Friday, March 19, 2010

Exiled reflections on the (Persian) new year's eve.

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 ...


Mark Pyruz said...

Happy New Year, Naj.

Anonymous said...

"comes HELL or high waters".

kellie said...

My best wishes for a new year happier than the old.

Naj said...

Mark, Kellie; thanks!

Anonymous: :DD lol ... I was posting in the middle of the night, some noisy stuff were hitting the window, and I missed the word :) Told you, I have an accent.

vagabond said...

Happy norouz.

Naj said...

Dear Vagabond; thank you.
Forgive me for not having had the opportunity to address your earlier comment. But the answer is YES: India and Iran have a long common history. I will try to find pointers for you, as covering the matter is beyond my knowledge.

parvati_roma said...

Dear dear Naj, you've done so much for Iran in your quiet way, helped so many of us in distant lands to understand and appreciate your people and your country. And I really can't bear to think of you feeling so folorn! So along with my Norouz greetings and very best wishes/hopes, do please accept a warm cozy virtual-hug from me.

Naj said...

thank you parvati, for the much appreciated hugs :)

Anonymous said...

Nowruz (new-rooz) will come Naj. It'll come because we would have earned it , through our resilience fed by our history ,culture , philosophy and poetry and thanks to the extraordinary zeal of the ordinary people. Also , because we are all becoming neo-resistants ;)

I wish you a precious year . Sarfaraz bashid.


Naj said...

Thank you, anonymous.
Peace back

Pedestrian said...

Dearest Naj,

I know it sounds naive, but I think every single day so many of us wish with every last cell in our body that you can go to Iran again ... that those things you say will finally happen.

I wish you a heart full of peace, calm, and bitter sweet delight while we wait ... wherever you may be!

Hydra said...

Dear Naj,

As you may know, I've been following your writings for some time now. Your style is impressive and you conduct a good amount of research for everyone of your post. But this post, is by far the most emotional pieace of text I've read in months. It seems like you've pulled those words right out of my heart. I know exactly how you feel, and I've been struggling with the same dilemmas. Thanks for this post and happy Norouz.

masoud said...

Hi Naj,

Before the debates I was leaning towards supporting Moussavi as opposed to Ahmadinejad. I thought Ahmadinejad was too divisive a figure to govern effectively, and thought a fresh face to counter Obama's propaganda would be beneficial.

It was the debates that clued me into how bankrupt and dangerous the opposition was. I thought Ahmadinejad, though he was more plain spoken communicated much more effectively and honestly than his rivals. And on election day, it was Mousavi's rather than Khameini's announcements and actions that horrified me. And I have disagreed with practically everything I have read on your blog since i began reading it mid-summer.

I'm not posting in order to restart a debate on these issues.I just wanted to note how odd it is, at least for me, that two Iranians who at least at one point shared substantially similar views on politics(I think this time last year we would have been in perfect sync), and likely similar social profile(we're both expats, but i think i'm younger and have spent nearly all my Nourouz's outside Iran),could have interpreted almost all of the is past year's most significant events in such diametrically different fashions.

I think there is Nourouz-appropriate reflection buried somewhere beneath that observation, though i don't know exactly what that reflection should be.

The first possibility that suggested itself to me in this regard was along the lines of the adage "But for the grace of God there go I"(though I do realize this is one either of us could invoke).

After giving it some thought, Rumi's Six Wise Men Of Hindustan seemed an oddly appropriate parable. Though I think that this was closer to the mark, something tells me that I'm not smart enough to put my finger on the real answer just yet. Maybe the new year will bring some much needed wisdom with it.

Norouzet Mobarak


Gene said...

Happy New Year, Naj!

David said...

Hi Naj, I wish you a Happy Norouz! I am always happy with the coming of Spring. :)

I don't know what to say about Iran except that I am sad for her people. I hope this new year will bring some change for the better.

Publicola said...

Dear Naj,

happy new year and all the best

Publicola / ("German")

Naj said...

Wow; thanks guys.

Ped, Hydra, Masoud, Gene, David, German. A big electronic hug to you all.

Masoud: since you don't have a blog; I don't know what your opinions are based on; I don't know your history, so I refrain from commenting :)

Anonymous said...

I sit and ocean far from home, husband, sister, brother, parents.

I thought you said long back you had "western" Partner?
correct me if I am wrong

A Happy New Fire Year

nunya said...

I'm so sorry that I'm late, I thought I wished you a Happy Nowruz earlier. :)