Shirin’s confidences

I like to talk about my story. It’s an old sadness that drives me to express myself. If my story with my lovers did not happen in the sixth century, we would have formed a very different love trio, but we probably would have met the same tragic end. Isn’t that the fate of any love trio?

At first glance there was nothing in Farhād to predict he would sacrifice himself for love. I wish I could have guessed it early on. But did Farhād have any premonition of what was to come? At first there was an innocent uncertainty in us that quickly gave way to an exquisite conviction in which we lost ourselves. Farhād’s voice, however, remained hesitant and hopeless, as if fate had already announced our end. What moves me so much when I think of Farhād is his integrity. Everything was so true in him: his devotion, his pain, his whole life, and I loved that truth so rare, whatever the time, the moment, even in my dreams. When I think of Farhād, I feel both a deep sadness and an exuberant joy. This sadness, like the joy, has a peculiar taste; it tantalizes me.

There was not, of course, this infinite devotion in Khosrow; yet, his passion devoured him. He tried in vain to free himself from me. Was it because of this passion that I ended up forgiving his excesses, his infidelities and even his ultimate darkness? I was crushed by Farhād’s death, but I’m still surprised to see my love for Khosrow unscathed. I liked Khosrow’s elegant and haughty attitude and his piercing gaze, that of a powerful king who, despite his position, remained helpless before love. He wanted to conquer me as if I were a country. And I liked the game of eluding and watching his frustration.

The end of my story leads my thoughts to Nizāmi, my poet, the one who imagined it. Did he know the emotions provoked by this drama would cross centuries? How many more centuries will it go through? During this journey we became, my poet and I, linked to each other. My name recalls his. His name evokes mine. Just as he entered my story and carried me in him, I carry him inside me.

I always wonder why he chose to write my story. It is said that he wrote it while thinking of his wife Afagh, with whom he was madly in love. Was I crafted in her image, which he longed to make eternal? Does all the passion emanating from my story reflect the love he felt for her? Afagh died soon after the book finished; could the anxiety of this looming love separation be inscribed in the verses recounting my story? How must I interpret the choice of Nizāmi to reveal nothing about my feelings for Farhād, except through some ambiguous signs? He only reveals my pain after learning of Farhād’s death and my anger at Khosrow, but nothing else. Was his fear of society’s judgement the reason for his choice to invent a woman
dedicated to a single love? If I was a reflection of Nizāmi’s love for Afagh, shouldn’t we admit he wanted to convey a pious image of me? That of a woman who remains devoted to her love for eternity, an ideal woman in his eyes? Writing thousands of verses about me, I would like to think that he too fell in love with me. He would have identified with Khosrow, unable to confront a rival like Farhād.

Being the character of a poem gives a rather special feeling. Created by imagination and born of a dream, I find myself devoid of substance. I have an aerial existence; I can float like a ghost, going through time in a logic that is not that of humans. However, I remain attached to the conditions inscribed in the weft of my existence, through the words of my poet. I move away from his writing, but each time I return the poet is there watching my excesses, my attempts to free myself from him. I have the feeling of pleasing him in these postures of disobedience. He scrutinizes me and sees me revealing everything about Farhād, and he does not say anything. I suddenly feel so attached to him!

Being a woman in love, I liked to wander in the space of my imagination, which took different forms in each century. I continue to float through time, and I observe everything with a fresh look. When I see my story is still read and loved, I discreetly feel a sense of satisfaction, which brings me closer to my poet. I wave at him and he looks at me with melancholy. He is near and far at the same time. I go forward and Khosrow and Farhād advance also by my side, and we make way together as if an elsewhere did not exist. My poet certainly feels sorrow, but he does not say anything. He simply observes. Maybe he dreams of being with us, but I think he is at the same time happy to see that his creature made a life of her own and finally escaped…