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The Mourning After

Summary:
The lockdown and its enforced boredom have been replaced by a consistent feeling of loss, my nephew by marriage Hansie Schoenburg, age 33, from a brain tumor, and my close friend Shariar Bachtiar, 72, most likely by his own hand. Hansie was tall, blond, a Yale grad, and extremely handsome. Recently married, he died surrounded by his family. Shariar was the Persian Boy, who as a slender, bright-eyed 6-year-old who spoke not a word of English was dispatched from Persia to an English school known for its cold rooms and strict rules. The Persian Boy learned early to do without parents. The bitter irony of their death was that Hansie willed himself to live these last fifteen years, whereas Shariar had had enough. Unlike many newly

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The lockdown and its enforced boredom have been replaced by a consistent feeling of loss, my nephew by marriage Hansie Schoenburg, age 33, from a brain tumor, and my close friend Shariar Bachtiar, 72, most likely by his own hand. Hansie was tall, blond, a Yale grad, and extremely handsome. Recently married, he died surrounded by his family.

Shariar was the Persian Boy, who as a slender, bright-eyed 6-year-old who spoke not a word of English was dispatched from Persia to an English school known for its cold rooms and strict rules. The Persian Boy learned early to do without parents. The bitter irony of their death was that Hansie willed himself to live these last fifteen years, whereas Shariar had had enough. Unlike many newly rich, vulgar Iranians running around London’s clubs back in the ’70s, Shariar Bachtiar came from an old and good family that had seen better days when the Shah’s father grabbed power in the ’20s. A young Shariar was first noticed by the last Shah’s twin sister Aschraf in Tehran, as was a young Taki in the South of France. The Persian and I did not know each other, but we sort of got together when the predatory Aschraf invited me to dinner. I did a Usain Bolt and ran for the hills, Shariar obeyed the royal command.

I never allowed him to forget it, that’s for sure. The truth is, sixty years ago I was sneaking around with Soraya, the Shah’s beautiful ex-wife who was divorced by him because she could not have children. Soraya warned me to keep things to myself, otherwise the Shah’s secret police would do me in. (He was very jealous.) The Persian Boy, in the meantime, did not stay long with the emperor’s twin. He loved beautiful, tall English girls, and he and I got our stories straight and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, pardon the pun.

What followed was what I can best describe as a long period of permanent adolescence. The Persian cut a wide swath among English debs, Trinnys and India Janes galore, because back then he was loaded, very slim, short, and very handsome in an Oriental way. He had taken to England like the proverbial duck to H2O, dominated by English school impressions, mostly fair play on the sporting field. I have met many athletes, but no one as naturally gifted as this prime suspect for having sand kicked in his face by the beach bully. No sand ever touched him. He was a terrific all-rounder in cricket and a very good tennis player. I played against him when I could still hit the ball and he was tough, never giving pace and returning everything. He was also known as the man who never slept.

Always in love, Cyril Connolly’s The Unquiet Grave comes to mind, and the dread symbol of the pram in the hall never to blemish the Persian’s household. The Persian Boy became a fixture in the chic nightclubs of the time, Annabel’s and Tramp, always escorting beautiful young women, always on the lookout for more. He would be the last to leave but up early for tennis or cricket practice, his afternoons spent playing bridge or teaching the game, his weekends in grand country houses captaining cricket teams, never out, taking wicket after wicket.

Taki Theodoracopulos
Taki Theodoracopulos (born August 11, 1936), originally named Panagiotis Theodoracopulos and best known as Taki, is a Greek journalist and writer living in New York City, London and Gstaad, Switzerland.

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