Along this trip, and throughout life, I have collected a lot of mothers and fathers. Allowing others to care for you is caring for them.

Baba is a pretty amazing man. When he was young, his father was an official for the government of Iran. It was his charge to collect taxes for the Shah. But, one province had refused to pay, as such Baba’s father mounted his horse and with a small group of men, including his son rode to collect the tax.

This wasn’t without peril. If no tax were taken an army would come to excise it. Baba’s father’s honor was on the line in every way. The provincial leader could kill him. Or, he could receive no tax and Baba’s father would have to return to the Shah empty handed and await that fate. It was Baba’s dad’s “all in” play in the poker game of his life. As such he took his son.

He wanted his son to see what it means to be a man. To treat people with respect. If he died, he would die with honor. If he died, he wanted to have his son there to see him, to see him conduct himself and live with honor in the last moments of his life.

When they arrived at the gates of the walled citadel, they were told to go away. The number of men they had brought was few, and no match for the arrows that could be volleyed from on high. But, when the provincial leader heard of Baba’s father’s all out gambit, he invited him in.

The provincial leader recognized Baba’s father’s fortitude, position, and grace. He realized that in a sense this was a suicide mission. The provincial leader could kill him, and thus bring the Shah’s men down on him. He could offer the tax, but in doing so submit his will to that of the Shah. But what he saw in this man who knocked at his door was an honorable man. He saw a man willing to die and to do so honorably. He saw a man who brought his firstborn (although only a boy) and put him in harms way too. He saw a man who said although life has put this uncomfortable position before me, I will not back away, and even my family name could be erased.

Compared with this, what were a few coins?

The provincial leader knew that Baba’s father had put not only his life in his hands, but also the life of his son. Perhaps just as equally important, he put the family name of Raisyasami at stake too.

The provincial leader had met few men as bold, noble, and honorable as this before. As such he invited him to stay for a week. And, in a scene perhaps pulled directly from the film “Lawrence of Arabia”, Baba and his father dinned, lived, and enjoyed the hospitality of the provincial leader.

After one week, they returned to the Shah and to their families with the tax.

Baba learned a lot from that lesson. Later in life, when he was the head of customs for the entire port of Bandar Abbas, he caught some drug smugglers bringing in opium. The smugglers offered him every kind of luxury in order to go free. Houses, cars, bigger and better positions, but Baba refused. Replying simply:

“To sleep at night with a clear conscious is worth more than anything you could ever offer me.”

He learned the lesson that his father taught him. He in turn taught this to his sons. And his son taught me. Thank you fathers.

 

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