When Papa came of age and it was time for him to get married, he decided that marrying a very young girl would be a good idea, because it would allow him to educate her as he wishes. But he couldn’t ﬁnd a girl he could really love. Being the methodological thinker he’s always been, he decided to work with lists: ﬁrst he made a list of girls who might be okay, then he narrowed it down again and again, until he chose the three who seemed best to him. With his short list, he went to his cousin Avraham and asked him what he thinks. Avraham said: “Let’s go to the rabbi! He will open the Torah and tell you what to do.”
Youssef liked the idea, and the two went to the rabbi. In order not to make it too obvious, they didn’t say the names of the girls, or even that the purpose was marriage. Instead, they said Youssef was contemplating between buying three real estate properties: a house, a garden or an office — each was a code for a different girl. The rabbi listened to them seriously, opened the Torah, recited some prayers, and ﬁnally said they should buy the office… together!
Since then my father considered these things a scam, and forbade us to do things like this.
Then my father had to go to Tehran for business — the very same city where my grandmother, Saltanat Khanom, raised my mother, her single daughter Margrit, all by herself.
Margrit was only 13 when Saltanat Khanom married her off to my father.
The matchmaker was my father’s cousin Agha Aziz, Sasson’s father.
When Agha Aziz took Youssef to see little Margrit for the ﬁrst time, Youssef said: “But she is just a child, isn’t she?”
Saltanat Khanom replied: “The size of the peppercorn may seem slight, but crack it open, and taste its bite!”
My parents’ marriage made everyone happy, but no one was happier than my uncle Nathan. He had found his love — Victoria — before my father found his, but had to wait, in accordance with our customs, until his elder brother married. Nathan and Victoria got married six months after my parents.
My parents lived in Tehran, together with my grandmother Saltanat Khanom. Nathan and Victoria ﬁrst lived in Tabriz, but soon moved to Tehran too.
My mother gave birth to my brother Parviz when she was 15. The childbirth was difficult with many complications. In those days, women gave birth at home, and my father brought the best doctors to our home. The last doctor said either the mother will die or the child will die. My mother said she wants her child to live, and doesn’t care to die. But in the same evening, after a whole week of labor, she gave birth to my brother Parviz.
Parviz was a sickly child. When he was 2 years old he contracted diphtheria, which was a lethal illness at that time. But our family’s doctor did not give up. He conducted thorough research in all the books and journals he could put his hands on (that was before the Internet!) and found out that a newly discovered medication — antibiotics — could help. The antibiotics Parviz needed — erythromycine — was not available yet. The ﬁrst shipment to Iran was on its way when Parviz fell ill. My father and the doctor pulled some strings, and managed to ﬁnd out that the shipment of the medication was already on Iranian soil, but delayed in the customs. We had a neighbor who was a high customs official. It was a Friday, the holy day of the week for Muslims, and all government offices were closed. But our benevolent neighbor went to the customs office and took the medication out for us. He saved Parviz’s life.
After Parviz, my parents had a child every two years: I (Gollar), Louise and then Jany, when my mother was 21. My grandmother always lived with us, until her death in 1997.