MEHRI HABIBI PARSA 1931-2017
Interviewed by Safoura Nourbakhsh
This is what Mehri joon says about herself and her involvement with Sufism: I loved reading monajats [devotional prayers] and fasting when I was younger. At dawn, during the month of Ramadan, I loved to listen to monajats. Our neighbor had a radio and I would go to the yard and listen in. When I got older I fell in love with Hafez first and then Rumi. I also fell in love with my high school lit teacher because nothing spoke to me like poetry. Then when I was older I thought I was in love with Imam Ali. I thought he was a perfect human being, but later I was not sure. How could one love anyone more than God?
Then, I had this life-changing experience as a young married woman. My first child was a year and a half old. I was wrongfully accused by my husband and his family of something I had not done and which was so removed from my character. I remember I was so crushed because, before this happened, I could swear by my husband. I believed in him, I trusted him. But then when this happened, I understood that I cannot put my trust in any human being. I turned to God completely and called on him genuinely and said “I only want you and no one else.” So what happened made that detachment possible for me.
Was the master accessible to you? Was it easy to see him? I mean the environment was very masculine and he sat in the men’s jamkhaneh. Did you feel that as a woman you were excluded in some ways? Yes, always; I always envied the men. I envied their physical proximity to the master. They could see him all the time.
Did other people in the community also object to your ways? Did they also see you as a radical woman breaking traditions? Yes, from the beginning I would give my poetry to the master and he would give the singers my poetry to sing and recite for the gatherings. Some men would always make fun of me and my poetry afterwards. Most of my poetry was love poetry and to them a woman had no business writing love poems. Sometimes I would also doubt my own feelings and question myself. Perhaps I was suffering from some kind of lack or deprivation that I was so attached or in love with my master. But after examining myself carefully I would come to the conclusion that this love is the love I was seeking all my life, a love that consumes you without any expectations. I wanted to experience that love, and I had finally.
PHOTO © MEHRI HABIBI PARSA