G E von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies
Exile and Memory in Khaksar’s 'Last Letter'
- Author(s): Papan-Matin, Firoozeh
- et al.
In Nasim Khaksar’s one-act play "Akharin Namih" (The Last Letter), written in 1988, the trials and tribulations of exile are perceived from the perspective of a middle-aged political refugee who left Iran shortly after the establishment of the Islamic Republic. Since then, he has been residing in a provincial town somewhere in Europe. The protagonist fled Iran because his political activities as an intellectual and a leftist sympathizer had placed him on the new regime’s wanted list. He had belonged to a political group that was identified; some of its members, including his female partner, served prison terms. The plot unfolds through the dramatic tension between this character and an apparition of his female partner who accompanies him in exile. The protagonist’s biography is similar to the playwright’s background: Khaksar too was involved with the left and had served two prison terms during the Pahlavi regime and another term after the Islamic Republic came to power. He escaped Iran illegally in 1983, and after a short stay in Turkey he traveled to the Netherlands on a false passport. He has been living in a small town in the Netherlands since then.
Man, the play’s protagonist, is not an immigrant; he is a political exile. His exilic existence is the very proof of his exclusion from the dominant political discourse in his homeland. At the same time, he is recognized as an outcast in his unwanted new home. He suffers double exile or double marginality: accepted neither at home nor in exile, he is a man without a country. The present study revisits the question of exile through an evaluation of exilic memory in "Akharin Namih," and demonstrates that memory in the life of the play’s exile is not so much a nostalgic preoccupation with the homeland as amnesia of a past that induces anxiety and articulates loss in his life.