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Abdolrahim Jafari's Short Autobiography



      

    I was born on November 3rd , 1919 in the terminal end of Abbas Abad Bazzar downtown of Tehran. A few months before my father abandoned my mother. Knitting and spinning was my mother's sole source of income to support herself and me, her only child.

Mr. Jafari

    I completed four years of elementary school at old-fashioned primary schools and Alameh & Soraya elementary schools in Tehran. Because my mother was not able to support our 2-member family any longer, she found me a job at Elmi Printing House which at the time was using the lithography printing method. I was 12 years old then and at first worked as an errand boy; sometimes carrying books on my head for delivery to bookshops. In those days in Tehran, there was no electricity supply available for heavy machinery. Therefore the whole printing process was handled manually. The machinists would wear a piece of canvas as apron to stand by the printing press and feed paper into it and then bring out the printed sheets. The supervisor would constantly supervise the operation.

    After a while, I was assigned to a press. As I was not tall enough to reach the cylinder of the press, I would put a few bricks under my feet in order to reach the top part of the unit.

    I used to report to work early morning of each Saturday and would leave the premises on the following Friday morning. Two 2-hour breaks were given to workers during the 24 hours of a regular work shift. My wages at that time was one Rial for day work and 2 Rials for night work. Standing on my feet throughout the entire shift was extremely intolerable and soon resulted in getting my heels callous and sore. To somehow soothe the constant pain and reduce the soreness, my mother used to apply some goat's fat to my aching feet while resting at home on Fridays.

    During the summer days which the workload was lighter, we could find some free time in the evenings. On such occasions, I would take a few non-fiction and history books like Amir Arsalan, Rostamnameh, Hosseinkurd and the like which were being printed at Elmi printing House to sell. Also, at times, some workmates and I would hire a donkey to hawk the books in the suburban areas. We would exchange the books for eggs, chickens, geese, goats or sometimes cereals which we would then bring to town to give them to bookshops in lieu of the cost of the books.

    After a few years, a letterset printing press replaced the old press. Later I was rotated in different sections including typesetting and binding; until 1940 which I voluntarily joined the Air force to serve my military service.

    Upon completion of my military service, I returned to the printing house. At the same time I attended adult night schools. Then I got married. Shortly afterwards, I contracted typhus which had become epidemic during the occupation of Iran in world war II. As a result, I was no longer able to work at the printing house.

    To earn a living, I collected some old books which were printed previously under the lithography process, 2 or 3 rugs, and some odds and ends and moved to the eastern ward of the Shah Mosque to lay out my wares and sell books.

    Two years later Elmi bookshop invited me to work in the capacity of accounting supervisor, with the abacus being the sole computing gadget at that time. I worked at the bookshop until 1949. My ever-growing enthusiasm and love for reading and publishing literary and scientific books tempted me to resign and set up my own publishing house. With the small savings I had managed to accumulate during long years of hard work, I founded Amir Kabir Publishing House and set up my office in a 4 by 4 meter room in a building on Nasser Khosrow Avenue.