It is widely held that great music can only be a derivative of great pain. That the reason we nod our heads and tap our feet with the greats like Cobain, Kiedis is because the pain is apparent in their voices. Nothing translates better to music than despair and pain. Nothing resonates in the minds of a listener more than pain. And you can quote me on that.
Which brings us to the 2006 graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi (2004 for the French original, mais mon francais n’est pas tres bien). Being the master storyteller that Persepolis stands testimony of, she tells us the grievous tale of her great uncle, Nasser Ali Khan;
A man who classifies his life as 2 things, his tar (a Persian musical instrument) and everything else, decides he wants to die. It is a tale of the 8 days that lead to his death and while perhaps being an obviously morbid concept, it takes a different kind of imagination to extract the beauty from it and even more to weave a story around it.
From the frolics of his children, the sorry state of his marriage, to the tale of his one true love, she manages to keep you deliberating on how exactly you feel for this man. She makes you wonder how our world would be if we all found one thing and let it rule or destroy our lives.
Never before have I felt sad for a man whose wife breaks his only instrument of peace even if he rightly deserved it. Never before have I asked myself what is the one thing, upon losing which I would wish to renounce life.
It is not a question I wish to ask anyone else but I carefully do realize that it is one we must all, in due time, ask ourselves.
Set in the Iran of the late 1950s, Satrapi shows you what pain and loss of love can do to a man, and maybe even help you understand how long eight days really is, when you’re done with life.