October 9, 2015

Unbelievable true story

On Two Feet and Wings
by Abbas Kazerooni

At just nine-years-old, Abbas is forced to flee Tehran when the Iranian army lowers the recruitment age to eight. His father had arranged for both Abbas and his mother to fly to Istanbul, but his mother is prevented from leaving. So his father tells Abbas to continue on his own, making further arrangements for someone to care for him. But on arrival in Istanbul, Abbas was abandoned in the airport with a list of hotels. Abbas has no choice but to fend for himself in a country where he knows no one and does not speak the language.

It is incredible that Abbas managed to survive in circumstances that even an adult would find challenging. Abbas was scared, lonely and sad, but he was also smart, resourceful, and precocious, with an entrepreneurial spirit that served him well. He was able to earn money for food and lodging and, following his father's instructions, apply for a visa to England. Abbas was fortunate to be helped by caring strangers; most had great empathy for a child alone. Their kindnesses stand in stark contrast to the seeming heartlessness of Abbas' father. In their phone conversations, his father was often angry, demanding, and controlling in not letting Abbas speak to his mother. That Abbas so wanted to make his father proud is often painful to hear. Abbas' joy in getting his visa is wonderful to read, but tempered in the epilogue, which mentions further hardships he was forced to endure. Readers are left with lingering questions: did he reunite with his parents? what happened in England? Another book about his life would be welcomed with interest. For now, Abbas' memoir is an unbelievable story filled with courage and resilience.

Highly recommended.

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