It was the summer of 1958. A Jewish family, living in Tehran but originally from Kashan, came to stay at the Palace Hotel for the summer. They had a stunning daughter named Homa. The ﬁrst time I saw her beautiful eyes, I began shivering. By the way she acted, I could tell she liked me too. We “accidentally” met a few times in the hotel premises and got to know each other a little bit. Once or twice, we even met secretly. Without touching each other, of course! Too soon she went back to Tehran with her parents, but not before giving me her address and phone number in Tehran.
Agonized by the deep feeling of love, I lost any trace of peace-of-mind I might have had; restlessness tortured me.
At that time, my older sisters lived in Tehran — a perfect excuse to ask my father’s permission to go there. I arrived in Tehran with a leaping heart full of hopes, and stayed at Hawi’s house. As my sister and I were very close, I disclosed my secret to her: I had lost my heart to Homa. I had to gather all my courage to ask her to call Homa’s and say she needs to speak with her.
Hawi was ecstatic with happiness! She gladly picked up the phone, called Homa’s home, and started speaking with my love’s mother. She told her Sasson has arrived in Tehran and wishes to see Homa. Homa’s mother, with sheer joy, replied: “Of course, tell Sasson to come over to our place for supper.”
I was so glad I didn’t know my right from left!
And then it hit me: I am going to Homa’s house, for dinner with her family. Hope was banished by terror. I got cold feet. A wave of insecurity and bashfulness washed me from head to toe, and I couldn’t ﬁnd the courage inside me to go there alone. My sister wouldn’t come with me, so I called my cousin Rahim. Thank God, my best friend lived in Tehran too! I begged him to come with me. He immediately came over, and we took a taxi together, a bouquet of ﬂowers in hand. I told the driver the address, but when we reached Homa’s house I was so restless and agitated, I couldn’t do what a man’s got to do! I asked Rahim to go ring the doorbell, deliver the ﬂowers and say: “Sasson deeply apologizes: He couldn’t come, but he asked me to give you these ﬂowers.”
I sat in the taxi, ﬂustered and bewildered, impatiently waiting for Rahim to return so we could go home together.
From afar, in slow motion, I saw Homa’s mother opening the door, and taking the bouquet from Rahim. He was supposed to turn now and come back to the taxi. What’s going on? I couldn’t hear their conversation, but I did see him pointing at the taxi where I sat. To my horror, Homa’s mother came to see me, kindly asked me how I was, and invited me to get out of the taxi. I was so scared and embarrassed, my face turned a deep shade of red. As we entered the house I was so ﬂushed with emotion, I could not utter a word! Like an inanimate object my body was present in that living room on the sofa next to Rahim, and a few moments later, Homa showed up, with the same smiling, charming face. My mind went numb too. I just couldn’t think of anything to say to her in her mother’s presence. With all this turbulence in my stomach and nothing in my brain, I felt I was burning up. Homa noticed the difference in me and kept silent, too.
And as if my agony was not enough, Homa’s father also appeared, and my agitation multiplied. The dinner table was ready, I sat there with Rahim, and the rest is a blur in my memory. Apparently we had dinner and said our goodbyes. I returned to my sister’s house, and sat there for hours thinking, contemplating, and reviewing the scene in my head. I reached the conclusion that I was not ready for this sort of social interaction yet, and returned to Tabriz.