TitleLooking back with pity, but forward with hope

Two Years in Love

24 Jun 2011

■ Shafagh Ashna
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I don’t know where to begin from. Shall I begin from just two days ago when we put on our trainers, held our water bottles at hand and went to the streets as usual, or from two years ago when we were exhilarated and dreamt of many things happily, or from twenty years ago when I was a kid and didn’t go to school and I saw my father struggling with the radio, holding it near his ear and adjusting the radio waves to hear the news on BBC? There’s no difference, the story is the same, no matter from where I begin. Only I have grown older through these years and more and more despair has been stored in my heart. Hatred has grown bigger and bigger and a scream is locked up in my throat.

I can’t believe it. It is unbelievable that it is now six years that Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad is Iran’s president. More than 2000 days. It is terrifying. No one can believe it. Although people were disappointed with the reform period, although people said nothing changes whoever comes, no one could imagine that after the reformists were defeated, such a villain would emerge. Now almost every week, odd words are said by the country’s representative and almost every day we are embarrassed in front of the whole world because of this false government. Our story was so sad but became even worse with the presence of Mahmoud as president.

I was born in a political family. Islamic Republic’s television was boycott in our house since I can remember and if we desperately had to watch the news, it was accompanied by my father’s complaints and swear words and my mother’s curses. We always had newspapers at home and there were mostly political discussions in our gatherings and parties. I was worried and listened to them anxiously. I was afraid they would come and arrest us; I feared them coming to our house, taking away my father. My childhood went on like this: they lie in the TV, they lie to you at school; don’t believe the things written in your “religious studies” book. Our teacher had told us you have to begin everything saying “In the name of God” and God won’t like you if you don’t. Imagine a seven year-old child who tries hard not to forget in the name of God in the beginning of every single job. I began watching cartoons saying in the name of God, I began riding the bicycle the same way, I began eating, going to the WC, washing my hands, wearing clothes, everything, like that. It had become a nightmare for me whether I have remembered God in everything I have done or not. It was so stressful and made me feel guilty all the time. I thought “Oh! I forgot! I didn’t remember God when I wanted to start writing my homework.” Until one day my mother who had become suspicious of my behavior asked me about its reason and when I explained to her what was going on she said something under her breath and told me our teacher was wrong. “Do whatever you like.” “Doesn’t anything bad happen if I don’t say in the name of God?” I asked. “No it won’t. Do it once and see what happens.” She said. This was the beginning of my disobedience, the beginning of suspicion and thinking about the world. I was only seven.

My childhood went on like this: they lie in the TV, they lie to you at school; don’t believe the things written in your “religious studies” book

“How long have you been here? From ten? Nine? Eight? Anybody tired? The giant took the boobs away. Pour the water on where you’ve burned. Those who claim to be intellects don’t understand as much as a sheep. These are only motes of dust and dirt.”

I grew up and the story was still the same. The reformists had just succeeded. People were excited and came to the streets as soon as something happened. I had a new bicycle those days. I had tied ribbons to it and rode it fast in the alleys and streets and watched people who seemed happy for the first time in my life. I was surprised. People were different now, they sat in the parks and talked. In the classes, institutes, and seminars they said the same things my parents, aunts, and uncles had kept murmuring for years. Political development, elections, bottom-up pressure, top-down bargaining, democracy, civil freedom. These words were repeated every day and although I didn’t understand their meaning, I felt something was going on. Things were changing. Girls wore more beautiful outfits in the street. Boys had their hair in new models. People were interested in new things I had never heard of; things like concert, NGO, CD, internet. Even the places I often visited had gone through a change. Book stores were full of new books. Critical and intellectual newspapers were doubled. I who previously bought only Keihan Bacheha, now filled my bicycle’s basket with three or four newspapers that were filled with interesting things to read. I had made friends with the newspaper man. Do you have Jame’e? Do you have Toos? Do you have Azadegan? What about Sobhe Emrooz? I read the papers although I couldn’t understand them and kept asking my parents. Who is the Red Master? Who is the Grey Master? Where is the Darkroom of the Ghosts?

“Ahmadinezhad, 24000000 votes. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became president for the second time. Ethical security patrols. Forbidden books. Closed magazines. Suspended students.”

Khatami cried. Khatami wiped his tears and became president for the second time. But all those happy days seemed to belong to dreams. Khatami wiped his tears but we were no longer pleased. Right after 18th Khordad 1380 we began to fall. Khatami was no longer that lovely laughing character and people had lost their hope and enthusiasm. People began nagging and the newspapers went back to the newspaper stands and were abandoned by the ministry of culture as usual. My father went back to his old radio and I who was going through adolescence now felt sad about the despair that had filled the society and became deeply hopeless. I wanted to move away from here. I wanted to forget all the inequalities.

This was how 1384 disaster happened. As Ahmadinejad entered the presidential house, I entered university and despite what I had thought for all my life, university was not a place one could cry out loud and make up for the lost things. It was like hell. I can never forget the grumpy and suspicious faces of the guards. I felt miserable when I saw the girls in the university scared to death seeing those guards. I told them why the hell are you so frightened? Who do you think he is? What can he do to you? We couldn’t even have a simple ceremony in the college. We couldn’t even celebrate Yalda night in the university. They even closed the Islamic Association. The same went on outside university: literary societies were forbidden, NGOs were abandoned. They did whatever they wanted and we didn’t say a word, until:

“According to the information we have from our representatives in the election centers, I am the actual winner of the elections with a relatively high vote percent” (Mir Hossein Mousavi, 22nd Khordad 1388).

On 22nd of Khordad two years ago I took a shower, brushed my hair, wore my best clothes and went to Hoseinie Ershad with my girlfriend to vote. We talked about the newspaper headings of the next day and returned home. When the first results were announced we were all shocked. I didn’t sleep the whole night from anxiety and stress. We kept calling each other. My friends asked me what’s going on. And all of us answered coup d’etat.

It is now two years that all our life has become a battle

Our voices became a loud cry. Twenty or so years of murmuring became a loud cry. If 2nd of Khordad didn’t belong to us, if reform was for the previous generation, the Green Movement belonged to the generation whose years of youth were ruined during four years of Ahmadinejad’s presidency. It belonged to the generation who had been humiliated, the generation whose beliefs didn’t have anything in common with the ideals of the regime. Although it had grown up in this regime and after its revolution. The generation who was born during the war and spent its childhood with the sound of gunfire instead of music. The generation who grew up in the days of poverty, witnessed the unfinished reforms, and became more and more angry every day Ahmadinejad was a president. Everything is different now. It is now two years that all our life has become a battle and it goes on through every small detail of our everyday life. This generation will not turn back and pity for the previous dark years. We look to the future and the bright days ahead. Bright days for the generaton who cried out loud.

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