Sasson: Meeting Gollar changed the course of my life, and instead of Israel, I headed to Hamburg. But before that I had some bureaucratic issues to ﬁnish in Iran, and had to stay there for another year and a half. During that time I was lucky to be hosted by relatives whose grace and kindness I will never forget: In Rezaiyeh I lived with my cousin Lidush and her husband Shalom Khakshouri, Gollar’s uncle, who did their best to make me feel at home.
Gollar: To this very day we have a very close relationship with my uncle’s family and my cousins — all of them. We visited each other in Los Angeles and Israel, and also in Zürich while we were living there. We have attended each other Simchas, and on June 2019 we’re planning a trip to Baku with Shalom, Lidush, Jacob, Rosa and Violet. Like I always dreamed as a child — we kept our very close relationship with all our family, including my father’s sisters.
Sasson: Gollar’s other uncle, Nathan Khakshouri, with his wife, Victoria Khanom, hosted me in Tehran for month upon month. Nathan was like a second father to me. His good advice and positive inﬂuence guided me throughout my life. One of the most important pieces of advice I got from him, was to never get involved with someone who works with you. The workplace is a holy place, and we don’t have private relationships with employees.
With my cousin Lidush and her children. Children, left to right: Violet, Eliezer z”l, Jacob, and Rosa. On the ﬂoor: Dariush.Nathan also helped me get exempt from military service: I went to Tehran in order to obtain a passport. One of the documents I had to present in order for the application to be processed, was a military release or exemption form. Nathan, with the help of a smart middleman, took me to see a military doctor in a god-forsaken village far from Tehran. When we got there, there was another person before me who came there to get his exemption, so I had to wait in the waiting room, and naturally, overheard that man’s interview:
“I have pain here and here and here,” he said, crying.
But it didn’t take more than a second for the doctor to slap him on both cheeks and say “Go do your military service!”
The poor guy limped out of the doctor’s office. He really looked sick! You can imagine the impact this had on my optimism!
Then I was called in. Before I could utter a word, the doctor said, “You have shortness of breath, right?”
I said: “Yes.”
“You walk in your sleep, right?” “Yes.”
He mentioned a few more symptoms, to all of which I replied positively. After a few minutes I was almost convinced myself that I was an invalid!
I got the desired exemption document, and returned to Tehran to pursue my passport application and be reunited with my bride-to-be as soon as possible, but not before visiting my family in Israel.
Gollar was back in Hamburg while Sasson was making arrangements to leave Iran. Her engagement at 14 years of age took all her classmates by surprise. Sometimes they mocked her, and sometimes they asked in true wonderment, “How could you agree to such a thing?”
Gollar herself had second thoughts. She told her father: “I’m too young, I don’t want to get married, I want to ﬁnish high school, study medicine, and marry afterwards!”
Agha Youssef, with his wisdom and thoughtfulness, said: “You don’t have to marry Sasson right away, but I don’t want you to have boyfriends like all your other friends. He can be your boyfriend! You can go out to the movies, restaurants — like all your other friends, but with a man that I can feel quiet about.”
Meanwhile, waiting for all the bureaucracy to be completed, an enamoured Sasson keeps writing passionate love letters to his ﬁancée. Gollar can understand Persian because she has heard it at home, but she can’t read a letter of it! Her mother reads Sasson’s love letters to her, and writes down the responses that Gollar dictates.