Becoming Iran

Light, Passion Painter

Author: Maryam Mirsaeedi/ Translated by: Arezoo Baensaf

‘The people whose hearts are home to the echo of truth in the middle of all chaos, are the chosen ones in life and they do not see the dark side of things. Rarely does life give birth to such people that hear their inner voice and see the beauty in everything – beholding a lotus and not the swamp it is growing in.’

The Iranian painter Iran Darroudi wrote these words in her book Distance Between Two Dots, which has been reprinted twenty-one times in Iran. Her first glance at life was not the same as that of the rest of the world. Biologically speaking, due to her strabismus – a.k.a. squint – she was not looking at the world in the same way as others and, from others’ point of view, her face did not perform beautifully as a result.

Iran Darroudi – the second daughter in her family – was born on September 2, 1936, in the vast province of Khorasan, the land of the great epic poet, Ferdowsi (c. 940–1020 CE) and the quatrain poet and mathematician, Omar Khayyam (1048–1131 CE). She was born to see life through the eyes of her own heart not from others’ perspectives.

Traces of her name, ‘Iran’, are reflected as fully as possible in her manner of being noble, courageous and patriotic. Thus, all her speeches begin with a couplet that she attributes to Ferdowsi ‘If there is no Iran, then I no longer wish to live either’. Some also believe that in Middle Persian ‘Iran’ meant ‘liberation’.


Iran’s otherwise isolated and gloomy childhood world shone in vibrant shades of colour, as her father bestowed brightness, delight and safety upon their house. At the age of one, Iran packed her belongings, along with her mother and sister, Pouran, and started her journey to join their father, who had been running his own business in Hamburg, Germany. The city played host to them until the sirens of World War II rang through their life.

The dark and doom-laden skies of war, the horrific atmosphere filled with fire, explosions and death and the terribly frightening escape from Germany affected her childhood, embedding a sense of dismay in her mind.

Facing away from others’ criticism and sarcasm, she found heaven in her family’s arms. The combination of love and affection with which she was embraced, gave her a knowledge of kindness, love and colour. As a result, her understanding of life began to be shaped through colours…

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