A celebration of Persian voices and talent

Where Are the Humans? by Nasrollah Kasraian, translated by Poupeh Missaghi


Where Are the Humans? by Nasrollah Kasraian

Translated by Poupeh Missaghi
“(They say: “Too much love will kill you.”) / And now, / N. is heartbroken. / She says, / “She was the essence of love.””

Where Are The Humans?
by Nasrollah Kasraian
Translated by Poupeh Missaghi

Everyone I talk to
tells me about their cat.
And I ask myself,
“So, where are the humans?”
This daughter of mine
has a cat.
The other one plays with the neighbor’s,
because she can’t have one.
N. too had cats,
two of them,
one household.
A few days ago,
the household one
fell off the balcony of the ninth floor,
or maybe she threw herself down.
(They say: “Too much love will kill you.”)
And now,
N. is heartbroken.
She says,
“She was the essence of love.”
P. too has a cat,
a black cat,
not totally black though,
metallic gray.
When you look at him,
you know he’s one of those that don’t shed too much hair.
In a picture she sent me,
she is chatting with him,
she, lying down,
her hand under her chin,
he, sitting on his hind legs,
facing her.
Y too had a cat.
I called it an “Aristocat.”
I never knew why,
whenever I went over to visit,
it would stick around right by me,
and Y would say,
“You see how much it loves you!”
A few months ago,
Y’s cat lost its life,
though not much of it had really remained,
and now, Y has a skinny street cat.
I have not yet asked H,
whom I met recently,
but she too looks like a cat person.
when F came to visit me,
after telling me about her nephew’s cats,
she talked about hers:
Last year, when she travelled to Azarbaijan,
as she was about to return home,
her cat got lost in Astara,
and as hard as she searched,
she did not find him,
the cat that used to sleep
next to her
on her bosom. . .
But then,
four months later,
one day as she was leaving the house,
she saw her cat,
missing his tail,
limping in his front right limb,
covered in wounds and scars,
waiting at the door for her.
F was shocked,
wondering how he had found his way back to her.
But when I thought about the cat’s sleeping conditions,
I could totally understand
why and how he had found his way back to her.
Anyways. . .
Of those around me,
Aydin was the only one who didn’t
have a cat,
and he too yesterday recounted to me,
“Coming back from grocery shopping,
the other day,
I noticed a cat following me.
Maybe it was because of the sandwich in my hand.
And when I shared with it a piece,
it didn’t let me go.
Now, the two of us are living together.”
And once again,
I wondered,
“So, where are the humans?”

N.K. Aban 1400 (November 2021)


Nasrollah Kasraian was born in 1944 in Khorram Abad, in the province of Lorestan in Iran. Known as the father of Iranian ethnographic photography, he was arrested by the Pahlavi regime in early 1971 for his political activism and for the translation of The Bolivian Diary of Ernesto Che Guevara. Whilst in prison, he translated his first book on photography. Upon his release in 1975, he became a professional photographer. Since then, he has published more than thirty-one books of photography, many of them in collaboration with his wife, the ethnographer and educator Ziba Arshi, documenting the lives of different Iranian ethnic groups, nomads, and the diverse natural landscape of the country. Sarzamin-e Maa Iran (Our Homeland Iran), Gozar (Transition), Isfahan, Kurdistan, Tehran, Torkamanha-ye Iran (Iran’s Turkmans), Damavand, Kavirha-ye Iran (Iran’s Deserts), Persepolis, Shomal (The North of Iran), and Jonoob (The South of Iran) are just some of his titles. In 2015, Gozaresh-e Yek Zendegi (Leaves from a Life), a selection of his photographs, was published in celebration of his lifelong legacy.

Author photo by Atieh Noori


Poupeh Missaghi has a PhD in English and Literary Arts from the University of Denver; an MA in Creative Writing from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD; and an MA in Translation Studies and a BA in Translation Practice from Azad University, Tehran. Her novel trans(re)lating house one was published by Coffee House Press in 2020, and her translation of Iranian author Nasim Marashi’s I’ll Be Strong for You came out with Astra Publishing House in 2021. Her short pieces of prose and translation have appeared in numerous journals. She is based in Brooklyn, NY, and teaches at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn; City University of New York; and Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland.