Farah: “All together like a family”

Episode 50

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Farah is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. She is a member of the Bahá’i Faith from Iran and has lived in the UK for a long time. I have interviewed her about her life a few times in the past and she always has a new story to tell me. In this recording, our discussion covers the evolution of the BME community in Brighton and the life of Táhirih, a Persian feminist and poet of the 19th Century.

Excerpt from the chapter about Farah’s life story from the Castaway Heritage book:

Farah was born in Yazd, Iran, in the summer of 1942 to a respected family. Her parents were esteemed in the community, but her father belonged to the Bahá’i Faith, which was a minority religion, and not officially recognised by the government.

            The family left Iran and moved to India when Farah was just a baby and she spent most of her childhood in Bombay, present-day Mumbai. She loved India; she has fond memories of playing around the harbour with her friends (speaking Urdu), starting school (speaking English), and enjoying home-life with her family (speaking Farsi).

            The family did well in India. Farah’s father opened a shop selling coffee and medicines. Her parents both made many friends. But, sadly, their happy life in India was to come to an end around the time of Gandhi’s assassination. Widespread rioting led to hundreds of deaths and an escalation of the Hindu-Muslim violence that had beset Bombay for decades. Thousands of people fled the city. Bombs were being planted on ships in the harbour and rioters were arming themselves with knives. Farah’s father decided that it was time for the family to leave when he saw two men fighting outside of his shop, with one man murdering the other horribly. Farah was six years old.

            She knew leaving was not an easy decision, as her mother was in the later stages of pregnancy and the journey would be dangerous. But foreigners were being targeted and it would be even more dangerous to stay.

            Farah remembers watching the ceremony of their Indian friends saying goodbye, presenting gifts, kissing her parents and placing garlands of flowers around their heads. She was deeply moved by the scene.

            “My parents were loving and caring people,” said Farah. “They taught me to love all humanity, show kindness to everybody, to be polite to everyone. My parents were magnificent people who always opened their house to everyone. They came for prayer, meditation and to eat, and I learned a lot from them. They were always kind to family, relatives and everybody.”

            The family returned to Iran and settled in the capital city, Tehran. Her father opened a furniture business and they prospered, enjoying balmy summers in the citrus groves on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

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Episode 50