Iranians are preparing to mark the 21st demise anniversary of Imam Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Republic.
Against what the western mainstream media allege, Imam Khomeini was an exceptional philanthropist and during a short stay in France on exile before returning to Iran, many of the French got the truth first hand.
Before heading for Iran on February 1, 1979 from a 14-year exile, Imam Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini spent about 4 months in Neauphle-le-Château village, France. The period is still a sweet reminiscence for many residents in the village as they found the rare opportunity of getting acquainted with the lifestyle of the great man of century first-hand against the tide of adversary media propaganda.
Louis is one of those villagers who once remembered his sweet memory of Imam Khomeini’s months-long stop in the village when he was a young boy.
“One day I was heading home from school when my eyes were caught by an unusual mass of people in the alleyway leading to my residence. There was a large crowd in front of a garden several steps from our house. There were some reporters among the crowd with cameras hanging over their chests. They were snooping inside the garden from top of the green, wooden gate of the garden. I was curious about what was happening inside the garden.
I shoved myself into the crowd but the more I snooped the less I found. I asked a reporter what had happened. He said some important event was going to happen. He asked me whether I was residing in the village.
“Yes, our house is over there,” I pointed to my house.
“Soon your village will turn into the most well-known village in the world,” the reporter said.
“I did not get your idea. What an important event is going to happen in our village which would turn it so important?” I asked.
“Have you ever heard of Ayatollah Khomeini?” he asked.
The name was familiar to me. I have heard it many times before from radio and television and have seen photos in newspapers.
“You mean Iran’s religious leader?” I asked the reporter.
“Excellent, he has arrived at this village. He is to become your neighbor,” he said.
The reporter went on to say that he and his colleagues were waiting for permission from Ayatollah Khomeini for an interview.
I turned more curious to see the great person at any price. Any encounter could become a subject for me to boast about among my classmates.
“Will they allow me in if I wait,” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied, adding “you must ask the person standing over there besides the garden gate.”
I left no moment to go and ask the person in charge of the gate if I could have an opportunity for an encounter with Ayatollah Khomeini.
“We live several steps away from here. Could I visit Ayatollah Khomeini?” I asked.
“What do you know about him?” he asked me.
“I know Ayatollah Khomeini is Iran’s religious leader. Newspapers carry his photos on a daily basis,” I said.
The man thought for a moment and then asked whether there was anyone other than me to wish to see Ayatollah Khomeini. I pointed to the reporters and said “They wish too. I promise to see him for several seconds and keep order.”
Seconds later the gate of the garden was open wide to me.
Ayatollah Khomeini was an old man with clerical clothes and a black turban round his head. I thought for a second that Messiah was over there standing before me.
Soon it was an hour past my entry and I could not swallow how the long period passed so soon.
I returned home and told my mother whether she wished to see the great man. I know he would be a sensation for her like for me.
“Do you think his coming to our village is problematic?” I asked her.
“I don’t think so but your father seeks tranquility. There would be no longer calm here,” she replied.
She was true. When father came to house he was very angry. She put out her overcoat and sprawled over armchair.
“This year is an underachieving year. Wherever I go I fail to find luck. The company went bankrupt and now the situation has turned so here?” he grumbled.
“It would not take too long. Calm will return in a few days,” my mother said, seeking to pacify him.
“God willing,” my father said angrily.
“Newspapers say he would return to Iran in a few days,” my mother said.
“But why here in this tiny village?” my father grumbled.
There were a few days ahead of Christmas. I was in no mood for my homework. The thought of Imam Khomeini had occupied my mind. Against my wishes however the father had decided to complain to police. I lost patience at his conduct and told him why he refused to go to visit Ayatollah Khomeini.
“He’s like other priests. He would certainly only give out advices,” My father said, his voice dripping with irony.
“You always recommend me never make prejudgments. I thought you were a rational man … he is to make a speech today. Let’s go to listen to him for the sake of your son at least. You can leave if you are not content,” I told my father.
He seemed to have been affected by my logic.
“When should we go?” he asked.
“In less than half an hour. He keeps good time by habit,” I said emphatically.
I went to the speech venue with my father. Other than reporters, there were lots of people. It was fascinating to me. Many of the participants even could not know a word of his speech otherwise they wanted to discover the great man.
When Ayatollah Khomeini came every body stood in respect. I looked at my father. Tears had moistened his eyes. I took a sigh of relief.
We came to listen to Khomeini the other days. My father was no longer angry.
It was the eve of Jesus birth anniversary. We had thronged a Christmas pine tree. The doorbell rang. Who was he? It was late in the night.
My father went to the door and I followed him. There was a man outside with a bunch of flower and a box of candies in his hands. He greeted us warmly and handed the flowers to my father. “These are from Ayatollah Khomeini. He has congratulated you on the Jesus birth. He has also said sorry for any inconvenience caused by his presence in your village,” the man said.
My father took the flowers and the box of candies. “Deliver our thanks to him,” my father said and returned to his private room without saying anything more.
Minutes later I heard him sobbing. Something had broken within him.
My mother was inquiring what had happened. I rushed to her to explain.
“This year Messiah has sent us gifts; flowers and candies.”