Title"What will happen if all of us leave?"

‘Can’t stay anymore in this city….’

12 Aug 2010

■ N. Sayeh
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TehranReview literally honors its name by starting, as of today, with a new section called ‘FROM THE STREETS OF TEHRAN’. A lot is written and said about what is going on in the Iranian capital these days, but we want to know personally from people who actually live there, right in the heart of events. They will make us hear the heartbeat of that challenging city. What are people talking about in the streets? How do they run their daily lives? What do young people read? What are the hopes and despairs of ordinary people? These and many other questions will be answered and will you give you, our reader, an impression of what is going on in the streets of Tehran.

The first one to let us hear a Tehrani voice are N. Sayeh (25) and Shafagh Ashna (23). They will from now on contribute regularly to TehranReview. N. Sayeh will write in English; Shafagh Ashna in Persian. For safety reasons, their names are pseudonyms. Following is the text of N. Sayeh, who calls herself ‘an amateur journalist. In my writings, I just want to reflect a voice from Iran and especially my city, Tehran, which is full of hopeful and hopeless people these days. I hope we will see the satisfaction in the faces of Iranians soon.’

It is mid-day and I am sitting with two passengers and an old driver in a Vanak-Seyyedkhandan taxi in the heart of Tehran. Next to me: a young girl. In the front seat of the car: a middle-aged man. The weather is so hot and passengers are getting impatient. The young girl asks the driver to turn on the cooler. He replies with a grin: “With this amount of income I can hardly cover my expenses. If the consumption of gasoline increases, there’s nothing left for me at the end of the day.”

The older man in the front seat shakes his head. “God damn them all! They put their brogues on people’s throats and just keep pressing. These are the first days, wait and see what will happen when they run this ‘targeted subsidized program’! Soon we won’t have any choice except waiting till death comes!”

The driver continues while shaking his head: “God bless the Shah! What a stupid mistake we made!”

I now mingle myself in the conversation. “You didn’t expect this situation. It wasn’t a mistake at first, the Revolution is not a sudden accident or a point, it is a road, the 57’s* revolutionaries lost their way, that was the problem. You were living under a suffocating regime those days, weren’t you?”

The driver looks at me in the rearview mirror. “And aren’t we now? At least we weren’t living from hand to mouth back in those days.” The other passengers nod their heads as in confirmation. It seems that they didn’t hear my first sentences.

The young girl next to me whispers a famous, old Iranian song, ‘Can’t stay anymore in this city’. I ask her: “Do you want to go?” These days, every Iranian understands what exactly we mean when we talk about ‘going’.

She laughs out loud. “Do you know anyone who doesn’t plan to go? Not only girls and boys our age but many elderly also have migration plans. The middle-aged man is listening in on our conversation, saying: “Going is the best choice. How many times do we have a chance to live? Isn’t it only once? You are young and you have the chance to make a good future for yourself. I myself won’t let my son waste his life in this country. I’ll send him to live with his uncle as soon as he grows up.

The young girl looks at me. “What about you?” I reply with a smile and she continues. “Everyone is searching for a hole to run away. When things were about to improve I was hopeful but now…” She turns her head and stares at the busy street from the taxi’s window. And as for me, I ask myself: what will happen if all of us leave this country?

* 1357, date of the Revolution in the Iranian calendar

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