“Encounter” by Goli Taraghi
Goli Taraghi on The Reading Life
Goli Taraghi on The Reading Life
I first encountered the Short Stories of Goli Taraghi in August of
Last year. As part of my participation in Women in Translation Month I read and posted upon two of her stories. Both of those stories are set in Iran after The 1979 Revolution, as is “Encounter”
An organization known as The Islamic Guard became very powerful as an enforcer of very conservative social values. There were extreme strictures places on the behaviour of women. Failures in behaviour for things like not covering up properly or socializing out side their homes could result in whippings. The lead characters in the stories are women who left Iran after the revolution. The narrator in “Encounter” is an affluent Iranian woman who years ago moved from Tehran to Paris, taking her young son. At the time of the revolution just having ties to the old regime could get all your property confiscated and possibly yourself in prison.
Time has gone by, maybe twenty years, the narrator is at a party, during a visit back from her now Paris home. She is at a party, things are happing there in violation of strict religious law, drinking, socialising between the sexes, drinking, displaying of western art and such. Some at the party are worried. What if men from the revolutionary guard show up? In a very exciting scene, a group does show up, in uniform and heavily armed. Two buses come, one for men and one for women are called and they are escorted to a court designed to deal with cultural crimes. The women fear they will be whipped. Others say it is just an excuse to extort fines. All this is terrifying enough but something worse happens. One of the female guards turns out to be a maid the narrator fired twenty years ago, a deranged woman obsessed with the narrator’s baby, now grown. The narrator fears she will be whipped for revenge.
I will leave the very interesting close of this story for you to discover. I hope to read another of Taraghi’s stories in February.
GOLI TARAGHI (b. 1939 in Tehran) has been honored as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in France and won the Bita Prize for Literature and Freedon given by Stanford University in 2009. She earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy in the United States and returned to Tehran to study and work in international relations and, later, to teach philosophy. Most of her work has been published in France and, though frequently censored in Iran, circulates widely there and internationally. Her stories have been included in various anthologies, including including Reza Aslan’s Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East (Norton, 2011); Words without Borders: The World through the Eyes of Writers (Anchor: 2007); and Nahid Mozaffari’s Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature (Arcade, 2005). She lives in Paris
SARA KHALILI’s translations include Censoring an Iranian Love Story by Shahriar Mandanipour, The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee, and Kissing the Sword: A Prison Memoir by Shahrnush Parsipur. She has also translated several volumes of poetry by Forough Farrokhzad, Simin Behbahani, Siavash Kasraii, and Fereydoon Moshiri. She lives in New York. - from the publisher.