In her diary, Esther Shirazi classified her moods by color.

She felt “dark gray” when she made a mistake while

driving or embroidering. When Ezra talked too much, she moved

between “very black” and “black!” She was afflicted with the

worst kind of “black spot” when she thought of her

poor Aunt Sara in Tehran and the old woman’s plight.

She worried that she had two selves, one “empathetic, charming,

sensible” and the other an “ineradicable, ever-recurring, hideously retrievable darkness.”

She felt “light gray” when she went to the hairdresser.

She imagined a life in which she was intellectually appreciated.


Paraphrases from the article “The Death Treatment” by Rachel Aviv and Quarrel and Quandary by Cynthia Ozick.