When Parrots of Tehran Confess

Sepideh Karami, Elahe Karimnia

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

“Marjan!Your love killed me”!
says the parrot imitating the rough voice of its master. This is how Dash Akol, a short story by the Iranian writer Sadegh Hedayat, ends. The secret love confession was ultimately made by a parrot – the only companion to Dash Akol, the protagonist of the story, the lover, who never dared to confess his love to Marjan. Drunken with grief and alcohol, Dash Akol dies after being stabbed in a fight on Marjan’s wedding night. His confession of love to Marjan, being only spelled in the mirror, was well memorized by the parrot that witnessed him suffering and longing for over seven years in his solitude. When the parrot in the cage, was given to Marjan after Dash Akol’s death, it knew how to send the message of the deceased lover.

Tehran and parrots have old sonic relationships. Despite serious air and noise pollution of this wildly growing megalopolis, parrots have survived and established a sustainable life for many years in various parts of the city. They always say a thousand parrots flying around Tehran, are brought to Iran from India at some point, and as non-migratory birds, they had to establish a life far from home.This explains why in Persian literature, parrots are the symbol of loneliness, exile, separation from one’s origin and in nite longing for home.

As vocal learners who have the ability to imitate human speech, parrots express stories that human cannot or is not allowed to tell, like the hidden love in Dash Akol story, and thousands of forbidden stories in the city of Tehran.The parrots of Tehran, flying over parks and gardens, blur the boundaries between the past and the present, between private palaces and public realm, between Marjan and his lover. Parrots’ confessions are unfolded and partially heard, while being constantly interrupted by the roaring sound of the city. We propose a series of short interrupted stories, situated in three locations in Tehran where parrots heard, memorized and imitate stories of forbidden loves, displaced city dwellers and forces that silenced them, for years and years. These interrupted stories are the voice of Tehran and its inhabitants, shouting their lines from the top of the tall trees against the grey city.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2021
EventCrafting a Sonic Urbanism: Listening to Non-Human Life - On-line
Duration: 18 Mar 202118 Mar 2021


ConferenceCrafting a Sonic Urbanism
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Sonic Urbanism, Parrots, non-human voice, Tehran, storytelling, exile


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  • When parrots of Tehran confess

    Karami, S. & Karimnia, E., 19 Nov 2021, Listening to Non-Human Life. I. . B. C. (ed.). (Sonic Urbanism).

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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