Friday, March 19, 2010
Don't get me wrong, my exile is not political. I am not living a life of danger. I am not a refugee and my longing for Iranian flavours has long subsided. I am a well integrated member of the Western society, that is not often detected as Iranian unless my accent is heard. These reflections, I share with those of you who have dropped me a line of support, affection, criticism, or silent traces. These reflections I share on the eve of our new year as I sit an ocean far from home, husband, sister, brother, parents.
I had wished to be home with my parents this year--for the first time in many years since I left Iran in pursuit of a dream. This time last year, I was an optimist. I blogged proudly about the democratic maturity my country was arriving at. I held my head up that Iran was not bullied. I had hopes that I was needed in Iran and I was devouring all I could from Iran, to make up for the past two decades I had committed it to some form of slumber, oblivion. When election time came, like many an Iranian worried about the war cacophony, like many an anti-imperialist fooled by Ahmadinejad's charlatanism, I wanted to vote for him. I even campaigned for him, trying to make my 'green' or 'karoubi' friends in Iran see the world from a global perspective and realize Iran's foreign tangles needed steadiness of the course to open. This was until I listened to the debates on TV; and the tragic comedy of Ahmadinejad's contempt for facts was played before my eyes. HE wasn't being a skillful politician, he was being an obvious crook. Disgusted by his lies, his cheap tricks, his deceptions and distortions of the truth, I listened to his opponents. They WERE authentic, both of them, Karoubi and Mousavi. The reformists stole my vote after the first round of televised debates. Ahmadinejad, although more articulate, was inauthentic, manipulative, and detrimental to a future envisioned by the MAJORITY of Iran's population: it's youth. The foreign threat I feared, would have been more prominent with Ahmadinejad around. That the reformists were wishy-washy westbenders was far from the truth--this has in fact been proven in the past 9 months. The passion of the youth eventually turned my vote green. I listened to those 10-20 years younger than me, admiring the realism and pragmatism of their aspirations, the simplicity and matter-of-factness of their demands.
On the election day, for the first time since the inception of the IRI, I wore a green scarf (I had it for years, a handmade silk present from China), walked to the poll, finger printed my vote, cast my ballot, smiled at a camera pointing my inky index at the lens, hoping to upload the picture on Neo-Resistance, waving it at the war mongering world: "dare you not lift a finger on our Iran". But then, just before I went to bed, everything in Iran started going awry.
People started getting arrested before the vote was announced, military started patrolling the city and before due process was complete, the 'soupreem lither' jumped in the middle to seal the 'counts' and hammer his nail: Mahmood! Graphs were fabricated and their fake immediately exposed. The fake graphs began getting forged to add noise to the data. People protested peacefully, like a great civilized nation. And the government opened fire on them, like a petty backward dictatorship. Many were killed and Neda became the bloody face of a hope that died before the world's eye. Then the plagiarist became minister of science; misogynist women pioneering the cabinet; the professors of law and philosophy got axed and with that mayhem, my dream of moving back to Iran vanished, and with it my desire, slowly.
I made a choice to not go back to Iran as long as the government did not apologize for the way the post-election affairs were conducted, as long as the supreme leader maintained his position of tyranny, as long as he was coerced to run the show according to his international clown's agenda, as long as the militia were above the law.
I chose my exile. If I had not, and if I went to Iran yesterday, I would have been greeted by polite passport officers. I would have walked in the shiny halls of Imam Khomeini airport and would have listened to music in my brother's car when we passed through made-up highways that connect the airport from god knows where to Tehran. Tehran, which is warm enough in March for people, who are just released from the IRI prisons, to wear short sleeves.
But I have chosen to exile myself from a place I longed for because going back will have demanded of me to either act bravely, to speak up, to shout, to write and possibly to get arrested or harassed; or to act in compliance with a totally illegitimate government and subject myself to its lawlessness. I wear no purple hearts of courage and sacrifice; if I went to Iran I will have been the latter. My exile is the only form of protest that I can afford.
As the rain trickles down, as the solstice draws near, I stare around my apartment:
I have no haft seen; no 'sabzeh', no 'somagh', no 'serke', no 'senjed', no 'seer', no 'seeb', no 'sekkeh' or 'sonbol'. I don't have a gold fish, or coloured eggs, nor a mirror. I don't have a Qoran or a Divaan-e Hafiz. I don't have a present to give, nor one to get. I don't have 'ash reshte', or 'reshte polo', nor 'sabzi polo & maahi'. I have not done spring cleaning; I have not finished the laundry; I have not gotten a facial nor coloured my white hair black. I have a heart full of melancholy. I feel I am not the only one who is dipped in blues tonight. Yet, when tomorrow comes, be it hell or high water, shall I venture out to get all I need, to do a little ritual, to celebrate spring. This one tradition, this greatest of all occasion ... spring ... new day (norouz)
Happy new year ...
Happy spring ...