Another election, another candidate in a distant memory.

By: Fariborz Mofidian

Fariborz Mofidian has a Master's degree in Political Science from Universite Libre de Bruxelle

The Tehran - Gorgan passenger train was half way through its journey. It had snaked up the mountainous Alborz and now was about to descend and eventually disappear in the deserts of the greater Tehran, before actually reaching the capital. I had done this trip back and forth so many times that I almost recognized every rock along the way and certainly memorized all the stop stations by heart. 

I was in the compartment with my maternal grand parents. I knew the next station was Firouz-Kooh, the birth place of my grandfather. As we were approaching Firouz-Kooh, my grandfather left the compartment and a few minutes later came back, changed from his casual wear to a very formal attire.  As we neared the station, as usual and to the dismay of my grandmother, I pulled my head  out of the window with excitement to observe the local people and the usual activity at the station. But the scenery was quite different this time. There was an endless sea of people, with flowers and banners and pictures....... of MY grandfather!! Men, women and children could be seen in and outside the station, in the streets around the station and on roof tops.

As the train came to a halt, my grandfather kissed me and my grandmother good-by and opened  the door and climbed down the train. His feet never touched the ground! He was mobbed by the adoring crowd who carried him away on their shoulders. The repeated roar of "long live Firouz-bakhsh" echoed through the station and the surrounding mountains. The crowd, with my grandpa on their shoulder left the station and the train slowly moved on to take my grandma and I to Tehran. She must have seen the puzzled look on my young face, when she explained in simple terms and with a lot of pride that "your grandpa is going to Majlis." 

It was a few months later, on a hot summer afternoon in Tehran. We were all hovering around the red little radio in the living room and listening to the Radio Iran announcement of the election results. The announcer would first name a city and then the name of the winning candidate. Firouz-Kooh..... a pause that was a life time and then Majid-e- Mohsseni!!!

You could hear a pin drop in that living room. My grandfather very quietly left the room and went to his room to meditate and pray! My grandmother was in the kitchen, weeping and muttering........

I knew Mohsseni. He was a radio comedian and an excellent one at that too. All the members of the parliament had to have the "royal stamp" of approval. It had been decided by his imperial majesty that as part of modernization of Iran all trades had to have a representative and a voice in the Majlis. An interesting idea for a developing country, but the problem was he did not care who and what district they represented.!! Mr. Mohsseni's claim to political fame came, in this case, at the expense of my grandfather. And this was the second time that my grandfather had
been overlooked for another personal "royal choice" for the Majlis.  This hit me harder many years later as I grew up and learned the ways of the world. My grandfather was a most handsome, eloquent, articulate and educated man for his time.  He was a retired military officer of the old "Reza-Khan" imperial army. He was a devout but progressive and practicing Muslim. He was princely in manners and had and aura of nobility and yet humility about him. Moreover, he was Firooz-kooh's favorite son. He had it all! Everything to be a lifetime member of the Iranian parliament representing his home town.  Yet he was turned down not once but twice by a "royal decree". 

I hate to disappoint your readers, but this is not a story to provide anyone with lessons in civics  and a revision of historical facts or a political lecture. This is purely a testament and a tribute to my beloved grandfather. When I look at the current presidential saga, I appreciate him even more. I see men whose ambitions, ulter egos, and hunger for power, has overshadowed everything else. Under the pretext of the constitution, the law and love of the country, everyone is in pursuit of instant political or ideological gratification. Even men and women in black judicial
robes who are supposed to be impartial, unbiased and even -handed!!

My grandfather was not involved in a close election. Under normal circumstances, he would have won both elections hands down and with a landslide. But he faced defeat and unfairness with grace and style. He did not turn into "an enemy of the state" or knocked down the system out of personal vendetta, so customary of many of our fellow Iranians. Less on one occasion when he heard on the radio that the sycophants were calling the King " light of God"!  That profoundly hurt this true man of God, and that was the only time I heard him utter something negative.

I am writing this article, in memory of my most loving Grandfather. My most favorite candidate and politician for all systems and all times.