRGC member who was kind-hearted, modest and well-mannered, and his vices were lost in his virtues. Ashraf liked him unconditionally as if she had found her missing half.

In continuation, the narrator in six chapters (Everything Is the Grace of God, Life Goes On, Once Upon a Time, Don't Take Your Eyes Off Me, Time of Travel, Smile Star), first talks about Jalal and Morteza joining their family, that the atmosphere of their houses had changed a lot. While the wedding ceremony was held simply but it was also very special. The beginning of their life together was blessed by God's will in Jamaran with the holy breath of the imam, who after reciting the marriage sermon took a penetrating look at the groom's face and after a passing glance at the bride, fatherly said to them: "Be good to each other and get along!"

In the absence of Khadijeh's father, who had left his family in the city and returned to his village Sharifabad for work and activities, her mother, uncle and cousin's wife had joined hands to prepare the dowry for her and her sister Ashraf. Then, when the wedding arrived, from that very day, they started their life together in complete simplicity with love, hope and faith in the two rooms of Jalal's paternal house...

After a few months, Jalal said one night:

- My palm itches! I think I should leave in a few days...

An unexpected coldness covered Khadijeh's whole being. She was confused. When Jalal saw Khadijeh staring at him in shock, he said with desire:

- I swear to God, don't say "no"!

In continuation of her memoirs, the narrator says:

"That night, Jalal gained my satisfaction at any cost. My strictness was for no reason. I said to myself that many will go to the front and return to their families safe and sound. Jalal is one of them! Honestly, if all the mothers and wives of combatants are like me, the front will remain empty! He leaves and comes back very soon. As before! When we didn't know each other yet!"

And evetually, on the day when Jalal was supposed to leave for the front, right at the moment of farewell, Khadijeh said to him:

-Take care! This child and I are waiting.

Several months had passed since her pregnancy. In this way, Khadijeh had to spend the first anniversary of their marriage alone and without Jalal. The days were very long.

The final chapters of the book (Towards the Sky, The Last Letter, The Voice of the Father's Call to Prayer, The Salve of a Burnt Heart, Bitter and Sweet, The Dignity That Does Not End) are a description of the martyrdom and a summary of everything that happened after that.

One day in the evening, the doorbell was rung. When she opened the door, two ladies entered. Those who were her old colleagues in IRGC's Alborz Industrial City and brought Jalal's proposal letter to her.

They came and sat on the floor cross-legged without leaning on the backrest. Khadijeh went to the kitchen. She took an ice mold from the ice box when one of the ladies called him.

- Don't bother! We are busy. We have to leave soon!

Khadijeh returned to the room and said:

- A glass of cooling drink doesn't bother me. By the way, how wonderful you thought of us?!

One of the ladies gave a forced smile and said:

- Well, we have come to see you.

-And suddenly, the other one interrupted her friend and said:

- Do you know that many were martyred in last night's operation?

Khadijeh said:

- Because it was a big operation!

But that lady said abruptly:

- You too say "To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return"!

Khadijeh's heart was torn. It was as if she did not hear anything or doubted the truth of what she heard. She said:

- Tell me again, what did you say?

And she repeated fearfully:

- You too say "To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return"!

The room turned around Khadijeh's head. She staggered towards the closet. Her hands trembled and her legs went weak. She slowly sat on the ground. Her head was heavy. She said to herself: Is it possible? Those who had brought me the news of his engagement are now claiming that my Jalal has been martyred! That so soon! A lot of people still call me "newly married woman".

She laughed. She laughed out loudly in a way that her laughter turned into giggles. Both her friends got up and sat next to her. One of them took her hand and the other said:

- Cry! Cry!

She had become unconscious. She shouted. The neighbors heard her voice. Jalal's mother also heard and came to her in panic. In the middle of sobbing and laughing, she shouted to his mother-in-law:

-Dear mother, Jalal has left! Your son-in-law has left! The father of my child has left!

Then, suddenly she got up and wore her chador. Her colleagues did whatever they could but they could not stop her. She should reach herself to the IRGC in Naderi Street. She knew that the martyrs of Qazvin were transferred there. She took a shortcut through the alleys. She finally arrived and entered the Me'raj. Six coffins wrapped in the tricolor flag were placed side by side. On one of them had been written: Jalal Zulqadr. She went and knelt next to it. She slowly removed the white sheet from his face. Jalal's calm and gentle face appeared. His yellow headband had turned red and his hands were folded across his chest. Instead of an agate ring, there was a blood ring around his finger: He still had the sign of their marriage with him... Khadijeh could not bear it anymore. Her scream echoed in the hall and broke the silence of the Me'raj...

"Moon & Parvin" by Zinat al-Sadat Mousavi has been written for the Office of Resistance Studies and Literature of Qazvin's Art Center and its first edition was published by Sooreh Mehr Publications in 1399 (2020) in 188 pages and in 1250 copies. 

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