Book Review: Nine Rubies By Mahru Ghashghaei

 In 1946, Mahru Ghashghaei was born in Ardebil, Iran, somewhere along the Russian Border. The youngest of three daughters, her life was like that of any child with love and appreciation for her Iranian upbringing. The onset of Revolution would bring change to the young girl’s life and to the people of Iran. Marhu’s mother would suffer humiliation and theft from her husband; father to Mahru and her two sisters. As the family struggles from the embarrassment of financial ruin and nearly destitute, their mother must make hard decisions to protect her three young daughters in a male dominated world where women have no voice.

In 1990, Mahru Ghashghaei, a Muslim woman would meet Susan Snyder, a Jewish woman,at a school function both their children attended. Their 20 year friendship would help to unleash secret stories buried since childhood…Stories that would evolve into an inspiring account of women survival, courage and resilience.

Mahru Ghashghaei, the author of Nine Rubies, along with Susan Snyder, co-author, sheds light on how people faced with adversity share commonalities, regardless of cultural differences.  I enjoyed reading this book filled with heartfelt moments, historical modules, passion and purpose. As a book review blogger, I encourage you to visit www.NineRubiesTheBook.Com  to purchase your copy of Nine Rubies today!

Clara54 received complimentary copy of Nine Rubies for review purposes…

An extra bonus for my readers!

Clara54 In Conversation With Mahru Ghashghaei:

Mahru, I want to thank you and Susan as well, for allowing me to review NINE RUBIES for my readers. I enjoyed the book immensely and also got a bit of education in Iranian Culture.

 How long has it been since you’ve been back to your homeland and is that difficult, considering the state of affairs in Iran now?

I haven’t seen my homeland for more than 3 years.  And now I am living where my sons and husband are with me, in the United States.

While reading Nine Rubies, I was struck with how very little laughter there was In your family growing up…was your childhood so structured and strict? And can you elaborate on what’s more important in an Iranian household?

Actually, I had my own world that was sometimes happy and sometimes not.  I was happy in the garden with my flowers. Even though I didn’t have a father, mom replaced him by telling stories and creating a woman’s world where I didn’t miss men.  This was very natural to me.

If strict means that I had discipline, this is true.  Mom guided me to follow the cultural rules such as “don’t laugh loud,” or the rule of “tarof (if you want something, don’t accept immediately – use lots of self control),” and “cover yourself decently.” In many Iranian households, privacy is important, and personal matters are secret.  Also, it is important to show yourself as more than you are, especially financially.  Iranians are proud people.

Mom actually had a very free soul, but in our situation living between two worlds, she often did not want us to appear close to her.  This was confusing and difficult for my self-identity – I didn’t know I belonged.

Why do you think your mother trusted your father by signing over papers that would rob your family of her father’s wealth? Could she have done anything about it and who was there to help her?

My father was devoted to his mission.  The Communist party was called Tudeh, and Tudeh means ‘people.’  As a Tudeh member, he wanted to take resources from wealthy families and distribute them to the poor.

I don’t know the circumstances under which he had mom sign away her wealth. However, at the time she may have felt very secure, or been assured by him that things would be fine.  She may have signed the paper to save her marriage, or maybe she was betrayed.  Or maybe she was convinced that it was right to give the money to the poor.  We just don’t know.

She did have her father for help, but she did this in secret, and hid the paper away – my husband and I saw the document many years later.  Her father probably would have stopped her.

It’s always interesting to look back and think about what decisions you would have made, but decisions are made without the advantage of hindsight.

Tell us about your mother…

My mother was always a very peaceful person, and her strong belief in her mission and that harshness was a good message for her.  Her father taught her that her life was not going to be easy, and she learned the lesson well.  She waited faithfully until the end of her life, knowing that she would be rewarded in the afterlife. 

Through my work, I was able to eventually release her from her servitude.

After my marriage, Khosro and I sent her on many trips to Mecca and other holy places that she wished to go. She had the best time with my children, and I gave her the privileges that she would have had in her father’s home.  She wasn’t ‘grandma’ in my house, she was the house manager.  Whatever rules she made, that was how it was, and she liked this life.  I wanted her to finally have everything she wanted, and I sacrificed for her the way she sacrificed for me when I was young.

At the end of her life, she lived happily in the United States for five years, even though she was quite sick.  Her health was poor, but her mind was peaceful.  She returned to Iran days before her death with peace in her heart and soul.

You spoke of your sisters. How are they and are they in Iran? Your half- brother as well? Have you two ever spoken about your lives as children of the same father?

My sisters are in Iran, and living very full lives with their children and grandchildren.  They are role models – Ashi is a spiritual guide in her community, helping orphan and abused children as a non-certified counselor.  Aki is still very wise – the wisest person in our family  – and a powerful example for all of us.  She competes with her children and grandchildren in using new technology, and with the grace of the Internet, we are in touch every day.

As for my half brother, this is a painful story that requires more than a short answer.  The confusion and shame we felt as a result of our father’s actions was a disaster for us, and we did not continue contact.  With wars around the world, this story is repeated more than can be imagined, and will continue to be a source of pain for many young people as a result of forced separations.  We hope to be advocates for these innocent victims.

Do you think/believe Iran will ever become a democracy? 

Why not?  Iran tasted democracy before the coup in 1953 against Dr. Mossagdeq, and I believe there are many intellectuals in Iran who favor democracy.  Today, many Iranians pay their lives to bring democracy back.

For all of my curious readers, please explain the significane of NINE RUBIES

When my grandfather was on his deathbed, he gave nine rubies to mom, who had lost her only son and was heartbroken.  He promised her if she stayed strong and took good care of her daughters, and didn’t give up on them, she would have nine grandsons.  And she had nine grandsons (and two granddaughters!).  Three of the rubies are mine.

Have you always felt that you wanted to become an advocate for women rights?

I have always felt that I was an advocate for EVERYONE’S rights.  And I know for that is a price to pay.  There are many examples in Nine Rubies, and in the rest of my life.  But it is always worth it to speak out for others.

Khalil Gibran…  why do his words bring you comfort?

I loved him since I was a child, hearing the poems in Farsi and their metaphors for my experiences.  The words helped me understand and process often-difficult situations and relationships.  After I learned English, I loved the poems even more, because they helped me understand my new language, and the new language helped me understand the poems more deeply. The comfort is because he speaks to my heart and calms it.

On a lighter note: Do you watch Reality Television’s Shahs Of Sunsets airing on VH1?

Yes.  I watch it because it reminds me of the time before the revolution in Iran, when a very small group of royal and privileged Iranians lived that way, only more gloriously.  Their behavior, like this group in California, was very flamboyant, and was harmful to the overall Persian culture. This group became an example that the clergy could hold up as being destructive to the culture, thereby pushing toward the revolution.

What do you think about how the Persian people are represented to American viewers?    

Definitely, Persian people are not well represented in Shahs of Sunset.  Persians in America have the same range of lives as all Americans.  Persians are scholars, business people, teachers, artists, hard working people, mothers, fathers, children, politicians, doctors – dealing with the daily issues of life. Iranians have a positive effect on the American culture, using our research and knowledge to improve our surrounding society, and are members of families, communities, and the country.

Also, as other Americans, there are a wealthy few, some of whom seek fame rather than positive influence and contribution to society.  I know that most Americans are aware of the difference between a reality show that flaunts the riches of a few, and the real and productive lives of the majority…

What do you think of this interview? Will you purchase a copy of NINE RUBIES?

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