Book corner: Scattered Pearls, a rivetting memoir
This powerful eye-opening memoir, Scattered Pearls by Sohila Zanjani with David Brewster, opens our eyes to the delights and the dark-side of one Persian-Iranian family.
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Sohila experiences childhood during pre-revolutionary Tehran. There are three generations of strong Persian women - Sohila, her mother Shahin and grandmother Laya - all subservient to their verbally abusive husbands. The wonderful ray of sunshine and source of fulfilment in their lives comes from loving and caring for their children.
This challenging memoir continues through the eight year Iraqi-Iranian war which resulted in the death or injury of over a million people. Incredibly the final peace agreement reverted the Iran-Iraq border to exactly where it had been before the war.
It was also a turbulent time within the walls of these families homes. Sohila’s father was an unpleasant character with an uncontrolled temper who seemed to rule his house with a rod of iron. Her mother Shahin was married at 15 years of age, had fourteen pregnancies in twenty-five years but only five survived to adulthood.
It is a fascinating, yet macabre insight into how terrifying it must have been living through such a difficult time in history. She writes of it being frightening hearing the explosions of the first Iraqi bombs. Sohila was fortunate to be educated, receiving a qualification in Computer Programming and Economics.
When she met and became engaged to Reza, who had lived for a time in Australia, she says happily; “I was like Charlotte and Lydia in Pride and Prejudice, satisfied that I was soon to be married … and would also go to Australia. These things are all that mattered.” Unfortunately, her married life in Australia was even more horrific than her earlier life had been.
It seems that out of hardship, damage and despair there is little hope for a happy future, but Sohila proves that with resilience, faith, courage and determination it is possible to triumph personally and to succeed against all odds.
Scattered Pearls is a must read. It is a truly inspirational story.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sohila Zanjani was born in 1955 in Tehran, Iran. After surviving a climate of emotional abuse and cultural misogyny which was the fate of the women of her family, she married an Iranian resident of Australia and migrated to Australia. She had four children with him and left their abusive marriage to bring the children up alone. She is now a lawyer and business woman and has already published a Persian edition of Scattered Pearls. Sohila lives in Melbourne.
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