Ariana Far's column in The Iranian touched me by bringing up some half-remembered thoughts of another Iranian college student back in the late '70s. Ali was one of my fraternity brothers, and easily one of the most popular ones, with his habitually sunny outlook, his good looks, his sense of humor, and his genuine enjoyment of the rest of us when in his company. His family had money, it seemed, which was a boon to our chapter which always struggled to make ends meet financially. We had a diverse house, with whites, blacks, jocks, Southerners, Jews, and even one odd Filipino, but his being Iranian at the time of the fall of the Shah seemed to be a distinction of another sort.
I remember that someone in the house learned to weld, and so it happened that one day, in a corner next to the pool table, a six-foot high steel sculpture of a man appeared. Ali explained to us that this was the "Shah of Iron." Now that was just plain cool.
Another memory was of a time in my senior year when I was in that same room studying for an Astronomy course I didn't much care about. Ali came in all jokey and boisterous, and for some reason I cannot remember I got all ticked off at him and actually heaved my textbook in his direction, splitting its spine. He told me off then, but I don't think I apologized to him for my unusual fit of temper.
A couple of years after I graduated in 1980, word came back that Ali had gone back home to his hometown of Abadan in Iran and was put into Ayatollah Khomeini's army. He died fighting the Iraqis maybe twenty-two years of age.
Since then I have had other friends from the Middle East (even including one who was Persian and Jewish), but when I think of that place, I usually think of Ali Mohammedi. Sorry, old friend.