Aziz Khakshouri had the privilege of doing business with wise, successful businessmen such as Rahimzadeh & Sons, as well as Moghaddam family. Rahimzadeh, who lived in Tehran, exported wool to Europe. Whenever he needed wool, he would inform my father, who bought wool from producers in Tabriz and sent it to Tehran. Rahimzadeh ordered wool according to demand, but Aziz was too hasty, or independent, or maybe just soft-hearted. He didn’t want to let the Tabriz merchants down, and was easily inﬂuenced by the bazaar brokers (dallal) who told him, “You must buy a lot now, the price is so good, you don’t want to miss it!”
As long as demand was high, business was wonderful, and everything was good. But when demand was low, he continued to buy large quantities of wool, tempted by brokers who offered him longer credit lines, and thinking that he was saving for times when demand is higher. He was actually gambling on wool prices. Unfortunately, demand didn’t rise soon enough. With a massive inventory in the warehouse, heavy debts, and no money to pay them, our family found itself in a serious ﬁnancial crisis. My father had to sell everything and start anew.
Then he had another idea: If he moves to Tehran, he can improve his business situation by exporting goods directly to Europe.
So when I was six years old, my father took the whole family, and we moved to Tehran.
But luck was again against him.
Unemployment and turbulence once again cast a shadow over the life of Agha Aziz and the whole family, with devastating consequences: He made new friends, of the wrong type, and spent his nights God knows where, gambling. He returned home late, which gravely affected our mother, Nanne Khanom. She asked me to accompany my father, thinking it might make him quit gambling, but to no avail. Returning home late at night with no money in his pocket to support the family caused Aziz himself great grief, too.
In these hard times that befell us, one day Agha Youssef Khakshouri, Agha Aziz’s cousin, offered him a simple job that could solve his problem and save the family from this misery.
Agha Youssef said: “I have an acquaintance who has been imprisoned for holding smuggled fabrics. If you would be willing to go to court and claim these fabrics are yours, the prisoner will give you ﬁfty thousand toman!”
Agha Aziz was so distraught, the offer impeded his judgment. Without asking about possible consequences, he gladly said: “In order to save my family from this calamity, I’m ready to do it.” And being more of a saint than a businessman, he added, “Even for thirty thousand toman!” And so he went to the police and said: “These fabrics are mine!”
A court was convened. The judge heard the way my father spoke and realized he couldn’t have been the culprit. He said angrily: “Tell the truth! Otherwise, you may face serious consequences!”
Agha Aziz insisted: “Yes! These fabrics are mine!”
Finally, the judge was convinced, and what happened next is something that neither Aziz nor Youssef had expected: My father was sentenced to three years in prison.
As Agha Aziz was led to prison, we all followed him weeping, and his cousin Youssef was shocked, too. He also had no idea that this would be the consequence!
Nanne Khanom was pregnant at the time. Not having her husband by her side, especially at a time like this, made her so sad and troubled, that one day when she went shopping at the bazaar, she was so distraught and deeply immersed in her thoughts, that she neglected to look at the road and got hit by a bus. My sisters and I went through an extremely rough time. When little baby boy Nissan came into the world, our father received the good tidings in prison.
My father was released after two years in prison, and in 1952, after Ezra was born, we packed our few belongings and bitter memories, and moved back to Tabriz.