“The Stationery Shop Of Tehran” begins in the Iranian capital in 1953.
Roya is a studious 17-year-old, happy in her family life — close to her mum, dad, and her sister, Zari.
Roya loves to read.
She loves everything about Mr Fakhri’s book and stationery shop, which is an oasis of learning and calm, in contrast to the political upheaval and unrest brewing outside.
Among the fountain pens, shiny ink bottles and thick pads of writing paper, Roya has found somewhere she truly feels at home.
Kind-hearted Mr Fakhri introduces Roya to another young customer, Bahman.
With his love for Rumi’s poetry and keen sense of social justice, Bahman is the yin to Roya’s yang; the little shop is a safe place for them to meet, and for their romance to blossom.
Roya and Bahman become engaged, and are looking forward to their marriage — with the only fly in the ointment being Bahman’s mother.
It becomes clear that she had other plans for Bahman. Plans which don’t include Roya.
She will have to tread another path
As their wedding day approaches, Roya and Bahman arrange to meet, but a sudden, shocking outburst of violence erupts; a coup d’etat which will change everyone’s future.
There’s bloodshed, and amidst the chaos and confusion, Bahman is nowhere to be found.
Days turn into weeks, until a letter and a phone call confirm Roya’s worst fears. Gradually, a sad realisation dawns on her: this love is not to be, and she will have to tread another path.
With a broken heart, Roya leaves for a new life in the USA with her sister, Zari.
Her life goes on, but Bahman remains in her heart.
For a time, a friend gives Roya updates from home, but unanswered questions still remain. How could this have happened, when Roya had thought their fate was ‘written on their foreheads’?
Sixty years later, the truth emerges. And although it’s heart-breaking, it brings Roya what she’s been looking for all these years: peace.
A dual-period story, with a flashback to an earlier time, “The Stationery Shop Of Tehran” is author Marjan Kamali’s second novel.
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