My grandfather’s name was Zakiula. He was Iranian, therefore such unusual name. In my childhood, I saw a very strange and bizarre person in him. He lived in his own world. Sometimes it seemed he didn’t see anybody around him while being lost in his thoughts. I don’t remember his voice at all, he rarely spoke to me. I remember my grandfather sitting on the porch of his house with the high ivy-clad fence painted with violent-green color. He was sitting crossed-legged on a tiny Iranian rug leaning on a colorful silky pillow with eastern pattern, which looked like a big candy. He always had in front of him an opened book lying on a wooden stand with beautiful Arabian carving. There should be also a small teapot with freshly brewed thyme tea, a glass on a saucer and a small bowl with chipped sugar.
He was a tall, very thin gray-haired man with accurately cut dense beard. I used to climb up the high mulberry tree growing in our backyard watching him while he didn’t notice me. He was absolutely motionless. Only his big calloused hand with a certain frequency raised slowly, turned the page from left to right and came back on a lap, in the same starting static position. Sometimes he slowly took the glass with another hand, brought it to his mouth, had few sips of tea, took a small piece of sugar, put it in his mouth. Then his hand came back to the same place, and he froze again looking into his book.
He could sit like this during many hours, under the sun, drinking hot tea and reading books in Farsi. After many science fiction stories, I was sure that my grandfather must be an alien. My mother told me that he was fiery red when he was young. I always thought that red-haired people came from other planet. The fact that my grandfather read books in unknown language from the end to the beginning only proved his unearthly origin. Sitting on a tree branch, hidden by the leaves of a mulberry, I realized that if my grandfather, the father of my mother, was the alien, I should be a humanoid, too. When this idea came to me for a first time, I almost fell down.
There were always many children in our backyard. It was filled in with children voices and laughter when we were playing outside. Once, when we were running back and forth in the backyard in a frenzy, my grandfather had appeared out of nowhere. He usually didn’t go out to the backyard when children were playing there. He came to me with his hands behind the back. Then, he looked me right in the face and said: “It’s yours”. He gave me a shabby leather case. Then he turned around and walked away. There was a trophy Leica camera that he had brought back from the war. I was standing there, frozen, for a long time, watching him go. My grandfather had twelve children. There were many grandsons of his running in the backyard. I was wondering, why he had given me this gift without any occasion. Anyway, this gift has predetermined my future profession. As an initial image of this piece, I have chosen the portrait of my friend who reminds me of my grandfather. It was shoot by that very Leica. Its title is Zakiula.