It was with great sadness that this week our people bade farewell to one of Iran's most beloved singers, Zendehyad Mahasti. While I was saddened by the passing of one I clearly recognized as an icon in Iranian music, I am not of the generation that loved Mahasti as if she were part of the family. My mother is of that generation and when I saw her sitting at the table in front of the TV, her chest heaving in grief and tears pouring down her face on the morning of June 25th, I knew instantly that for millions of older Iranians, Mahasti was more than just a famous singer; she was deeply loved and adored as a lady of the people... her people.
As with many first-generation Iranian immigrants to America, I'm sure that all Mahasti wanted to do before her time on earth was through was to be able to go home. Well, she has done just that. She has gone to that Heavenly abode where there is no more pain and no more sorrow. While many amongst us grieve her passing, I believe with all my heart that she has gone to a place that is so much better than any of us could possibly imagine that she would not want any of us to mourn her.
I am sure that Heaven sounded just a little sweeter and livelier last Monday as our dear Zendehyad Mahasti took her rightful place beside her beloved sister, Zendehyad Hayedeh in God's Heavenly choir. Can you imagine the beauty and majesty of all the angelic voices being raised in song and being led by our precious Iranian sisters? Can you imagine the jubilation and joy Mahasti felt as she was met at Heaven's door by her sister and mother? No, she would not want us to cry for her, for she is truly happy now. She has finally made it home.
We ought not to cry for her, we ought to cry for ourselves; for she is free of all the trials, tribulations and troubles of this world while we must still wait for our turn to cross the Heavenly threshold. Instead of focusing on the end of Zendehyad Mahasti's life and the sorrow we feel because she is not amongst us anymore, we should be joyously celebrating her life and thanking God for blessing our people with the beauty, dignity, grace and charm of both Mahasti and Hayedeh. Just think of it, amongst all the nations of the world, God gave our nation and our people the exhilarating joy of experiencing the music of these two supremely talented sisters. We should not mourn them, we should rejoice the fact that they were and forever shall be, a part of us, and we, a part of them.
Having said this, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the shock and disgust I felt watching as Tapesh and ITN publicly slugged it out over the airwaves to demonstrate which had a greater claim to our precious Mahasti's memory. It was unseemly of Ali Reza Amirghasemi and Hamid Shabkhiz to make such a spectacle of themselves and a mockery of the memory of our dear Zendehyad Mahasti by fighting over who should plan the funeral and how the funeral should be conducted. Mahasti may have been a public figure to all of us, but she had a private life too. When she died the only person that had a right to dictate how, when and where her funeral was to be conducted was her daughter, Sahar.
At a time when Sahar, her husband, their daughters and Mahasti's other relatives were in the throes of immense grief and sorrow, they were forced to endure the mud slinging and back biting of these two television presenters, but especially Mr. Shabkhiz. It appeared that he simply could not gracefully accept the fact that Sahar wanted the people at Tapesh to help her plan the funeral. Mr. Shabkhiz did not conduct himself as a gentleman and I'm sure it will be a long time before the Iranian television watching community forgets all that he said in the days following Mahasti's passing.
Mr. Amirghasemi, for his part, should not have reacted publicly to the snide comments and insults made by Mr. Shabkhiz. He would have done well to have simply remained silent as the decorum of the situation called for quiet reflection and contemplation on the beauty and richness that Zendehyad Mahasti, her life and the beauty of her music brought to all Iranians everywhere. By publicly engaging Mr. Shabkhiz over the airwaves, Aghaye Amirghasemi simply lowered himself to his level. Shame on both of them for desecrating the dignity and decorum that Zendehyad Mahasti and the days following her death deserved. She gave so much to so many, including to both of these two ratings-hungry snake oil salesmen, over the many years God let us have her amongst us, and she deserved better....much better than what she got from these two men.
Finally, I would like to send a special message of love and support to Sahar and her family. Please know that millions and millions of Iranians around the world, who never had the pleasure of knowing your mother personally, still have a deep feeling of loss and sadness over her passing. While many of us grieve, please know that it is only for ourselves and our own sense of loss. Your mother and our precious Zendehyad Mahasti has no need for our tears, for she is now in a place that is far better than any of us can conceive of. She is alive and happy with God, with her parents and with Hayedeh. If we could now hear her beautiful voice from the Heavens, I'm sure she'd tell us not to be sad, for she has finally made it home....the home to which we all will one day go.
Sahar khanoom, while nothing that I can write can possibly lessen the pain of your grief, please know that the Iranian nation and people loved your mother dearly while she was with us and we shall love her forever just as we love Hayedeh. As long as your mother's music is with us, she will always be in our hearts and we will never forget her. While none of us can possibly know why Khoda seems to to take the best and sweetest flowers amongst us so early and so unexpectedly in this life, perhaps the answer is simply that He needs them more than we do.
Please know in your heart that every Iranian who has ever been blessed to hear the beauty of your dear mother's music sends you and your family much love in this sad hour of your life. All any of us can do is pray that Khoda will bless you and your sweet family as richly as He blessed our nation with the life and music of your precious mother!