Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Father, Lenny and Beethoven; A Page From My Life by Payman Akhlaghi

My Father, Lenny and Beethoven
A Page From My Life, by Payman Akhlaghi

It took 20 years for the pieces to come together, and it might only be of significance to me. Nevertheless...
A page in the pocket notebook left by my father on the 19th of October 1990 read in Persian, and I paraphrase as I recall, "For Payman, Leonard Bernstein, Berlin Wall concert, Beethoven's 9th symphony." I thought at the time that he must have heard the news on the Persian Voice of America, but the timing of it kept puzzling me over the years, since the event had taken place one year earlier in 1989. Not until last year did I notice that the note had to do with an obituary for Lenny, who had died just a few days before, on October the 14th.

My father was 10 years younger, and he wasn't a musician. He supported my interests, however, as evidenced not the least by remembering me in the quiet of his room, in a little note, that he would not find the chance to deliver by himself.

© 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Yousef Akhlaghi: A Celebration of Decency; A Tribute, by Payman Akhlaghi, 2007

Preface: The following is the text of a tribute which I wrote at the time of my uncle's passing. As I recently came across it, I felt that it could be worth being shared with a larger public, both for the sincerity of the sentiments expressed therein, and for it might be one of the better pieces of writing that I've produced in English over the years. -- P.A.

Yousef Akhlaghi: A Celebration of Decency

By: Payman Akhlaghi

March 21, 2007
Los Angeles
 © 2007, 2012, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

It was amazing enough to see how he made life look so simple, living so easy. His real magic, however, was that he made living decently look so easy. And when he left us this past weekend, he showed all of us yet another miracle: he made not only living decently, but coming out the winner, look as easy.

He lived life the same way that he played backgammon. To the end, he remained hard to be beat at the game. He always played it with a kind smile, with no show-off of emotions, intelligently, quietly. He would hide his focus under a casual gaze. His eyes would study the entire board. He would pause, think, analyze the situation, consider all of the possible options. Then would come the move, which you could be certain was the best, the wisest. He never complained about the dice. Instead, you could see that he was thinking forward, concentrating his mind on finding the best solution for the given hand. He managed to do all of this with a serene demeanor, in an almost total silence. There were few words exchanged, and there were no cries. But you well knew he was thinking very fast, and that at the end, he was quite likely to win. He was a true master of the game, and still, he never gambled. Such matters didn’t seem to appeal to him. Clearly, he didn’t want to taint the joy of the game with such petty concerns. Winner or not, you could never find him boast or groan. Actually, he was so shy that he could not even look you in the eyes. But as he was looking away, you could still catch it on his lips—there it was: that ever-present, contagious smile.