I was only ten but I was totally in love. There was no one for me but him. I planned our meetings, our courtship, our inevitable union. The only problem was that he was famous and he lived in Paris, France. His name was Alain Delon and I was a primary school student in Kermanshah, Iran.
I was desperate and help arrived by way of an issue of the magazine “Children Weekly”. In Iran in the early 1970s people were obsessed with the West and all things western. We followed the fashion, art, music and, of course, cinema of the western world. So, to meet this demand, there was always news about movie stars and a page on the back of the magazine was dedicated to their contact details. As I was not the only fan of Mr. Delon, the magazine had kindly provided an address where we could get in touch with him. I had read the address so often that I had memorized it: 14 rue de Boise, Paris 1st.
I decided that my first letter to him should be simple and friendly, just to start our communication. With time, I knew he would fall madly in love with me and all would turn out just as I wanted. I would become Mrs. Delon and we would live happily ever after. Of course, he had to wait until I finished school and maybe he had to learn Persian, but hey, what are these little obstacles in the face of love? The letter was written in Persian in my best handwriting on my strawberry scented stationary sent to me from California by a relation. I convinced myself that his interest in me would be so strong that he would get a translator and in due course would learn my language so that our intimate words to each other would be spoken in my mother tongue.
When it came to posting the letter, I had to go through my father’s grumpy and rather self-satisfied secretary. I remember her look when she saw who the letter was written to – a funny kind of smile which I translated into envy. After all, Alain and I were nearly engaged.
The letter was posted in early autumn. I ran back home from my father’s office, my hair blowing in the wind, my skirt dancing around my waist, my heart beating to the rhythm of love… Alain, Alain. And so my waiting game began. How many days for a letter to get to France? A week, maybe two? Oh dear, oh dear, I guess maybe even three. And then Alain had to think of what he wanted to say to me, how he would confirm his everlasting love and commitment. Let’s say three more weeks and of course his letter had to come back to me, so there goes another three weeks.
Months went by and I found more and more reasons for Alain’s delay. He was filming or was looking after his old, sick mother. Poor Alain. By late spring, my father’s secretary stopped returning my calls about the post and my father had to tell me not to turn up at his office so often. I waited and waited. The only good thing in my life was that we were going to France on holiday that summer – the usual, Rome, London, Paris trip that my parents were so fond of.
So we arrived in Paris and settled into our usual hotel. The joy of waking up to hot chocolate and warm croissant (which we called scorpion bread) was like nothing compared going to 14 rue de Boise.
On the first day, my parents, my older sister and I all made our way through the narrow streets of Paris until we found ourselves in front of number 14. It looked nothing like a movie star’s house, nothing like my future home. It was a dilapidated building, home to a long-closed butcher’s shop: “La Boucherie du Boise.”
Winter of 2015
Afsoon is an Iranian artist. After spending her childhood in Iran and late teens and early twenties in San Francisco, she settled in London. Her nomadic life is reflected in her work where East merges with West and the result is at once familiar and foreign. There are several layers in her work and at times she combines text with images. She also combines different techniques such as linocusts, photography, collage and etching. The result is a rich yet often playful and humorous tableau in which the audience is able to engage and interpret in its own way.
In January 2008 the British Museum purchased two series of her work for its contemporary Middle Eastern collection.