Shirin ParsiFiction, magical realism, nature and the environment,
Safekeeper came to me when I watched many majestic old Moreton Bay figs aged over 130 years along Sydney’s Anzac Parade being unnecessarily sentenced to death to clear the path for a light rail project. As time passed and events unfolded in my life, Safekeeper evolved into its complete shape.
I was born in Tehran around the beginning of eight years of war between Iran and Iraq, during which my family often had to evacuate our hometown for safety and live with my grandparents in the country, who were of Lur descent. It was while staying with them that I heard stories of village life and historical events from my grandparents, and saw for myself the life challenges for the last generation of villagers who were still living close to their traditional roots. Unfortunately, the village was not safe from the greed of Iran’s government as it had a great source of natural fresh water. After the war a huge chemical facility was built nearby the village, polluting the air and releasing toxic waste into their rivers, killing many, including my grandmother, and leaving the rest with incurable diseases. I blended Safekeeper with the memory of their land, which was sentenced to death so that some could financially benefit from it.
In one of the chapters, in honour and memory of my Lur heritage, I describe the structure of my grandparents’ house in detail, including the underground tunnel to the nearby mountain cave. The network of hidden underground tunnels beneath the village were initially built to defend the villagers against invaders attacking Persia more than a thousand years ago.