The Secret Closet


The Secret Closet
by Faramarz

صندوق بایگانی سری

Almost all Iranian fathers are bureaucrats to the core!

They love to keep papers and documents for years. While most women keep old pictures and love letters, men stash away cancelled checks and old utility bills! I did not realize how wide-spread this problem was until my friends and I started discussing them in college after a few beers!

In our home back in Iran, my father had a secret closet. I don’t think any of us was ever allowed inside that small room, but once in a while I caught a glimpse of the place from the corner of my eye, through the slightly open door. Behind the lock and key lived files and cabinets full of important and not-so-important things. We all had our files in there, I assumed.

Whenever I got my report card from school, I knew that I only had a short time to look at those good grades (20’s and 19’s). As soon as I got home I would immediately hand over my report card to my father. He would then praise me for a few seconds on my good grades and would remind me that I needed to work harder to get better grades in Drawing and Religious Studies and a few other subjects. Then he would disappear into the secret closet and file away my report card.

I never quite appreciated his bureaucratic tendencies until it was time to apply for college and the notarized copies of my transcripts were required. He would go to the secret closet and come out triumphantly with all the required documents in his hand. I could see the worry in his eyes as he handed over the originals to me!

“You know where the notary office is. First have them translate and notarize then take them to that architectural office and have them make copies. Get a few extra copies. It never hurts to have extra copies!”

My college friends all had similar stories but one of them had the ultimate bureaucratic father!

“We were seven brothers and sisters so my father had set up an elaborate filing system for our stuff. There were so many documents that we had to submit a written form to my father for copies of Shenas Nameh or medical forms or whatever. My father had instituted a 48-hour turnaround time for the regular requests and a 24-hour one for an emergency. Everything worked like clockwork!” My buddy said laughingly.

As I was getting ready to leave Iran, my father handed over my passports, medical documents, Shenas Nameh and a few other things to me. It was like the scene in the first Star Wars movie when Obi-Wan Kenobi hands over the light saber to Luke Skywalker and tells him that he is going to be a Jedi!

My father looked worried as I casually put the documents in my small bag. He wanted something more elaborate, something more worthy of them! The interesting thing was that he was not as worried about me going halfway around world to a new place and culture, as he was about those precious documents!

As I was helping my uncle a while back to move a few things around his garage, I noticed several boxes that were neatly labeled and organized. I asked him about the boxes. It turned out that they contained cancelled checks, old utility bills and a whole lot of other thing dating back to the mid-80’s!

“You never know Faramarz! They might someday send me a bill and say that I did not pay an old bill!”

I could just picture him walking into the Utility Company office with the copies of the old bill and the cancelled check and gloat as the poor clerk profusely apologizes!


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my father had his own filing system

by Monda on

I was so enlightened to see the gems in his office drawers after his passing. This brought back interesting memories today, thank you Faramarz.


Organized and unorganized secret closets!

by Anonymouse on

My grandfather had a good closet and since he was from the older generation he and my grandmother had a whole side by side standalone closet with his and her sides!

In his side he had shelves for his clothing items and on top paperwork and Iranian sweets!  No chocolate but things like abnabat gheychi, sohan, gaz, pashmak, baghlava, ghotab, etc.!

We didn't know where the keys were but he always gave us the sweets when we asked him.  He didn't payout for good grades just his good grace and kindness.  We would nosey in his closet when he opened the doors and haggled with him on the kind and quantity of the sweets we wanted!  I don't recall noseying in my grandmother's closet and don't remember what was in it!

My father's closet was much more disorganized yet he kept all the stuff Faramarz's father kept from old utility bills to letters and report cards from kindergarten and on.  No sweets in his closet just various stuff!  Stuff were organized to his liking and the limited space he had.

Faramarz you were a 19 or 20 average student?!  Were you shagerd aval? I was almost always a 15 average student.

R2-D2, I did the same and brought my documents and photos with me too.  But now I think what'll happen to them when I pass away.  No one will probably like them as much as I did or as much as I like my father's documents.

When you have someone pass away and realize nothing can be taken with you I get a feeling that gathering stuff is not such a good idea.  I never liked gathering junk or hoarding but I dislike it more now so I try to live as light as possible!  Nothing is really worthed other than people and how we live and treat each other.

Everything is sacred


My dad was also the house librarian

by divaneh on

And we were also plundering the Norouz goodies. The best time was when our parents were seeing off the guests. As you know Iranians farewell takes longer than the meeting. I made sure there was no pistachio or roast almonds left in the Ajil bowl and my mom had to keep topping it up with those precious ingredients.


R-D * 2, Niki and Shazde

by Faramarz on

Thanks for your comments.


Although I laugh about the bureaucracy now, but I really appreciate the fact that he saved a lot of my childhood stuff.
Now, if I can only find a way so that I can borrow them from my father once in a while and look at them!


At our house, we had the same 'war of attrition" against the Norooz Shirini as you had with your father's chocolates!
My mom would set the table for the guests in the big room and then lock the door.
We quickly figured out that the key was hidden on top of the door frame. We would then open the door and go in. Each of us was in charge of one or two plates of the good stuff. We ate a few and then re-arranged the plate so that it all looked right!
If you need any help with filing and organizing, please let me know and I will put you in contact with my father!

Shazde Jaan,

Welcome back.

Shazde Asdola Mirza

Documents more important than people

by Shazde Asdola Mirza on

Good one.

Yes, the English and Germans may have created bureacracy, but Indians and Iranians have perfected that artform.

Niki Tehranchi

My dad had a secret closet too!

by Niki Tehranchi on

And not only he hid important documents there including a folder with all my paperwork from Kindergarden onwards, but he also kept a secret stash of chocolates there.  I still remember climbing on a chair andreaching for the secret chocolate stash and stealing his chocolates one by one (because I figured he would not notice if i did it gradually enough).  Now I have started my own two, not so secret folders for the two kiddies.  Say what you will but it pays to be organized! 



by R2-D2 on

When my dad passed away several years ago, I went to Tehran to sort things out, and help my Mom move ...

My dad had a huge "Sandoq" which took half a room ... When I started going through his things, among the very many unexpected things that I found, was a very huge folder for each of the three (3) children: one for me, one for my sister, and one for my brother ...

Each folder contained all, and I mean everything, from report cards, letter from schools, etc., etc., from the first class in the Kindergarten through our graduation from the University - Each of the folders was between 3 to 4 inches thick ... !!

I brought my folder back with me to US :) - !