New Jersey Star-Ledger - February 4, 2007
Davar Ardalan’s tumultuous journey through two failed marriages, the birth of four children, and decades spent fighting her own demons began the day her father walked out when she was 11, leaving behind a world that imploded. Eight years later, in 1984, Ardalan—who is now a senior producer for National Public Radio—left the United States for Iran, donned a chador and entered into an ar ranged marriage under Ayatollah Khomeini’s misogynistic regime.
Ardalan was convinced that the answer to her persistent malaise lay in Iran; she was enamored with the intensity of the Islamic Revolution, and tired of America, where she had spent many of her childhood years attending American schools and summer camps. She remembers thinking at the time, “I experienced Brookline High and I experienced Los Angeles. I tried working and I tried modeling ... I swam and I ran. I was happy—I thought I was happy—but I was sad and empty. I was alone.”
But why would the author risk returning to Iran in 1984 amid all the reports of escalating horrors under Khomeini? During the late 1960s, her young and extremely idealistic Iranian-born parents took Davar and her siblings back to Iran while the Shah was still in power. Her journey back to Iran is also an journey into herself.
Her father, a Harvard-trained architect, and her mother, an ex pert on Sufism, were co-writing a book on architecture and religion that required they travel throughout the entire country doing research.
Roaming the countryside with her parents, Davar fell hopelessly in love with the country’s exquisite beauty—its ancient temples and Persian gardens, the mosques and palaces, and the quiet magic of the desert. More importantly, she fell in love with love, the kind she be lieved her parents had.
But her father left abruptly for another woman, leaving her mother bereft.
It’s easy to lose yourself in Arda lan’s lyrical and layered prose. We witness the author’s love affair with Iran undergo the painful transition from infatuation to affection to a tempered and mature reality that includes bold criticism and condemnation combined with a still- lingering fondness; the same emotional journey she is forced to make with her own imperfect father.
Elaine Margolin is a freelance writer who lives in Hewlett, N.Y.